NWWA Top 50 – Morton Estate

Morton Estate was established in 1978 by kiwifruit farmer Morton Brown in Katikati. Today the brand is owned by Lion.

SupermarketNews spoke to head winemaker Jane De Witt, about the brands’ award-winning top drop.

What characteristics of your wine are influenced by the physical landscape of your winery?

“Morton Brut is a Hawkes Bay Wine, being a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.

These are the classic ‘Champagne’ grapes. The point of difference here being Pinot Meunier which adds aromatics, juiciness, savouriness as well as a richness to Sparkling blends.

Plantings of Pinot Meunier in New Zealand are scarce, mainly being found in Hawkes Bay with the vines being over 20 years old.

Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier thrive in the Hawkes Bay climate and when picked early for a Sparkling Wine, shine.”

What is one of the most rewarding things about winemaking?

“I find the evolution and intricacies of creating a sparkling wine exciting and deeply rewarding. The blending process is both time consuming and satisfying. I get to use both science and my creative side, which I love, ticks both boxes. It takes time and patience to reap the rewards of a sparkling wine in bottle. How Sparkling wine evolves and the impact that the time in bottle on yeast lees has on the taste of the wine, never fails to amaze me, and being able to capture this under cork at the right time is key.”


“Toasty, biscuity with hints of savouriness, creamy and rich on the palate this wine has great complexity, and structure from Pinot Noir and finesse from the Chardonnay, with the Pinot Meunier adding a depth of interest.”

What was important in making this award-winning wine?

“This Sparkling Wine is an older wine with its base being predominantly 2010, even though it is non-vintaged. This means the wine has spent a number of years on yeast lees and has developed a toasty richness. It is important at the time of disgorging to embrace the developed characters of this wine but at the same time to add freshness and lift.”

Food Pairing?

“This wine will match well with desserts, brioche, apple pie.

Also, smoked food and chicken dishes.”

How long can you shelf your winning bottle of wine for?

“Due to the age of this wine it is best to drink now.”

How would you describe this wine to someone who's never had this grape varietal/blend before?

“This Sparkling wine uses the Classic Champagne varieties of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.

For Sparkling wine, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes are picked earlier than they would be if growing for a still wine. The Chardonnay grapes are harvested so the fruit flavours and aromas are in the yellow citrus to green apple fruit spectrum. The Pinot Noir harvest is timed to capture the fresh red strawberry spectrum of the grapes. The Pinot Meunier grapes are harvested to capture the aromatics, juiciness and savoury characters. The essence of Sparkling wine is to maintain great acidity. As a blend this is classic Champagne.”

If you could do a wine bottle swap with any winery in NZ or the world, which winery and wine would it be with?

“Champagne Mailly Grand Cru – many years ago when I was in Champagne, I visited this (at the time) lesser known Champagne house. I was in between visits of some of the better-known Champagne Houses and just popped in, not really the thing to do in Champagne, however they were very welcoming. I walked away with some really lovely bottles of Champagne, and good memories.”