Last Sunday we had lunch with our friends the McCallums – Dawn and Neil who founded Dry River and built it into the most amazingly successful company. Neil is one of the greatest wine makers I’ve ever met, I think, and he’s also very funny. Great company. Dawn’s a marriage celebrant and one of my biking mates – The Pinot Pedallers. One of the interesting things Neil said – and his knowledge is astounding – was that about three years ago he wrote an article predicting New Zealand would get into the mess it is in now with sauvignon blanc, especially in Marlborough. Now he predicts we will soon be in a similiar mess with pinot noir, particularly also in Marlborough and Central Otago. New Zealanders, unfortunately, are such band-wagon jumpers.
Which is why we are pleased we have stuck to our guns and our gut instincts, and stayed with just one primary label, (that is, have not pushed cheaper wine out there under a secondary label) kept our tonnage down (ie bunch-dropped), kept the quality high, and not sacrified quality for quantity. Despite the urgings of those who think they know best, we have not rushed out and found “a distributor”, but carried on quietly selling our wine by word of mouth, and it is solidly selling. There is nothing worse than a distributor mucking up and selling cheap, because you’ll never get the price back up again.
Anyway, all this preamble brings me to our other diversification – the Syrah, from the hot Rhone corner of the vineyard. The 2008 Syrah, which Martinborough’s other master winemaker, Larry McKenna helped us make (and I’d have to say, he’s also the best winemaker I’ve ever met – but let’s face it, I know so little about making wine I’m easy to impress), has now been in the barrels for 18 months. So last Saturday we began racking it off to aerate it a little and freshen it up. We saved some to drink and it is drinking just lovely. Quite full on the mouth when you first take it in, but holding its flavour well all the way down. A good hearty syrah, I’d say, which will mature very well. We left it in two tanks for a couple of days then pumped it back into the barrels, and it will go into bottles, barely (if at all) filtered, very soon. This is very exciting – we have six barrels of this to be released, probably in about late 2010, 2011.What a lovely colour!