Thursday, June 26, 2008

Chardonnay Reserve

The 2006 Chardonnay Reserve continues to receive rave reviews - the following from Yvonne Lorkin who writes for a number of New Zealand newspapers:

Seresin Marlborough Chardonnay Reserve 2006 $40 *****
Oh my gawd! Here’s 750mls of amazing, juicy, tropical, honeyed, smoked bacon-y, grapefruity gorgeousness. Hints of lemon verbena and almond meal lead to a powerful, punchy flavour that gradually slips away leaving a deliciously fresh, tangy, textural finish. Whether the fact that Seresin are certified organic and biodynamic has anything to do with how fabulous this wine is I’m not sure. All I can say is buy it! Go to for stockists or to order.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

An Auspicious Moon

Our last day of harvest for this season was Thursday June 19th when we picked the last of our olives. It happened to coincide with the full moon whose breathtaking beauty graced our morning sky as it set, while the sun rose on the opposite horizon. With deep gratitude we give thanks to our land for a bountiful harvest.

Organic Viticulture Field Day

Organic Winegrowers New Zealand (OWNZ) held their first Organic Viticulture Field Day on Friday 13th June. Seresin Estate hosted the afternoon session, which began with an introduction from our estate manager, Colin Ross, overlooking our compost piles.

We then wandered down to the compost piles where guest speaker Mike Weersing of Pyramid Valley Vineyards introduced the group to the Biodynamic Compost Preparations.

We got 60 willing volunteers to help us finish our second pile by inserting the preparations into the pile.

And finished it off by stirring and sprinkling valerian on it.

Guest speaker James Millton of Millton Vineyards discussed Cowpat Pits with the group while we turned the manure.

From there, Colin led a vineyard walk to show the group our various weeders and mowers.

We finished up the cowpat pits back at the shed where we inserted the preparations and topped them off with valerian.

Mike provided an overview to the group of some of the biodynamic concepts.

The day ended with a wine tasting and conversation. It was a joy to be part of this event and to able to share our story and philosophy of managing the land with the group.

Friday, June 20, 2008

More Praise for Chardonnay

The Chardonnay Reserve is a favourite amongst Seresin staff, and we can now add Bob Campbell, MW to its list of fans. The 2006 Chardonnay Reserve received 94 points and five stars in the June issue of Gourmet Traveller WINE.

"Rich mouth-filling chardonnay with bottle-developed flavours adding extra interest in winemaking and primary fruit and winemaking characters. Has a lovely mix of toast, bran, hazelnut, citrus and spicy oak flavours. It’s bone dry with a lengthy finish. Impressive."

More from Parker

"New Zealand - Biodynamics, Poo Pits and Pigs"

Neal Martin, wine writer for Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, had more to say about his visit to New Zealand, and his time at Seresin, in this month's edition.

"The next port of call with biodynamics at its heart was Seresin in Marlborough, where there was an almost evangelical zeal to the practice, evinced by proprietor Michael Seresin. Vineyard manager Colin Ross was eager to show me his series of quaintly entitled, brick-lined “poo pits” where preparations are made and above them was suspended a large crate of eggshells. To quote directly from the website: “Disease is nature's way of signaling an imbalance. Rather than using chemicals to fight "disease", we farm for diversity and balance to achieve balance and "ease" For example we mow alternate rows to maintain a habitat for bees and other insects and "companion plant". As well as grapes, we grow olives, an array of organic vegetables and fruit and raise chickens, cattle and sheep.” As I drove around the vineyard with Colin, observing the orchard of olive trees and vegetable plots, I could not help thinking about the atavism of biodynamics, how practically all vineyards in the Old World were once a polyculture until the 19th century when wine became more economically attractive. One assumes that these “part-time” viticulturalists had grown vegetables and cereals out of economic necessity, but underlying this is the fact that these were men and women of the land, whose techniques had been passed down from one generation to the other. Polyculture would have created a more diverse, ecologically balanced environment within which vines could grow, without recourse to chemical intervention. Perhaps they had the perfect composition of a vineyard all those years ago?....It will be interesting to follow the evolution of New Zealand’s biodynamic wines and given the ecologically sensitive culture, I suspect more exponents of the practice will be added to that list. The more converts there are, the more information can be exchanged and support is on offer, exemplified by the Calvert Vineyard in Central Otago, which provides biodynamically fruit for three producers: Felton Road, Craggy Range and Pyramid Valley. Scientist Steve Smith MW, was gob-smacked by the behaviour of the Pinot Noir from Calvert, a cynic not so much converted, but certainly one whose mind had been opened. More will follow."

