Friday, 11 January 2019 08:55

Twice entered, twice won

Written by  Tessa Nicholson

After years as a winemaker Andy Anderson decided to enter his first wine show last year.

In an amazing first off, he took out the major Pinot Noir Trophy, along with New Zealand Producer of the Year. Showing it was not a one-off, Anderson has done it again this year, as Tessa Nicholson discovers.

The International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) is one of the world’s most prestigious. It has mana, which is why when Anderson, winemaker for Takapoto Estate, decided he was going to enter his wine in one show, he chose the IWSC. “I thought if you are going to do something, you might as well try and make a statement and back yourself.”

But even he couldn’t have predicted that in his first ever show that he would take away the Trophy for Best Pinot Noir for his Bannockburn 2012 Pinot, as well as New Zealand Producer of the Year. “I was over the moon, I couldn’t actually believe it. My first show, there was so much emotion. I was tickled pink.”

It was one of the great wine stories of 2017. But it has been matched in 2018, with Anderson taking out the exact same Trophy for World’s Best Pinot Noir, with his Gibbston Valley 2014 Pinot – a wine that last year collected a Silver medal. 

Other Takapoto wines to be acknowledged this year were the 2014 blend of Bannockburn and Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir which won a silver outstanding, a 2014 single vineyard Chardonnay from Hawke’s Bay won Silver Outstanding and the same wine from 2015 won a Silver. With such an array of medals, it is not surprising that yet again, Takapoto Estate was named New Zealand Producer of the Year. Quite a feat when you consider that production reaches only around 150 cases per wine

So what is Anderson’s secret? Firstly fantastic vineyards. A fellow Lincoln University class mate put him touch with Legend’s Terrace in Bannockburn, and Coxs Vineyard in Gibbston Valley.

Secondly he holds his wines back, up to five years before releasing. The owners of Takapoto Estate, Mitch and Kate Plaw, give him the ability “to guide the Takapoto label as I see fit,” he says. “One of the things they have allowed me to do is age the wines. I think Central Otago Pinots look best at about five years old.”

The winning wine last year, was a 2012 – and it had reached the stage when Anderson thought it was starting to show its best. He wasn’t wrong, given the Trophy.

When it came to this year’s entry, Anderson went through all the wines up until the 2016’s.

“I looked at them to see where they were in their evolution of development. Really only the 14’s were looking pretty good, although the 15’s were really close – but I still thought they were a bit early.”

The Gibbston Valley 2014 Pinot Noir proved to be exactly where Anderson had predicted – in the winning stage of development.

So apart from great fruit and aging the wines, what else separates these from other Central Pinot’s? Maybe it has to do with the fruit taking three days to reach him after being hand-picked, 100 percent de stemmed and cooled overnight prior to travel. (Anderson makes the Takapoto wines at Te Kauwhata, home of Invivo Wines).

“They come up to me in pallecons, which hold around 700 kilos each. They take about three days to get here and that whole time they are macerating. They might even start a bit of fermentation, so I am getting that nice buildup of aromatics because of the cold soak.”

Natural yeast on the fruit is used in the fermentation and Anderson matches each of the different clones of Pinot with a specific oak, before final blending. While both winning wines are single vineyard, he says if the fruit is not right for such a wine, he will make a blend of Bannockburn and Gibbston Valley.

Describing them as 100 percent terroir wines, he says they fulfill his wish to make wines that are true to where they come from and that express the vineyard wholeheartedly in every way.

“I think I am getting there,” he modestly comments.

So with two trophies under his belt, is there another wine in the portfolio that could grab the triple peat?

“The 15 Bannockburn is a real belter, but I am holding it back as it is just not ready. Maybe next year, or even the year after.”

The back to back wins are a ray of sunshine in what has been a difficult year for Anderson. Diagnosed with terminal cancer in July, he says hearing he had won the trophy was an amazing piece of news.

“It’s one of those funny things in life. It will throw you a curve ball, but it might also throw you a golden egg. Finding I had terminal cancer has been tough. But winning this has been amazing. It has given me a bit more drive. I want to hang around as long as I possibly can.” 


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