Aurum Wines Winemaker Experiments with White, Rosé and Amber Pinot Gris

Aurum Pinot Gris

Lucie Lawrence, winemaker Aurum Wine

IN THE CROMWELL BASIN of Central Otago in New Zealand, Aurum Wines grows 1 hectare of Pinot Gris. The vineyard sits in the Pisa flats, near the town of Cromwell, and includes some of the youngest soils of the region, consisting of silt-based, wind-blown loess over schist gravels. The Pinot Gris was planted to a field blend of various clones in 2007. Vintage 2011 offered the first fruit from the planting. Compared to a previous planting of the variety, the Lawrence family, who own and operate Aurum, have found that the better plant material, as well as the plant diversity of the field blend have improved both the interest and quality of the resulting wine.

In appreciation of this, winemaker Lucie Lawrence chose to experiment with the fruit in the cellar. Over time she settled on dividing it into separate lots to make Pinot Gris three different ways: as a white wine, Rosé and what she calls an “amber” wine, which has some skin contact. The resulting wines are quite distinct and stand out as hallmark examples of the variety from New Zealand.

As she explained, in making each of the wines, her focus was on texture and aroma even if she wanted varying sorts of textural interest between the three. To produce the trial, the Pinot Gris for the three wines was picked simultaneously; the hectare of fruit is brought into the winery over the course of two days based on logistical need for the boutique-sized operation. Picking times were determined based on acid retention, with the fruit usually coming in at 3.2 pH and around 23° Brix.

As the program has evolved to include both Rosé- and Amber-style wines, the skin ripeness has also become a more important aspect of the picking decision. By picking on acid and pH levels, she has been able to rely on natural acidity rather than using acid additions to balance the wine. Once the fruit enters the winery, it is separated into three […].

To keep reading, head on over to the digital edition of this month’s Wine Business MonthlyThe issue is free to read, though you will have to create an email log-in. Once there, you can download a full PDF of the July edition, or flip through the interactive onscreen version. The article on Aurum Pinot Gris made three ways begins on page 34 and continues until page 40. 

Here’s the link to the digital magazine: https://www.winebusiness.com/wbm/

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