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From Pastoral Farming to International Wine Competition Recognition

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
From Pastoral Farming to International Wine Competition Recognition

The Bouchard - Finlayson Trophy for the best Pinot Noir in the world entered in the International Wine and Spirit Competition judged in London carries a fascinating success story for a retired Pahiatua farming family.

The trophy was won this year by Mount Dottrel Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007, from a vineyard north of Cromwell bought as bare land in 2000. Roy McCallum and his wife Rosemary had retired from farming dairy and beef and on the initiative of their son Simon, who is based overseas as an engineer, sought to create a new business interest that would give Simon and his family a future base in New Zealand should they wish.

Roy visited Queenstown to look at a two hectare site nearby and although he was interested, he cast his rural eye further afield and found 42 hectares 'for not much more'. A purchase was made; a team was established with Robin and James Dicey as viticulturists and Carol Bunn as winemaker. The land was prepared and only Pinot Noir was planted.

Roy, living in Palmerston North, found himself in a new field of endeavour, especially in managing a team which could often see a vineyard in different ways. Always the diplomat, Roy commuted to and from Cromwell to balance and sometimes chair some keen discussions.

The objective was to produce a Central Otago Pinot Noir with substance, heart and character expressing the rural values that all of the team had inherited from their own attachment to the land.

When the first Mount Dottrel crop came in 2005, the signs of success showed early. In 2006 a new label was added, Mitre Rocks, a name which also became the company name. The label draws from some specific blocks within the same home vineyard as Mount Dottrel.

Recognition came from medals including gold - in both international and local competitions - for both labels.

This month, it was Mount Dottrel Central Otago Pinot Noir that won the top international Pinot Noir trophy at the London International Wine and Spirit Competition, considered to be one of the most prestigious competitions in Europe and arguably the world. The Mitre Rocks wine from the same vintage also did very well.

The beauty of this is that Mount Dottrel is freely available, not just in New Zealand (through Federal Geo) but internationally as well.

For a retired farming family knowing little about grapes but with a lot of understanding of land, what has happened since 2000's block of land to 2009's international trophy in London is 'surprising and very satisfying'. Roy and Simon are delighted with the trophy won but indeed recognise they could not have achieved the award without the help and experience of James Dicey and Carol Bunn and others around them. Their collective belief in Central Otago Pinot Noir has indeed been rewarded.

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