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Hawkdun Rise – An Alexandra Welcome

By October 25, 2014No Comments
Folk from the larger cities invariably say the people in the smaller towns are the friendliest. There is a good case for this in Alexandra, in Central Otago, and it’d be hard to find a warmer welcome than at Hawkdun Rise, the vineyard and accommodation homestead on Letts Gully Road. John Grant and Suzanne Bali have owned the property since 2004, taking it over Roy and Judy Faris, who established the vineyard in 1994.

The homestead has a guest wing with well-appointed bedrooms, and visitors have access to a large and comfortable lounge with all the facilities you’ll need for entertainment, or to carry on working. But you’ll find that your introduction to the affable hosts will lead to an engaging conversation, then laughter and story-telling into the night, invariably accompanied by some wine produced from the vines outside. John and Suzanne have farming and hospitality backgrounds respectively and the Hawkdun Rise lifestyle comes naturally to them.

Suzanne and John with Lulu

The Hawkdun Rise Vineyard and Wine
Hawkdun Rise is a true boutique vineyard measuring only 2 ha in size. The vineyard first yielded wine in 1998, Roy and Judy Faris producing wine until 2002, selling the fruit in 2003 and 2004. John and Suzanne made their first wine commencing with the 2005 vintage, and they have enjoyed considerable wine show success with subsequent releases, the 2006 winning an ANZWA gold, and 2009, 2010 and 2011 wines accomplishing the same feat in the N.Z. International Wine Show, Bragato and Royal Easter Wine Show.

The vineyard is on a north-facing hillside, on “rocky soil” and has some advantageous factors against frost, but John and Suzanne have sprinklers for protection. There is protection from the east, but the prevailing north-west winds still have an influence. The vineyard was planted to clone 10/5 Pinot Noir on its own rootstock originally, and this still constitutes the major part of the material. They have introduced some of the Dijon clones by transplanting vines obtained from a neighbour. There are 5 rows of Gewurztraminer which makes a fun white wine to complement the Pinot Noir.

The wine is made at VinPro, with Carol Bunn making the vintages from 2005 to 2009, and Peter Bartle continuing from 2010. It’s an arrangement that John and Suzanne are very pleased with. While John is an intuitive farmer and has seen the fruits of his labour result in success, he enjoys the input from Peter Bartle when he visits in preparation for harvest. The wine is sensitively made and reflects the Alexandra regionality. The production ranges from 350 to 650 cases annually, with an average of 500 dozen. Most of the wine is sold by John, who makes ‘road trips’ the length of the country, but there is an increasing amount exported. www.hawkdunrise.co.nz

The frost-fighting sprinklers on at Hawkdun Rise

Hawkdun Rise ‘HR’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011
Dark, deep ruby-red colour with slight garnet edge. This has a gentle bouquet of sof red bery fruits lifted with red florals and a fine underlying earthy note providing subtle complexity. Medium-full bodied, flavours of soft red berry fruits intermingle with subtle, savoury earthy and dried herb notes, forming a soft, dense core. The fruit sweetness is balanced by fine-grained tannins that build in density, and the wine combines juiciness with supple textures. The wine flows gently with an acid edge in support, lending good drive, and carries through to dry, textured finish. This is a softly dense Pinot Noir with soft red fruit and subtle earthy interest, and building textures. Serve with duck, pork and rabbit over the next 5-6 years. Hand-picked fruit destemmed and given a cold soak, fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 9 ½ months in 27% new French oak barriques. 18.0-/20 Oct 2014 RRP $40.00

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