A new village…31 years later…

21.01.2015

Having admired the wines of Neudorf Vineyards for many years I finally visited this revered winery, and the Upper Moutere district, for the first time while holidaying in the Nelson and Pelorus Sounds this month. Lined by a pretty stream of purple agapanthus flowers, shaded under the canopy of mature trees, the property’s driveway led the way up to the picturesque winery and cellar door.

The unimposing cellar door is tastefully decorated and leads out onto a grassed area shaded under a large old tree with one of the Chardonnay vineyards a stone’s throw behind. At a table under this gentle shade I caught up with Judy Finn co-founder of Neudorf Vineyards and her daughter Rosie, briefly home from London for the New Year. Judy chatted about matters old and new from the history of their property and its 1850s era barn to Rosie’s work on Neudorf’s social-media and growing presence on the UK market. Neudorf, translated from German, means ‘new village’ which would have been very apt when the Finns leapt into the unknown 31 years ago but today has become a byword for New Zealand wine at its best. Neudorf are highly committed to Nelson, as a wine region, as well as representing the region in their Family of Twelve role.

Judy talked of how she and husband Tim built the additional winery buildings from Macrocarpa timber felled and milled on the property to compliment the property’s historic barn. “Built on the smell of an oily rag” as Judy tells it, the softly weathered buildings exude the understated charm of a winery that really stands for something, a winery rich in stories and decades of undying commitment to character and quality. Around the gnarly stump of one of these mighty Macrocarpa trees the Finns built a sandpit complete with its own awning. Along with Neudorf a number of wineries could lay claim to NZ’s most inviting cellar door but Neudorf definitely have the best sandpit! This kept my children entertained while Judy poured and tasted through four of their current release wines with us. Opening the flight was a satisfying Rose of Pinot Noir, dry, elegant and perfect for the warm afternoon. Next came two whites a Chardonnay and a Pinot Gris.

As Chardonnay specialists Neudorf produce several wines, we tasted their Nelson Chardonnay 2013. Focused with superb balance and texture, it made me think of their flagship Moutere Chardonnay 2012 I tasted in Auckland recently. A hallmark of great Chardonnay is its ability to age; that is improve and shine without looking simply older. I recently enjoyed a stunning bottle of Neudorf Nelson Chardonnay 2006 from a friend’s cellar. At eight years of age it was beautifully integrated, detailed with the nuances of bottle-age as well as a fine purity and freshness. Neudorf’s take on Pinot Gris is about texture without too much sweetness and enough acidity to maintain focus. This vintage showed subtle notes of custard and peach with a restrained oiliness typical of the best examples. A really lovely wine and a great lead in to the final wine: Tom’s Block Pinot Noir 2012. Fleshy and fragrantly aromatic this Pinot showed wonderful fruit intensity framed by elegant tannins. Very approachable despite its complexity.

We also left with a few bottles including their ‘25 Rows’ Chardonnay which Judy described as “our homage to Chablis”. Enjoyed a few days later with some excellent cheeses it had a fascinating nose; varietal but with subtle minerality without any overt oak influence. The acids gave the Chardonnay a lovely line which partnered beautifully with all of the cheeses, hard, blue and creamy.

Nelson often doesn’t spring to mind when it comes to wine and food holidays but this small wine region is well worth a visit, particularly during summer.

Kate Pritchard
Marketing – The Family of Twelve