|Grapegrower & Winemaker||Wine & Viticulture Journal||Wine Industry Directory||
||Daily Wine News||
Forum in pursuit of Pinot excellence
Name: Marcel Giesen, Sherwyn Veldhuizen and Tony Scherer
By Mark Smith
The pursuit of excellence often goes unrewarded. It's one of life's ironies, Pinot Noir producers will tell you. This quirky red variety isn't called the heartbreak grape for nothing.
Even so, for many of those caught up in the pursuit of growing and making top quality Pinot Noir, the rewards have never been better. Recent years have seen a welcome increase in consumer awareness and appreciation of it in Australia. The industry, meanwhile, has responded accordingly, with the formation of Pinot Noir focus groups, and the establishment of high-profile events like the Mornington Peninsula's International Pinot Noir Celebration.
In Australia's smallest winegrowing State, things are also looking up. Tasmania's pursuit of Pinot excellence received something of a jump-start in 1999 with the establishment of a 30-member grower-based organisation, called the Tasmanian Pinot Noir Forum (TPNF). The group met in mid-February this year on the State's east coast for its eighth annual four-day program of winemaking and viticulture workshops.
Its agenda spanned issues from colour stability and grape tannin to terroir and the winegrower, alternative approaches to growing Pinot Noir, and sustainable grapegrowing. In the words of the forum's chairman, Tony Scherer, those formal presentations and its ready mix of social events, dinners and blind tastings were 'all designed to taste, talk and pontificate the mysteries of Pinot Noir'.
Top billing on the east coast was given to international guests Marcel Giesen (of Giesen Wines fame) and Sherwyn Veldhuizen. The New Zealand couple hale from the South Island's Canterbury region, often credited as the country's fourth largest winegrowing region, yet in reality an industry no larger than Tasmania's, accounting for barely 1000ha of vines, or 4% of New Zealand's total plantings.
Giesen and Veldhuizen are the owners and operators of the tiny, high profile Bell Hill Vineyard. The 10ha property is home base for a portfolio of Pinots that fetch well in excess of A$100 per bottle. The vineyard is located in an old limestone quarry in the Weka Pass sub-region of Canterbury an hour's drive north of Christchuch. It's currently planted to a meagre 1ha of vines. Yes, you read correctly: 1ha of vines.
These represent an eclectic selection of Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir. They were added to the site in a number of staged plantings, beginning in 1997. And with vine densities of between 9,000 and 12,500 plants/ha, Bell Hill could perhaps be described as Burgundian in its size and scale.
But if you were to think its six distinct vineyard blocks and its broad mix of clones and rootstocks were simply another 'me-too' New World copy of a site in Nuits-St-Georges, or in Gevrey-Chambertin, or elsewhere in the Côte d'Or, then you'd surely be wrong, the couple said. They see Bell Hill as the real world manifestation of a limestone odyssey they first began in Europe over a decade ago.
'Why not plant in Marlborough or Martinborough,' Giesen asked his hosts rhetorically.
'Because we were looking for soils that would really make a difference. That put us on the limestone trail. Our view is that many of the great wines of the world come out of France. Over half its vineyards are planted on limestone. We think that loess, clay, river gravel and limestone provide many of the most important aspects that underpin the expression of the Pinot grape.
'We found what we were looking for in an old limestone quarry. It was pretty obvious to us that it would have what we were looking for, and that we wouldn't have to just make it up.'
'It's not so much a matter of us copying what's being done in Burgundy,' added Veldhuizen.
'What we've done is to acknowledge that this is the feature they respect most in their soils.'
The couple noted their venture had more than its share of viticultural challenges. The block they purchased was originally advertised as potential truffle country. Cynics have described it as chlorosis central. Both views can be readily supported by Bell Hill's highly alkaline soils (pH 7.2 - 7.5) and its degraded and weathered bedrock.
As if that wasn't enough, Giesen told forum members they'd also added limestone rock to two blocks to increase light reflection, and to explore the possibility of ripening their Pinot Noir at a slightly lower sugar level to avoid unbalanced and alcoholic wines.
'There are two schools of thought about growing Pinot Noir on limestone,' Giesen asserted.
