FRANCIS! FRANCIS! FRANCIS!
Carrick Wines began life as a vineyard on Cairnmuir Rd, Bannockburn, in 1993. Owners Steve and Barbara Robertson-Green planted it themselves; running wires out through the vineyard with the same trusty blue tractor they use today. At the time, the Robertson-Greens didn’t live on the site – rather, they lived in the city about five hours’ away – so it wasn’t until they built their house among the vines and moved onsite in 2000 that Carrick Wines Ltd was properly born.
When you live on your vineyard, you very quickly realise that what you spray on it also ends up on your washing, windows and vegetable garden. So as soon as they moved, Steve and Barbara made the decision immediately to transition to organic production (full certification was obtained in 2008).
In 2010, they hired Francis Hutt who encouraged them to go one further by implementing some biodynamic practices, like burying horns and prepping the compost. They still do this today. By 2011, Francis had been appointed Chief Winemaker, and in 2018 he was also appointed General Manager of Carrick Wines.
For Francis, the impact of the Central Otago terroir is huge but obvious. What’s less obvious is its impact on the people who live and work there. “For some, it’s the cold wind blowing off the snow-capped mountains or the beauty of the lakes that captivates them. People come to Central Otago for the excitement the region offers and the landscape invigorates all. They translate this enthusiasm into their work and it just makes the wine taste damn good,” he says.
Carrick grapes are grown on 24 hectares of certified organic vineyards in Bannockburn, Central Otago. It’s predominantly Pinot Noir with small parcels of Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. A minimal intervention approach is taken in the winery to ensure the personality of the people taking care of the vines has the opportunity to shine through.
Carrick Wines is a fully integrated vineyard, winery, restaurant and cellar door. Open daily, the restaurant takes walk-ins from 11am – 3pm.
247 Cairnmuir Road
Central Otago NZ
Which style do you think characterises the Pinot of your region, opposed to others?
You see it not just in the vineyards but also in the stone-fruit orchards of Central Otago.
The fruit expression is clear, bright and delicious. Winemakers can rely on its presence each year, along with deep beautiful colour, giving them more time to think about mouthfeel, texture and the overall energy of their wines.
To me Central Otago is less about Pinot Noir, and more about a wine style that is vibrant and pure. An expression that has been presented without filtration or unnecessary additions of yeast and sulphur for well over a decade.
Going off the recent Decanter guidelines, you could classify the majority of Central Otago estate-grown wines as “Natural” and this is what I mean by purity.
If your Pinot was a music artist, who would it be?
Best music to listen to during vintage?
BaseFM breakfast – Ponsonby Auckland. Reminds you that life does exist during March April and May, you’re just not part of it.
Where do you Pinot?
Straight from barrel, in a cellar, from someone who gives shit.
What are three things we should know about your region?
- Walk, ski, pedal; Gain altitude for perspective.
- The glacial formations are so clearly defined once you get up a few meters in any of the basins around Central Otago. These formations are the outlines of our sub-regions and gives you an immediate explanation of why the wines are so site specific.
- Most people like to head out on foot in the direction of the closest mountain-peak, otherwise do as the locals do and strap on some skis in the winter or cruise one of the many mountain-bike trails in the summer.
What’s the one thing we must do in your region?
It is the energy of the environment that keeps us here Central Otago, it frames our culture and shapes our wines.
Get out and get some for yourself.
If not you, who else should people try?
The giants, the mountains; Mount Edward, Maude & Mt Difficulty