Andy Anderson is fond of wine – very fond. “I am a complete pig when it comes to wine,” he said. “I love them all.” This interested has stemmed from his fist wine experiences at the age of 13, when his father used to let him try German Rieslings from the cellar.
It was also his father who sent Anderson the application to study at Lincoln University back in 1998, when the university first started offering the Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology. Anderson was one if the programme’s first graduates, alongside future Invivo co-founder Rob Cameron. After completing his studies, Anderson started at Grant Burge Winery in the Barossa back in 2000, and went on to be the contract winemaker at Murray Street Vineyards and Hentley Farm.
It was upon his return to New Zealand in 2009, after stints in Spain and London, that he reconnected with old university classmate Cameron. By this time Cameron and Tim Lightbourne had launched Invivo as New Zealand’s first equity crowdfunded winery, and the trio started making wine together. In 2011 Anderson joined up with estate owner Mitchell Plaw to make a Central Otago Pinot Noir, which would ultimately lead to Anderson’s greatest success – two trophies at London’s prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC).
“The win meant everything to me personally and it takes the Takapoto brand from nowhere to the world stage,” said Anderson. “The IWSC is hard to win, you are first judged against your countrymen, then against the rest of the world. If it makes it to the trophy tasting, your wine will have been reviewed three times by different tasting panels.”
Anderson was first awarded the world’s best Pinot Noir trophy for his 2012 Takapoto Bannockburn Single Vineyard Pinot Noir and then secured the 2017 New Zealand Producer of the Year trophy. The win at IWSC, dubbed ‘the Oscars of winemaking’, was made particularly significant due to the fact that it was the first competition Anderson had entered, and he won with the first vintage of that particular wine.
Anderson takes great interest in every element of the winemaking process. “I spend a fair amount of time in the vineyards close to harvest, walking the rows and tasting for physiological and phenolic ripeness in the grapes, to determine when to pick,” he explained. Seeing the grape arrive from Central Otago at Invivo’s Te Kauwhata winery is his favourite part of the process, followed closely by the blending twelve months later.
Once he is in the winery, he tries to do as little as possible to influence the character of the vineyard, doing only what he must to support and enhance the natural terrior, using yeast from the vineyard itself. “I like to keep it as simple as possible, no additives, natural yeast and bottle unfined and unfiltered,” he said. “A wine that is a true reflection of its site has poise and balance and makes you crave another bottle when the one you are drinking has gone.”
While he wouldn’t say for sure whether there are any parts of his winemaking process that are unique to him, he does “do things slightly differently from most with regards to stems used, the amount of air introduced to the ferment and time on skins.” The result is “cheeky little numbers, and not at all presumptuous.”
Anderson rates the 2008 season in the Barossa Valley as the toughest he has worked through. A prolonged heatwave in March meant that temperatures were pushed above 35°C every day for about two weeks – management of soil moisture and irrigation became of utmost importance, although a lack of rainfall meant that disease pressure was low. Overall, the season is regarded as having produced a high-quality wine, but not without its challenges.
In this vein, Anderson has simple advice for those looking to start out in the winemaking industry.
“You get one chance a year. Don’t screw it up.”