Mountford Estate

Owner(s) C.P. Lin, Kathryn Ryan, Kees Zeestraten
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Mountford Vineyard in the Waipara region of New Zealand’s North Canterbury in the South Island. Mountford’s winemaker is Taiwan-born C.P. Lin who is blind. The story goes that when Lin was at lunch where the owners of Mountford, Michael and Buffy Eaton, were dining, he correctly identified the type of cigar Michael was smoking by the smell. Lin quickly won the job that day in 1997. Lin was blinded by retinoblastoma (carcinoma of the retina) at age three but was driven to succeed as he grew older. He graduated from the University of Canterbury with a degree in mathematics. While attending college, he developed a love for wine through the university’s wine club. This led him to attend Lincoln University’s viticulture course but could not graduate because his disability prevented him from completing the practical laboratory work required for a degree. Lin went on to work in the wine industry, relying on his sense of smell and taste. He was able to work in the vineyards as well, using touch to prune the vines. He now makes wine at Mountford as well as across the world.

The vineyards at Mountford Estate are planted on steep hillsides to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The land's soil is made up of clay on top of marl with limestone deposits. Planting started in 1991, the first wines were released in 1995, and a winery was completed in 1998. Yields are painfully low at 1 to 1.75 tons per acre. Viticulturist Gerald Atkinson manages the 15-acre vineyard which contains 11 different rootstocks and 17 different clones of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Many individual small blocks are vinified separately before assemblage into the winery’s estate wines. Eventually, block-designated Pinot Noirs will be produced from the vineyard. Viticulture emphasizes biodynamic methods.

The wines of Mountford Estate have become a cult wine in New Zealand. Only about 2,000 cases are produced annually and most of it ends up in restaurants or is exported. A Liason Pinot Noir is sourced from neighboring contract growers. the Village Pinot Noir is made from declassified estate and selected fruit from neighboring contract growers. Two wines are produced from estate fruit: Estate and Gradient Vineyard. The Gradient Vineyard Pinot Noir was first produced in 2006 and is the first single vineyard Pinot Noir from Mountford Estate. The grapes are whole bunch fermented and stomped by foot in the true Burgundian tradition.

The wine is sold under the name The Mount in Australia to avoid confusion with a West Australian producer named Mountford Vineyard. In the United States, the wine is available at several retail sources.

Reviewed Wines

2008 Mountford Estate Waipara New Zealand Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., $40. Imported by Infinity Imports, Los Angeles, CA. Crafted by blind winemaker CP Lin. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherries, strawberries, sandalwood, spice and toasty oak. A bit rustic and closed, showing flavors of black cherries wrapped in supple tannins, underpinnings of tea, tar and oak, and slipping off the palate at the finish with persistent aromatic interest. Should improve over the next few years in the cellar. Very good. Reviewed November 29, 2011 ARTICLE »

2007 Mountford Estate Liaison Waipara New Zealand Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., $30, screw cap. Imported by Infinity Imports, Los Angeles, CA. Composed of estate and purchased grapes. · Moderate reddish-purple hue in the glass. Lovely perfume of darker fruits with a notable presence of smoky oak. Hearty core of black cherry and ollaliberry with undertones of earth, ash, tobacco and oak char. The flavors have some lingering presence on the finish which is marked by citrus peel. The wine is showing too much oak char at present, but this may well integrate over time. Good. Reviewed November 7, 2010 ARTICLE »

2007 Mountford Estate Waipara New Zealand Chardonnay

14.3% alc., $33, screw cap. Imported by Infinity Imports, Los Angeles, CA. · Straw colored in the glass. Alluring scents of green apple, bergamot, honey and buttered popcorn. Delicious and nuanced with flavors of citrus peel, apple, toffee and allspice. Slightly creamy in texture with bright acidity and a welcoming note of minerality. An impressive wine that supports the notion of many that New Zealand Chardonnay can be striking. Reviewed November 7, 2010 ARTICLE »

2007 Mountford Estate Waipara New Zealand Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $42. Imported by Infinity Imports, Los Angeles, CA. Fruit de-stemmed, 1 week cold soak, aged 16 months in French oak barrels with up to 33% new. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of dark berries and cherries with some smoky oak. Smooth and polished, with focused flavors of black raspberries and black cherries accented with toasted oak and earthy and gamey tones. Like the Liaison bottling, showing plenty of oak at present. Good. Reviewed November 7, 2010 ARTICLE »

2006 Mountford Estate Waipara New Zealand Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $65. Estate grown and bottled.Imported by Leucadia Cellars & Estates LLC, San Francisco, CA. · Very fruity nose featuring redder fruits and a touch of oaky funkiness. Beautiful core of succulent dark red Pinot fruits carefully oaked. Very silky, even sensual, in the mouth with ample acidity and gossamer dry tannins. A nicely composed wine with character and charisma. Reviewed February 12, 2009 ARTICLE »

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