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Tincan – Natural Nelson Wine

By November 16, 2017No Comments
The ‘Natural Wine’ movement appears to be divisive and emotive, as it has resulted in wines that can be very different to what are more conventional or conservative, and those that are more commonly and commercially available on the market. To many consumers and wine producers, natural wines are extreme, and can display faults and an improper balance that are unacceptable to drink and enjoy. This is a misconception, as the majority of natural winemakers strive for excellence. The reasoning behind the ‘natural’ stance is that wines should be made naturally, that is, without additives and minimal inputs and intervention. Quality is the aim, with wines that display place and variety, with balance, and without any extraneous characters. However, a portion of natural wine is made without the aim of quality as is universally accepted, these wines showing poor winemaking with spoilage and faulty characters, and improper balance. Such wines are often proclaimed as ‘fully natural’, and taken to the limits of expression, but harbour negative characteristics that detract from quality and enjoyment.
I believe that natural wines be approached with an open mind. The best of them show positively, often with some attributes more strongly expressed, but balanced so they are enjoyable. It is fair to say that most quality producers deemed to be more conventional, actually employ the same techniques of minimal additives and inputs. These can be seen in the embracing of organics and biodynamics, the former somewhat more accepted generally by the market, whereas the latter is less understood. However both approaches are seen as positive nowadays. Top producers of wine are using less additions, such as sulphur, and also avoid fining and filtering. The greater use of skin contact to give more flavour, texture and presence, in whites especially is a technique that is growing. In reality, the best ‘conventional’ wines are made in a very similar fashion to the best ‘natural’ wine, and lines of division are slowly becoming blurred.

Nick Candy and Tincan Wines

I had a visit from Nick Candy, a Nelson-based natural wine producer. In explaining his approach and philosophies in making wine, he discussed the points as outlined above. His aim is to make the best and most enjoyable wine he can, as within the universal parameters for quality, but employing techniques of avoiding any additives and unnecessary inputs and action, both in the vineyard and in the winery. He is aware that his methodology will take him to limits and maybe beyond of what appears normal and acceptable. But the desire for great wine is the reason. The market needs an open approach, and if this is the case, then the boundaries of what is accepted will no doubt slowly change to encompass what is seen as extreme nowadays.

Nick has had a wide andvaried experience in the world of wine. More from a viticultural involvement, he has worked at Felton Road and Peregrine in Central Otago, then The Crossings and Yealands in Marlborough, followed by work representing Riversun in the South Island and at Marlborough Vintners. He then headed overseas, firstly with McWilliams in their Sydney plant, followed by chasing vintage which took him to Domaine de Montez in the Rhone Valley. The call of home brought him to Kerikeri and finally Nelson, where he is now.
The concepts of making ‘natural wine’ developed over time. Seeing natural producers over the years, especially in the Rhone, he believed that making natural wines was not that hard, and that we try too hard in New Zealand. To make his own label, he began leasing a 3 ha vineyard in Mapua, with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines established 12 years ago. He purchased Nelson fruit in 2016 which he vinified at Rimu Grove to bottle 500 cases each of a white and a red. For 2017, the wines come primarily from his own site, and the wines were made at the Kindeli Winery where Alex Craighead is based with his vineyard and plant. In Alex, there is another winemaker with very similar ideals. Alex has made ‘natural wine’ for several vintages now.
For Nick, his approach and quality begins in the vineyard (as it does for any wine producer aspiring to do their best). Last year, Nick only applied three sulphur and copper sprays, and he mowed the grass only once (except around the Sauvignon Blanc). He has encouraged the growth of clover to benefit the nitrogen cycle. He already sees increased biodiversity and nutrient content. To Nick, soil balance is prime. In winemaking, he “lets it do its own thing”. As part of his winemaking, he used Alex Craighead’s amphora, but he has 6 amphorae for himself, coming from Spain, four of which are 1,000 L and two of 750 L capacity. He is aware that wine clarity is an issue, and accepts some turpidity. However good winemaking practices are of the greatest importance, and he has cleanliness and protection as his bywords. His label is ‘Tincan’, taken from his partner Laura Tinelly’s name and his own name. www.tincanwines.co.nz

Tasting the Wines
Nick left for me samples of his 2016 bottled and finished wine, the ‘Wilful White’ and ‘Cult Crimson’, as well as tank samples of fully vinified 2017 wines, these being the ‘Persuasive Pet-Nat’ (finished and bottled), a Sauvignon Blanc, and a Pinot Noir-based wine. My impressions are that the whites show definite skin contact funkiness and the reds are more easily understood. My notes follow.

