Fancrest Estate – Estate Pinot Noir 2015


I was first introduced to Fancrest Estate by Stephen Wong MW at the New Zealand Winegrowers Sommit™, held in Hawke's Bay at the Paritua Winery in 2019, where I was joined by 17 international leading Sommeliers to learn about the lesser-known aspects of New Zealand wine. We were tasting a lineup of 7 current vintage Pinot Noirs against a flight of 10 years older vintage Pinots, so 14 wines in total. The Fancrest Estate pinot was the only wine in the lineup I had never heard of, and it has certainly left an impression.

Fancrest is a specialist organic producer in the Waipara Valley, Omihi subregion, run by Diane & Ian Holding. They have 5.4ha of close planted (5,000 vines/ ha) vineyard planted in 2003, the majority to Pinot Noir with about 1% planted to Pinot Gris on limestone soil. They became fully BioGro certified in 2010.

Diane is a dedicated, passionate Pinot Noir lover as well as hands-on vintner who planted and maintain the vineyard from budburst to pruning, looking after soils all year round. At this time of year Di is busy pruning in the vineyard, even in the frosty mornings. There are lambs, highland cows, guinea fowls running free in the vineyard to encourage biodiversity. You can find very in-depth information about Pinot Noir clones and soil maps on their website. Their aim is to express every nuance of the place in each particular vintage, with no additions to their grapes. They use very little or mostly zero sulphites, use wild indigenous yeasts or bacteria to ferment and use no fining or filtering, which sometimes means their wines can appear a little cloudy. They bottle under screw-cap in light-weight glass.

When I recently tasted Fancrest Estate Pinot Noir 2015, I said to Di it reminded me of the early years of Pyramid Valley: it's edgy, unfamiliar to start with and took a while to open up, but once it opened up, it spoke with purity and transported me to the vineyard with a glimpse of the place. Di explained that it's similar in soil type with Pyramid Valley, with chalky limestone everywhere; which makes winegrowing a challenge because of the high PH. However, the complexity it delivers in the final wine is remarkable. Like my very first experience with Fancrest Estate Pinot Noir a few years back, this one has certainly left an impression too.




  • Fancrest Estate Pinot Noir 2015, North Canterbury

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