CORNERSTONE, GIMBLETT GRAVELS, HAWKES BAY, NEW ZEALAND
Newton Forrest, Cornerstone Vineyard
Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay; established in 1988 is highly successful and enduring partnership and friendship between Australian born Mr Robert Newton, viticulturist and his wife Dinah and Dr John Forrest, winemaker and Dr Brigid Forrest of Forrest wines. In the true ANZAC tradition, that bonds Australia and New Zealand, they together have forged a triumphant vineyard and wine in the harshest of environments.
Gimblett Gravels special viticultural region, now protected in law for premium viticulture, is an 800 hectare terroir arising out of the abandoned coarse of the Ngaruroro River; in which towards the western stoniest end , Cornerstone Vineyard 70 acres lies. Here within the ancient riverbed stones and gravels the vines struggle to survive and produce only a few bunches of grapes with exceptionally small berries; deeply coloured with intense flavour and superbly ripe mouth filling tannins. Dream terroir for world class Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and now also Syrah.
Cornerstone Vineyards original plantings date back to 1990 and consist of small plots of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Syrah. Several clones and rootstock combinations have been strategically used to enhance the blending options for the final wine. In the harsh Gimblett Gravels environment viticultural impact is minimal with little need for leaf removal, trimming or crop thinning. Cornerstone Vineyard was a founding member of New Zealand Winegrowers “Sustainable Viticulture Scheme” whose cornerstone philosophy is the aim of minimal inputs using natural and or renewal resources that are sustainable for the long term health of the vineyard and environment. Harvest occurs from late March to mid April dependent on variety and vintage conditions. Grapes are hand selected on the vine to ensure only the ripest and disease free fruit is picked, then quickly taken to the winery for the first phases of winemaking to begin.
Small parcels of selected fruit off Cornerstone Vineyard are received in the winery for immediate destemming, without crushing and placed in small 3 ton open fermentors for a period of aqueous pre-soak extraction prior to the initiation of both spontaneous and cultured yeast fermentation. The fermentation process averages 4-5 days, reaching a peak temperature of 32 -34 Celsius with 6 hourly hand plunging of the cap to ensure a soft but maximum extraction of both color and tannins. Post fermentation, alcoholic extraction takes place within the same small fermentors for 7 – 21 days dependent on taste. After which the fermented grapes are pressed off, wine run off to barrel for secondary malolactic fermentation and barrel maturation. Maturation lasting 15 – 24 months dependent on quality of the vintage and determined by taste. Overall it’s a very natural process which is very much “hands on” determined by the skills and experience Viticulturist Bob Newton and Winemaker Dr John Forrest have for their terroir.
Bob Newton John Forrest
Mr Robert Newton Dr John Forrest