Tincan ‘Wilful White’ 2016
Cloudy, light orange colour with some depth, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is fresh with bright aromas of savoury citrus fruits, yellow stonefruits and quince, with an amalgam of herbs, florals and yeasty-nutty lees. This has steely wet-stone elements adding to the freshness. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is crisp and steely, quite refreshing, with flavours of savoury citrus fruits, stonefruits and quince, with herb, nutty, lees and mineral notes. The palate has presence and some power, with lively acidity along with fine, grainy phenolic textures that grow as the wine flows. The structure and grip carry the wine to a dry, thirst-quenching, textural finish. This is a grainy textured, but fresh and lively Pinot Gris-based white wine with savoury citrus and stonefruit, quince, herb and leesy flavours. Serve with pork and veal over the next 2+ years. A blend of 60% Pinot Gris fermented on skins for 2 months, the remaining 40% a field blend of Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer. 12.5% alc. 16.5+/20 Nov 2017 RRP $33.00

Tincan ‘Cult Crimson’ 2016
Moderately deep ruby red colour with slight garnet hues, lighter on the rim, and a little cloudy. The nose is elegant in proportion with softly packed and dense aromas of savoury strawberry fruit harmoniously melded with herbs and earth, a little nuttiness and subtle complexing stalk nuances. Medium-bodied the palate has flavours of savoury strawberries with herb notes, stalk nuances and earth. The flavours are gently mouthfilling and supported by grainy tannin extraction with fresh lacy acidity providing energy. The extraction and zestiness carry the wine to a lingering, savoury red fruited and herb-flavoured finish. This is a well-proportioned Pinot Noir-based red with savoury strawberry, herb, stalk and earthy flavours on a grainy-textured, lively palate. Match with herb-marinated poultry and pork dishes over the next 3-4 years. A blend of 65% Pinot Noir carbonic fermented, with 20% Syrah and 15% Pinot Gris. 11.5% alc. 16.0+/20 Nov 2017 RRP $33.00
Tincan ‘Persuasive’ Pet-Nat 2017 
Slightly opaque golden-hued yellow colour with some depth, lighter on the rim, with light, fine effervescence. The nose is fresh with attractively fresh and fragrant aromas of white and green stonefruits with lifted white florals and subtle herbal elements. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has a fresh and lively mouthfeel with lifted flavours of white and green stonefruits with yellow florals and herbal notes. The palate has light phenolic textures balanced by light effervescence and fresh, lacy acidity. The wine is vibrant and the flavours flow with good depth and length, leading to a dry, citrus and herb nuanced finish. This is a refreshing, stonefruit, floral and herb flavoured Pet-Nat sparkling with light effervescence and a balanced, phenolic-textured line. Match with salads and vegetables, and Mediterranean fare over the next 2 years. Sauvignon Blanc, the components undergoing barrel-ferment, skin ferment and carbonic ferment, with Riesling added for sweetness for secondary ferment. (17.5/20) Nov 2017 RRP $TBA
Tincan Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Tank Sample 
Light orange colour with some depth, pale on edge, and somewhat opaque. The nose is soft, but intense with fresh fruit aromas of gooseberries, quince, green beans and citrus fruits. The aromatics are piquant and has depth. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has an amalgam of green stonefruits, gooseberries, citrus fruit and green beans with notes of quince and herbs. The mouthfeel shows light phenolic textures and fresh, underlying acidity. The palate flows with good vitality, the flavours narrowing and tightening up as it carries to a light, sustained, herb-nuanced finish. This natural Sauvignon Blanc has a flavour amalgam of green stonefruits, gooseberries, citrus fruits, green beans and herbs on a fresh, fine-textured palate. Match with herb-marinated white meat dishes over the next 2+ years. Sauvignon Blanc, approx. 30% barrel-fermented with full solids, approx. 30% fermented 28 days on skins, and approx. 30% carbonic fermented and pressed to amphora, plus 8% barrel-fermented Chardonnay with 5% Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. Provisional score: (16.5+/20) Nov 2017 RRP $TBA
Tincan ‘Pinot Noir’ 2017 Tank Sample 
Dark, deep ruby-red colour with slight black hues, lighter edged. The nose is softly fresh with aromas of dark raspberries, blackberries along with black pepper, entwined with subtle herb and whole bunch stalk notes. The aromatics show good depth. Medium-bodied, the palate has sweet fruit flavours of dark-red cherries and raspberries with black pepper. Nuances of dark herbs and subtle whole bunch stalk notes add detail. Some white pepper and violet florals emerge on mid-palate. The fruit is supported by light, grainy tannin structure and the mouthfeel is enlivened by fresh, lacy acidity. The wine carries to a soft, light finish. This is a dark-red fruited, peppery Pinot Noir-based wine with soft fruitiness and light tannin grip and lacy acid freshness. Match with wild duck and pork over the next 3+ years. 50% from the ‘Home’ block, one-third each destemmed Pinot Noir, whole bunch Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (less than 15% overall), and 50% destemmed Pinot Noir from a site in Waipapa. Provisional score: (16.5/20) Nov 2017 RRP $TBA

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