Wines of the week… What does ‘natural’ mean? Churton’s new Natural State wines

Second generation winemakers Ben and Jack Weaver made this week’s trio of new Natural State vintages, a brand which was established to acknowledge the trend towards less-is-more winemaking.

They are not calling these wines ‘natural’ for the sake of it. They are making wines in the most natural way possible, while adhering to classic and modern winemaking principles to create the freshest, purest flavours in an accessibly priced range of interesting wines. Which is pretty much the philosophy of their organic and biodynamically focussed parents, Sam and Mandy Weaver, who own Churton Estate in Marlborough. Production is small, quality is high and flavours are pronounced but balanced in the wines from this outstanding wine producer – one of my top New Zealand wineries, due to the consistently high quality since they first established their brand in 1997.

It’s refreshing to taste the new wave from the second generation, which adds a new twist to an excellent existing brand.

I love the flavours in each of these tasty wines of the week.

Wines of the week


2019 Natural State Pied de Cuve $27

Certified organic

This 100% certified organic Sauvignon Blanc is made with grapes grown on the Loin Block Vineyard in Marlborough and fermented with indigenous yeasts created in the run up to harvest 2019. The vineyard team collected samples of grapes to make a starter yeast, used to ferment the hand harvested grapes in this wine. The  juice was fermented in aged 500 litre puncheons and remained on lees for 9 to 12 months, post fermentation. The wine was then bottled with no fining or filtration, which leaves so many goodies in this tasty, medium bodied, succulent and deliciously creamy dry white. It’s balanced beautifully by Sauvignon’s naturally refreshing acidity. Sealed with a screwcap.



2019 Natural State Pinot Noir Marlborough $27

Certified organic and vegan friendly

This wine is made from the Clod Block, the youngest Pinot Noir vineyard and typically the first one picked by the Churton Estate team. It was planted in the Waihopai Valley in 2000 using a European approach, says winemaker Jack Weaver. Vine rows are spaced close together at high density of approximately 5,000 vines per hectare. They are farmed along biodynamic and organic principles.

This latest Natural State Pinot Noir is from the 2019 growing season which was incredibly dry with almost no rain between Christmas and harvest. The grapes were picked in mid March and displayed high colour intensity, which comes through in this organically certified, intensely fruity, fresh and intense Pinot Noir. The grapes were fermented in two separate tanks with indigenous yeasts and no whole bunch fermentation. The fermenting grape must was plunged lightly for colour and tannin extraction. The wine was matured in seasoned French oak for three months, a relatively short time, and then bottled with a low sulphur addition and unfined. Sealed with a screwcap.


2019 Natural State Field Blend $27

Certified organic

Viognier, Petit Manseng and Sauvignon Blanc grapes were co fermented to make this full bodied, fleshy off dry white which contains 6 grams of residual sugar per litre, so it is just off dry. It tastes dry and has refreshing zesty acidity from Marlborough’s cool night time temperatures, which adds balance to the rich flavours of the Viognier and Petit Manseng. Sealed with a screwcap.

Calling all Pinot Noir lovers to a virtual tasting 4.30pm Friday 11 June

Join me on Friday 11 June at 4.30pm for a free virtual tasting of Pinot Noir from Whitehaven Wines, based in Marlborough, New Zealand.

Taste two Whitehaven Pinot Noirs; the flagship 2016 Whitehaven Marlborough Pinot Noir and the 2017 Whitehaven Greg Single Vineyard Southern Valleys Pinot Noir. This virtual tasting is a free event online to discover these two great wines together and ask all your questions about Pinot Noir, Marlborough and wine.
Buy the wines online here: – use the code PINOTLIVE at checkout for 20% off.*
And join the online tasting here:
I look forward to seeing you there.

NZ Wine Podcast’s top interview, a little promotion…

I’ve been reading a lot about validation this year and how important it is to have people validate us, so it seemed uncanny when a girlfriend was telling me the exact same thing on Sunday night and a beautifully validating email popped into my  inbox from Boris Lamont, founder of the NZ Wine Podcast.

If you love wine and haven’t listened to these fascinating podcasts, check them out here:

He tells me that his interview with me in April 2019 now tops the downloads list for the NZ Wine Podcast with over 1500 downloads for the episode as well as website streaming, which is harder to measure.

His interview with me is here:

I’m not usually one for shameless self promotion but it made my week to know people are interested to hear the musings, thoughts and knowledge I’ve gained over 26 years of wine writing and journalism.

Boris is about to release Episode 66 with Catherine Keith @ Mt Brown and is also working on Harvest 2020 updates, region by region, with the first on Central Otago to be released later this week when winemakers Dave Sutton of Te Kano, Grant Taylor of Valli, Malcolm Rees-Francis of Rockburn, Grant Handford of  Grasshopper Rock and Craig Gasson of Lamont Wines will share their challenges, joys and surprises of 2020 vintage in lockdown.

Listen to the NZ Wine Podcast here