Grapevine Archive for Prophet’s Rock
In his second guest blog for Society Grapevine, Paul Pujol gives us a Central Otago perspective on the subject of terroir.
I was recently asked to write a piece for an Asian wine event on the concept of terroir in relation to our Bendigo Vineyard, home of Prophet’s Rock Pinot Noir. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, the below is what I came up with.Do you think wines from Central Otago are starting to show a sense of place beyond just the region, or is it too early to say? I would love to know readers’ thoughts on the subject.
How to pin down the unique combination of environmental and human factors that define our vineyard’s terroir? Quantify every element in the soil, every breath of wind, every drop of rain, every ray of sunshine, add each vine’s unique structure, then combine all this with us and everything we do? It seems impossible.
We simply think of it as Our Very Small Corner of the World.
Let me take you to our Bendigo Vineyard. Firstly, head south, a long way south, to the southern-most wine growing region in the world. Here, on the 45th parallel, you will find yourself in spectacular, mountainous Central Otago.
In this semi-continental climate, unique in New Zealand, is the sub-region of Bendigo. Our vineyard is located on a high terrace, 120 metres above the valley floor. Our elevation is 320 – 382 metres, which means cool nights, yet our steep north-facing slopes intercept loads of sunshine. This means we easily get our grapes ripe, but retain good acidity at the same time. Our picking dates are several weeks behind those of the vineyards just a few minutes’ drive down the hill.
The soils in our Bendigo Vineyard are a fascinating mix of quartz, bands of different-coloured clays, and a layer of chalk about a foot thick lying 60 to 100 centimetres below ground. There is a lot of schist: ground-up in the soil, as rocks and also in the form of an enormous house-sized boulder in the centre of the vineyard.
We love this site and we do the best we can in the vineyard to produce fruit which reflects our special place. Crop loads are kept very low. We practise sustainable viticulture and make our own compost on site. In the winery, use of native ‘wild’ yeast, very gentle extraction and extended élevage are features of our vinification.
Our goal is a wine that is a true reflection of our vineyard, our very small corner of the world. But that’s enough description – taste our wines and catch your own glimpse of our terroir.
Winemaker, Prophet’s Rock