NZ Organic Wine Awards: 'Sustainable Vineyard of the Year 2024' plus 2 Gold and 2 Silver Medals. Full details

A Vintage Performance from Sam Neill

I'm in it for the fun," says Sam Neill, New Zealand's most famous actor about his recent venture into winemaking. Neill's debut Two Paddocks Pinot Noir was recently distributed to the trade-mainly restaurants in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown-by the local agent, Eurowine. It is also expected to reach some retail shelves at around $28.50.

Why the name Two Paddocks? "The paddock next door is owned by Roger Donaldson," says Neill, who lives near Queenstown. "He planted chardonnay and I planted pinot noir, but Roger hasn't produced any wine yet." Neill's two-hectare vineyard, planted five years ago, is in the Gibbston Valley, but he is already expanding; establishing a second, larger vineyard in Alexandra, near the Black Ridge winery, which will come into production in three or four years' time.

The wine was made initially by Mike Wolter and completed by Rudi Bauer. Harvested in early May as 22.5 brix, it was

fermented in small open vats, hand-plunged, held on its skins before and after the fermentation and matured for 10 months in French oak barriques (90 percent new). It's well-coloured, fragrant wine, soft and full with rich cherryish flavours, alread
drinking well.

Wolter died in a winemaking accident in mid-1997 at the Central Otago Wine Company in which his wife, Sam Neill and others remain shareholders. "At first, I felt like pulling out of the whole project," says Neill. The back label on the wine pays tribute to Wolter with the words, "This one's for you, Mike."

Predictably, demand for Two Paddocks Pinot Noir 1997 has been intense. "We even heard from Channel 9 television in Sydney," says José Hernandez, Aukland regional manager for Eurowine. "We had 250 cases to sell… I just wish we had 2,500 cases."

© Copyright, Liquor Link. Posted with the permission of the publisher.

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