The Millton Vineyard is a family-owned Biodynamic estate winery in Manutuke to the west of the Gisborne region on the east coast of the north island of New Zealand. The estate 

Owners: James and Annie Millton. James was expelled from school for making wine rather than jam from wild blackberries. 

After James Millton left school he went to work for John Clark (Scottish/English background) under a cadetship. John Clark had developed vineyards on his estate at ‘Opou’ in the Manutuke sub-region of Gisborne from 1969. ‘In the 1970s Gisborne was the happening place in New Zealand for wine,’ James told me, ‘so that’s where I ended up for my cadetship [apprenticeship]. I met John’s daughter Annie there. She then began her OE programme [‘Overseas Experience], which is about the only qualification Kiwis have, run for New Zealand teenagers. Her idea was to travel overland to London to train as a florist and my ultimate idea was to go to mecca – to Bordeaux – for the wine. So on our travels we kept leapfrogging each other and stayed in touch. We were married when we were 24 in 1980. Annie’s mother also knew Derrick who co-founded the Organic Wine Company in England.’

James did a course with Maison Sichel in Bordeaux and then 2 years in Germany with Sichel Söhne. Aged 20-22. “Imagine being 21 and tasting German Riesling, wines from the incredible 1976 vintage. That gives you a template you never forget,” he told me. He also worked [in the late 1970s?] at Weingut Kurstner in Rheinhessen. He also worked at Clos Baudoin in Vouvray with Philippe Poniatowski and at Champagne Bollinger.

James and Annie married in 1980 at the age of 23/24. James then worked for Montana for two years; and then briefly for Corbans. In 1984 the Millton vineyard was established and the first estate grapes crushed. Annie and James leased the land from Annie’s parents in order to be able to farm it their way, and becoming the first organic wine estate in New Zealand.

James did the 1989 vintage at Château Soutard in St Emilion, with François de Ligneris, ‘an exceptionally nice guy.’ James returned to New Zealand via the Rheinhessen in Germany and the UK where he was invited to dinner with Jancis Robinson MW and her husband Nick Lander, with Robert Mondavi a surprise guest. It was ‘exhilarating. And the next day at breakfast Nick said to Jancis about understanding wine that ‘you’ll never get it, this wine thing, because as a non-winemaker you [Jancis] will always be on the outside.’ [Think Nick might want to rethink that one!]. James worked the 1996 vintage in France. 

In 1999 James Millton is instrumental, with a colleague he had once worked with in Germany, in getting Uwe Hofmann, an organic wine specialist based in his native Germany, to conduct a seminar on organic winegrowing in New Zealand. ‘I couldn’t get any support for it so in the end we were going to fund his trip ourselves. The New Zealand Wine Institute, who put the idea through the different wine regions, seemed reluctant. The growers, especially in Marlborough, appeared to be saying “we don’t need people like this with radical ideas coming here because we make the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world and we’re happy with what we’re doing.” But of course once Uwe got here the Marlborough seminar was sold out and the Marlborough guys appreciated him the most. So how far up your own bottom can you to stick your own finger?’

In September and October 2001 James spends just over four weeks with Daniel Rion during vintage in Burgundy. James says that while there ‘I was asked to name some famous New Zealand writers and momentarily I felt culturally inadequate, as although there must be a few but I couldn’t name any. But later I realised that the culture I am involved in, the land, wine, biodynamics and the spiritual things on the outside, is just as significant as art, music or literature, if not more so. It’s not as if I’m a groundkeeper spraying weedkiller on the local car park to keep it clear then coming home at night to recite poems to compensate. I am here to do what I am doing and I hope to leave the bit I am responsible for a better place. After all, you can’t own the land because it is only yours to look after for future generations. Sometimes I would go and sit in vineyards, like the Grand Cru Musigny, at sunset just to see what they were like. And the extraordinary thing was I’d never be alone. There’d be a whole raft of other people there too, gobsmacked like me and thinking ‘Christ, am I actually here and isn’t it beautiful?’ I was in search of the truth about Burgundy. Because winewriters or wine judges or wine merchants or wine collectors can too easily manipulate the real truth. There are 5,000 producers in Burgundy of which 90 do it properly.’

