Interview: Pip at 61 St James's

Interview: Pip at 61 St James's

Tuesday 7th July 2015
by Justerini & Brooks

Justerini & Brooks were delighted to welcome Pip Goodwin, one of the long-standing winemakers from Palliser Estate in Martinborough, New Zealand. 

Pip was on hand to showcase a number of the brilliant wines from the Palliser collection, including; Chardonnay 2012, Pinot Gris 2013, Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Riesling 2013, Pinot Noir 2013 and two of the ‘Great Dog Series;’ ‘Paloma’ and ‘Hector.’

Palliser Estate was a pioneer in New Zealand’s wine industry.  “We planted in the early 80s, starting with a group of locals who were struggling in the rural area and who wanted to find a use for the land.” Pip tells us. After conducting an environmental report, which showed good climatic and soil conditions, the inhabitants were pleased to find out that potato and sheep farming could give way to vines - Palliser estate was duly born.

“We started with mainly Pinot Noir yet we have seen the market change hugely, with the rising popularity of Sauvignon and the crisp, pure, elegant wines associated with a cooler climate. At Palliser, we take the ‘less is more approach “

“There have not been a lot of changes from the early days, we do not like to manipulate the wines – rather tweaking along the way, especially when it comes to understanding the sites and vine ages of the Pinots and Chardonnays.” Pip maintains.

Viticulture and sustainable, organic practices are at the forefront of Palliser’s winemaking.  “The wine making industry in New Zealand is very much collaborative, everyone is environmentally sustainable.  New Zealand leads the way in this regard, with 95% of wines coming from sustainable wine growers, and 20% fully organic.” Whilst Palliser is not certified organic, they were among the first to incorporate an environmental management system. “Establishing new, young vineyards and the replanting program ensures Palliser keeps the image of ‘clean green,’ an ethos ingrained in what we do.”

Now that the 2015 vintage is in the winery, we asked Pip how it compared to the ’13s and ’14s. “It’s been a very strange season for us, very cool and very windy, with the vines getting quite battered. The summer was very hot and dry with drought in the area and rain during vintage. This resulted in yields falling 15-20%.” However, “the quality is very good. We had parcels of rain on picking dates, which heightened the pressure, but these are going to be quality wines; similar to the 14s. 2013 was a much warmer year for us, but quality wise ’15 is very comparable. We are confident that despite a more problematic year the 2015s are looking good.”

We asked Pip to share a few insights into the intriguing ‘Great Dog Series,’ “The dog series began as a tribute to the Richard, the MD of Palliser’s dog, ‘Beer,’ who had been part of the Palliser Family for 18 years. Richard wanted to make a special commemorative wine and in 2002, released ‘The Great Beer’.  It’s wine with character.”  Most recently, Palliser honoured Justerini & Brooks’ Chairman, Hew Blair, with a wine named after his late dog, Hector.  ‘The Great Hector,’ is the 11th in the series, “we chose the best 6 barrels from that year, with structure and complexity, 50% of which were new oak, and the wine spent a year and a half in barrel. This series really shows personality, story and history.”

Justerinis’ Quick Fire Round:

If you’re not drinking NZ, what would you chose for a) mid-week bottle, b) special occasion?

For all occasions, I would chose a Burgundy, white or red. Although, maybe a German Riesling –Oh, and a Barolo – I would like to drink more Barolo. 

What’s the best Palliser/Pencarrow wine and food match you’ve had recently?

I was in Denmark last week for a winemakers’ dinner, they served the Pencarrow Sauvignon Blanc with scallops. It was such a great combination; the crispness of the white went very well with the dish - an ideal match. Of course, the Pinot Noir with New Zealand lamb is a must. That being said, I was at a Thai restaurant in Copenhagen, the only Michelin Star Thai I have heard of, we were served the degustation menu and they paired the 2010 Pinot Noir with a fish dish, it was absolutely beautiful. Nothing I would have put together.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could take one wine from the Palliser portfolio, which would it be?

I would have to choose the 2013 Chardonnay, but it’s a tough choice between that and the Pinot. But the 2013 Chardonnay is my current favourite.

With our great thanks to Pip for the visit, here’s to another few decades of Palliser and Justerinis working together.