Matt Connell goes it alone

Matt Connell (Photo: Matt Connell Wines)

After producing a string of trophy-winning pinot noirs for Olssens (now Terra Sancta) and Akarua, Matt Connell has launched his own label with a couple of very stylish wines made from pinot noir grapes grown at Bendigo. He’s off to a flying start and plans to release a Lowburn single vineyard chardonnay early in 2018.

I asked Matt whether he found much difference between the fruit from Bannockburn and Bendigo and whether he had to modify his winemaking approach to get the best from the Bendigo site.

“I guess I was initially a little wary because I wanted to get to know the site better. Bendigo pinot noir is a little more tannic than the fruit from Bannockburn, so I handled it a little more gently to avoid over-extraction. In hindsight, I would like it to be even softer and ‘eased off’ a bit more in the following vintage, although the later season has produced more concentrated fruit so I had to adapt to the seasonal difference as well.”

“The challenge is to make wines that will develop well without locking in too much of the flavours early in the piece.”

The 2016 Matt Connell Wines Rendition Pinot Noir is a blend of Bendigo and Lowburn grapes that were 100% destemmed, cold-soaked for five days and fermented for 19 days, with post fermentation maceration for four days after that. It’s a dense, rich and stylish pinot noir that combines features from both sub-regions. Accessible but with cellaring potential. (NZD $44)

The 2016 Matt Connell Bendigo Single Vineyard Pinot Noir is a riper and more structured wine with dark berry, cassis, chocolate, wood smoke and liquorice flavours. A bold, intense wine that promises to age very well indeed. (NZD $67)

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