What I expected to find when I engaged with Twitter for the first time was a lot of gossip, breaking news stories and naturally the occasional scandal. I didn’t expect to discover somebody like New Zealand winemaker Tim Kerruish.
Tim might be a resident of New Zealand now, where he tends Pinot Noir vines on the northern terraces of Bendigo Creek, Central Otago, but he is a Brit who grew up in the Isle of Man. That’s funny, so did I! Spreading his wings he went on to university, to study medicine. Another coincidence – I did exactly the same! Tim studied at Liverpool University.
Err….hang on a minute. So did I.
Sadly for me, that’s where the similarities end. Our respective periods of study at Liverpool overlapped by only a year, and I never met Tim. And shortly afterwards he hot-footed it over to New Zealand, where he now works in Emergency Medicine, that’s when he isn’t busy with his vines and his wine of course. From his 4 hectares of vines Tim gathers together enough fruit to produce just a few hundred cases of wine every year, sold under the Folding Hill label. The operation is bijou and there is clearly a focus on low intervention and high quality. His domaine is accredited under the Sustainable Viticulture Scheme administered by New Zealand Wine Growers, the fruit is picked by hand, destemmed and fermented in 30-hectolitre vats, with the cap submerged through pigeage or punched down by hand rather than pumping over. Only the best vats are selected, blended and bottled without fining or filtration, and what remains is sold off in bulk.
The wine you are most likely to encounter is the straight Folding Hill cuvée, but thre is also a special selection from the Orchard Block, a small vineyard in the lee of an orchard of old cider apple trees. Thanks to Tim I recently had the opportunity to taste both wines from the 2009 vintage. The fruit for both was harvested on April 16th 2009, and both are closed with a DIAM cork (hurray!) meaning a secure seal and zero chance of cork taint.
Folding Hill Pinot Noir (Bendigo, Central Otago) 2009: Bottled under DIAM agglomerate cork. A pure, cherry-red tinge in the glass. The nose opens up over half an hour or so to reveal something very relaxed, fruit-dominated and accessible. The style kicks off as bright and strawberryish, but it soon becomes apparent that this is ripe and rich, but happily not sweet or over the top. The plummy fruit is concentrated and lightly savoury, with a little dark chocolate and mushroom polish laid on top. There’s a touch of truffle to it as well; this is certainly no simpleton! The palate has a gentle concentration with a fresh and acidic brightness, showing the mouth-watering tartness of just-ripe raspberry alongside the more savoury tones, and in the finish more challenging hints of pepper, spice and some tannic lick. Lovely stuff this. 16.5/20 (March 2012)
Folding Hill Pinot Noir Orchard Block (Bendigo, Central Otago) 2009: Like the domaine cuvée, bottled under DIAM agglomerate cork. Just 75 cases produced. This has perhaps a touch more concentration on inspection, the core of the wine a little darker, but the hue is still bright and vibrant. The fruit here is slightly more high-toned and elusive in character, but it also has that mushroom and dark chocolate character to it. The truffle isn’t here, but there are slightly wilder, more gamey feathered notes instead. Very solid and forthright on the palate, a much more reticent style than the first wine which is certainly more open and ready. This wine needs more time yet, and it says this more clearly on the finish with a seam of spicy tannin which will keep this wine going in the cellar for years. Savoury, slightly cerebral, and definitely worth a punt. 17/20 (March 2012)
All in all, two very good wines, the first for drinking now, and the second deserving of a year or two in the cellar I think (and I am sure the first could stand up to this as well). Well done Tim!