Near harvest time, Mike Wing and Dean Shaw walk the vineyards, checking and tasting the grapes to determine when picking time is near. The decision to pick is made primarily on taste and the flavour direction of the grape, backed up by tests on the degree of brix (percent of sugar, measured with a refractometer), the concentration of malic and tartaric acid, and whether full phenolic maturity has been achieved. When they are ready, the grapes are carefully hand picked, sorted and quickly transported from the vineyard to the winery.
At the vineyard, the grapes are tipped into the destemmer-crusher, which separates the berries from their stems and breaks their skins open to allow yeast access to the juice inside. The resulting mixture of grape pulp, juice, skins and seeds is called "must." Dean then separates the crush into lots and allows the grapes to macerate and ferment with their skins and seeds to extract colour and the tannins that help support and balance the delicate fruit flavours of the Pinot Noir. He keeps close tabs on the progress of the fermentation by tasting the wine daily.
During fermentation the "cap" of the wine (skins that are pushed to the top of the fermenter by CO² gas) is kept moist by gently plunging the cap down one to three times a day, rather than pumping over, to reduce aeration and protect the delicate flavours of the Pinot Noir grapes.
After fermentation is complete, the wine is pressed off the must and sent to small French oak barrels for aging.
The wine is aged in barrels to allow the flavours and aromas to come into balance with the tannins and bring notes of toast, spice and lightly charred aromas to the wines. Only French oak barrels are used. To maintain the individual terroir flavour of the wine, approximately 20% new barrels and 80% 1- to 3-year old barrels are used.
Dean continues to taste the aging wine regularly to monitor its progress. When he decides that the wine has developed to his satisfaction, he creates a blend using the different lots to make a finished wine that reflects the flavour characteristics of the vineyards it came from.
The finished wine is then bottled and labeled and set aside to continue the aging process until it is decided it is time for its release.
"Wine is very dynamic and personal. It's not my aim to stamp a regime on the grapes as they come into the winery, but to try to understand the grapes and let them express themselves with a helping hand.The challenge is to understand what that self-expression should be."
A native of New Zealand, Two Paddocks' winemaker Dean Shaw has traveled the world learning the art and science of winemaking. He started his education in New Zealand; completing his formal studies with a post graduate degree in Viticulture and Wine Science from Lincoln University in Canterbury, New Zealand in 1993.
In 1994 Dean took a job at Rippon Vineyard in Central Otago working with winemaker and viticulturist Clotilde Chauvet. Dean recalls, "Clotilde is from Champagne, France. I found her to be a great person to talk to and learn from."
After two years at Rippon, Dean traveled to France to Comte Armand's Bourgogne vineyard, Clos des Epeneaux, Pommard. Here he worked with master vintner Pascal Marchand and studied the Burgundian style of winemaking. "It's great to learn about wine with the Burgundians. Their methods challenge the winemaker to express the best qualities of the grapes that result from the individual terroirs of the vineyards."
Dean continued his international work with a season in Austria at Hirsch, Kammern-Reisling and he produced a 1999 vintage Pinot Noir at Bouchard Finlayson, Hermanus, South Africa. He also spent a year at Geisen Wine Estate in Canterbury, New Zealand working with winemaker Rudi Bauer. "I learned a lot from Rudi and we still have many meaningful conversation about winemaking and Pinot Noir."
But it's Central Otago that he loves. "The youth of the wine industry down here challenges us to try to develop quickly, thoughtfully and positively. The region is awe-inspiring and the people involved are inspiring as well."
Why winemaking? As Dean says, "It wasn't a single moment, but a culmination of ideas and desires which crystallized over a three-litre cask of wine and a bottle of nasty port in Dunedin. I knew I could do better than this."
On November 16, 2001, New Zealand's most handsome winery opened its doors. The Central Otago Wine Company, in which Two Paddocks has an interest, is housed in another plain but serviceable ex-Ministry of Works building in Cromwell. The building has been entirely refurbished and redesigned by Athfield Architects of Wellington. Here you'll find an extensive wine-making facility with all the latest equipment.
Central Otago Wine Co.
102 Gair Avenue
Lake Dunstan Estate
Cromwell, Central Otago
phone: ++64 3 445 3100
fax: ++64 3 445 3101
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