'One says the most effective plants are those on their own roots. The other, of course, says that with more than 20% active lime in our soils we really need to plant on rootstocks to get the best plant response from the site.'
The full article can be found in the May/June issue of Australian Viticulture.
To subscribe visit http://www.winebiz.com.au/ausvit
Other feature articles
- Natalie Fryar, Winemaker, Jansz Tasmania
- Angelo Puglisi, Ballandean Estate, Queensland
- Dave Cleary, West Cape Howe Wines, WA
- Kim Chalmers, Chalmers Nurseries, NSW
- Tiffany Nugan, Nugan Estate, NSW
- Doug Bowen, Bowen Estate, SA
- Drew Brent-White, Windance Estate, WA
- Ian Hollick, Hollick Wines, SA
- Andrew Nugent, Bird in Hand Winery, SA
- Jim Chatto, Pepper Tree Wines, NSW
- Tony Keys, The Key Files
- Forum in pursuit of Pinot excellence
- Andrew Naylor, Pernod Ricard, NZ
- Samantha Scarratt, Fishtail Vineyards, New Zealand
- Adam Hooper and Elena Golakova, La Curio, SA
- Kathleen Quealy, T’Gallant/Balnarring Vineyard/Quealy Wine, VIC
- Richard Smart, Tamar Ridge Wines, TAS
- Terry Lee
- Ben Glover, Wither Hills, NZ
- David Fonseca Guimaraens, Fonseca and Taylor’s Port, Portugal
- Sam Temme, Lloyd Brothers, SA
- Peter May
- Colin Kay, Kay Brothers Amery, SA
- Mark Deegenaars, Sirromet Wines, QLD
- Peter Dry, University of Adelaide, SA
- Simon Thistlewood, Bimbadgen Estate, NSW
- David Lehmann, Barossa Valley, SA
- Mark Lloyd, Coriole Vineyards, McLaren Vale, SA
- Tom Harvey, Chalk Hill, SA
- Albarino – potentially Australia’s great white hope
- Ian Hendy, Tahbilk, VIC
- Oak trials instigated to create the right balance
- Jason Conti, Paul Conti Wines, WA
- Swan Valley goes organic in its approach to wine production
- 100-year-old vines saved from destruction
- Paul Boulden, Margaret River, WA
- Pinot trophy wine a close call
- Grenache finds its place in the spotlight
- Ashley Ratcliff, Yalumba Wine Company, SA
- Lessons from a fiery day in February
- Prolific Penfolds takes a double triumph
- Great win for Tatachilla Shiraz
- Ian Long, Yarraman Estate, NSW
- Capercaillie looks to future
- Tolley leaves AWBC in good shape
- Julian Parrot, Mandala Wines, NSW
- Yarra Valley’s Sticks grows up
- Rebuilding Bianchet Winery
- Kalleskes take organic grapegrowing to heart
- Vineyards benefit from WWOOF program
- Organic producer in touch with the earth
- BackVintage adopts integrated IT solution
- Lark Hill achieves full biodynamic certification
- Joseph Gilbert of Pewsey Vale – early maker of the classic Australian blend
- Sam Statham, Rosnay Wines, NSW
- Young achiever to study in USA
- Evolving Durif at Morris Wines
- Diane Miller, The Vintage Wineworx, WA
- NZ’s star producer guided by the cosmos
- On the rise: Pinot Gris secures its place
- Killeen wins Winetitles’ scholarship
- Rebecca Wilson, Tamar Valley, TAS
- Liz Riley, Vitibit, Hunter Valley
- The Gilberts of Pewsey Vale: the next generation
- Mark Cairns, Riverside Wines, Hawke’s Bay
- Craigow wins Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year
- Cornwall’s Camel Valley sets Sparkling pace in the UK
- Fred Peacock, Bream Creek Vineyard, Tasmania
- Arneis a winner, no matter how you say it
- WA’s Vanya Cullen named ‘woman of the year’
- McWilliams Mount Pleasant Estate award-winning cellar door
- Planning eases heatwave burden for Mount Horrocks
- Supplier of the Year proves customer service goes a long way
- Meet Ken Murchison
- The journey of Tempranillo to Australia
- Successful events have wineries bursting into song
- Jim Barry Wines winemaker chooses biodynamic option
- Meet Belinda Gould
- Hard grind is paying off for Sangiovese
- Biodynamic viticulture benefits Nazaraay Estate Winery
- Monitoring the key to reducing water use
- Consistently improving the quality and reputation of Australian Cabernet
- Making sure vines are true to type
- Lessons from the drought
- A story of Cuban cigars and a good nose
