Friday, March 27, 2015

Vintage vittles - Friday 27 March: Sunshine, citrus and spaghetti

Today got off to a chilly start and there was a genuine taste of the autumnal weather just around the corner. Our winemaking team were down in the cellars preparing the base wine for our sparkling wine production for bottling, and also hard at work on a top secret project (watch this space).

Morning tea was therefore a very welcome vibrant and sticky lemon yoghurt cake. Fluffy enough to be moreish, dense enough to provide energy for the rest of the day and citrus-fragranced enough to wake up even the sleepiest of cellar-folk.


That kick-start seemed also to wake up the sunshine, and suddenly we were back to the views and blue skies that we love. With harvest just around the corner, the vines full of enticing fruit and it's hard to resist the temptation to wander the rows tasting! Fortunately our guinea fowl are much more interested in seeds and beetles than grapes, so they are the perfect vineyard companions.



With still a slight chill in the air, Marcia opted for full comfort food for lunch today, with huge plates of spaghetti bolognese and plenty of incredible fresh parmesan.



During vintage, we will be tasting our wines from the blocks that come in through the winery on each day, but - as we haven't started yet - today Clive chose to show a wine from one of our neighbours. Fromm winery are also organic and are part of the MANA group with us; their Syrah is one of their best known wines and a fantastically warming and spicy accompaniment to the bolognese.



Thursday, March 26, 2015

Vintage vittles... The Seresin way

Vintage is almost upon us, and our vintage workers are here and straining at the slips like the vinous greyhounds that they are. As is usually the case, we are one of the last properties to get started, enjoying the calm before the storm as our grapes finish the last stages of their maturation. After an exceptionally warm and sunny summer, the past week or two have been a little cooler, with a little bit of welcome and refreshing rain, and this has just taken the pace of the ripening a little - a good thing in our eyes.

Despite the fact that we have yet to fully embrace vintage, our team have been busy preparing the winery for action and therefore we have just begun to serve our vintage meals. We are very fortunate to have Marcia as our vintage chef; she is part of the Seresin family, an excellent cook and an inveterate feeder. Today was the first day of her "vintage" with us...

This morning, we all came together to share a spot of "smoko", in true Seresin style, served on the conveyor belt at the winery door. Fresh waffles made with Seresin fresh eggs always go down a treat...



Lunch for the winery crew today consisted of some of Marcia's delicious homemade pizzas - slow fermented pizza dough and the freshest of ingredients. Those of us in the office have good cause to be jealous when the photos get sent through! 




We thought we would share some of our meals, wines and vintage conversations with you over the coming weeks - show a little bit of what makes us tick, show who the people are who make everything happen and, more than anything show you, the Seresin way of life.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A journey of NZ Wine, with Bob Campbell MW and The New Zealand Cellar

Our friends at the New Zealand Cellar are running a fascinating tasting with Bob Campbell MW, which we would encourage anyone in the UK to consider - it looks like a great day.

BOB CAMPBELL MW & TNZC PrESENT
 A JOURNEY OF NEW ZEALAND WINE

 A one-day wine course providing a thorough overview of winemaking in New Zealand with an emphasis on regional differences. This course will cover New Zealand’s winemaking history, the implementation of sustainable viticulture and pathway toward organic winemaking, the closure revolution that lead to the widespread adoption of screwcaps and the country’s rapid growth in wine production that now ranks New Zealand as the world’s 13th largest wine producer.

The New Zealand wines Bob Campbell MW has selected for the day are:

Nautilus Brut Cuvee - Marlborough
Dog Point Section 94 - Marlborough
Coopers Creek Sauvignon Blanc - Hawke’s Bay
Kalex Riesling - Central Otago
Millton Riverpoint Gew├╝rztraminer - Gisborne
Seresin Viognier - Marlborough
Te Mata Elston Chardonnay - Hawke’s Bay
Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay - Nelson
Main Divide Pinot Gris - North Canterbury
Ata Rangi Pinot Noir - Wairarapa
Felton Road Bannockburn Pinot Noir - Central Otago
Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Syrah - Hawke’s Bay
Man O’ War Ironclad - Waiheke
Trinity Hill Tempranillo - Hawke’s Bay

The course will include lunch catered by Anna Hansen from The Modern Pantry.
Bob Campbell MW is New Zealand’s leading wine educator and one of the country’s top wine critics. He has judged wine in 13 countries and is currently chairman of the New Zealand section of the Decanter World Wine Awards.

