Merry Christmas everyone and welcome to the last newsletter for 2010. It has been a busy few months with lots of interesting things to report just before we roll on in to Christmas.

On the wine side of things:

Recent Reviews: – We continue to receive great press from around the globe. Lisa Perrotti-Brown, who is Robert Parker’s person on the ground in this part of the world, visited the vineyard recently. She reviewed a couple of vintages of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir as well as the Abyss Pinot Noir. Click here for Lisa Perrotti-Brown’s Churton Sauvignon Blanc review
Churton Pinot Noir review
The Abyss Pinot Noir review

Michael Cooper’s Buyers Guide 2011 is also out with reviews of The Abyss, the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2008 Pinot Noir. For the full write-ups please see the adjacent column. Click here for Michael Cooper’s Churton Sauvignon Blanc review
Churton Pinot Noir review
The Abyss Pinot Noir review

Cow Pat Pits:
– These are a new addition to the Biodynamic regime at Churton for 2010. Along with Preparations 500 & 501, composting, companion planting and making use of natural growth rhythms the cow pat pits take us further in the journey of growing grapes “purely and simply”. It doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to work out the main ingredient here, which alongside a mix of powdered egg shell and basalt dust amongst other things, is stored in the ground for 6 months. The end result is a compost full of microbial goodness with wide ranging uses around the vineyard from foliar feed to soil inocculant. Here we are making our first ever pits:

Auckland University collaboration:-:
We are excited to be part of a research project run by Auckland University. Dr Mat Goddard, a microbial ecologist is looking at indigenous yeast populations in the Churton vineyard and subsequently in the grape juice from the vineyard. His hypothesis is that individual sites have a widely varying natural yeast flora and this variation between site and indeed country can be a significant factor that influences wine quality. In other words terroir; the French concept of site expression in wine, (and other foodstuffs) can partly be explained by these different yeast populations. Fascinating stuff if you are a microbiologist (like Sam!). We’ll be sampling two of our Sauvignon Blanc blocks: Saddle and Loin.

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The 2010 vintage saw the first fruit being taken off the Viognier vines that were planted in 2007. We have kept this little surprise reasonably under wraps as Sam has been unsure exactly what was going to happen with the resulting wine. Would it be sold off? Would there be some sort of ‘proprietary white blend’ created to encompass the Petit Manseng that will have its first vintage in 2011? Or would there be a third varietal to join the current Churton pairing; Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir? The answer pretty much rested on the quality of the fruit which as it happened came in beautifully ripe; showing excellent apricot and floral characters that are indicators of good ripeness in Viognier. 100% fermented in barrel it is a weighty wine with the Churton hallmarks of texture, length and minerality. The 2010 Churton Viognier will be released in June 2011. 

At the end of August Sam presented his views on organics and biodynamics on a panel at the Romeo Bragato conference. The essence of his presentation was that running Churton using a biodynamic approach is to obtain more individual and character full wines of higher quality. Sam said, “In Marlborough we are blessed with a growing environment that is easy; the season tends to be dry and windy, disease pressure is limited as are vine pests. So why wouldn’t you run the vineyard organically?” At Churton wine quality is everything. The continual slow evolution of our biodynamic practices has led to more stable wines that are easier to ferment with much better balance and structure. If you want to know more about the technical issues that Sam believe result from an organic approach please contact Sam directly …

In the market:-
We have a new UK customer Berry Brothers and Rudd (BBR). Sam has had a long standing association with BBR; his first ever full time wine trade job was in their cellars in Basingstoke more than 30 years ago (yes 30!). In those dim, distant days the working day was as follows: 8am, start work; 10.30 am, tea break; 12.00 noon, Beer Break; 12.30 lunch; 3.00pm tea break, 4pm Beer Break; 5pm home! A fine start to Sam’s wine trade career. It is with much pleasure that Churton has obtained its first order from the venerable, old company and from early next year they will be stocking the 2009 Churton Sauvignon Blanc, and 2008 Churton Pinot Noir.

Thank you all for your wonderful support for Churton during the year. We all know how tough the year has been so it’s with great appreciation that we wish you a very Happy Christmas and a Healthy and Happy New Year.

With Best wishes, Sam, Mandy, James, Andrea and the Churton team.


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