Home' Hospitality Business : HB AUG 2015 Contents 54 | August 2015 | Hospitality BUSINESS
Nick Blampied-Lane joined the Cloudy Bay winemaking team
just in time for the 2003 harvest, which produced one of the most
intensely flavoured crops of the last decade.
After studying science at the University of Auckland he then set
off to France to complete a Post Graduate Diploma of Oenology
in Toulouse, where he rekindled his love of French food and took
his wine knowledge to the next level. Subsequently, Nick worked
in Bergerac and Burgundy, experiences that fuelled his passion
for great pinot noir, and landed him the enviable task of selecting
the international benchmark wines for Cloudy Bay’s annual event,
Pinot at Cloudy Bay.
WHAT IS YOUR EXACT JOB TITLE?
Winemaker at Cloudy Bay, I am one of three.
HOW MANY VINTAGES HAVE YOU SEEN
COME TO FRUITION AT CLOUDY BAY?
Thirteen vintages, over twelve and a half years.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST INDUSTRY-RELATED ROLE?
I guess the first real ‘work’ I did when it comes to wine was an
internship in France. I was in the Dordogne region in 1997 and
it was after my first year of a post-graduate degree. I spent the
majority of my time is Toulouse, which is where my father lives.
WERE YOU EVER TEMPTED TO STAY OVER
THAT SIDE OF THE WORLD?
Yes, I was but I’m a kiwi and I like kiwi things too. I’m maybe not in
New Zealand forever either, but at the time I very much wanted to
come home. It’s such a burgeoning, constantly growing industry
here and there is still a certain amount of liberty about what kind
of wines you can make. There is a lot of creativity around what you
can plant and things like that, I just have a natural attraction to
trying new things whenever I can.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE KEY THINGS YOU BOUGHT
BACK FROM YOUR TIME SPENT IN FRANCE?
The first thing I remember noticing when I got back was that in
France – and Europe in general – a wine is very much linked to
a place, whereas in New Zealand and Australia it was very much
linked to a person. It really struck me that they refer to a place
and a climate and a soil when they talk about a wine, whereas
sometimes we sign our bottles with a name underneath. Another
thing was that in France a red wine wasn’t a red wine of note
unless it could age, whereas in New Zealand it was – and still is
sometimes - the case that a wine is finished and then appears on
the shelf. In France they are a bit obsessed with the age-ability of
wine for sure.
WE ARE ABOUT TO LAUNCH INTO A CELEBRATION OF PINOT
NOIR IN THE FORM OF THE CLOUDY BAY PINOT & DUCK
TRAIL. WHAT WOULD SAY ARE THREE KEY ELEMENTS
WHEN CREATING A NEAR-PERFECT PINOT NOIR?
I think site is essential – and that encompasses climate and
soil as Pinot is very sensitive to its environment. I think human
interaction in the vineyard is also key - having a relationship with
the land and putting in the manual work. The third is definitely
winemaking, having a clear sense of what you want the wine to be
and what direction you want it to go in. Knowing what Pinot Noir
tastes like is also a great guide on the journey.
PINOT NOIR HAS BECOME AN INSANELY POPULAR VARIANT
IN NEW ZEALAND OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS. DO YOU THINK
THAT IS TREND DRIVEN, OR THAT EVERYTHING HAS FINALLY
FALLEN INTO PLACE FOR NEW ZEALAND PINOT NOIR?
I think all of the above. In the South Island it really is the only
red grape variety that will thrive in cool conditions, so it’s ideally
suited to there and parts of the North Island too. There is a
natural affinity there. Also over the past twenty years there has
been a movement to consume things a little lighter, perhaps – it
is elegant and user friendly, it ticks all of the boxes. It has also
given us a red wine to hang our hat on after only having a white
wine of consistently high quality in the form of Sauvignon Blanc
for the last few years.
WHAT IS YOU FAVOURITE PINOT NOIR FOOD MATCH?
To be honest it would be with duck. Ideally I love a simple confit duck,
or a good Coq Au Vin left a few days to ferment. Cheese is good too,
and I had a great match with pigeon when I was in Hong Kong.
WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING IF YOU HADN’T
ENTERED INTO A LIFE IN WINE?
I would have loved to have become an international cricket player
to be honest, and then an international cricket commentator! I
can imagine myself travelling the world, drinking gin and tonic
and talking about cricket...
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO A YOUNG PERSON THINKING
OF FORGING A CAREER IN THE WINE INDUSTRY?
I would say it is a whole lot easier if you have a qualification – it’s
not essential but it will open a whole lot more doors. And travel as
far and as wide as you can to acquire some genuine experiences.
Your Shout •
Your Shout •
10 Questions with:
Cloudy Bay’s Nick
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