Beautiful wine in beautiful surroundings

By Yvonne Lorkin

Thirty years ago, Tim and Judy Finn completed their first vintage at Nelson's Neudorf Vineyard (that's ''nude - orf'', in case you have pronunciation anxiety).
''In those days the internet was a rumour, fax machines were cutting-edge and muller thurgau was considered the smart grape,'' says Tim.
''We knew very little except we wanted to make beautiful wine in beautiful surroundings. I guess we lucked out finding this spot in Upper Moutere. It gives us grapes with the texture and definition we love.''
Looking back, Tim says 1991 was about when it became clear that the Neudorf block was so special, with the winery's Moutere Chardonnay winning many top wine show accolades and being praised by Jancis Robinson MW and Robert Parker, two of the world's most influential wine critics. The Neudorf crew are also no slouches when it comes to producing world-class pinot noir, riesling, pinot gris and sauvignon blanc. Earlier this year, their sauvignon was wine of the week on www.jancisrobinson.com. ''That was perfect timing,'' says Judy. ''Just as the world was tiring of the flood of cheap, over-cropped sauvignon, we get this huge endorsement of our more textural, complex style.
''Last year we were named 'New Zealand's greatest winery' in the UK Wine Report. While you take these things with a grain of salt, we were flattered to head a list of wineries we admire.''
Both Tim and Judy agree that to make and market great wine, you need total focus.
''We have a great winemaker in John Kavanagh, a great viticulturalist in Richard Flatman and the people working with them all share their dedication to excellence,'' Judy says.
Adds Tim: ''There's also a lot of hard work involved, so you have to enjoy the process and the results - luckily we do.

But it's sad to see our industry currently in such a state.
''It's not just the world recession, it's also the fault of short-sighted late investors with no love for wine - they're simply in it to make a buck.''
Both Tim and Judy are active in wine politics - Tim was made a Fellow of NZ Winegrowers for his contribution to the industry, including chairing two international symposiums in Nelson. Judy has worked with the local winegrowers' group and was on the board of Pinot Noir 2007 and Pinot Noir 2010.
Neudorf has always been hot on new technology, being one of the first wineries to embrace screwcaps, and Tim's current interest is a time-lapse webcam he set up overlooking the vineyard.
''It's quite funny, though it'll probably only appeal to the geeks,'' he says. ''The vineyard guys have threatened to work naked one day to see if anyone actually visits the website.''
Ladies, get your laptops out!

- Bay of Plenty Times

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