Sunday 3rd May
10.00am - 4.30pm
The Penthouse | New Zealand House  
80 Haymarket | London | SW1Y 4TQ
Tickets: £150.00

Book your tickets here

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Waterfall Bay 2015: fine dining with a simple heart

Our series of lunches and dinners is one of the highlights of our year, giving us a chance not only to showcase our wines, but also to share the peace and beauty of Waterfall Bay, Michael Seresin's Marlborough home.

The building we use as a restaurant was once a boat shed, but has been decorated and adapted to provide the perfect venue for this event. Tucked into the bush, with cheeky wekas ready to pounce on any unguarded food at the kitchen door, it is a secluded and unique spot and an easy place with which to fall in love.

Nic Poelaert
Our chosen chefs often prepare incredible and complex dishes for our guests, but at the heart of Waterfall Bay is true simplicity - the simplicity of a meal and wine shared, of conversation and a convivial atmosphere, of indulging the senses and having a pleasurable time in good company.

If you would like to join us in February 2015, there are still tickets available. Our chef this year is Nic Poelaert, currently head chef at Brooks Melbourne and a Frenchman with a passion for small producers and local ingredients, as well as a flair for design!

Tickets are $300, including return boat travel from Picton to Waterfall Bay and a five course menu with matching wines.

Dates and sittings:
Thursday 12th February, Dinner - 6.30pm-10.00pm
Friday 13th February, Lunch - 12pm-3pm
Friday 13th February, Dinner - 6.30pm-10.00pm
Saturday 14th February, Dinner - 6.30pm-10.00pm (limited tickets available)
Sunday 15th February, Lunch - 12pm-3pm
Sunday 15th February, Dinner - 6.30pm-10.00pm
Book now...

Tickets can be purchased online , by phoning us at Seresin on 03 572 9408, or indeed by emailing wfbdinners@seresin.co.nz .

A boat journey through the Sounds is hard to beat...

Add some Seresin Moana sparkling wine...

Arrival at Waterfall Bay...

All set...

Our Moana sparkling wine... perfectly chilled...

Under way...

Some Sauvignon, posing for a photo...

Taking a break...

In full swing...


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Painfully cold: frost at work...


Sometimes, however hard you try and however much you work with nature and with the seasons, sometimes things just don’t work out as you imagine. Sometimes you are, quite simply, at the mercy of the elements.

Up towards the top of our Raupo Vineyard - mercifully frostfree
This season so far has been particularly and peculiarly tough going, with a huge water deficit across the region due to the driest July-October in 85 years, consistently high winds and a long and drawn out frost season.

Frost is the enemy of young shoots and developing flowers on the vine, and all wine producers work hard to mitigate the effects of below freezing temperatures after bud burst. To this end, they use whatever tools are at their disposal, be they frost fans, heat pots, irrigation or helicopters. Without these tools, the frost can kill the tender new growth and prevent the vine from developing properly or producing fruit. When this happens, it can be devastating, as it will not only effect the current year, but most likely the following one also. It is a bitter pill swallow.

Frost burned vines
Our policy of pruning late usually ensures we miss the damage that can be caused by early frost events, and a combination of valerian tea, frost fans and helicopters had meant that we had avoided too much damage during most of the cold periods this season. However, sadly a vicious and completely unforecast frost hit our Raupo vineyard in the Omaka Valley on the morning of 20th November and has left us facing a scene of partial devastation. Once flourishing and growing vines have been left stunted and browned (frost-burned) across large swathes of the vineyard, creating a visible pattern of destruction that exactly maps the movement of the cold air across the land during that night. It is quite a sight to behold.

