A clear view to a top ranking

Clearview Estate chief winemaker Matt Kirby (centre) and co-owners Tim Turvey and Helma van den Berg. (Photo: Clearview Estate)

Clearview earned a very creditable 5th place in this year’s Top Wineries of New Zealand 2021 list, up from 37th the previous year, 15th in 2019 and 18th in 2018.

That rapid rise up the rankings will be no surprise to anyone familiar with Clearview’s taut, mineral-laced chardonnays produced in their historic seaside vineyard at Te Awanga.

“I like power and purity in chardonnay and we get exactly that from the Mendoza clone chardonnay grown in our vineyard.” – Tim Turvey

Spanish immigrant Anthony Joseph Vidal purchased and planted the land at Te Awanga in 1915 and was the first to prove the case for coastal grape growing at Te Awanga. He christened the vineyard Vidal’s No.2 Vineyard. His No.1 Vineyard was half a hectare in Avenue Road East, Hastings. Anthony had journeyed from Barcelona to Wanganui to join his uncle, pioneer winemaker, Joseph Soler. He arrived with just a penny and an apple in his pocket.

After Anthony’s death, Vidal’s was taken over by his three sons. The business was subsequently bought by George Fistonich and became part of the Villa Maria group of wineries.

Clearview founders, Tim Turvey and Helma van den Berg purchased Vidal’s vineyard off George Fistonich in 1989. In a little over a year, their wines won 10 medals and a trophy which got them off to a flying start.

Accolades have continued to flow, particularly for chardonnay and especially for Clearview Reserve Chardonnay, a heavyweight that won a reputation for intensity but has become more refined in recent years.

Clearview’s stellar performance received a helping hand from the outstanding 2019 vintage that particularly favoured chardonnay, escalating the winery’s flagship 2019 Clearview Endeavour Chardonnay to a creditable 97 points, while both the 2019 Clearview Reserve Chardonnay and 2019 Clearview Three Rows Chardonnay earned 96 points.

I asked Tim Turvey to reveal the secret of his success with chardonnay. A lot of it is simply having a good vineyard site and learning how to get the best out of it.

“I like power and purity in chardonnay and we get exactly that from the Mendoza clone chardonnay grown in our vineyard. Vine age must make a contribution—our chardonnay vines are 35 to 36 years old, which certainly helps promote quality and consistency.”

Understanding the vineyard and experience in the winery also play a part. Clearview viticulturist, Grant Houston, has been working in the vineyard for 37 years, while Turvey made the wine virtually single-handed for the first 16 years.

“My winemaking team is a delight,” enthused Turvey, adding that the team in the restaurant and vineyard are also first class.

“Our chief winemaker, Matt Kirby, and assistant winemaker Rob Bregman have been a revelation. Their enthusiasm and willingness to experiment has taken our wines to new levels. You never stop learning.”

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