CompostCompost is made from the marc and cattle manure. ‘Compost is the key stone to the whole activity,’ James told me in 2001. ‘When we finish making our compost we call it a resource that money can’t buy. Where else can you have a resource for free, without having to pay for it?’ In December 2003 James and Annie obtained their own herd of red shorthorn milking heifers. ‘In the past we drove a 5 hour round trip to get the manure to be able to make Horn manure 500 and cow pat pit. We make 200 cubic meters of solid compost per year. Now we make some little domestic composts as well in the individual vineyards, by hand. We use our own cow manure, pomace, winery waste [bentonite and diatomaceous earth] plus prunings which are forage harvested together with the grass. We can harvest seaweed but we also use kelp powder coming from Tasmania. Compost is a kingdom of life you can make in your own back yard,’ James told me (Visit, 2011).

Organic certification 1989-1994First vintage with full organic certification. | 1994 James Millton’s critics were crowing in 1994 when he applied a synthetic insect growth regulator to control mealybugs on four rows of vines. “The salespeople and scientists said it was less toxic than common salt.” Millton chose to shun the approved organic treatment, a poisonous plant extract called pyrethrum, because it killed beneficial insects as well as the mealybugs. “A lot of shit went down over that. We were ahead of our time, maybe. What was heralded in the media and what actually went on were two different things. The media wanted to show we had failed, and to cut down the tall poppy, which is quite normal in these times. Sure it was the wrong thing to do but we had to do it. To protect my customers and our integrity I declassified all my vineyard. What stank was the fact that under New Zealand’s Bio-Gro approved organic programme I had to go back into reconversion to organics for three years until 1997. That is the rule and I have no argument with that. But I discovered that it was as easy and quick for someone who’d sprayed their entire vineyard with pre-emergent weedkillers, soluble fertilisers, and systemic insecticides and fungicides for years to come off the chemical drip-feed and become organic as it was for us, who had had ten years of biodynamic input, to re-convert. And sure Bio-Gro did say I could have sold off the grapes from the vines which had been sprayed but I did not want to. I needed every grape I could get to keep bread on the table. Ask me now would I spray a synthetic growth regulator again, and the answer is ‘no’. We’ve done that experiment, and we were honest about it and we’ve found out how the technology works and it is not sustainable.” The mealy bugs returned in January, 1998.

Organic certification 1997-2008:1997 First vintage with full organic certification after the lapse from 1994.

Biodynamic certification2009 First vintage with full Demeter Biodynamic certification for the vineyards, applying for the winemaking. James Millton told me ‘We took a long time to go for Demeter Biodynamic certification. Firstly because the standards were not written in NZ for wine production at the time and secondly I feel strongly that not only should there be a seven year progression towards Demeter, to let the mind and land adjust to a new line of energy and thought, which we took 20 years to achieve, but mostly the estate needs to have a complex weave of animals, including cows for manure, bees to balance the astrality, hens for egg shells and egg white for fining (if required) etc to complete the circle. I feel that when applying for Demeter you should have the diversity of animals to achieve this certification. Our cows really brought a different feel to our property. Now we can start making serious wine (only as our land will allow) cheese, sweet vinegar, vincotto and grape juice.’ 2018 Still certified Biodynamic by Demeter.

Wines listed by terroir

Clos de Ste Anne Chardonnay: 1986 First release. From Chardonnay planted in Riverpoint Vineyard.

Clos de Ste Anne Chenin Blanc: Made from a single vineyard pick (trie in French). | 2009 Debut Chenin Blanc release as a Clos de Ste Anne. NZ$58 in March 2011. 100% fermented in demi-muids. 6g/l residual sugar. Bottled March 2010. Austere and flinty at this stage (Visit, 2011). This won’t be released until 2012, ie when it is ready to drink on premise.

Clos de Ste Anne Les ArbresSoil Type: Volcanic loess over pumice underlay over calcareous base rock. Grape Varieties: Viognier. Like the Chenin Blanc, a small section of the Viognier grapes grown in Les Arbres are planted next to the forest. The light is only on these grapes for a short period during the heat of the day making interesting light perceptions and the resulting taste profiles arising from these events.