 Happily around 50% of the vineyard is unaffected, either due to the angles of the slopes where the vines are planted or indeed because parts are protected by frost fans – and mercifully this includes our best Pinot and Chardonnay sites. Naturally we would love the whole vineyard to be protected, but alas at $55K per frost fan, they are not an easy thing to budget for in harder times and since the GFC, cost savings have been part and parcel of business for everyone in the wine industry.

It is a painful thing to look at so many vines in such an unhappy condition, but we remain philosophical. There was nothing we could really have done to avoid this situation, and so we have to just have to move on. While we know that the majority of the damaged vines will not now produce fruit for the 2015 vintage, we will be working hard with the vine nonetheless, shoot thinning, re-pruning and managing them carefully to ensure that there is as little impact on their fruitfulness in 2016 as possible.

 “Take a deep breath, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again” – Dorothy Fields

Looking down from the hill. That brown area in the middle distance is not supposed to be brown. 

Frost burned vines - close up

An unhappy sight

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

New Global Sales Manager: Dianne Marshall

As people who live and work on the land, we are aware of the continuous change and development there is in our farm and estate across the seasons. At this, the start of summer, everything is growing and changing: buds burst, shoots rise, flowers form; lambs begin to grow fat on the pastureland; birds sing in the skies above the vines and everything is gathering itself for the summer.

It somehow seems right then, at this time of growth and development in our land that we should be growing our team at the same time. To that end therefore we are very pleased to welcome Dianne Marshall as our Global Sales Manager.

Dianne joins us from a role with another wine producer in Australia, and comes with a wealth of ideas, experience and enthuasiasm. We are very much looking forward to working with her and getting to know her over the coming months and years.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The joys of spring: Artichoke season

As you know, while we are primarily a vineyard, we also have many other aspects to what makes us "us" and one of the most important ones is the fact that we also grow a lot of other crops. This spring has brought us a beautiful crop of artichokes. These gorgeous globes are beautiful tripped, steamed, dismembered and dipped in our olive oil and sea salt flakes, but preserved artichokes also bring a delicious taste of spring to meals later in the season.

Marcia, our semi-resident cook and culinary genius, popped in yesterday to work her magic on our excess artichokes and we're looking forward to tasting the fruits of her labour one day...






Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It’s all in the preparation…


Biodynamics is a system and philosophy of farming that recognises the soil and entire farm as a living organism.  The respect for and care of the soil plays a prominent role. The biodynamic preparations form the cornerstone of biodynamic activity, and create balance and health in our soils and plants. 
We use a range of eight preparations within our farm and vineyards. One of the most important of these is Preparation 500. This is made when cows’ manure is buried inside a cow’s horn over winter, and then stirred into rainwater at body temperature to form a vortex before being applied to the vineyard by hand. This stimulates soil bacteria and fungi, improving soil structure and microbiological activity.
Three of our vineyard interns have been helping us make this and spread it across our entire vineyard…

David Wright, Farnham, UK
The digging up and application of preparation 500 marks the rejuvenation of life in the land and the beginning of a new growth cycle. For me it represents the intentions of the human custodians of the land to be aware of, and understand, the rhythms of nature to manage it productively. Unearthing the horns was a very thorough and insightful process and the myriad life forms that came up with them sparked many thoughtful discussions. Everyone that makes their living from Seresin vineyards was involved in the stirring and broadcasting of the 500. Together we covered every inch of every property, walking the flats, hills, creeks and pastures from angles I hadn’t seen before. This gave me a new perspective that cannot be gained from the cab of a tractor, a focus on the details that only comes when you give it a chance. I came away feeling good about the season ahead and confident that I had conveyed this positive message to the land.

