Stuart McCloskey "Muddy Water Pinot Noirs truly reflect their philosophy, more so than any other New Zealand Pinot Noir (with the exception of Devotus) I have encountered. Burgundian to the very core but by no means trying to copy. Evolution has been kind to all three. Perfectly judged, uniquely captivating, full of detail, effortless, precise and everything a Grand Cru should be. Unquestionably, three Pinot Noirs which stop you in your tracks. simply stunning by any measure and not one wine dipped below 97+ / 98 points. All served using Zalto Burgundy glassware. Decant for 30 minutes."
Planting density: 1850 vines/ha
Row spacing: 3m
Vine spacing: 1.8m
Avg yield: 2.5kg/vine
Jane and Michael east were one of the first to recognise the potential in the Waipara Valley for growing high quality grapes and planted their first vineyard in 1993. Originally planting several varieties to see what worked, they took the approach that if it didn’t thrive, it was pulled up and what was left was meticulously nurtured to produce the highest quality fruit. The vines are un-grafted and planted on their own roots which is a very rare thing to see and much of their wine today is still produced from those original wines.
In 2011 Jane and Michael retired, handing over the reigns to the Thomas Family who have uncompromisingly stuck to the original philosophy set out by Jane and Michael of minimal intervention, crafting wines that are individual expressions of the site and vintage. The entire estate still only covers 12 hectares made up of 6 individual blocks, interspersed with olive groves and a natural spring that are tended using fully organic practices, the winery being the first in Canterbury to become certified organic.
The name Muddy Water is the literal translation of Waipara, and their ethos is to allow the wines to reflect this unique terroir. The soils are limestone washed, similar to those found in Burgundy and ideal for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and the vineyards consist of flatter ground leading to north facing slopes, with warm summers, cool evening and long autumns allowing the grapes to fully ripen developing great levels of complexity. The winery was hand built using straw bales and lies just a few hundred metres from the vines. They don’t manipulate the wines in any way, use pesticides or herbicides, everything is done with a hands on approach, walking through the vineyards allowing them to be completely in tune with the soils, the vines and the grapes. Wild yeast found occurring natural in the vineyards are used for fermentation and the wine are bottled unfined and unfiltered to allow the unadulterated expression of the grapes and terroir to shine through.
One of New Zealands up-and-coming sub-regions and very much thought of as “one to watch” is Canterbury’s Waipara Valley. Bob Campbell MW calling it “one of the unsung heroes of the wine industry” Waipara is gaining a reputation for some of the country finest Pinot Noirs. Translating as Muddy Water, Waipara is a sub-region that has been identified as having a unique and distinctive meso-climate which has made it one of the country’s fastest growing areas for wine production and a place on which the worlds eyes are now firmly fixed. Waipara shares several similarities to the rest of Canterbury’s climate, it has cold, frosty winters, warm, dry summers and long, dry, sunny Autumns. The feature that sets Waipara apart are a range of coastal hills to the east that protect it from the coastal winds making the area slightly warmer, resulting in riper grapes and ultimately wines of great power and structure. Taking their name from the Maori translation for this sub-region is Muddy Water. With just 12 hectares on vineyard, Muddy Water create stunning Pinot Noirs including the Hares Breath and Slow Hands single vineyard expressions, a beautifully mineral rich Chardonnay as well as several other varieties that are all indicative of the unique conditions found in Waipara. Pegasus Bay also create stunning wines from this micro-climate. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are featured in classic high form but their Rieslings really shine, both in the mature 2007 and 2008 vintages and their incredible flagship Riesling - Bel Canto.
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