2018 harvest in New Zealand was ‘fast and furious’

The 2018 harvest in New Zealand was “fast and furious” as winemakers battled to get their grapes off the vines before the rain hit, according to Seresin’s chief winemaker, Tamra Kelly-Washington.

Speaking to the drinks business during a lunch in London hosted at estate owner Michael Seresin’s house, Kelly-Washingon revealed that despite the speed of the harvest, she is happy with how the wines are coming along.

“There were small yields this year and we had to work quickly to get the Chardonnay off the vines before the rain. It was a fast and furious vintage,” she said.

Tamra plans to make white blend Chiaroscuro more “textural”

“Being a small player we have full control over the harvest so are able to leave the bad bunches behind,” she added.

As for the responsibility that comes with taking the top job at Seresin, Kelly-Washingon is up for the challenge and keen to put her own stamp on the wines.

“I’m acutely aware of Seresin’s iconic reputation and it being such a revered and relevant estate, so I’m going to tread carefully, but I also think it’s important to impart your style a bit as a winemaker.

“I’m planning on making more changes to the whites than the reds. One of the new wines I’m working on is a skin fermented Pinot Gris that will be released in New Zealand under Seresin’s new ‘Beautiful Chaos’ brand,” she said.

“Its made in a similar style to the Pinots and has five weeks of skin contact. There’s a big market for ‘natural’ wines in New Zealand at the moment,” she added.

Other changes include incorporating more aromatic white varieties like Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer into the Chiaroscuro blend, which has traditionally been Chardonnay dominant, in order to make it more of a “textural” wine.

A “bone dry” Riesling is also on the cards. Tamra said that she’s enjoying the move from the much larger Yealands Estate to a more artisan winery.

“It’s amazing to be here – it’s where I want to be. Longterm I always wanted to end up at a much smaller place.

“I did my first harvest at Seresin 20 years ago, so it’s wonderful to be back. Michael is very trusting and respectful and he’s a good listener,” she said.

“It’s marvellous to have Tamra working at Seresin again. As a New World winery with an Old World approach, her extensive winemaking experience will add greatly to the evolution of our wines,” Michael Seresin said at the time of Tamra’s appointment.

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