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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

The Millton Vineyards – Clos de Ste. Anne Chardonnay

New Zealand (Gisborne)


So, what’s with the lobsters again?

Well, they are in season. And this weekend they’re selling for as low as $4.99 / lb. That’s $11/£7/€8.25 per kilo. This crew of crustaceans will go on to be boiled in sea water taken directly from one of the coves within easy driving distance of where I live. Sea water is the best for the lobster pot, and a tradition in our family. One of my fondest memories of growing up is a roaring fire on a rocky beach and a big boil-up of lobsters freshly caught by my father.

So lobsters it is for the celebration of our older son’s birthday, and with it a special bottle of chardonnay from another island, one on the other side of the world.


James and Annie Millton started their winery in 1984, just outside Gisborne, on the North Island of New Zealand. Then as now, it is well out of the mainstream of the country’s fashionable wine-producing regions. The Milltons were thought more than a little nuts, especially when they disavowed chemicals and irrigation, and turned to something few people had heard about — biodynamics. Over the past quarter century, with their consistent production of exceptional wines, they have seen the skeptics slowly shrink away.

Biodynamic viticulture is labour intensive, but the Milltons have never been ones to shy away from hard work. Nor do their co-workers in the operation. That would include the estate’s small herd of Angus cows, who are happy do their bit for the cause, producing highly prized dung that forms an integral part of the biodynamic preparations used to help energize the soil.

In terms of cultivation, the pride of the estate is the steep hillside called Naboth’s Vineyard, now enclosed and expanded to 30 acres (12 ha) and designated Domaine Clos de Ste. Anne. In the distance is Poverty Bay and the Pacific. It has the distinction of being one of the first vineyards in the world to experience the light of the new day. Since where I live on the east coast of Newfoundland is the first place in North America to receive the light of the new day… well this chardonnay is just destined to be uncorked at our lobster dinner.

Clos de Ste. Anne Chardonnay 2005

Yellow gold in the glass. On the nose and palate not so quick to reveal itself, although from the start you sense the quality of the experience. Not fruity or floral, but a refined and subtle honeyed intensity that prefers to hint at what makes it so pleasurable rather than deliver it open-faced — at one moment a touch of caramel, another coffee, another chocolate. A shy sophisticate, a smooth romantic. The mouth feel of sweet without the sweetness. Hard to define, but great is the pleasure in trying to do so!  $$





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