On the Trail

A Series of Fortunate Events

Ryan Woodhouse

I have long admired a stalwart property in Bannockburn, Central Otago called Carrick Estate, but lately young gun winemaker Francis Hutt definitely seems to be drawing the best out of his mature vines. Francis is known locally for his intuitive abilities as a vigneron and reckless abandon on the mountain during winter snowboarding season. He’s an integral part of an exciting group of producers in the region making beautifully authentic, pure, and complex wines that faithfully reflect this unique place. Francis’s wife Anna is the winemaker at Mount Edward, another of our direct import partners, and trained at the legendary Domaine Roulot in Burgundy. Francis quite adoringly regards her as one of his most powerful inspirations in winemaking. There’s a good vibe at Carrick and that positive energy is showing right now in the wines.

After recently purchasing this pinot noir I received an email from Francis thanking me for the support. In the email he gave me the lowdown on how this beautiful wine came into existence; apparently after a rather unique series of events. Firstly, a sequence of "super moons" lead up to the harvest; being bio-dynamically inclined this was considered to have significant effect on the growing season. Ripe flavors were quickly present in the fruit at very low sugar levels, so Francis decided to trust his gut and pick early. Next, one of the harvest interns that year apparently found the manual punch down schedule a little challenging, so Francis let her “cruise with the ferments." They were very "delicately extracted" and rather found their way forward. Finally, Francis decided not to separate the press fraction from the rest of the wine; he wanted to see the expression of the estate in its entirety, so he employed only a very light press regime. The wine saw no fining or filtration. He concluded the email by saying: "2012 will always be one of my favorite wines, it reminds me that sometimes you just have to back yourself, trust your experience, and push the boat out in the direction you think is going to find new uncharted territory. Bringing everyone along on the journey is so important."

Just judging the 2012 Carrick Estate pinot noir on its own individual merit I really enjoyed it. Now that I know the story behind it, I find the wine even more intriguing (but, of course, that's what makes this job so fun).

-Ryan Woodhouse