Don & kindeli
Nelson, New Zealand
Alex Craighead is an organic farmer based in Nelson. A town on the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island. He farms his own Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah organically, without chemicals. His methods are strict avoiding copper as much as he can, instead using seaweeds, compost and bat guano to combat issues like mildew in the vines. Cover crops are relied on heavily as are local trees spread throughout the vineyard area. In the spring before veraison his neighbor’s sheep mow the grass, eat the leaves and help fertilize. Alex’s family have a small herd of cattle who help as well.
Alex also purchases fruit from other organic farmers across the region, including sites in Marlborough and consults for other natural winemakers across New Zealand and Japan.
In the winery, Alex is like few winemakers we have met. He blends varieties together in ways we have never experienced before and relies on a huge range of techniques and equipment to produce his wines. Many different vessels are used for fermentation and aging. Among them amphoras, old French oak barrels, polyethylene vats and stainless steel, all ranging in size. Usually the wines are made using a combination of techniques like carbonic maceration, direct pressing and skin maceration among others.
During fermentation Alex treats the wines quite oxidatively, then later fills his vessels with CO2. He works with Pied de Cuvee, a sort of “starter” of early harvested grapes that begin fermenting before the main loads are brought in so he can help the natural yeasts get going quickly.
Wines are bottled by hand using gravity instead of pumps and see no additions whatsoever, not even sulfur.
Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay from a vineyard planted on gravels and Moutere clay. Natural Fermentation and aging in stainless steel, old French oak and amphora. The wines is Predominantly whole bunch pressed and barrel fermented, with 10% skin ferment in amphora and 5% carbonic ferment.
Pinot Noir and Syrah (95/5) from Moutere clay soils. Natural fermentation and aging in stainless steel and amphora. The wines is Predominantly destemmed into small batch ferments with 5-10 days maceration, approx. 10% whole bunches and 10% carbonic.
La Lechuza Pet Nat
Riesling from river gravels on clay fermented and aged in stainless steel. 12 hours maceration, pressed, racked and fermented until almost dry, 8g/L sugar equivalent of juice added back prior to bottle.
Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Syrah from Moutere clay. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 12 hours maceration on whites, reds direct pressed, racked and fermented until almost dry, 10g/l sugar equivalent of juice added back prior to bottle.
Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir and Syrah planted on Moutere clay fermented and aged in amphora and stainless steel. Co-fermented in four lots 3 in stainless, 1 in amphora. Racked, blended and aged in stainless steel.
Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Riesling (50/40/10) planted on Moutere clay fermented and aged in amphora and stainless steel. Gewürztraminer, Riesling and some Pinot Gris skin fermented for 7 days in amphora, later topped with 12 hour soaked Pinot Gris and small portion of skin fermented (12 days) Pinot Gris prior to bottle.
Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer (75/20/5) planted on Moutere clay fermented and aged in stainless steel. Whole bunch Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris co fermented for 4 days, pressed and fermented in stainless. Racked then topped with amphora fermented Pinot Gris.
Ellement Wine & Spirits