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!
About: This Marsanne was grown by James & Annie Milton on their legendary Biodynamic farm in Gisborne. The juice macerated on skins for three days before being pressed off into an 860L barrel for fermentation and élevage on full lees. It was bottled in the fall with no fining, no filtration, and only 13ppm of Sulphur. Only 85 cases were produced. 12.2% 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
2019 NATURALIST ROSÉ
About: This wine is a bland of Riesling (98%) and Pinot Noir (2%) from Cirrus and Dry River Terrace Vineyard. The grapes are direct pressed into stainless steel where the juice undergoes a cool fermentation and constant racking to get rid of solids. While the wine is finishing fermentation, they chill it, slowing fermentation enough to bottle. The wine finishes its primary fermentation in bottle under crown cap. It is released without added Sulphur. Only 63 cases were produced. 13% ABV
2018 PAPILLON BLANC
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 TIGER NOIR
About: This brand new cuvée comes from Lime Gully Vineyard, north of Martinborough. The site boasts higher elevations and lime rich soils thanks to fossilized oyster shells. The farm has a whopping array of clones: Pommard. CL5, CL6, Abel, 115, and 117. The grapes were mostly destemmed into open top tank for fermentation. The wine is then pressed off into neutral barrel for nearly a year of élevage. No Sulphur was added at bottling. Only 36 cases were produced. 12.3% 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
2018 WEEPING TIGER
About: Just north of Martinborough, James & Barbara Walker farm two acres of vines. They are in a narrow gully, at high elevations, on soils that are comprised of fossilized oyster shells. Their sustainable farmstead is idyllic. This wine is made from their Pinot Gris. They fermented the grapes on the skins for three weeks before pressing off into one single 700L barrel for élevage. The wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered with no additional Sulphur. Only 78 cases were produced. 13.2% ABV