Rose Capriola, California
My very first 500 experience proved to be an energizing one for the body, mind, and soul.  As we stood and stirred wilfully, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful diversity of our participants, all brought together to inoculate the land with the spirit of biodynamics.   We flowed as a group through the vines, spreading our 500 and cow pat pit mixture with the flicks of our wrists, gaining momentum as we walked.  Smiles dawned on faces and the enjoyment was palpable.  Through this experience I was again reminded of the value of the ‘we’ in biodynamics and of the wonderful impact our community can have on the land that we tend to joyfully.  

Charlotte Javelle, Saint-Etienne, France
Even after 9 months at Seresin I’m still impressed by people’s involvement. The 500 experience was a great lesson in openness and sharing.  Barrels, sticks, water, Preparation 500… everything needs to be ready for the “ceremony”. Everybody gave a little bit of himself stirring the preparation during one hour and trying to make the best vortex ever! Even the children participated with keen interest and happiness. Then, buckets and brushes in hand, the preparation was sprayed across all of the property.

Laughing and singing animated these afternoons. It’s amazing how this act can combine a range of different nationalities, ages and cultures. Maybe we should use cow poo and water everywhere in this world to bring more respect, peace and well-being! I really think that the land is able to feel and memorise all the love, all the human implication and all the energy brought by people. Thereby it can give us the best quality in our grapes and olives.













Monday, October 20, 2014

Waterfall Bay 2015 - a taste of Seresin life

At Seresin, we like to do things a little differently, which is why - when you visit - you will find yourself driving through native plantings and olive groves, and dodging pukekos and guinea fowl, to reach our Cellar Door and offices. And, should you take a vineyard tour, you'd not only see our organically and biodynamically managed vineyards, but also our gardens, orchards, jersey cows, goats, chickens, pigs, beehives and working Clydesdale horses. Yes, we grow grapes and make wine, but we are far more than simply a vineyard: we are a farm, an estate, a bio-diverse ecosystem and a family. 


Once a year, in the summer, we host our Waterfall Bay dinner series at our occasional restaurant in the Marlborough Sounds, as a way of sharing some of this Seresin life. We work with an international chef to create a menu that showcases not only our wines, but also some of the produce from the estate. 



This year we are delighted to be welcoming Nic Poelaert from Brooks Restaurant in Melbourne to join our team from February 12th-15th. Born and raised in France, Nic trained and worked under numerous acclaimed chefs at notable establishments, including Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London and Restaurant Michel Bras in France - both Michelin starred. In Melbourne, he opened the multi-award winning Embrasse restaurant, which he owned and managed for four years before deciding that change was needed. Now head chef at Brooks in Melbourne, he works directly with small producers to create dishes that are seasonal, respectful of the producers and the ingredient, as well as adventurous in terms of flavour, texture and appearance.

Nic is looking forward to the prospect of working with our team to create a menu that reflects Seresin and all that makes us unique, and we are looking forward to making him part of our family. 

Waterfall Bay tickets are now available to purchase, and we would love to have you join us for our celebration of summer, Seresin, good food, good wine and good company. 
The ticket price of $300 is inclusive of a five course degustation menu with matching wines, and the boat journey across the Sounds to the tranquil surroundings of Waterfall Bay itself. 

The dinners run from 12th-15th February:

12th February – Thursday Dinner
13th February – Friday Lunch
13th February – Friday Dinner
14th February – Saturday Dinner
15th February – Sunday Lunch
15th February – Sunday Dinner

More information and ability to book is online and if you require more information or would prefer to book over the phone, please call 03 572 9408 or email at wfbdinners@seresin.co.nz .

Hope to see you there... 




Friday, May 30, 2014

Vintage 2014 Reports

2014 Vineyard Vintage Report
Colin Ross, Viticulturist and Farmer

Weather
Minimal frost in Spring 2013. Excellent early season canopy growth with minimal inputs required. Perfect flowering conditions in 2013 and 2014, resulting in good bunch numbers and berry set. The season by the summer solstice was 7-10 days ahead of average.  Cool conditions post berry set and up to veraison. Dry and warm ripening with rapid veraison.  Welcome sunshine with mild and stable ripening conditions until the end of the first week in April. Heavy rain mid April.

