A group of producers in Marlborough believe the time has come for the region to adopt a 100% Pure strategy to protect the region’s reputation and preserve the integrity and value of the Marlborough wine industry.
While winemaker Dave Closuton began producing the first Two River wines back in 2004, it wasn’t until 2010 that the company became commercial. Since then it has been a virtual business, buying in fruit and using contract facilities to make the wine.
That changed this year, when Two Rivers purchased their first vineyard block – an iconic vineyard that Clouston says will provide something very special to the company portfolio.
Brookby Hill Vineyard is in the heart of the Southern Valleys and was purchased after years of looking by Clouston.
“I was very specific about what I was after. I kept thinking, if I was looking for Grand Cru in Marlborough, where would I find it? I found it this year.”
The seven-hectare vineyard contains some of the steepest slopes in the Southern Valleys and maybe even in Marlborough. With clay soils, high density plantings (5000 vines per hectare), and easily able to be converted to organics, it was just what Clouston was after.
Planted back in 2002 he refers to it as a “fruit salad” of varieties. Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Syrah and Pinot Noir – which makes up more than half the plantings. While he plans to reduce the amount of Riesling and Viognier, while adding some more Chardonnay, the overall mix is a nice addition to the current portfolio of contracted fruit.
The range of varieties is also allowing him to experiment more. For example this year he has used Viognier to blend with his Pinot Noir –something he doesn’t believe has been done before in New Zealand.
“It was quite cool. We used five percent Viognier with the Pinot, similar to what we used with the Syrah and tasting the wine in barrel it seems to have lifted the aromatics. Having this range of varieties gives us freedom to explore and allows us to push ourselves in different directions.”
The resulting wine will be showcased on day three of Pinot 2017, where wineries are encouraged to show those attending what is happening in the trial shed.
Apart from the wide range of varietals planted, Brookby Hill Vineyard has steep slopes which provide some dramatic differences within a small space.
“They change from the top of the slope to the bottom,” Clouston says. “You get more vigour at the bottom, so we will have to leaf pluck that once more. At the top it is a lot more arid and dry, so you get slightly more water issues, so we have to build up the organic matter.
It also has something else which is quite unique – a Hilux buried under the vines.
“When they filled in one of the valleys, the original guy who set it up buried a Hilux. Which is why that area is called Hilux Slope. I am not sure if it adds anything to the vines, maybe a bit of metal or minerality characters,” he jokes.
For Clouston, next year’s Pinot Noir 2017, is the first Two Rivers has attended. For an emerging and growing boutique winery, he says the event is one that can offer a lot.
“We are in a growing stage and this is a great way for a small boutique brand to gain exposure on the world stage and make global contacts. You can’t help but be seduced by some of the speakers and the workshops, and it has a great reputation.”
Two Rivers is one of 38 Marlborough wineries and 117 from throughout the country attending Pinot Noir 2017 in Wellington, from January 31 until February 2.