Mount Brown Estates was first established in 2003 when Tony Rutherfurd stumbled on an abandoned vineyard in the foothills of Mount Brown, North Canterbury. It was just 2 hectares of Pinot Noir but has since has grown into a business that employees 11 people with 43 hectares of vineyards and our own winery.
SupermarketNews chatted to Tony’s daughter Catherine, who is the managing director at Mount Brown Estate, about the winery and award-winning wine.
What characteristics of your wine are influenced by the physical landscape of your winery?
“Our Pinot Noir is grown on old riverbeds with soils that are stony and very free draining. North Canterbury summers are warm and with very little rain. We also have a small mountain range, the Teviotdale’s, between us and the ocean and they protect the Waipara Valley from cooling sea breezes. These elements combine to produce world class Pinot Noir.”
What is one of the most rewarding things about winemaking?
“Being part of the full lifecycle of the wine - from when the vines burst into life in spring through to harvest in the autumn. And working with some great people - our team are hardworking and resourceful but have a lot of fun along the way. We are all involved in the journey in pursuit of making excellent wine.”
“This is a classical style of Pinot Noir showing bright primary fruits backed by the savoury complexity good Pinot Noir is renowned for.”
What was important in making this award-winning wine?
“Quality fruit is our starting point, then we aim for good drinkability in the final product so managing tannins and acid balance is our main focus through to bottling.”
“Being from North Canterbury we can’t say anything except lamb. And perhaps some of the local truffles too.”
How long can you shelf your winning bottle of wine for?
“We often get asked this question when our wines win a gold medal or trophy – and the reality is that once a wine has received a gold medal you don’t need to wait for it to get any better because it’s drinking perfectly right now. Often with red wines you want to wait for tannins to soften, but Pinot Noir is naturally low in tannin so it doesn’t need to cellar for as long. This Pinot Noir will still be drinking well in 5 years if you have the willpower.”
Who would your wine appeal to?
“This is a really approachable Pinot Noir – fruity and meant to be enjoyed in its youth. Because of great intensity I think lovers of other red wines might enjoy exploring this darker, fruitier style of Pinot Noir.”
How would you describe this wine to someone who's never had this grape varietal/blend before?
“Don’t be fooled by the colour! A Pinot Noir grape has quite thin skins – and it’s the skins which give rise to the colour of the wine in your glass. So, it might be a bit paler than a big Cab Sav, it’s still a wine with great depth of flavour.”
If you could do a wine bottle swap with any winery in NZ or the world, which winery and wine would it be with?
“Gosh, how to narrow that down! Perhaps a wine from Danny Schuster – who first thought to grow Pinot Noir in North Canterbury.”
Founders: Father and daughter team: Tony Rutherfurd and Catherine Keith
Current Owner: Catherine Keith (Tony retired last year)
Winemaker: (first and last name/s) Frank Manifold
Viticulturist: Andrew Florance
Location: North Canterbury
Wine varietals produced: Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Rose, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir