Earnscleugh / Alexandra
The Last Chance
The Last Chance
Earnscleugh / Alexandra
A dramatically beautiful site in Earnscleugh, ideal for Pinot Noir. Three hectares only, planted in 1998. Close to Alexandra and perhaps the world’s most southerly vineyard.
This beautiful terrace, perched above the Clutha River and located near Alexandra, was acquired in 1998. We immediately planted all the arable land above and below extraordinary wind sculptured bluffs some 6 or 7 acres in all (3 Ha). The vineyard faces and slopes towards the sunny north.
We have a humble shed on this property named Chateau Paddeaux d’Alex.
Through this vineyard runs a water race to which we have partial water rights. This was made by hand (like our wines) by goldminers in the 1860’s and is called “The Last Chance”.
Most years we produce a single vineyard premium Pinot Noir from The Last Chance Paddocks, named naturally “The Last Chance." It is very rare and highly regarded. The wine comes from Burgundian clones (5, 6, 115, Able and 777) on two different rootstock, and in three separate blocks all of which have very individual characteristics. (The soils do vary, but are all schist based with varying depths of loess, gravel and gravelly loam). 1050+ GDD.
Taking off our modest cloth cap for a moment, The Prop believes - this is Grand Cru country.
We are now fully back into our organic programme. Philosophically we are not at all keen about agrichemicals and the rather regrettable industrial aspect of wine production we see elsewhere. Admittedly we are rather fortunate in some ways in that the Central Otago is well favoured towards organics -- the low humidity for instance means we are seldom challenged by fungi in the way some other regions might be. But we are, without being wild-eyed about all this, believers in a natural and healthy environment for our vines, for our staff and for you, the imbibing client. Soil health is essential as well.
This is an ongoing process -- we have in the past been certified organic, but we gave up our certification for a short time while we addressed weed problems in establishing new vineyards. Having crossed those bridges, we have, since 2013, been fully back into organics again and will be fully under the BioGro programme from 2017 vintage onwards.
So, while it's now considerably more work and investment to produce Two Paddocks wine, we think it worthwhile. Of course it's necessary to consider when you buy a good bottle of organically produced wine, that the bottle you are holding will have cost considerably more to produce than its conventionally farmed counterpart. Organics are by necessity labour intensive. It therefore should be no surprise that the wine will cost a little more.
On the subject of cost -- let's address the question of why a good bottle of Pinot costs somewhat more than some other reds. To paraphrase our friend Nigel Greening once more -- anything these days can be made on the cheap. That doesn't mean it will be any good. Pinot is more demanding of hard work than any other wine. A lot more hard work has gone into that bottle than its neighbour, the one made by machines in the vineyard. A good Pinot vine is by definition and by design the lowest yielding vine of all -- to produce the optimum ripe fruit, alive with profound fruit flavours balanced with smooth tannins and lively acids, it is regrettably necessary to drop more fruit on the ground as the season progresses than any sane man would consider sensible. The vine needs more attention by hand than you can credit -- at least fourteen visits a year each vine, pruning, shoot thinning, leaf plucking and so on. The list goes on. It is not a sane person's business -- Pinot. This is why we Pinot producers look at one another with empathy, sympathy, admiration and utter disbelief. What courage, what foolhardiness, what a nerve, what genius.