Movie man’s wines with star quality
When you enter the name Michael Seresin into your favourite search engine you may think that the first things to pop up would be articles on the lovely wines that he makes — but this is not the case.
Instead, we get references to Harry Potter, Gravity, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Bugsy Malone, Midnight Express and so on, as he is one of the best known cinematographers in the business.
He left his native New Zealand in 1966 to pursue a career in Europe as a freelance camera assistant. It was not until the 1990s that he had the desire to make wine in the most natural way possible, with no compromise on quality.
Seresin is a New World winery with an Old World attitude and it is in no hurry to rush production. They let the wild yeasts that live in their vineyard ferment the juice into wine and, although this takes longer than the use of “store-bought” yeasts, it adds savoury, mouth-watering textures and flavours.
Most New Zealand wineries now farm sustainably and, at the next level up, organic; there are eight registered in the Marlborough region. My research can only come up with two in this appellation that take it to the highest level of biodynamic, and Seresin is one of them. I am such a fan of this way of working the land and being good stewards of our planet while offering the most healthy and wonderfully complex wines. Who am I to say that our planet does not breathe in and out at different times or that starlight does not affect vineyards? Biodynamics is about the complete cosmic system, which includes animals doing the work, natural tea sprays, composting and so much more. You will note the hand on all Seresin labels and the screw cap top, and this signifies their hands-on, natural way of farming.
I like to think that Seresin sets the standard for sauvignon blanc on our island and its consistently high acceptance over the years is proof for me. It differs from most in that a small volume of Sémillon is added for complexity and to add to this, part of the wine is fermented in barrel. It's subtle on the nose with warm notes of ripe yellow stone fruit, soft passion fruit and a chalky-mineral complexity. The palate is layered and finely textured with ripe gooseberry, tropical and citrus notes, framed by mouth-watering acidity which creates a persistent finish. Seresin Sauvignon Blanc 2014 $24.80.
Momo is the Maori name for offspring and we have quite recently started to import this appropriately named second level of wine from the Seresin Estate. The Seresin Momo Sauvignon Blanc 2014 displays a complex nose with aromas of tropical fruit, herbaceous notes and a hint of cassis.
The natural fermentation adds a rich texture to the palate with subtle notes of lemon zest and passion fruit. The crisp and dry finish would be delicious with all types of seafood and summer salads. $17.80.
Seresin Pinot Gris 2014 starts in stainless steel tanks using naturally occurring yeasts in their vineyard.
At about ten degrees Brix the wine is transferred to older French barriques to finish fermentation and to mature on its lees for about six months.
If I have left any of you behind here, let's have a little “wine 101”. Brix refers to the sugar content of the grape and many are picked at about 25 degrees, which is about 25 per cent sugar (but Brix is winemaker talk and sounds so much more impressive).
Final alcohol content equals about half Brix, ie 25 degrees brix, or sugar, ends up at 12.5 per cent alcohol.
Older barrels have less influence on the flavours of the wine. Lees are the leftover yeast cells, bits of pulp and so on, and they settle like a layer of mud. To leave the new wine to soak with them adds complexity.
While on a tech bend, let me also say that all Seresin wines are suitable for vegetarians and vegans as no dairy products or eggs are used.
In a process called fining, the suspended particles in wine are removed by letting an egg white drift down through the liquid, and it attracts these particles. To better understand this, just think of a bright sunbeam shining through a room and all the tiny suspended particles that can be observed. $25.60. Seresin Leah Pinot Noir 2012 is named after Michael's daughter and it exhibits bright, fragrant berrylike aromas interlaced with spice and herbal notes. Strawberry and ripe cherry put this wine high on the delicious scale. Critic James Suckling rates it 94/100 and calls it “compelling and complex”. $28.15.
This is a paid-for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George's (York Street, 297-0409). Visit www.wineonline.bm.