2009 Clos de Ste Anne les Arbres, Viognier: Suitable for vegans. NZ$58 in March 2011. Picked as a single selection in one pass. James Millton told me (Visit, 2011)  “the Viognier stalks have the most amazing white pepper character and we used to smell this as the pressed grapes came out of the crusher when we crushed and destemmed our Viognier. So you’d pick the stalks up and you would sneeze. So as we wanted that character we decided to put the bunches as whole bunches through the rollers to crunch the bunches but without destemming. This is achieved by taking the beater out of the crushers. Then everything – skins, stems, free run juice – goes into the press. We get high pH for Viognier [meaning low acid juice], so we need the phenolics those stems contain. These phenolics help guard against oxidation and mean we don’t have to sling it loads of tartaric acid – in college were were taught that anything over a pH of 3.6 must, must, must be acidified – or add loads of sulfur dioxide to prevent oxidation. In the vineyard we spray biodynamic horn silica 501 which helps get the seeds and stems as ripe as possible.’ Fermented in two 600-litre demi-muids. Wild ferment. 100% MLF. Weekly lees stirring. Bottled bone dry on 20 Feb 2011. Bottled under cork, “the fifth phenolic,” says James. 

Clos de Ste Anne Naboth’s Vineyard Chardonnay: 2002 Fourth release of this wine. Hand picked 20 March 2002. Fermented in 2 year old French oak barriques (Gillet and François Frères) then got racked into first fill barrels. Previous vintages had full MLF but this only had 20% MLF so as “to leave a pure, crisp mineral flavour,” says James Millton. Bottled on 4th March 2003. 14% alcohol. 2 g/l residual sugar. Splendid, concentrated, now using less new oak but this one still has nice strong oak aromas, with grilled bread, honey and clove aromas plus ripe peach, lovely fresh acidity and clean fruit, good length, intense minerality too (Visit, 2004). | 2009 3,000 bottles in a good year. NZ$70 cellar door in March 2011. “Corton-like,” says James. Nice rich pear fruit and wood, savoury, soft citrus and peaches, clean and balanced (Visit, 2011).

Clos de Ste Anne Naboth’s Vineyard Pinot Noir1994 Debut. | 1995  Second vintage. | 1996  Third vintage. | 2002 CFourth vintage. Hand picked 19-27 March 2002. 42 hectolitres per hectare. 4-5 day cold soak. Fermented on skins with native yeast in a single open top fermenter for 15 days. Foot-trodden. Aged in Burgundian barrels for 12 months then bottle aged before release. The first vintage James felt the fruit/tannin balance is going in the direction he wants it to. 14% alcohol. Residual Sugar <2.8 g/l. Bottled on 20th May 2003. NZ$45 cellar door in March 2003. James says this shows “fruit, flower and forest”. Ripe black fruit, some mint, good integration of oak on the nose, but wood tannins in the finish are a bit austere now (Visit, 2004). | 2004  In 2004 the system was adjusted so the crusher was directly over the fermenter so as to avoid using the pump. The aim was to age the wine in 600-litre demi-muids to soften the wood even more. | 2006 Ripe, clear light Pinot Noir at SITT Manchester 23 Feb 2009. | 2009  14.5% alcohol. TA 6.7g/l. pH 3.68. 2.0 g/l residual sugar. Destemmed. Try to get a lot of whole berries. Cold soak. Aim to extact colour before the alcohol level has risen above 6%. Fermented in open wooden vats. Foot-trodden grapes. “Kiwi men have hairy legs, so we lose a lot of wine.” Has been acidified. Egg fined. 3,000 bottles. Very Burgundian (Visit, 2011). Grainy sweetness (RAW, 2012) Smooth-tasting (at the Naval Club, London Monday 28th May 2012).

Clos de Ste Anne The Crucible: North west facing vines on a hill site protected on all four sides. Soil Type: Volcanic loess over pumice underlay over calcareous base rock. Grape Varieties: Syrah. Planted on the higher plateaux, Syrah is in a little space protected from the cooling sea breezes and gets surprisingly hot there in the middle of summer. Hence the sites name “The Crucible”. | 2009 Clos de Ste Anne The Crucible Syrah Syrah 90% Syrah + 5% Viognier (co-fermented). Picked 6 April 2009. 14.5% alcohol. Bottled 30 Nov 2010. Suitable for vegetarians. 240 cases. Just released. Intense smoky oak and arresting peppery fruit, nasally challenging (Visit, 2011). 

Crazy by Nature Chardonnay, Shotberry: Named after the McRae 68 or Mendoza clone which gets ‘shot berry’ or ‘hen and chicken’ when vine flowers are fertilized but then fail to set (produce) grapes. | 2010 Before it ferments the juice for this wine is used to wet the new barrels for the Clos de Ste Anne Chardonnay so as to get a bit of tannin in the juice, which is then fermented in tank with odd barrels later added to the blend. Up front peachy fruit plus a bit of oak, soft, bright and crisp (Visit, 2011). 

