Lance Redgwell, the proprietor of Cambridge Road, is quite a character. He’s intense, opinionated, focused, tall, and maybe just a bit brash. After hearing stories about him from Alex Craighead (Kindeli), I knew I had to meet him and taste his wines. Right off the hop, a small group of friends and I were blown away by the electricity in each of his wines. Despite his looming presence, his wines are ethereal, and light handed.
His small 3ha vineyard was planted in 1986 in Martinborough, just north of Wellington. This southern extremity of New Zealand’s north island is ideal for ripening cool climate grape varieties, ranging from Pinot Noir to Riesling. He farms organically and uses the biodynamic practices he can justify. Between the vines you’ll find a thick blanket of nurturing cover crops. He farms without irrigation, which is shockingly rare in this area. To expand his portfolio, he purchases a small amount of fruit from nearby organic farmers.
In the winery he works as gently as he can with the fruit. He employs a lot of skin contact for while grapes, whole clusters for red grapes, and minimal sulphur. His earliest vintages show hints of new oak, but now everything is aged in well-seasoned, neutral vessels. They are all bottled unfined, and unfiltered. This truly is raw New Zealand fruit!
2017 PAPILLON ORANGE
About: This wine is made from Pinot Noir (43%), Pinot Meunier (28%), Riesling (13%), Pinot Gris (12%), and Sauvignon Blanc (4%). The vines are all quite young (12-31-years-old) and are planted on four different sites around Martinborough. The dominant soil type is limestone. All the grapes were all direct pressed except for the Pinot Gris which spent a month macerating on skins. After seven months in neutral oak the wine is bottled without fining nor filtration, and less than 20ppm of Sulphur. 12% ABV
2017 PAPILLON NOIR
About: This wine is made from Syrah (75%) and Pinot Noir (25%) from the vineyard Lance farms himself in Martinborough. The grapes are partially destemmed before fermenting in open top tank. After twelve days on skins the wine is pressed off into neutral barrels for an additional ten months. 11.8% ABV
About: For this cuvée Lance used Pinot Gris (65%) and Riesling (35%) from Cirrus Vineyard. The site is in the southern part of the appellation on the rocky banks of Dry River. Roughly half the grapes were direct pressed while the other half were gently fermented on skins. After a quick five-month élevage in neutral barrel and ceramic egg the wine is bottled without finning, filtration, nor SO2. 13% ABV
2016 DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
About: Lance uses Sauvignon Blanc from Grava Vineyard for this cuvée. The wine is fermented on skins for an astonishing six months before being pressed off into neutral oak barrel. After a twenty-month élevage the wine is bottled with minimal sulphur, no fining nor filtration. 11.7% ABV
About: The bulk of this cuvée is Riesling (46%) and Pinot Gris (22%) from Cirrus Vineyard. The remainder is made from a combination of Chardonnay (15%), Pinot Noir (14%) and Pinot Meunier (3%) from Cambridge Road, Grava and Lime Gully vineyards. The grapes are all direct pressed into tank where the juice settles overnight and then is racked. This clean juice is then wild fermented until it has just a pinch of residual sugar left. The wine is then chilled, racked again, and eventually bottled. Fermentation resumes in the spring as the winery heats up resulting in a gently sparkling wine. This wine has no added sulphur. 13.5% ABV
2018 ROSE OF VENUS
About: This is a brand-new cuvée from Lance. Historically he’s made his rosé a touch more commercial, but this year he’s opted for a wild style more representative of his philosophy and the grapes he works with. It is made from Pinot Noir (70%), Chardonnay (12%), Riesling (10%), Pinot Gris (5%), and Pinot Meunier (3%). The grapes are pressed, and the free run juice goes into barrel for about a month. It’s then put into stainless for four months to settle. It is bottled with just a pinch of CO2 to maintain freshness without added sulphur. 12.9% ABV
2013 ESTATE PINOT NOIR
About: Lance farms his own small vineyard in Martinborough. He uses biodynamic practices and relentlessly pursues balance. The Pinot Noir vines are now over 25 years old and are comprised of the following clones: CL5, Abel, CL6, 114, 667, and 115. The grapes are partially destemmed into open-top tank where the wine ferments on skins for several weeks. It then spends twelve months in old barrel and an additional six month in tank before bottling. This is a late release from Lance to show how well the wines can age. 13% ABV