de la terre Barbera 2014


Tasting Notes: Colour: – almost pinot noir-like in intensity and appearance. A vibrant crimson/ garnet hue

Nose: – elegant and restrained berry fruit with light spice notes and a subtle oak presence.

Palate: – a gentle attack of ripe, clean fruit and silky tannins. Generous mid-palate depth moving through to a clean, lingering finish.


An unpretentious, elegant and refined wine showing an intentional and definite evolution in style from its 2013 predecessor. This has defined the style we will take forward for this wine.


Cellaring: 5 years comfortably.


Production Quantity: 1459 bottles produced, estate bottled, hand-labelled, individually numbered


Winemaker’s Notes


Vineyard: Hill Country Estate
Grapes: Barbera is a very early ripening red variety, believed to originate in the hills of Monferrato in central Piedmont, Italy.  The clone is a low acid & low-tannin clone, selected specifically for its suitability to New Zealand growing conditions.


On the vine, Barbera looks very much like Pinot Noir – very small, tight, fist-size bunches. The vines are very low yielding (<1kg per vine) resulting in a real depth of fruit concentration and flavour. The berries are relatively thin-skinned and light in colour.


The flock of geese that lived in the Barbera block in 2013 and caused so much trouble were well-gone by the time the 2014 crop arrived –  a huge advantage! I am convinced they had a major impact on the colour of the 2013 wine due to all the berry-splitting they caused.


There is a mixture of old and younger Barbera vines – mainly old (~ 11 years in 2014). We harvested the old and young vines separately as there was a significant variation in maturity.


The 2014 Barbera was harvested much earlier than the 2013 as part of our plan to create a tighter and more focussed style. The fruit was immaculate with no shrivelling and certainly no botrytis.


Wine Style: Of all our 2013 wines, Barbera was the one that troubled me most. Looking back now, I realise I made two critical mistakes – the fruit was over-ripe at picking and I left the wine on skins for too long.
In my defence, I had never made wine from Barbera before and in the bustle of dealing with a new vineyard I simply didn’t do enough field sampling and therefore did not realise how ripe the (2013) fruit was.
The 2013 wine was received well and sales have been great but I felt it was just a bit too heavy and ‘jammy’ for me. It was out of control!
My aim with the 2014 Barbera was to tone everything down and make a more focussed and elegant style – almost a Beaujolais style for want of a better term. I wanted to focus on what I love about the variety – the fresh/vibrant fruit and not try to push the structure beyond its comfort zone. 
Winemaking Notes: After hand picking the (extremely clean) grapes at ~ 24 Brix (old and young vines picked separately) they were crushed to open-top fermenters with small additions of colour-fixing tannins and tartaric acid.

I did not bother about playing around with whole-berry inclusion in the fermenter as we did in 2013 – just wanted to keep everything simple until we could get our heads around this challenging variety.

I used a yeast with accentuates berry-fruit characters and co-inoculated for malo once the fermentation was well underway.

Handling of the fruit was especially gentle and I was particularly careful not to overwork the skins.

Aeration was minimal due to the light tannin structure and fragile colour. Total time on skins was only 13 days as compared to 30 days for the 2013 – contributing hugely to the stylistic difference!

As with 2013, no new oak was used during aging as I believe it would be very easy to ‘swamp’ this delicate variety and move it away from the elegant fruit-driven style we are aiming for. New oak may be something to look at in the future when we have more confidence with the variety and style.

The wine was racked off its lees and returned to the same (washed) barrels every 3 months.

Barrel ageing was approximately 18 months.

After malo I blended in a touch of Tannat to help boost the colour and strengthen the tannins slightly.


Prior to bottling, the wine was given a gentle (coarse) filtration to take care of a persistent tartrate ‘sheen’.