Capturing the taste of Central Otago
Expressive of Central Otago’s passionate and courageous viticulture pioneers, the sunlight, soils and the temperature, the region’s pinot noir offers a sense of place truly unique on the world stage.
Reflective of that sense of place is award-winning Carrick Wines, incorporating 24 hectares of organic vineyard with a winery, cellar door and restaurant at the southern end of Cromwell in Bannockburn.
Once part of Cairnmuir Station, the land at Carrick was established as a vineyard by former owners Steve and Barbara Green and was the first vineyard to be planted along Cairnmuir Road, now home to many vineyards.
Today, pinot noir is the predominant wine grown and produced by Carrick, with the remaining 40% white wines split equally between chardonnay, pinot gris, riesling and sauvignon blanc.Pinot noir is the grape variety synonymous with the French wine region of Burgundy, where the white variety of choice is chardonnay.
And so it often goes that where there is good pinot noir, as in Central Otago, so too do you find good chardonnay.At the helm of Carrick’s wine making is Rosie Menzies who joined the team late 2018 after gaining wine making experience in Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough, Europe and North America.
The winemaking bug first bit Rosie as a 16 year old inspired by her forward thinking chemistry teacher who set a project to make wine.After completing a BSc degree but unsure what she wanted to do with it, Rosie took a summer job working in a vineyard and has never looked back.
“I loved it. I loved the people, the philosophy, and the mixture of mental stimulation and physical work. “I’m super happy where it has taken me around the globe and New Zealand and the people I’ve met along the way.
“For me it’s the combination between science—no vintage is ever the same, so it’s a continual learning process – and creativity. ‘In the space of a winemaker you have the ability to express an artistic bent on the direction of the wines.”
Ironically, while early naysayers cast doubt on the region’s success as a wine growing area because of the cool climate, the combination of the Central Otago climate and soils ensures the grapes do very well, producing delicious wines.
“It’s a very beautiful area with a harsh climate -cold in the winter and hot in the summer. “We get quite cool nights in summer even though we get very hot days—which are great for pinot noir as it means a lot of natural acidity is retained.“Our site is incredibly dry but there are good sunlight hours, and the sandy soils provide great drainage for grapes.”
Concern for the quality of grapes and what was being sprayed on the vineyard resulted in Carrick becoming certified organic in 2008.For Rosie, organic is synonymous with quality. “You have to be a really good farmer to grow well organically.
“Growing organically does require a lot more work in the vineyard to achieve a high quality of product. “Proof that we’re on the right track with our wines was at the 2018 New Zealand Wine of the Year Awards, when we won trophies for Best Organic Red and Best Organic White wines.”
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