An Interview with Rudi Bauer of Quartz Reef

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Quartz Reef has always had a cult following at K&L, which is why I jumped at the chance to meet up with Rudi Bauer, founder, and winemaker behind Quartz Reef this August. Rudi first moved to New Zealand from his native Austria in 1985 and after stints at Mission Vineyards, Giesen, and Rippon, quickly became known as one of the pioneers of Central Otago, and one of the first adherents of Biodynamic farming in New Zealand. He founded Quartz Reef in 1998 and today, and he’s considered a legend in the Central Otago winemaking scene. We met up for dinner at the Hunanese Restaurant, Wonderful, in Milbrae to eat noodles and talk Pinot Noir.

How has Quartz Reef developed since you first started in ‘98? 

“We are celebrating 21 years at Bendigo this year – an important milestone. We have learned that as each season brings its challenges, and we have 21 vintages in our history book, allowing us to be better prepared for each new vintage. We are starting to gain the confidence to explore the nuances within the vineyard site and are developing different styles of Pinot Noir that are best suited to those nuances in the coming years. But it is of the utmost importance as a winemaker to stay quiet and listen to what the grapes are telling you.”

What makes the Quartz Reef estate so well suited to Pinot Noir?

“Ultimately, it is a unique combination of location and devotion. The site is gently sloping and fully north facing to capture the full attention of the sun – when first sighted it reminded me of the rolling hills of Burgundy. This distinctive landscape acts as a bodyguard from the bigger weather patterns. Further, variation in soil composition including schist, quartz, alluvial and glacial influences will show their influence in the years to come, and our attention to soil health will continue to build better vine and soil fitness across the vineyard compounding each year.”

Why do you feel that Biodynamics is the right growing practice for Quartz Reef?

“We can physically see the powerful impact of biodynamics in action in the purity of the fruit, the health and natural beauty within the vineyard but philosophically, the driving force is that we want to take on the responsibility to pass on the land in better condition for the benefit of our future generations.”

 What was the growing season like in 2017? How do you think this played out in final wine?

“We like to say that 2017 was four different growing seasons all in one. Although we were very apprehensive from conditions through flowering and veraison, we were thrilled with the extraordinarily high quality of this small harvest. As we approach the release of the 2017 Quartz Reef Pinot Noir, we are seeing the strength and beauty this vintage is showing.”

Where do you see Quartz Reef headed in the future?

“Up into the Bendigo Hills for a picnic with a beautiful bottle of Vintage Blanc de Blanc! Please join us.”

I’m so excited to have these wines available next month. Drinking the ‘17 side by side with the ‘16, it shows so much concentration, depth, and power—an incredibly remarkable Pinot Noir. Due to the small size of the vintage, quantities will be extremely limited. Make sure to add the 2017 Quartz Reef Pinot Noir to your customer waitlist now and in order to receive an email the moment they arrive in stock. Cheers!

Cheers!

-Thomas Smith

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