Within an easy ten minute riding distance from Brightwater, a village located on the Great Taste Trail, Hodgson catches up with the winemaker at Kaimira Estate Vineyards.
Shayne Cox, the winemaker at Kaimira Estate in Brightwater, is one of those laconic guys who appears to cruise through life but behind that laid back exterior is a hard-working, very talented and focused winemaker who is passionate about making great wines in Nelson, a region he has come to love after making wine in many parts of the world.
I asked him why he chose to come to Nelson, “there are some very good winemakers in the region, I don’t think the public realise just how good they are, they are making some outstanding wines and like most winemakers you like to be around great people making great wines. Another reason was for the wine styles, the wines are very textural here, aromatic wines have a bit more complexity going on, there is more intrigue in the wines than in other areas. I also like the fact wineries are still family owned, you have to have some big players in town because the little brands wouldn’t survive without the big guys opening the market, families like Seifried’s are really supportive and important to the industry.”
He was drawn to the job of winemaker at Kaimira Estate for a number of reasons, “The diversity of varieties planted (12) which means I get to make small quantities of high quality wines, it makes life interesting. There is also a lot of innovation within the Kaimira business, it is carbon zero, an organic winery that is now using vegetarian and vegan friendly fining agents, there is a lot of good intent in the company and they have green credentials to burn. It is a very modern facility with a waste water treatment system big enough to handle a small town. The owners Ian and June also leave me to make the wines, Kaimira has a style and certain wines like the lower alcohol Iti that are important but otherwise I have been given free run to make the best wines I can, I want to make a wine people will enjoy, remember and come back for a second glass.”
One of the wines that has Shayne’s mark firmly imprinted is the Brightside Blush, it is a blend of 90% riesling and 10% merlot, the riesling brings freshness to the rose style wine while merlot delivers some colour and tannins. “The merlot was made as a proper wine, not just fruit blended into riesling and it has crisp red apple characters with red wine tannins, it is something a bit different that has been really popular. Around the world the blending of varieties is quite common, multiple varieties go into many famous wines but in New Zealand we tend to make single varietal wines and I enjoy playing with stuff like this.”
I am sure Shayne’s extensive experience will help guide the creation of some outstanding wines for Kaimira Estate in what has turned out to be a challenging vintage, but as he says, “we are farming and we need to be able to deal, as best we can, with whatever weather conditions occur each year.”
Thanks to Neil Hodgson for permission to use this article, first published 28/2/18