NZ producer to release Burgundy

A New Zealand Pinot Noir producer is soon to release its first vintage from the other side of the world: Burgundy’s Gevrey-Chambertin.

Domaine Thomson Central Otago

Domaine Thomson’s Pinot Noir vineyard in Lowburn, Central Otago

While it’s not uncommon for winemakers from the Côte d’Or to start Pinot Noir projects in emerging areas in the New World, it’s highly unusual for the situation to reverse. However, New Zealand’s Domaine Thomson, formerly called Surveyor Thomson, is planning to unveil its inaugural French Pinot from the 2013 harvest later this year, having made wine in Central Otago since 2003.

The Burgundy comes from a half-hectare plot called Les Evocelles in Gevrey-Chambertin, and was bought by Domaine Thomson owners, David Hall-Jones and his wife, Pui Mun – referred to as PM – in February 2013, marking the first New Zealand ownership of land in the region.

Considering how hard it is for even Burgundy-based producers to acquire land is such a prized part of the Côte d’Or, it is remarkable that someone based somewhere as far away as New Zealand should end up with a vineyard in Gevrey-Chambertin.

But the Hall-Jones were no strangers to the commune. In fact, they first stayed in the village in the summer of 2000, having rented a flat above the winery of the Esmonin family in Clos Saint-Jacques – Gevrey-Chambertin’s highly-regarded Premier Cru climat.

A year later, so enamoured were they with the area, David and PM bought a run-down house in Gevrey-Chambertin, which they carefully restored, ensuring they were well-known in the village when Les Evocelles came up for sale 12 years later.

But it was back in 2000 that the couple had acquired 14 hectares of land in Lowburn, Central Otago, which they planted entirely to Pinot Noir, producing their first vintage in 2003, which was released in 2005 under the Surveyor Thomson label, named in honour of David’s great-great-grandfather John Thomson, who had surveyed much of the area in the nineteenth century – and was New Zealand’s first Surveyor General.

Then, in 2008, they added the Explorer label, made with Pinot from the same region.

In April this year, however, the operation was rebranded as Domaine Thomson to include Surveyor Thomson and Explorer Pinot Noir from Central Otago, and the soon-to-be released Gevrey-Chambertin Les Evocelles.

The impending Burgundy is made from 80 to 100 year-old, organically-farmed Pinot Noir vines. The grapes have been 100% destemmed and aged in 100% new French oak for 18 months, and the wine has been made by Gérard Quivy, a grower and winemaker in the commune.

It is hoped that the Les Evocelles will be promoted to Premier Cru status in the near future.

Although a native New Zealander, David Hall-Jones spends much of him time in Hong Kong, where he is a managing partner at an international law firm.

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