Crazy by Nature Chenin BlancAnnie told me (Visit, 2011) that “people always ask us for our Sauvignon Blanc so I pour this in the tasting room instead and without telling customers it’s a Chenin. They like it, then I tell them that what they are drinking is Chenin rather than Sauvignon Blanc and pretty much everyone buys it.” | 2010 Crazy by Nature Chenin Blanc, Dry Flint Made from a single vineyard pick (trie in French). Tank fermented. 4 g/l residual sugar. 8 grammes of acid. They want this to be the ‘Sauvignon Blanc: crisp, slightly aromatic and with a dry flinty taste. Soft, clean, bruised apples (Visit, 2011). 

Crazy by Nature ‘Cosmo’ Red2010 Crazy by Nature ‘Cosmo’ Red Malbec, Syrah and Viognier. Black berry and eucalypt flavours on the nose (Visit, 2011). 

La BasVolcanic loess over pumice underlay over calcareous base rock. The lowest site, foot of the hill, directly under La Côte and Les Arbres. Heavy soil suited to Chenin Blanc. A section of these grapes are planted beside the forest plantings where it stands for a time in the shadow.

La Côte: This is situated next to Les Arbres where Viognier is grown. This is a smaller plantation of Pinot Noir grapes. Soil Type: Volcanic loess over pumice underlay over calcareous base rock.

Libiamo Field Blend2015 Debut vintage. Viognier, Marsanne and Muscat were picked and fermented and macerated together for 77 days.

Millton Vineyard Chardonnay, Gisborne2002 Millton Gisborne Vineyards, Chardonnay Fruit from Riverpoint, Te Arai and Opou Vineyards. Picked 20 March 2002 to 12 April 2002. 6.3g/l residual sugar. 13.5% alcohol. Bottled 19 September 2002. | 2005 Millton Gisborne Vineyards, Chardonnay Vegan suitable. Screwcap.

Naboth’s VineyardThe Naboths Vineyard on Papatu Station Hills, Manutuke is a small very steep hillside planting originally planted in 1981 to assess the potential of hillside vineyards in the region. Naboths was first planted with 13 varieties in total, after James Millton returned from work experience in Germany where he had encountered steep, hill site vineyards. Naboth’s Vineyard enjoys a commanding view of the Poverty Bay valley and, due to its aspect, must be one of the first vineyards in the world to see the light of the new day. It is worked mostly by hand. In 1989 it was decided to consolidate the varietal mix and expand the plantings to incorporate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This vineyard is dry farmed. 1993 saw the first commercial harvest. The soil is volcanic loess over a pumice underlay above sedimentary calcareous rock/loam (from the sea). The vineyard (“an eyebrow we carved out of the hill”) is named after a passage from 1 Kings, Chapter 21 in the Old Testament on succession, nobility, right-wing politics and the middle class.

Opou VineyardThe Opou Vineyard on Papatu Road, Manutuke, Gisborne was first established in 1969 by Annie Millton’s father, John Clark. It covers 10 hectares (25 acres) of land with 8 hectares or 19.8 acres of vines. The site is a flood plain near Waihirere where the first vines were planted in Poverty Bay. The soil is Waihirere heavy silt loam over a mottled subsoil phase and Kaiti clay loam. Opou used to be planted with of range of varieties (Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon), but it is now dedicated to Chardonnay, Riesling and Marsanne. James Millton says the silty soil produces wines with noticeable phenolics. There is a hedgeway of navel oranges which blossom in November (at the same time as the vines). These can be eaten whilst working in the vineyard. The cows graze this area.

