The Abyss

“The ABYSS – is the nearest thing we have to a Grand Cru site at Churton” says Sam Weaver owner and winemaker. As testament to the quality of the 2008 Pinot Noir vintage, Sam saw fit to create a ‘single block’ bottling for the first time – The Abyss……… Here in the press release he describes what led up to this:

“The 21st June is a turning point in the year. It marks the winter solstice; days lengthen, and the new season in the vineyard starts. It also marks the season for the Churton new releases.

THE ABYSS was the first block planted in the Churton vineyard. In fact it was because of this particular slope combined with Weaver’s experience of working in Burgundy and making Pinot Noir throughout New Zealand that led him to believe this was a great site for Pinot.

That was 11 years ago. Now finally the vineyard is beginning to show some maturity and the early decisions are coming to fruition.

Why is THE ABYSS so exceptional? The close planted vineyard is located on a 200metre ridge above the Omaka River. The gentle, North East facing, 14% slope has a soil composed of 17% clay. Compare this to Grand Cru vineyards in Burgundy and its hardly surprising THE ABYSS has started producing exceptional wine.

Churton Pinot Noir 2008

In Burgundy the Grand Cru vineyards are located on the middle of the slopes facing South or South East (the equivalent of North East for the Southern hemisphere). Take the Grand Cru, Les Musigny, in the Commune of Chambolle Musigny: “oriented to the South East with a 10 -14% slope…” and lying between 200-300m with a clay based soil.

A few years ago whilst visiting Churton the renowned soil scientist, Claude Bourguignon, consultant to some of the great names of Burgundy and Bordeaux described THE ABYSS block as the “Grand Cru site” of Churton. On trying wine from these soils he was taken aback by the “bouquet of dried rose petals reminiscent of wines from Romanée Conti in Burgundy”. High praise indeed.

Winemaker & vineyard owner, Sam Weaver, always swore: “I’ll never make a vineyard selection if it alters the quality of the standard Churton Pinot Noir”. The 2008 vintage has provided the opportunity. Superb climatic conditions over the season; vine age; biodynamic management; and a greater understanding of the site have all culminated in a wine that is exceptional and shouted right from the start to be bottled separately. While drinking superbly in its youth, THE ABYSS will definitely reward patience and will happily cellar for 10+ years.


Our winemaking is focussed exclusively on producing high quality Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir
that combines the renowned flavour of Marlborough and the complexity of fine European wines.