Seresin Estate: Marlborough Magic
Marlborough's premier producer of biodynamic and organic wines
If you think that all Marlborough wines are the same, then think again. There is a small clutch of producers who are breaking away from the largely formulaic winemaking technique and forging a new style of wine: one which is less forced; a little less paint-by-numbers; and definitely a huge step up in quality. Of these, Seresin Estate is my favourite.
Michael Seresin is the founder of the estate which had its first vintage in Marlborough in 2000. Michael is a New Zealander, originally from Wellington, and has a day job as a Hollywood cinematographer, and one of the best in the business to boot. He is a long-term collaborator of film director Alan Parker, working together on Bugsy Malone and Midnight Express. More recently Michael has worked on Gravity, Harry Potter and Planet of the Apes. And he is a wine nut. It is his passion that drives the quality at Seresin, but he is not the engineer of the success, that is Englishman Clive Dougal, head winemaker. But even then, Clive, like many of the world’s top winemakers, is not a manipulator. Quite the reverse, in fact.
The wines at Seresin are made with minimal intervention. For example, they are all made with wild yeasts (aromatic yeast is pervasive in Marlborough), and total respect for their environment. All the vineyards are farmed biodynamically, and their level of commitment to the cause is impressive.
Being a Marlborough producer, 70% of what they make is Sauvignon Blanc and there are many variations on the theme made here. Added to that, I think there are now 8 different expressions of Pinot Noir (when I was there in 2015, there was talk of another 2!), and many other varieties including excellent Rieslings with varying levels of sweetness, Chardonnays, Pinot Gris and a Syrah in development.
Michael, like me, is a big fan of Italian wines, and pays homage to the great whites of Friuli with his top white wine, Chiaroscuro, taking inspiration from wines such as Vintage Tunina from Silvio Jermann, inasmuch that it’s a blend of Chardonnay and aromatic varieties. Initially I was unconvinced about this wine: I was sceptical that the top wine of a New World producer should be a blend. And besides, who, apart from those crazy Italians, would blend Chardonnay with Riesling and Pinot Gris? Well in fact, it does work, with knobs on.
Richard Ballantyne MW