Opou Vineyard ChardonnayChardonnay clones 15, 95 and Mendoza. | 1996 Chardonnay Opou Vineyard (Barrel Fermented), Gisborne Three selections made due to the difficult vintage. | 1999 Chardonnay Opou Vineyard (Barrel Fermented), Gisborne Appealing Chardonnay, mineral and fruit and a gout de terroir, non-reductive winemaking, to be encouraged, 89 points (Tasted blind at the Wine magazine biodynamic tasting, 23rd April 2003). | 2002 Chardonnay Opou Vineyard (Barrel Fermented), Gisborne Picked 19 March to 17 April 2002. 22% new oak. 100% malolactic fermentation. 14% alcohol. 3g/l residual sugar. Total acidity 5.6 grams/litre. pH 3.52. Bottled 4 March 2003. Fined with animal products so not suitable for vegan consumption. | 2004 Chardonnay Opou Vineyard (Barrel Fermented), Gisborne Fermented in oak (22% new). Vegetarian suitable. Screwcap. | 2009 Chardonnay Opou Vineyard (Barrel Fermented), Gisborne Clones 15, 95 and Mendoza. Picked 31 March to 2nd April 2009. BF in 225-litres, with less than 20% new oak. Partial MLF. 13.5% alcohol. pH 3.44. TA 6.7g/l. 3.0g/l residual sugar. James Millton says the bush honey and plush marzipan character comes from ripe grapes on clay soils. The nuttiness comes from oxidative handling. Oaky. Rich. A bit hard. Needs a few years (Tasted at the Naval Club, London Monday 28th May 2012).

Opou Vineyard Riesling1996 Riesling Opou Vineyard Botrytis 10.5% alcohol. Suitable for vegans. | 1997 Riesling Opou Vineyard Botrytis 10.5% alcohol. | 2001 Riesling, Opou Vineyard, Gisborne Nice nose with some honey and petrol, soft, textured, quite dry (London Wine Fair, Excel, Wednesday 21st May 2003). | 2002 Riesling Opou Vineyard Picked 16 March to 29 April 2002. 10.5% alcohol. 19.6g/l residual sugar. James says it is like a German spatlese.Nice floral, almost halbtrocken, again vibrant acidity (Visit, 2004). | 2002 Riesling Opou Vineyard Special Bunch Selection A good vintage giving fully ripened grapes. Some vines dating from 1981. Total acidity (natural) 7.7g/l. pH 3.17. Alcohol 10.5% Vol. Residual Sweetness 19.6 grams/litre (should be about 48 g/l, but fermented it for too long), fermented in stainless. Picked 16 March – 29 April 2002. Bottled on 12th August 2002. Released on 1st November 2002”. To me an Auslese style. 28 dollars. Honeyed and botrytic (Visit, 2004). | 2004 Riesling Opou Vineyard Hand picked, 12 hours skin contact, unfined, Spatlese style, Stelvin closure. Vegan suitable. | 2011 Riesling Opou Vineyard Cream and sweetness (RAW  2012).

Riverpoint VineyardRiverpoint Vineyard comprises 6.8 hectares (16.8 acres) of vines. The first vines were planted in 1978 with Gewurztraminer, & Chardonnay (the latter used for Clos de Ste Anne Chardonnay). Viognier was planted from 1997, one of the first commercial plantings of this variety in New Zealand. Muscat à Petits Grains is also grown here. Rootstocks are 3309 and SO4. Riverpoint is located on Riverpoint Road, Matawhero, 3.1 miles (5km) from Poverty Bay and the Pacific Ocean, in the Gisborne winegrowing district, North Island. Riverpoint is so named because lies on the banks of the old Waipaoa river. The riverbed soils here are called Matawhero silt loam. The topsoil is friable and contains high levels of fine silt and silken clays. These minerals assist in producing aromatic and dense wines. Proximity to the Pacific Ocean exposes the site to a cooling sea breeze in late morning or early afternoon during summer. The riverbed is a now a wildlife reserve hosting many different species of birds and animals, mostly friendly. The cows do not like grazing in Riverpoint, perhaps put off by a local spirits perhaps, says James.

Riverpoint Gewurztraminer, Gisborne: 2010 A little phenolic (Raw 2012). | Riverpoint Vineyard, Viognier: 2007 Good varietal character, very good (SITT 2009). | 2009 Riverpoint Vineyard, Viognier 60% fermented wild in 300-litre barrels to dryness and with 100% MLF + 40% fermented wild in tanks with no MLF but one tank stopped with about 10 g/l residual sugar. Both lots blended. Sterile filtered before bottling. NZ$28-30 cellar door in March 2011. Whiff of the sea (the vines are only one mile from Poverty Bay and the Pacific ocean), with a brackish character from the silt-loam soils, quite aromatic but on the floral rather than fruity side (Visit, 2011). 2013 Riverpoint Viognier Oily umami in 2015 (At a tasting dinner at the Rangitane cultural centre in Grovetown, NZ Thursday evening 09th July 2015).

