The Churton Sauvignon Difference

Sauvignon Blanc viticulture at Churton

Churton now produces all of its fruit requirements including all of the Sauvignon Blanc.

The Churton vineyards are very different to the vast majority of Marlborough Sauvignon vineyards.

At a relatively high altitude of 200m above sea level with a clay loess soil and with small vines close planted. Our vineyard more resembles the clay based vineyards found in the central Loire Valley. Take a look at the vineyard plan and you will see the number of different Sauvignon blanc blocks (10). All of these have different attributes and slightly different aspects. This means the fruit composition is very different.

With our close planted vines 4630 vines/ha in comparison to the Marlborough norm of 2000vines/ha we aim for small vines with only a small amount of fruit we prune the vines to two canes only and limit fruit to 1.5kg /vine:

Sauvignon Difference : Churton Wines Marlborough New Zealand

Unlike the more conventional large vines which are pruned to 4 canes and cropped at 6kg and more /vine here’s Jack in a neighbour’s conventional vineyard.

Sauvignon Difference : Churton Wines Marlborough New Zealand

From budburst onwards our viticulture differs. We aim to shoot thin the whole vineyard to achieve strong well spaced shoots. With our organic management system this is aldo important as it allows for good light penetration and plenty of air circulation.

You will also note that in the first photo the vines canes are very brown. This lignifications of the stems is achieved through very tight water management. In fact we aim to use minimal irrigation particularly between flowering and irrigation. This stress in the vine promotes a number of physiological changes in the vine and we believe enhance fruit maturity. Certainly it’s closely linked to pip maturity and therefore tannin maturity. It also results in grapes with a lower acidity.

The final approach to sauvignon blanc is that we aim for fully ripe fruit and evenly ripe fruit. At Churton we are not looking for the same range of under ripe green / herbaceous and vegetal flavours to the over ripe tropical mangoes and passion fruit. We want to get evenly ripe fruit with well balanced flavours and fruit with plenty of extract. This in our view leads to wines that are more age worthy and that have great texture and lengthy of flavour. This texture and minerality is also enhanced by the soil structure.

Following photo shows perfectly even bunches, one per shoot amounting to our target of 1.5kg/vine or the equivalent of 50hl/ha. A few leaves have been removed to show the fruit zone more clearly.

Sauvignon Difference : Churton Wines Marlborough New Zealand

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.