We live in strange times. Tim and Nikki Kerruish had hoped to get back to New Zealand to give their winemaker a hand during vintage 2020 in Central Otago but the best laid plans don’t always eventuate, especially when a global pandemic looms large on the horizon. Prior to the pandemic, they had a tough choice to make – move to their rammed earth Central Otago home on their vineyard in Bendigo or do a stint back in the United Kingdom where they were both born and bred.
“It was now or never,” said Tim, “Our teenagers are growing up so we decided to take them to the UK so we do some European travels before they flew the nest, and then this happened,” he told me, as we chatted on Facetime during lockdown Alert Level 4.
The move has been a good one, despite the pandemic, he says. While in lockdown, they have been able to enjoy copious amounts of good European wine, much of which is not so easily available in New Zealand. And since they are living on the Isle of Mann, where Tim was born and bred, they have fresh lobster and scallops are part of their weekly food delivery. Wine is also delivered to the door and Tim is working, fully kitted up in PPE. Both Tim and Nikki are doctors who love wine. Their dream was to make a little wine and sell out, in the hope it would enable them to focus on small scale production. So far, so good. Like most small businesses, however, it has not been all plain sailing. They planted the first four hectares of Pinot Noir in 2003, had their first vintage in 2007 and have since added Chardonnay, the first of which was harvested this year. They have also bought out the other partners they went into the vineyard venture with. It’s one thing to want to grow grapes and make wine but quite another when financial realities come home to roost… So, now the Folding Hill brand is now 100% owned by Tim and Nikki Kerruish, who plan to live on their vineyard at some stage in the next five years.
The wines below are all current vintages. All grapes are hand harvested and the wine is made at Black Ridge in Alexandra by Fred Reinds and, when he is able to get there in time for vintage, by Tim Kerruish as well. All the oak they use is Francois Frere, between 25% to 33% new oak in the two top wines and no new oak in the earlier drinking Ballasalla.
Here are my tasting notes and ratings.
Folding Hill Pinot Noirs
2017 Ballasalla Central Otago Pinot Noir $32
Ballasalla Pinot Noir is the introductory wine to the Folding Hill’s Pinot Noirs and it is a consistently fresh and fruity young style of Central Otago Pinot Noir, delivering outstanding value with a clean, fruity style that puts Pinot Noir’s best foot forward in a consistently great value wine from one year to the next.
2015 Folding Hill Orchard Block Bendigo Pinot Noir $50, 14% ABV
Orchard Block is a small portion of Folding Hill Vineyard in Bendigo, the first area to harvest grapes in Central Otago each year. It’s a warm, dry and windy corner of this evocatively beautiful southern wine region and Pinot Noirs from here tend to be typically earthy, savoury and full bodied. This wine lives up to that and drinks well now while also having four to five years more time up its tasty sleeve.
2016 Folding Hill Bendigo Pinot Noir $45
My pick of this trio of Folding Hill Pinot Noirs, thanks to its round, smooth, silky style, its full body and firm dry finish. This reflects a very strong, high quality vintage in the Central Otago wine region where grapes ripened beautifully from the relatively warm, relatively settled vintage. This wine drinks beautifully now and has the weight and firm structure to age further, potentially for another 8 to 10 years.