Te Arai Vineyard Chenein Blanc, GisborneThe Te Arai Vineyard was planted with vines by settlers in 1871. It comprises 6 hectares (14.82 acres). It is located on Papatu Road, Manutuke, Gisborne was formerly known as the winery vineyard but culturally the name Te Arai has more significance. Te Arai roughly translates to “the place where you pause before going on towards the land of eternal sunshine.” It is located 3.1 miles (five kilometres) from the Pacific, on the banks of the Te Arai with the river on three sides, a humid site risking peronospera (downy mildew) and bunch rot (Botrytis cinerea). The Te Arai river originates in the hills of the Waignake Valley. It has cut a deep rut in the ground that makes up the valley floor. This rut proved so deep it proved impassable to the native Maori people when they would journey from the mountains to the sea to trade pigeons and fern roots for sea food. Cold winds 

The soil type is (fertile) Matawhero silt loam with a friable topsoil phase (same as Riverpoint). Te Arai was first planted with vines from 1984, with Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Merlot, Malbec, July Muscat, Gewurztraminer. In 2011 Te Arai had 6 hectares (acres) of Chenin Blanc, Malbec and Merlot (5,540 vines/ha spaced 2m rows x 1.2 metres rows. Rootstocks are 3309 mainly and 101/14.

The Te Arai Vineyard has Gravillea trees, which James Millton told me “are more commonly known as bottle brushes. They produce crimson-coloured flowers and are a nectar source for the native Tui bird who is very territorial and helps detract the fruit eating birds away from the grapes. We have as well topbar beehives in this area and these trees offer nectar to the bees as well-” See James Millton’s comments on the role bees play in Biodynamics here

Te Arai vineyard is dry farmed. The silt soils give fragrance while the occasional incidence of botrytis, generated by the autumnal mists caused by warm, evening air flow rising into the cool night air above the Te Arai stream, gives texture and a sense of sweetness to the wine. 

In the Loire Valley of France, Chenin Blanc produces powerful wines of a similar character, which the Millton family sees as its touchstone. Up to four selections are made in the vineyard when the grapes are hand harvested. On the crush pad the stems are discarded as these grapes give up their juice very easily during the long slow press cycle. The juice is collected together and allowed to settle for only a short time as we need to keep the fine sediments, for it is here that all the nutrients lie which satisfy a well behaved fermentation. The fermentation and maturation take place in demi-muids (large 600 litre oak barrels) and stainless steel tanks. The wine matures in these vessels over time, and without the obtrusion of oak tannins, which would otherwise disrespect the subtle fruit aromas. Typical flavours are waxy pears, honey, quince, grapefruit and white pepper. From 2008 for the first time a portion of the Chenin Blanc went under screwcap. 

