A visit from Churton Wines
Author: Berry Bros. & Rudd
We take great pride in considering ourselves to be the closest link between the people who make wine, and the people who drink it, so it’s always a fantastic opportunity for us when the winemakers themselves come to visit us. We were treated by Mandy Weaver, Sam’s wife, to a line up of four fantastic wines, showcasing not only the established traditions of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, but also their new Viognier, very much a rarity from the region.
Named after Sam’s Shropshire birthplace, Church Pulverbatch, Churton’s winemakers pride themselves on their organic and biodynamic practices, where every effort is made to make sure the wines and the vineyards are as natural as possible. Sam and Mandy keep cattle on their land near their vineyards, strongly believing that a real understanding and embracing of agricultural techniques helps to achieve the best from their wines. Sam spends hours at a time with the grapes, analysing everything from skin to pips to make sure he doesn’t miss a trick when it comes to making the end product.
That being said, Churton is no stuck-in-the-mud traditionalist, as evidenced by their new Viognier, and also their plantings of Petit Manseng are the first to be seen in New Zealand. Their plantings and vineyards are shaped like a side of beef, and thus various different plots have been given names like flank, topside or brisket. The ominously named ‘abyss’ has the vines end in a sheer drop from a cliff face, making picking the grapes from that vineyard a surely unenviable task!
As for the wines they were excellent as expected, and the new 2010 Viognier seemed, by general consensus, to be the favourite, offering beautiful floral notes on the nose, and a crisp, slightly spicy taste on the palate, with the faintest hint of residual sugar. The 2009 and 2010 Sauvignon Blancs were also highly coveted, with a richness and mouthfeel indicative of really exquisite and ripe grapes, and the 2009 Pinot Noir upheld the excellent standard of Marlborough Pinot Noir with aplomb.
All in all it was a wonderful selection of wines from a unique and charming producer. Thank you very much to Mandy for giving us the opportunity to taste them, and we look forward with excitement to Churton’s future developments!