- A Murray Valley winery has released one of Australia’s first 100% carbon-neutral wines
- John Casella: The brains behind the brand
- Quality Tasmanian Pinot Noir stems from varying degrees of stalk removal
- Young leader forecasts positive future for Australian viticulture businesses
- China’s light shines on Aussie export radar
- Driving the blue bus of industry exposure
- Noble wine proves sweet for Australian wine industry
- Solar energy schemes lack uniformity in Australia
- Solutions for the wine industry’s fiddlier labelling jobs
- Carbon neutrality: The new black
- An understanding of excellence: James Irvine and his life in wine
- Can Australia overcome a harsh reality in the US
- Cape Mentelle treats itself to first place
- Aussies export their expert advice to China
- Bruce Tyrell: the Don Quixote of Semillon
- Why the past could help unlock grape’s future
- Brazil opportunities beckon
- Cool wine regions to benefit from research on new pathogen
- Wineries embrace sensory analysis
- Author reveals first steps to marketing magic
- China - emerging market or competitor?
- Young Vine Decline is studied closely in NSW
- Is the Shiraz berry the biggest loser?
- Small players the big winners for tomorrow’s vineyard
- Save money and wine by choosing the right bentonite
- Significant variations in an Iconic Coonawarra vineyard lead to radical solutions
- Sustainable pest control – now and in a changing climate
- Is there value in adding tannin to wine?
- How do country of origin, closure type and label style affect purchase decisions?
- City sellers
- Selective science – from the vineyard to the winery
- Change agenda includes new thinking
- WineCloud provides future direction for winemakers
- The iron(III) tartrate photochemistry of wine: impacts of bottle colour and weight
- How important are wine medals and how much can we rely on those who assign them?
- Big rewards in fine detail
- Italian inspiration for novel Nero d’Avola making
- Oak deserves its fine environmental credentials
- Machinery maintenance is key to vintage success
- Wine: does vine age really matter?
- SA wineries make a positive and lasting impression
- Magazine pages bring history to life for Rutherglen grower
- Coles tells small wineries to ‘work with us’
- Distinguished vineyard sites are essential for quality fruit production says Petaluma
- From vine to bottle: sustainability a core value for Barossa winery
- Adapt and innovate in a challenging wine business world
- Verduzzo - a 'crazy' white
- Australia’s grapevine germplasm collections under threat
- Expo offers suppliers a chance to shine
- Wineries celebrate end of vintage
- Artisan by name and nature
- Barossa symposium delivers tips for Shiraz vineyard management
- Research to reveal best irrigation practice in dry winters
- Lake’s Folly proves its credentials over 50 years
- New research sheds light on flavour additives in wine
- It’s a three-ringed circus
- Trying to paint the world red
- Where do little winemakers come from?
- A chip off the old block
- The rise and rise of Gatt Wines
- Bizot and Croser – a marriage made in the vineyard
- Wine’s wild man rides into town
- Jeff Bond – a licence to thrill
- The Visionary – who’s laughing now
- Chilling out in Australian wine’s own Ice Age
- Quarter of our wines face Chinese ban
- Four-year research project investigates early influence of oxygen
- Australian winemakers’ views towards oak barrel alternatives matures
- Ready…set…tweet! How you can bank your social media benefits
- Wine show season: It seems not all wine shows would earn a gold medal
- January 2015 Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine out now
- Smart & Sustainable: Jana Shepherd
- Lazy bones: Jo Perry’s ironic nickname
- Can’t sit still: Bleasdale’s energiser bunny
- Meet New Zealand’s best young viti
- Suzie Muntz
- Clare Burder: Ideas are nothing without action
- Steve Baraglia: A tale of two valleys