Movies, biodynamics and wine
In 1966 as a young man Michael Seresin left his native land of New Zealand and journeyed to Europe to pursue a career in cinematography. If you have watched ‘Angela's Ashes', ‘Midnight Express', ‘The Life of David Gale', ‘Fame' or ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban', then you have seen some of his work.
When he set out from his home, the Wairau Plains were covered with sheep rather than vines. Upon his return in the early 1990s Marlborough was gaining fame for its lovely wines and so he bought land, planted vines and olive trees and produced his first wine in 1996.
Michael has been a vegetarian for most of his life and also organically inclined, and so it was only natural to farm his vineyard, olive groves, fruit trees and vegetable gardens in this way. Gradually he progressed towards biodynamic methods and is now full recognised by Demeter Certification. This is the programme, established in 1928, that governs international standards of production and processing and it guarantees the highest grade of organic farming in the world.
Biodynamics is a system and philosophy of farming that recognises the soil and the entire farm as a living organism and it is based on a series of lectures given by Rudolf Steiner in Poland in 1924 at a time when farmers where concerned about all the new man-made pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilisers that were becoming available.
Natural preparations made of cow manure, silica and small quantities of medicinal herbs are sprayed on the vines to connect them and the soil to the rhythms of the universe, earth, sun, moon and cosmos. Natural teas from compost restore the land, a key part of biodynamic growing. The Seresin tractor that sprays the vines is pulled by a horse as he has little desire to use internal combustion engines. Cow, chickens, ducks and horses are at home on this estate and add to the complete cycle of life.
This way of being so in harmony with Mother Nature is really catching on and the firm of Joseph Drouhin in Burgundy farms their land in this way, including Domaine Drouhin in Oregon. Our Rhone wines from Michael Chapoutier and Sancerre from Pascal Jolivet in the Loire Valley, as well as others in California and Oregon that we represent are also using this earth-friendly system.
Our Seresin Sauvignon Blanc is fermented using all naturally occurring yeasts from the vineyard and a small amount, about 6%, of Semillon is added for complexity. To give a greater range of options for creating the final blend, 25 different parcels (many vineyards are divided up in blocks) are pressed, fermented and aged separately. Three years ago in London, in a blind tasting of 75 New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, Seresin placed first overall and it is always one of the very finest that I have ever had. Like all of his wines it has unparalleled purity and complexity. The 2011 has pure aromas of nectarine, spices, minerals, licorice and honey. $25.50.
Seresin “Leah” Pinot Noir is named for Michael's daughter and the 2010 is made from eight different vineyard parcels that were picked between April 2nd and April 19th. The juice spent a total of four weeks in contact with the skin and then it was transferred to French oak barrels of which 25% were new. After 11 months it was bottled without fining or filtering. Robert Parker's Wine Advocate wrote “Medium ruby-purple in colour the 2010 Leah Pinot Noir offers notes of black cherries and black raspberries with nuances of cloves, lavender and cinnamon stick. Medium bodied with mouth-filling red berry flavours, it has a low to medium level of silky tannins, crisp acid and a long finish. Drink through 2015+”. 30.55.
We do carry other wines from Seresin but these are by far the most asked for, in fact quite remarkably I believe that we purchase about 10% of his overall Sauvignon Blanc production and because of this we have had a few visits by very friendly and likeable members of his team.
Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows, Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on 295-0176. Burrows, Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George's (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits are available online at www.wineonline.bm.