The term "cool climate" is often applied to New Zealand Pinot Noir wines. Predictably, this term refers to the temperature at which our wine is grown; and this temperature range determines the character of the wine. At 34 degrees South, Waipara is pretty much on the edge of Pinot Noir growing.
And at just 10km as the crow flies, to the cold ocean currents off Pegasus Bay, Christchurch, Waipara's climate is considered Maritime, albeit on the cool side compared with Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa, Nelson and Marlborough. Waipara is considered by many to be the warmest and the driest of all the New Zealand wine growing regions. It's secret, however, lies in the fact that this warmth does not refer to average temperatures, but to temperature spikes or peaks during the growing season.
The growing season is also relatively long. Snow falls intermittently on the Estate in winter, frosts are a regular feature of spring on the valley below, while in summer, our days are long and warm, rather than baking-hot. This allows our wines to retain their fresh acidity and relatively low alcohol. The summer nights are cold, and it is this diurnal variation that slowly produces such pure but intense flavours in our wines. The resulting complexity, poise, and balance make these wines a food lovers' dream, helping to accent the flavours in food.
The mountains between us and the ocean buffer us from the cold winds coming in off the sea and our limestone fan tilts the whole vineyard towards the sun, which sits low in the sky in spring, bringing budburst forward by around 10-14 days compared to others on the flats. Our black Rendzina soils absorb the heat and radiate it up into the canopy to help ripen phenolics. These factors make Fancrest Estate ideal for ripening Pinot Noir even in such a cool region. Our yield per vine is very low and this contributes to fruit quality and the potential for ripeness and concentration.
It is difficult to have a conversation about Pinot Noir without reference to Burgundy. Di, like many Pinot Noir winemakers in New Zealand has Burgundy as one of her benchmarks. She readily accept that our unique terroir, of which climate is a very important component, shapes our Pinot Noirs very differently to Burgundy. On the other hand, our limestone soils influence structure, minerality and acidity in our wines bringing us ever closer to Burgundy.