Exciting New Arrivals
from Waipara Valley:
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 vines.
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 naturally in the vineyards are used for fermentation and the wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered to allow the unadulterated expression of the grapes and terroir to shine through.
Muddy Water Chardonnay 2016
97+ Points Stuart McCloskey "My third bottle and my opinion has not changed. An ineffably complex bouquet which builds and builds with more aeration in the glass. Emphatically, mineral-dominated, which combine perfectly with Amalfi lemon peel and orchard fruits (quince). The palate is full of energy, exhilarating, tightly coiled and perfectly balanced. The wine is chiselled, builds slowly and would benefit from decanting. Richness does not come in the form of fruit. Instead, the wine's fullness comes in the form of texture (phenolic weight) which is undeniably attractive (a nod to the painstaking work carried out in the vineyard). Wet stones wash across my palate but it’s the salinity which I love and sets this New Zealand Chardonnay apart from all the others. There’s a killer line of acidity which will ease with more time in the bottle. Wonderfully alive, memorable and a breathtaking wine. Wow! Served in Zalto Bordeaux glassware." Drink now to 2026
97 Points - Magdalena Sienkiewicz - Full of energy which bursts from the glass. Exuberant nose, filled with Meyer lemon and salty wet stones, which sets a vivid image of a wild coast line brushed by the ocean's spray. A touch of ripe white stonefruit emerging with aeration however, gentle citrus and invigorating minerality take control. The palate offers mouth-watering sea minerals, I guess an expression of the limestone terroir, which makes it a serious contender to the great wines of Burgundy (and extremely good value before any comparisons). Rich and layered textures flow effortlessly but it’s the overall sense of calmness and control which I love the most.
96 points - Peter Robinson "The wine begins with beautifully inviting aromas of lemon peel, nectarine and white blossom that sit perfectly next to gentle butterscotch, vanilla and a tiny hint of nutmeg in the background. The palate is precise, and offers bright, citrus and orchard fruits with a pure mineral and saline core. A touch of sweet oak adds softness and further layers with a slight viscosity. This wine is incredible value, perfectly constructed, every component having its role to play with a focus on the subtleties. Delicious!"
Chardonnay is an incredible malleable grape, deriving much of its character from the soil and climate. The limestone-infused clay soils mirror the soils of Chardonnay's spiritual home in Burgundy. The block is planted with a mix of clones over 20 years old and grown on their own roots for true expression. The vines are tended entirely by hand; spur-pruned which allows good exposure in the fruiting zone to the sun and warm North West wind that blows through the block. The maturity of these old vines self-regulates the crop load and the clusters are never thinned.
Planting density:1850 vines/ha
"Unquestionably, three Pinot Noirs
which stop you in your tracks"
Stuart McCloskey "A serious set of Pinot Noirs, which and at their respective release date were born to be cellared. Their philosophy is succinct and to quote Muddy Water "We believe true fine wines are temporal, each vintage a fleeting snapshot of a place in time. We don’t seek to manipulate the final product with additives or flavourings – instead, we allow a true interpretation of the soil, vines and season to shine through”. Many producers often, and eloquently so, speak of terroir and for their wines to naturally reflect the environment and vintage characteristics however, these are often hollow statements.
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."
Slowhand Pinot Noir
The Slowhand block was the first to be planted and embodies the founding ethos of Muddy Water: that our vines be carefully and meticulously tended by ‘slow hands’. The limestone-laced clay soil is conducive to making great Pinot Noir and is slightly denser on this block, restricting vine vigour and lengthening ripening time to develop distinct structure and texture. Because the block is on flatter ground the drainage is not as good and the vines get less sun than our hillside blocks – so we only make Slowhand in years when the weather is suitably dry and sunny to ensure a perfect crop.
Rows are planted exclusively with 10/5, an old style vine grown on its own roots that creates a rich, powerful wine. 10/5 naturally produces more fruit than ideal for quality wine production, but with gentle old-world methods of spur-pruning and canopy management we maintain a restrained cropping rate. Fruit bunches are typically large and so a lot of hands-on work is done to keep bunch numbers low and remove shoulders from individual bunches before they begin final ripening.
Planting density: 1850 vines/ha
Row spacing: 3m
Vine spacing: 1.8m
Avg yield: 2.5kg/vine
Two minuscule but delicious mature parcels
Available at £34.95 per bottle
* Only 6 bottles available *
* Only 36 bottles available *
Hare's Breath Pinot Noir 2012
Perched on the hillside, the Hare's Breath block earned its name from momentary glimpses by winery staff of an enigmatic wild hare living among the vines. On cool winter mornings the hare's breath can be seen in frosty puffs. Lumps of free limestone are dotted in the soil surface, giving a strong mineral character to the fruit. Natural air movement down the slopes keeps everything frost free and the hillside soils are free draining, making this a reliable block even on wetter years. A little irrigation is needed in summer, drawn from the naturally renewing spring on the property.
These rows are planted to a higher density than our older blocks with a mix of seven newer clone types from Burgundy, including one rumoured to have been smuggled out of Domaine de la Romanee Conti in the 1970s, tucked into a rugby player's gumboot. The vines are now reaching maturity and with careful spur-pruning and minimal irrigation we ensure a low yield, with each vine producing just enough fruit to create a single bottle of wine.
Planting density: 5000vines/ha
Row spacing: 2m
Vine spacing: 1m
Avg yield: 1kg/vine (1 bottle from each vine)