Growing
Observant and considered viticulture practices have delivered fruit suitable for all our wine-making and market requirements. Considerable attention was paid to cropping levels from all blocks. Fruit was disease free plus very close to planned and forecast yields. 2014 has been a great testimony to quality biodynamic agriculture. Thick skins on berries, well -spaced and open bunches, moderate open canopies, under-vine cover-crops, low bird pressure all had a part to play in delivering some tasty fruit in 2014.

Harvest
Harvest began with a small pick for sparkling base from the Leopold block at Raupo on the 18th of March. Vintage began in earnest from the 25th of March with Pinots from Osip. Balanced, ripe fruit at lower brix has been our goal for many years and is gradually becoming the norm.  Challenging conditions from the 8th of April with persistent rainfall.  The majority of fruit had been harvested by this time. Taking advantage of clear weather windows we were able to have all of our fruit harvested by the 15th of April. Due to frenetic activity in the region towards the end of harvest we opted to handpick a portion of the MOMO Sauvignon Blanc this year. The region was hit by a deluge of 50mm+ beginning on the 16th. Around  150mm of rain falling regionally in April, against a long term average of 47mm. , with 129mm at Raupo and 187mm at Home. With the majority of fruit coming from Raupo, this was a real blessing.

Highlights
All in all, a year where we have had a very pleasing result at Seresin. After five years of training and experimentation using working horses for applying compost teas and biodynamic preparations via our custom-made ground drive spray-unit we are now covering the entire Home vineyard and olive groves with horse-drawn applications. This is an area in excess of 50 hectares.  In 2014, we also brought our hand-harvested fruit to the winery with a special horse drawn trailer.

650 tonnes of very high quality fruit picked by hand.

Vintage 2014 Reports

2014 Winery Vintage Report
Clive Dougall, Winemaker

The flowering of 2014 matched that of the previous year and set up the bunch architecture magnificently. Open large bunches and even berry size resulted in a heavy crop that was seen across all varieties. Verasion happened fast, as the season promised a lot, with a steady sunny and dry summer progressing well, but without the temperatures getting too high. A lot of fruit thinning and grading was required to achieve our desired yield and resultant quality. The general consensus was that there was going to be an early harvest, as the sunshine just kept coming.

The predicted early season failed to eventuate and we started harvesting only a couple of days earlier than the norm by picking some sparkling wine base on 18th March. It was the Pinot Noir from the Osip block in Raupo Creek Vineyard that then called us, with the table wine harvest starting on 25th March. The low-yielding clay slope produced the finest and most even bunches to date, partly due to the perfect flowering, partly to do with vine age increasing, but a lot to do with the vineyard health and management. The even bunches with even berries promise to provide Sun and Moon, Rachel and Raupo Pinots with a finesse that  we hope to match with the power the vineyard delivers.

Ripeness of the white varieties was surprising, with the flavours developing in the fruit, but the sugar ripeness suggesting a much less ripe sample. It became clear quite early that we were going to be picking based more on acidity ripeness than on achieving a particular sugar level.

On April 8th although not forecast, 3 small cyclonic weather patterns surrounded the Cook Strait and held each other there for a week or two. The result was a pattern of regular rain for the rest of the month. Fortunately we had harvested the majority of our fruit before this event, and we were able to pick the remainder during the dry periods, finishing harvest on the 15th April.

The estate has developed amazing resilience under the biodynamic farming system, and this year was the perfect advertisement for this philosophy. The fruit that was harvested from our own estate vineyards was 100% clean – this is due to the resilience and particularly the thickness of the skins developed by our farming methods.  A special mention is deserved for the Chardonnay from Raupo this year. Easily the best crop in terms of quality and yield that has come from our estate.

Having had the chance to taste the wines after fermentation, the picture of the harvest is more clear. The Pinot Noirs are showing a slightly lighter colour than in 2013, but are structurally exciting, with the finesse and balance we wish for each year. The white wines across the board are showing some real delicacy and poise for such immature wines, and of course the alcohols are lower due to the reduced sugar in the grapes – a gift for us as we strive to reduce the alcoholic presence in our wines generally.

