The Egg: a sensual piece of winemaking equipment but, at the same time, Humpty Dumpty-like and not far removed from an Orkan spaceship. In Martinborough, the people of Cambridge Road Wines have an egg. It’s the first of its kind to, erm, ‘nest’ in New Zealand.
Since purchasing one of Martinborough’s oldest blocks of Pinot Noir and Syrah in 2007, Lance Redgwell has made his presence known. Unassumingly named after its central village location, Cambridge Road Wines is a producer building a reputation for pushing the boundaries. In viticulture and wine, Redgwell’s approach is firmly founded in classic technique, yet he also yearns for something different. He likes to stir things up a bit. He’s confident in his convictions and open to taking a risk – just to see what happens. In this, he demonstrates the wine producer’s artisanship.
So why an egg? For Redgwell, it’s firstly to do with the layers of complexity he can achieve in his wines. Secondly, he gets to explore further his organic and biodynamic philosophy.
Pre-dating barrels, and traditionally made of concrete, egg-shaped wine fermenters are one of the oldest winemaking technologies. The shape of the egg aids fluid movement of both wine and temperature. In addition, it aids the deposition of dead yeast cells (lees) across a smaller floor area than a barrel, avoiding the need for aggressive stirring or pumping. All of this is wine-speak for producing a product that is more complex, more layered and more interesting.
Although Redgwell confesses to talking to his vines, he’s no hippy. He knows that Martinborough is where we can taste the very best of New Zealand’s well-made and well-structured wines. Pinot Noir and time-honoured winemaking methods are where Redgwell believes we find our wine ‘centre’. Nevertheless, with the new-old technology of the egg, Redgwell is looking to keep his winemaking fun and interesting.
Listen to him, and his respect for the forces of nature is loud and clear: “I like the inertness of the egg,” he says, “yet it emulates the natural movement of water in a stream.” This movement is what Redgwell is after. A continuous figure-eight, infinity-like cascade of grape juice and yeasts. This gentle movement replaces man-made actions and Redgwell just knows the result will be different to a steel or barrel ferment. ‘’I have no major predictions,’’ he says, “but one day, I may stumble on something particularly useful – to help the classics.”
And we certainly look forward to tasting it. Sure as eggs is eggs.[info]
Cambridge Road Pinot Noir 2009
Considering the average time between purchasing and consuming a bottle of wine in New Zealand is 40 minutes, you’ll be surprised to find that there is a ready supply of this delicious five-year-old Martinborough Pinot Noir. The opportunity is greatly appreciated, well before you get a whiff of the camphor spices and concentrated mocha notes of the organic wine itself. Complex in aroma, and more old-world in style than new, these floral and spice perfumes spill satisfyingly onto a palate that embodies silk itself. The wine envelops every taste bud. I didn’t eat anything with it; I just enjoyed it for what it was. Every last drop.
Available from: Regional Wines, Centre City Wines & Spirits, Arbitrageur and Ancestral.
Cambridge Road Wines
32 Cambridge Road, Martinborough