Mountford Vineyard wines we sell
Waipara Valley, New Zealand
Mountford is a small hillside vineyard with five acres of Pinot Noir and five of Chardonnay, producing about 2,000. The vineyards are tucked into the limestone-rich Waipara Hills, one ridge removed from the broad, sweeping bay that stretches north from Christchurch on New Zealand's South Island. The vest-pocket wine region is technically within the boundaries of Canterbury, which otherwise is mostly flat plains. The hills make a difference. Their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay clearly get riper here than they do on the plain, which is directly open to the ocean.
The first vines were planted in 1991 using medium-density plantings. The first wines were made in 1995; 1998 saw the completion of the winery and the first bottling of Mountford wine on the property. The winery includes a barrel store made out of shipping containers buried under the side of a hill to maintain a cool temperature.
C.P. Lin, Mountford's blind winemaker, won his job one afternoon in December of 1997 when out with friends for lunch and announcing he smelled “a Monte Christo No. 5 Cuban cigar”...the very cigar Michael Eaton, Mountford’s proprietor, was smoking. Michael was extremely impressed with CP’s accuracy and discerning nose and after they talked, CP seemed a natural to step into Michael and Buffy Eaton’s open position as winemaker for Mountford.
C.P's. love of food and wine comes through in the wine produced here from grapes under the meticulous care of Mountford's viticulturist, Gerald Atkinson. "We can make Pinot Noir with ripe flavors, rich texture and the right balance," Lin says. "Chardonnay, too. It just takes the right frame of mind and low yields." Mountford gets 1 to 1.75 tons per acre, and with the gently sloping vineyard helping to concentrate the sun’s rays while reducing the risk of frost. Mountford manages to make Pinot Noirs with plush textures and pure fruit flavors in a country where the prevailing style is light and crisp.
Life for CP Lin has been a series of challenges, mostly because others are not as immediately confident of his abilities as he is. Blind from carcinoma of the retina when he was three, he became the Renaissance man, studying electrical engineering and mathematics and graduating with a degree in mathematics from the University of Canterbury. Boredom drove him to join university clubs. The university wine club sparked a challenge for a new area to conquer. He chose to follow his new love and enrolled in Lincoln University’s viticulture diploma course, applying twice before he was accepted. His blindness became a stumbling block for others, but not for him. He had to leave the University before getting his diploma because they did not provide a way for him to do the practical laboratory work.
During his time at the University, he worked on a vintage at the St. Helena vineyard and made contacts in the wine industry and experiences and contacts continued to stack up until the fateful day he met Michael Eaton and joined Mountford.
“Blindness, “ says CP, “neither helps nor hinders being a great winemaker. You don’t need to see a wine to find out whether it’s cloudy or clear.”
“He works through taste and smell, making the recommendations which I follow,” Eaton says. “In the vineyards, his sense of touch enables him to prune and leaf pluck.”
He is also part of a very elite group of people who have sat for the prestigious International Masters of Wine.
CP Lin is amazing, but now enter Gerald (Buffalo) Atkinson, their viticulturalist, who has converted the 15 acre vineyard (roughly 1000 case production) into a mosaic-like jigsaw puzzle of various plant mutations using 11 different rootstocks and 17 different clones of Pinot and Chard – predominantly the very desirable Burgundian vinifera. Due to the extremely complicated planting layout, bunches are picked in tiny baskets – many not exceeding 5 gallons - and then fermented in tiny individual ferments. Each adds another layer of complexity and brilliance to their tiny but highly sought after production.
It is all proof positive that New Zealand can run with some of the world’s best Pinot producers and hold their own .
See Mountford Vineyard wines we sell
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