From the beginning, the growing season 2014 promised a lot, and delivered. A worrying weather pattern couldn’t take the shine off the year, and for once the vintage has pleased the winemaker, farmer and accountant. A very unusual occurrence. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bees: nature's messengers...

Honeycomb, straight from the hive
While grapevines and olive trees do not require pollination by bees for fruit production, our consideration of a living landscape embraces bio-diversity. 

This includes the meadow-like floral diversity between our vines and olives, as well as our farming of extensive vegetable and native plantings, orchards and pastureland. In all of these, life thrives - as do our vines and olive trees. 

Bees are considered as nature’s messengers, providing balance, order and harmony between all living things and we are therefore more than happy to encourage their presence and their prosperity. 

Our hives require some minimal maintenance, but we share the honey in such a way that we do not need to provide supplementary feeding. The by-product of the service the bees provide to our land was over 50kg of honey that we were able to harvest recently. 



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Vineyard Update: Not just grapes

It's not just about growing grapes here at Seresin; we see ourselves as farm, not simply a vineyard: 

At Seresin, vegetables are planted in amongst the vines and we grow large volumes of garlic, shallots, beans, potatoes, corn and many other interesting things.

This integrated farming philosophy means that we treat the farm as a reflection of the whole dining table, rather than focusing just on the wine glass. 

In many cultures wine is regarded as a food and so we see no separation in growing many different foods on our land. The food we grow is distributed to our staff, who are all passionate consumers of organic produce, plus we are able to use it when entertaining and also in our occasional restaurant at Waterfall Bay.



Vineyard update: making hay while the sun shines

A midsummer update from Colin Ross, our estate manager:

Midsummer in the vineyards at Seresin Estate and we have just cut and gathered our hay crop. Over 2000 small bales have been cut from our meadows and areas surrounding the vines. About 200 bales will be used as supplementary feed for our animals, with the balance forming a vital ingredient for our compost making. 

Compost is the primary form of adding balanced nutrition to our land. It is comprised of 25% grape waste, 25% hay, 25% wood-chips from our willow trees, 20% mulched woody weeds and grasses, and the balance being manure from our own herd of cows.

After the summer solstice our vines' canopies have almost reached their full height. After weeks of shoot-thinning and wire lifting, we have just begun hand leaf plucking. The aim is to give the grapes as much ventilation as possible so that they can fully ripen, with minimal chance of late season bunch rot. It is also important to leave a protective layer of leaf to provide shelter from the harsh sun and any rain that falls.

Vintage 2014 is slightly ahead of normal and, with wonderful growing conditions, we have vibrant healthy canopies and an excellent crop. It is still too early to make a prediction as to the vintage's final outcome, but at this stage all the elements are in place for the harvest of some wonderful fruit.


Monday, January 6, 2014

New year, new start

Happy New Year!

It's been a little while since this blog was updated, but we're turning over a new leaf (which makes a change from plucking them I suppose) and will be here a lot more this year with our news, views and updates. 

We're looking forward to a great year ahead and are keeping ourselves busy with a lot of exciting new projects in the vineyard and the winery, so watch this space for more information about these. Vintage is also always on our minds of course, and 2014 is looking very promising; plenty of good quality fruit on the vines and all going according to plan thus far. More on this soon... 

First on our calendar though is our series of dinners and lunches at our occasional restaurant in Waterfall Bay between 6th and 9th of February. Anna Hansen, owner of The Modern Pantry in London is joining us to prepare what promises to be a delicious five course menu, based around local produce and designed to complement our wines. More information about the dinners can be found online or via our facebook page, and if you'd like to book you can call +64 3 572 9408. 

In the meantime, let us wish you all the very best for the coming year. 

“For last year's words belong to last year's language 
And next year's words await another voice.” T S Eliot, Four Quartets