Started as a project in 2012, and now the subject of a PhD thesis, Greystone began to experiment with the concept of beginning the ferment – in fact the whole process from picking the grapes through to the wine starting to ferment – in the vineyard where the grapes were grown.
Dom Maxwell, the winemaker, told me that “when we tell people that they’re doing a vineyard ferment that people will view it just as doing a wild ferment, and then when you get in a bit deeper they’re like, hang on..sorry…what!?”
“We’ve set up one of our fermenters in the row before we start picking. We’ve got our little single-phase destemmer, which we put on top, and just hook it up to a generator. We do roughly 20% whole bunch and the rest is de-stemmed. The really good part of the ferment are the initial days, with so many yeasts doing their thing. After a couple of days, you start to get a bit of alcohol, and the indigenous sacromycses takes over. The yeasts will live in those sites, like the bark of the plant, where there’s a place for them”.
Another aspect that is at play with this pioneering method, is that “vintage” is also effectively extended. With the ferment being exposed to the weather, any idea of controlling ferment temperature goes out the window – with a sharp difference in daytime to night-time temperatures. The process may take an extra four weeks, with the wine sitting on skins in situ for that time. This, again, affects what we’ll call ‘vintage variation’ – something that our winemakers are embracing in New Zealand; although this exploration may be taking it next level…
Deep, dark crimson-ruby in the glass, with fresh, bright aromas of red cherry, doris plum, rose petal and mulberry with a chalky earthiness underlined. A complex layering to the medium weight palate with concentrated hedgerow flavours of bramble, rosehip cassis and raspberry. Dense, savoury spine with ripe, silky tannins and a balanced, vibrant acidity. Complex and layered. Spiced with cinnamon, vanilla and white pepper. A lengthy, sweetening finish. 94pts. A characterful Pinot, with a real ‘sense of place’.