Blair Fyer, the Manager at Vivo Enoteca Cucina, ran a social media experiment late last week. He offered 5 people the chance to win two spots at a dinner with winemaker Sam Weaver, of Marlborough’s biodynamic Churton Wines.
I follow them on Twitter (@VivoWineBar). I entered the competition. And I won.
So there I sat last night, in the private library at Vivo, a glass of Churton Sauvignon Blanc 2010 in hand, with Sam Weaver, my partner Glynn and a table full of wine lovers.
Sam introduced his wines by first introducing himself. Born in Shropshire, UK, his family home was Churton House. Sam studied microbiology at the University of London and got his first job out of school at fine wine merchants Berry Bros. and Rudd and went on to become a fine wine buyer. His vineyard is high up on a hill in Marlborough.
That little paragraph explains much about the wines we were there to taste. Sam is from the Old World. His experience is Old World. But he’s running a vineyard in the New World. His Old World influence brought him to choose a good piece of land high up on a hill. Very different than anything else in the region at the time. He also makes his wines specifically to be enjoyed with good food and good company.
Churton vineyard grows Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc predominantly but also has some Viognier and Petit Manseng. Last night we tasted the Churton Sauvignon Blanc 2008, 2009 and 2010 and the Churton Pinot Noir 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 and finished with the The Abyss Pinot Noir 2008. The wines were beautifully matched with a menu created by Vivo chef Sacha L’Estrange.
This winemaker’s dinner was an intimate affair. It was a small enough group that everyone had a chance to speak with Sam and also with each other. In between each course Sam would talk a little more about the wine we were about to be served, as well as share a little of his passion for biodynamics and how that influences the wine.
Two wines that really stood out for me were the Churton Sauvignon Blanc 2008 and the Abyss Pinot Noir 2008.
The 2008 Sauv was a full bodied wine with lots of texture. It filled the whole mouth. I think the feel of the wine more than the flavour made this such a joy to experience. It had a long, clean finish as though it coated the inside of the mouth and just lingered there.
The last wine of the evening, the Abyss, was just gorgeously matched with a plate of Mrs Quick’s English cheddar and dried apricots. The Abyss, which is the only single block wine from the vineyard, was a complex wine with lots of dark, pitted fruits flavour.
My partner was particularly enamoured with the 2007 Pinot Noir. He memorably likened it to spaceships and decomposing dreams. Both of these are apparently good things.
Thank you to Vivo, Sam, Stephanie (of Mineral Wine Distributors) and all my fellow diners for a lovely evening. I’m still sifting through all the nuggets of knowledge gleaned so check back soon for more on the Churton Winemakers Dinner.
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For more on Churton wines check out their website or their facebook page.
If you’re a NZ restaurant or retailer and want to stock Churton wines, contact Stephanie Reade at Mineral Wine Distributors.