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The Writer’s Block 2013 Wines in the Works

By June 30, 2013No Comments
Coming across ‘The Writer’s Block’ label of Brendan Seal, I was intrigued by what it stood for. Brendan is a Central Otago winemaker with experience at Chard Farm, Mt Difficulty and Mount Edward, who has a fascination for making small lots of high quality and site expressive wines. He’s not worried about making a similar styled wine year-in, year-out, but delights in seeing how he can capture and express the distinctive character that can emanate from lots of fruit and vines he comes across in his work. Like an author writing manuscripts, which are not necessarily sold as books, he makes wine in many lots, which are not always blended for one bottling.

Brendan Seal and the Evoveneta press

Brendan has leased the Packspur winery of the McAulays in Lowburn, and in 2013 personally man-handled a full 28 tonnes of fruit, making wine for Georgetown Vineyard and Kalex, as well as himself. The winery is a micro one, tiny in all respects, based on a garage with an extension to house barrels, an outside, marquee-like concrete pad with tanks and a rather smart Italian ‘Enoveneta’ press, this being his favourite toy, plus a couple of shipping containers for dry storage of barrels and cases of wine. Brendan has made small lots of Pinot Noir for himself before, in 2009 and 2010 from a quality Bannockburn site, and I’ve tasted these (reviews to come). While not making any wine for himself in 2011 and 2012, he’s got some interesting things from this vintage.

Brendan  in his client-shared barrel store

I called in to the Packspur winery on Heaney Road, the extension of Burn Cottage Road, Lowburn for a visit to see Brendan’s 2013 wines pre-bottling. Here are my impressions:

Brendan will have 70 cases of a ‘Bendigo Terraces’ Pinot Noir. The fruit is from mixed clones, mainly Abel with some clone 5 and Dijon clones making up the rest, from a site approx. 400 metres a.s.l,, and aged in seasoned oak with care to avoid showing too much wood flavour. Brendan is “sold on whole bunch”, loving the extra complexity and structure, and showed us a 30% whole bunch component and a 10% whole bunch wine. The 30% whole bunch wine was weighty and based on structure and texture, the fruit in the dark berry and savoury spectrum. The 10% whole bunch wine was more fragrant and lifted in aromatics, and possessed a fresh, brisk acid mouthfeel. The final wine will be an even blend of the two components – 20% whole bunch, and it has the best of both worlds.

There will be around 100-120 cases of an ‘Alexandra’ Pinot Noir, the fruit from the long-established ‘Leaning Rock’ vineyard, which sits around 250 metres a.s.l. Far more slender and sleek than the ‘Bendigo Terraces’ wine, this has slippery acid and great drive and line. It’s a more fragrant proposition, feminine in style, and definitely pretty as well as having a pretty serious side to it. Both of the Pinot Noirs will be released next year.

The other wine that will come out under ‘The Writer’s Block’ label will be a Late Harvest Gewurztraminer, from vines in Charcoal Creek, Lowburn. This is a truly decadent wine with a seducing softness to its mouthfeel. It sits at 12.5% alc. and around 65 g/L rs. But it’s a higher pH wine with reading of 3.8 and incredibly low acid at 3.9 g/L. Sure it’s soft, but it isn’t soapy, and the richness and opulence is stylish, rather than over the top. It’ll be an earlier drinking wine, say for over the next 3+ years or so, and Brendan has test-run it with food, reckoning it’ll be a great cheese board wine, as they do in Alsace. There are only 30 cases of 12 x 375 ml bottles, so it’s a rarity for sure. It’ll hit the market in a month or so. www.thewritersblockwines.tumblr.com

Tasting ‘the Writer’s Block’ Bendigo Terraces Pinot Noir 2013

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