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Poppies Martinborough – The Hammond’s New Venture

By January 9, 2013No Comments
Poppies Martinborough – Puruatanga Road
When Shayne and Katy Hammond, the dynamic viticulturist and winemaker husband and wife team at Dry River announced their departure from the iconic estate early last year, it was no great secret that they were pursuing their dream of their own venture in Martinborough. Since then, things have moved remarkably quickly, and ‘Poppies Martinborough’, named after Katy’s nickname ‘Poppy’, opened at the start of November.
Poppies Martinborough is an integral wine and functions business which offers its own range of wines for tasting and purchase in premises which also acts as a specifically designed function venue. Situated on Puruatanga Road, ironically directly opposite Dry River, Poppies Martinborough fulfils the need for a setting which can accommodate occasions such as parties and weddings, while adding to the depth of the district’s hospitality enterprises with its vineyard platters available for purchase during the day. It’s no small endeavour, as the tasting room can accommodate 30 people inside with extra seating outside, and a large banquet hall which can take 120 people. Shayne, with his hospitality background designed the modern and well-equipped kitchen which allows the in-house catering team to operate with ease.
The Poppies Martinborough Wines
Shayne and Poppy have continued to utilise their core skills and abilities in producing a range of limited quantity wines from leased vineyards. The inaugural wines from the 2012 vintage were made by Shayne since he departed from Dry River before vintage, and then finished by Poppy upon her arrival at the new business. Pinot Noir for a rosé, Sauvignon Blanc and a late-harvest Riesling come from the slightly cooler ‘Hudson’ vineyard south of the Martinborough village. Pinot Gris is sourced from the ‘Roche’ vineyard in town, and old-vine clone 10/5, Abel and 5 Pinot Noir from the ‘Tirohana’ vineyard for the serious red, with Chardonnay coming on stream for the 2013 vintage. Shayne has complete control of his leased vines, and the wines made at the Coney winery on Dry River Road. In addition, 500 Tempranillo vines have been planted adjacent to the northern side of the function centre.

The 2012 white wines are available for tasting and sale, and interestingly, the bottles are sealed with natural cork rather than screwcap, as Shayne and Poppy prefer the maturation process under that closure. The 2012 Pinot Noir will be released around May. In the meantime, Poppies Martinborough is offering the Martinus Martinborough Pinot Noir 2010 as a stop-gap for visitors.

I had a quick tasting of the wines with Poppy. The Rosé 2012 is properly dry and softly crisp rather than austere, and very attractive for it. 90% of the 950 bottles made have already been sold. The Sauvignon Blanc 2012 is in the cooler spectrum with nettley flavours, and is refreshing and linear. The greatest production is seen in the Pinot Gris 2012, with around 1,600 bottles made. This is very elegant with subtle pear fruit aromas and flavours, enhanced by herb nuances. The Late Harvest Riesling 2012 at 10% alc. and 50 g/L rs is a fine-featured, smooth lime and honey flavoured wine that drinks as a medium style rather than as a sweeter wine. The commonality of the wines is their excellent phenolic handling. All are smooth, refined and seamless, with lovely delicacy. Clearly, this is a hallmark of Poppy’s touch with the wines. No doubt, there will be subtle changes as Shayne becomes more familiar with the vines, and Poppy defines the preferred styles.

Shayne and Poppy looked excited and happy in their new business and are receiving plenty of encouragement, support and referrals from the Martinborough community. They are responding with plans to hold events with a difference, such as a seasonal-fare dinners over the coming year. More importantly, I see them offering a fresh, new and modern face that is very accessible to the Martinborough scene. I wish them every success, and will post updates as Shayne and Poppy make further progress. www.poppiesmartinborough.co.nz
Poppy and Shayne Hammond

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