Monday, June 16, 2008

$2,100 Sauvignon Blanc

We are often approached by people looking for donations of wine to help raise money for very worthy causes. Unfortunately, we don't have enough wine to be able to support every opportunity we are presented with. When we weren't able to support a Gala evening for the Roundhouse Studios, Michael Seresin sent a case of 2007 Sauvignon Blanc from his cellar at home.

We're very glad he did. The case raised 800 pounds at auction (about NZ$2,100) and we're sure the generous successful bidder will enjoy every glass.

Roundhouse Studios is a place where young people 11 to 25 years old have an opportunity to learn about TV, radio, music, digital media and performing arts. The Studios exist in the underbelly of Camden's legendary Roundhouse, with rooms for music and production spinning off the main central hub, around the building's lower circumference - a wonderful facility to nurture the creative talent of young people.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Composting with Intention

The first day of this past descending moon we began our composting in earnest. Quite a feat at the scale we undertake but nevertheless all of our energy and enthusiasm goes into it, as this will be the life and nourishment that graces our land for the next year. We give life to an otherwise disconnected, physically separate set of materials by gathering and assembling these elements of life and inserting our biodynamic preparations. We started bringing them together months ago. Some woodchips from a local sawmill; chipped up willow from along our creek; hay grown in our paddocks; manure from our favourite dairyman; grape marc (skins and stems) and olive pomace (pulp and pits) from our organic and biodynamic estate; gorse and broom cut and mulched from our terraces; coffee grounds and egg shells gathered from local cafes. Like a squirrel stocking up for winter, we too have been preparing by gathering all the ingredients to give us a wonderful steaming compost pile blessing us with riches for the spring.

We make three types of compost, each slightly different to suit the needs of the land that we will use them on. Our primary compost piles are quite large and will be used on our grapes and olives. They consist of layers of straw, grape marc, lime and reactive rock phosphate (RPR), wood chips, manure slurry, green manure, coffee grounds, crushed egg shells, etc. Here is a picture of a cross-section of a compost pile where you can see an example of some of the layers.

We have a separate compost pile that will be used in the making of our compost teas. We need this one to be very fungally active so we use more woody materials. The compost that we use for the gardens needs to be more bacterially dominant, so we use less wood and more green matter and food scraps.

Our favourite part of making compost is when we get to use our latest invention – “the slurryator 9000” – to spray manure that has been mixed with water into a slurry onto the pile. Great fun!
All of our compost piles have the biodynamic compost preparations added to them (502-507), temperatures regularly monitored and are turned when the drop to 40ºC, after having risen to 60ºC+. A second round of the biodynamic compost preparations are added when we turn the compost.

We add the compost preparations to the pile by making small balls of cowpat pit, inserting each preparation into one ball, making a hole in the pile with a steel rod and inserting the balled up preparation as far as we can, literally up to our elbows! We do this for preparations 502-506 (yarrow, chamomile, stinging nettle, oak bark, dandelion), but we mix preparation 507 (valerian) with water, stirring it for 10 minutes, creating vortices, and then pour it into holes on the top of the pile and sprinkle it into each of the holes we made when inserting the other preparations.

The primary reason that we make compost is to create a nutritionally and biologically rich substance to nourish our lands and attempt to replace what was harvested from the land this season. It is also a way for us to spread our biodynamic preparations as we apply the compost and use it in our compost tea. We believe composting is a good way to recycle materials that would otherwise be considered waste, for example our grape marc and olive pomace which are rich in nitrogen; coffee grounds which are also rich in nitrogen; and egg shells that are high in calcium.

Here is the first of our creations, approximately 1.4m wide by 1.2m high by 34m long! We added 12 sets of our biodynamic compost preparations (502-507), which gave us about 1 set per 5 cubic meters of compost. That’s 60 ‘up to your elbows’ into the pile plus the valerian!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Sharing with Students

Second-year Viticulture students from the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) who are interested in organic and biodynamic growing methods joined us for an afternoon of discussion and hands-on making of Cowpat Pit (right) and a compost heap (left). Sharing our techniques and philosophies with future stewards of the land with such hands-on activities gives them the opportunity to gather information and have experiences that will help them form their own opinions and shape how they will choose to interact with the land.