pisa black poplar pinot from new zealand now at the vine press

In our quest to bring you the best the wine world has to offer, The Vine Press is excited to be stocking one of New Zealands most raved about Pinot Noirs, the Black Poplar Pinot Noir 2006 from the Pisa Range Estate in Central Otago.

Pisa Range Estate was a narrow twelve hectare block of sheep grazing land – lined with Lombardy and grand old Black Poplar trees nestled at the base of the snow-capped Pisa Range Central Otago when Warwick and Jenny Hawker bought it in 1995. The remnants of an old apricot orchard still remain.

Warwick is a career diplomat. In 1994 the couple decided to invest in a property with the aim of establishing a vineyard. They were one of the first to grow grapes at Pisa – a district of the Cromwell Basin adjacent to Lake Dunstan. Planting began in 1995 under the guidance of the late Mike Wolter (a pioneer of the wine industry in Central Otago) who acted as Consultant and Vineyard Manager. An early decision was made to specialise in a single variety – Pinot Noir – and to put every effort into doing it well.

In 1996 they purchased a further twenty-one hectares – a group of warm terraces rising up from the flat at the base of the Pisa Range. This brought the total land holdings to thirty-three hectares providing scope for future expansion.

Pisa Range Estate Vineyard covers some thirty-three hectares of flat and terraced land at Pisa located 10km north of Cromwell in Central Otago. This area which sits on the 45th parallel bordered by Lake Dunstan on one side and the rugged Pisa Range on the other is proving to be a prime pinot noir growing site in the region.
Currently four hectares are planted in a variety of pinot noir clones – including some of the new Burgundy clones. Viticulture practices reflect their emphasis on striving for quality to ensure the very best fruit is brought into the winery. These include close vine spacing careful clonal selection maintaining low crop yields (around 5 tonne per hectare) and hand-harvesting.
The Pisa district has one of the warmest microclimates of the Cromwell Basin consistently combining hot days cool nights and long autumns – perfect conditions for the production of fine pinot noir.
As the southern most winegrowing region in the world, Central Otago has more of a continental climate than any other wine region in New Zealand. The hot dry summers, cold winters and long cool autumns provide the ideal conditions for this notoriously fickle grape. The large diurnal temperature variation – the difference between daytime and night-time temperatures – contributes to flavour intensity and depth of colour. Each season is monitored closely together with the wine this site produces in an effort to understand the “terroir”. Results so far are very encouraging.

Now into their sixth vintage they expect the quality of the wine to increase further as vine age begins to have an impact. The current wine is named Black Poplar – indicating that grapes for this vintage have been sourced from the “Black Poplar Block” ® which has two grand 80 year old Black Poplar trees dominating this area of the vineyard. Future development plans include planting terraces that fan out at the base of the Pisa Range – producing a pinot noir with the “Central Terraces Block” ® designation.