Mountford Estate is our new winery of the month and is nestled in the eastern hills of the Waipara Valley, the heart of North Canterbury. Our thoughts on the wines follow but first we wanted to share a little of the rich history behind this brand and the beautiful piece of land it is situated on.
Mountford Estate was founded in 1991 by Michael and Buffy Eaton, an artist and a viticulturist-chef who planted the first vines on the gently sloping, east facing, limestone laden site that same year, producing the first Mountford wines in 1995. They created a high end luxury homestay and made their first wines in conjunction with Danny Schuster, the first person to make very good Pinot Noir in Canterbury. And then CP Lin came along.
It was a fortuitous day when CP was, in his words, "dragged along to lunch at Mountford Estate in 1997 with a bunch of wine friends".
"I didn't even want to go to lunch that day but I liked Michael and Buffy and they gave me their wines to try. I didn't say and didn't particularly like the wines. Later on, I said I didn't think the wines were that good but because I recognised the aroma of a Cuban cigar, Michael was impressed and asked if I could help with their wines. That was the beginning of my story at Mountford where I worked from the end of 1997 until mid 2013 when I left - when the second owners acquired the estate."
Now he's back.
Mountford is having a new lease of life with a new owner, a Japanese investor who wants to see great, world class wines produced from this beautiful vineyard.
CP heads up the winemaking again today, after a hiatus of a few years, and while he knows more about Mountford than anyone else when it comes to winemaking, he says he is having to relearn it, due to climate change and earlier picking dates as a result.
Mountford Estate is a small winery that has made a big splash in North Canterbury's wine scene and is set to so again.
* All Mountford Estate wines are 100% estate grown fruit
The Mountford wines
2018 Mountford Estate Methode Traditionelle Blanc de Noirs
RRP $52.99 Special $46.99
This is the first sparkling wine under the Mountford Estate label and was made entirely from Pinot Noir which was aged on tirage at Mountford for an extended period of about three years.
A rosé sparkling wine was made from 100% Pinot Noir from green harvested fruit as a whim in 2004 by CP Lin - "It was aged on lees in bottle as a pet' nat' style as a fun thing for myself, Michael and Buffy. No disgorgement took place and the pressure is relatively low. I suggested we make something fun out of it because the fruit was lovely even though it was pink fruit."
2016 Mountford Estate Hommage a l'Alsace
RRP $29.99 Special $27.99
Inspired by the great white field blends of Marcel Deiss in the Alsace region of north east France. Mountford winemaker CP Lin loves those wines and suggested to the original owners of Mountford that they plant a vineyard in the four noble white varieties of Alsace so this wine is a field blend of just that. The four varieties are planted in the same vineyard at Mountford and harvested then pressed together. They soak on skins for nearly a week, then pressed and co fermented in tank. It's all about finding the optimal time for all four varieties. Residual sugar depends largely on the year and is determined primarily by taste as a response to season.
2018 / 2020 Mountford Estate Chardonnay
RRP $38.99 Special $35.99
Big rich Cotes d'Or style. The philosophy here is to make a Chardonnay with all the big body, bright bold acidity to balance the power and noticeable barrel ferment. with stirring and typically aged for 14 to 18 months, depending on the vintage.
2018 Mountford Estate The Gradient Pinot Noir
RRP $84.99 Special $74.99
The Gradient is the second highest vineyard area on the left hand side behind the winery. This is one of the top two single vineyard Pinot Noirs made at Mountford each year and is defined by powerful tannins and earthy flavours which add depth and longevity.
2016 Mountford Estate Pinot Noir
RRP $44.99 Special $37.99
This lovely Waipara Valley Pinot Noir is made from 30 year old+ vines grown on the gentle slopes of Mountford Estate, in front of the impressive homestead. Firm tannins add structure and body to the spicy notes in this impressive wine, which typically ages superbly well.
2021 Mountford Estate Riesling
RRP $19.99 Special $16.99
North Canterbury has a long held and well deserved reputation for deliciously seductive, succulent Rieslings. This medium dry wine contains 17 grams residual sugar, which makes it a medium dry wine and also a beautifully balanced expression of both variety and vintage. Flavours run the gamut of citrus zest and fresh limes, enveloped in a medium bodied wine with a lingering finish. It is superb value.
2019 Mountford Estate Liaison Pinot Noir
RRP $29.99 Special $27.99
Mountford's Liaison Pinot Noir is made from young vines and expresses the beautiful red fruit flavours and medium bodied style with complex hints of mushrooms, balanced by fresh acidity and brightness. Drinks well right now but has the potential to age for up to five years, evolving interestingly over that time. It was fermented in French oak with wild yeasts, matured for 16-18 months and bottled with no fining or filtration.
2018 / 2019 Mountford Estate The Rise Pinot Noir
RRP $84.99 Special $79.99
One of the flagship wines from a small sliver of land behind Mountford Estate winery, where wind decimates crop resulting in firm full bodied wines with impressive tannin structure and very good longevity
2020 Mountford Estate Rosé
RRP $27.99 Special $24.99
This rosé is 100% Pinot Noir and is intentionally produced, using destemmed fruit which is pressed, with a little Pinot Noir added back for colour. A small amount of barrel aging prior to bottling adds weight and texture, accentuating the dry taste.