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Wild Earth Pinot Noir and Dragons Duck

By June 11, 2013No Comments
With an invitation from wine distributors Red+WhiteCellar that read: “Please join us to enjoy some duck and Pinot – Experience a wonderful Peking Duck menu accompanied by Wild Earth’s stunning Central Otago Pinot Noir”, this event promised to please many people. The Wild Earth Pinot Noir wines of Quintin Quider have been a little under the radar lately, following successes both domestically and internationally with the 2006, 2007 and 2008 vintages, but his little tour of the country showing his 2009 Pinot Noir to hospitality, wine trade and media in the context of food, is his way of reminding them that his wines offer much.

Quintin Quider – Pinot Noir Lover and Fisherman

Quintin Quider
Quintin is a disarmingly honest and open man, down to earth and mad on fishing, possibly more so than Pinot Noir. From fishing commercially in California, he came to New Zealand to do the same, settling in Stewart Island, but finally ended up buying land in Central Otago following tasting so many good Central Otago Pinot Noirs, to grow and make his own, but also for tax write-off purposes! Purchasing land in 1998 and 1999, he established 13.5 ha of clone 5 and 6 Pinot Noir vines in Lowburn, and 26 ha at the end of Felton Road, there, mainly to clone 10/5 with some Dijon material, and including 1 ha of Pinot Gris and 2 ha of Riesling. Robin Dicey was his main source of advice, and it appears he’s now in good company, his vines part of a swathe of vineyards that produce some of the best Pinot Noirs in the country.

Quick to admit that his wine expertise is not that of an experienced winemaker, Quintin has, nevertheless thrown himself at growing and making the best wine he can, with good help from his neighbours and colleagues, and he has become part of the Bannockburn fabric, with many and varied interests beyond that of wine. Nowadays, he is fully involved in the vineyard, and has been working towards organic status. But he also oversees the restaurant on site, with catering and equipment by-products from the wine business as extras, if he’s not already busy enough!

Quintin has contracted winemakers from the very beginning. Matt Dicey made the first vintage in 2002, from the Lowburn fruit. The 2003s and 2004s were made by Dean Shaw, the latter being the first crop from the Bannockburn site, this wine being the inaugural ‘Wild Earth’ Pinot Noir. Michelle Richardson made the wines from 2005 to 2007 inclusive, then Grant Taylor the 2008. Steve Davies was the winemaker for 2009, and from 2010, Peter Bartle of VinPro has made the wines.

Wild Earth Pinot Noir 2009 – ready to match four duck courses

Expression of 10/5 Clone in the Wild Earth Wine
I asked Quintin if he saw an expression of site or terroir in his Felton Road ‘Wild Earth’ Pinot Noirs, considering the many winemakers involved to date. He felt the wines so far expressed the predominant clone 10/5 personality, as well as a Bannockburn sub-regional style, and this despite the different hands (and minds) of the winemakers! Other important factors in the taste to be considered were the soils and vine age, both which have an influence, as much as ‘terroir’. Quintin has considerable input into the winemaking style and works alongside his winemaker, but he is aware that 10/5 clone on his site behaves with a consistency, through various vintages, and this determines much of how the wine turns out. He sees that the winemaker must adapt his input to be sensitive to the fruit provided in each season.

At the time of planting the Felton Road vineyard between 2000 and 2002, the 10/5 clone was the most preferred and available, the Pommard and Dijon clones only just becoming generally available. The Abel clone was rarer again. We’ve seen 10/5 receive a bit of a thrashing due to its tendency to produce more savoury and dried herbal characters, especially when compared to the more modern arrivals. But its value has become recognised again, as wines from mature 10/5 plants can show excellent structure and complexity. Quintin avoids the use of whole bunches in the fermentation as the wines from his site seem to be sufficiently savoury and structured. This is what Quintin deems his preferred style in his Wild Earth wine. www.wildearthwines.co.nz

Frank Wang – Dragons Chinese Restaurant

The Dragons Chinese Restaurant Lunch

The Dragons Chinese Restaurant on Tory Street has been a firm favourite for Wellington city diners over the years with a broad range of Chinese regional fare, but leaning towards the south. Proprietor Jessica Tang was away, but co-owner and operations manager Frank Wang was on hand to ensure efficient service and delivery of four courses of duck dishes. www.wellingtondragons.co.nz
On arrival, attendees were served a glass of Wild Earth Central Otago Riesling 2010. This was a pretty solid start, the wine appearing fulsome and more on the drier side, though carrying 10 g/L rs. Firm aromas and flavours of limes and toast, and a touch of phenolic textures, but there’s no shortage of interest, and nuances of honey are beginning to show.

The Wild Earth Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009 was the feature wine to match with the duck. I’ve seen this wine several times recently and I agree with Quintin on how this has developed more richness and weight. I see it as a typical 2009 vintage Central Otago Pinot Noir, showing breadth, plumpness and fruit richness. The wines have good structure, not quite being the main component as in the 2010s, but more than enough to see the wines age well. With a little bit of bottle age, they are showing some undergrowth, mushroom and meaty interest. The 2009s are serious wines to me. Quintin describes his 2009 as a wine from a cooler vintage, needing the time to come together. Maybe it’s his view, following some pretty strong and ‘out there’ wines from his earlier vintages made. Whatever the perspective, it’s a very good drink now, and it will continue to be over the next 5-6+ years easily.

The four food courses were Peking Duck, presented classically as we know it here, in the DIY pancake style, Stir-fried duck on a bed of long-grain rice in lettuce cups, the traditional Roast Duck, and finally, Stir-fried duck on egg noodles. All of the courses were delicious, and the match with the Pinot Noir pronounced “very good” by the diners. I particularly enjoyed the match of the Roast duck dish with the wine, the subtle earthiness of both mingling quite harmoniously. Personally I think that these Asian duck dishes were on the sweet side to match properly with the savoury wine, but the contrast worked well with the duck richness and fat well-countered by the wine’s acidity and tannin. I’d be tempted to have tried to match the wine with European interpretations of the bird. However, it was a hearty lunch to go really well with a hearty wine, presented honestly by a man of the earth – or should I say the sea? Thanks Quintin, for an interesting and entertaining time!

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