1994 Te Arai Vineyard Noble Chenin Blanc, Gisborne: Individual berry selection, 13.2% alcohol. Every other vintage since this one has gone into dry wine. | 1996 Te Arai Vineyard Chenin Blanc Picked at three different ripeness levels, partly fermented in older wood and aged 6 months in oak. 11.5% alcohol. Suitable for vegans. | 1997 Te Arai Vineyard Chenin Blanc 12% alcohol. | 1998 Te Arai Vineyard Chenin Blanc Fabulous, ripe, sunny, dry vintage allowed the grapes to be picked when ready. | 1999 Te Arai Vineyard Chenin Blanc Nice citrus and peach flavours (tasted on 2 August 2000 with Laure Pagès and Patrice Giestière in Winchester with salmon and risotto, wine was purchased for £7.99 from Tesco in Winchester). | 2001 Te Arai Vineyard Chenin Blanc Difficult vintage. Cool, clean, crisp style, nice even texture, attractive lime and peach fruit, good length, 82 points (Tasted blind at the Wine magazine biodynamic tasting, 23rd April 2003). | 2002 Te Arai Vineyard Chenin Blanc Picked 21 March to 22 April 2002. Older oak used. Bottled on 22nd September 2002. 2002 harvest was exceptional. It produced fully ripened grapes with flavours of almond, honeysuckle and lanolin. Extensive canopy management during the growing season produced seriously ripe fruit. The late harvested component has given depth and “funk” which helps balance the weight on the palate. There is a hint of corruption. The wine is made up of several selections of hand picked grapes, all gently pressed and allowed to ferment in French oak barrels. The young wine sat on lees until September and was then prepared for bottling. Released on 1st November 2002. 12.5% alcohol + 16.2 grams/litres. Total Extract 40g/l. Total acidity 8.2g/l. pH 3.47. 22 dollars from the winery in 2004. Ageing potential 10 years from date of release.” Shows lovely fresh acidity; also full honeyed fruit and Chenin flavour; rich, perhaps a bit heavy? or inelegant; bitter twist of lime and honey at the finish (Visit, 2004). | 2008 Te Arai Vineyard Chenin Blanc Certified organic, Biodynamic farming. Hand picked. Harvest dates: 31st March – 21th April 2008. 15-20 selections in the vineyard. “The first pass is to get grapes with some acidity. Chenin is a grape which ripens unevenly so later on we make another pass for riper grapes,” winemaker Shane Munn told me (Visit, 2011). Crushed, several hours of skin contact. Most of the juice is barrel fermented in 600-litre demi-muids. Sealed with a stelvin closure. 
Vegetarian. Total acidity: 7.5g/l. pH: 3.48
Alcohol: 12.5 %. Residual Sugar: 10 g/l. Bottled 24th February 2009. Just starting to develop honey characters, not overly intense but has brightness (Visit, 2011). | 2009 Te Arai Vineyard Chenin Blanc 13% alcohol. TA 7.7g/l. pH 3.44. 7.0 g/l residual sugar. Several hours skin contact. Lees aged and fermented in 600-litre demi-muids. Add SO2 to stop MLF. Might use casein. Screwcap. Rich sour salt and bees wax (Naval Club, London Monday 28th May 2012). | 2014 Te Arai Vineyard Chenin Blanc BioGro certified organic. Demeter certified Biodynamic. Harvest dates: 21st March – 2nd April 2014. Total acidity: 7.6g/l. pH3.51
14.0% alcohol. Residual Sugar: 7.0 g/l. Bottled 29th September 2014. | 2015 Te Arai Vineyard Chenin Blanc BioGro certified organic. Demeter certified Biodynamic. Harvest dates: 15th April 2015. Total acidity: 7.5g/l. pH3.33 12.5% alcohol. Residual Sugar: 6.2 g/l. Bottled 02nd November 2015. Nice salty width (‘Biodynamic Pioneers’ masterclass, VINCE wine show in Budapest 05th April 2018).

Te Arai Vineyard, Clos Samuel & Clos MoniqueAt either end of Te Arai on the flood plain are two sub-sections of Te Arai: Clos Samuel lies on fine silt loam high in silica and is planted with Viognier. The vineyard is named after James and Annie’s son, Sam. Clos Monique which on the same soil is planted with Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Rielsing and which is named after their daughter Monique. The cows graze the Te Arai vineyard. 2003 Te Arai Malbec Vegan suitable. | 2003 Te Arai Merlot Rosé Certified organic. Picked 5 April 2003. 12.9g/l residual sugar. Bottled 13/9/2003. | 1994 Te Arai Vineyard Merlot/Cabernet Te Arai Vineyard, Gisborne 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec. Each variety fermented apart, 21 months in French and US oak. 11.5% alcohol. Suitable for vegetarians. | 1998 Te Arai Vineyard Merlot/Cabernet Te Arai Vineyard, Gisborne 74% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in French oak. Shows moderate ruby colour, deep, complex tannin and integrated French oak; refreshing; ripe without cloying (tasted 22 September 2001 at 87 May Tree Close, Winchester). | 1999 Te Arai Vineyard Merlot/Cabernet Te Arai Vineyard, Gisborne Smells liie Australian Shiraz and American oak, light fruit tannins (Tasted blind at the Wine magazine biodynamic tasting, 23rd April 2003). | 2001 Te Arai Vineyard Merlot Certified organic. Picked 17-19 April 2001. 13% alcohol. Fined with eggs from estate hens. Racked at seasonal equinoxes. Bottled 7 March 2003. | Te Arai River, Sauvignon Blanc Oak Aged, Gisborne | 1996 From two separate grape selections, 2 months in French oak, Alc. 11.0%, suitable for vegans. This was the last vintage I think.


The Millton Vineyard

Papatu Road, Manutuke, Gisborne, New Zealand

Tel+64 (0)6.862.8680 |


Visit to the winery on Monday morning 9th February 2004. 

Visit to the winery on Monday evening, 28 March 2011.

SITT 2009, Manchester 23 Feb.