The Nikau block is the centre piece of this label and is the vineyard I look out over each
morning while sitting at the kitchen table. It is also the name of our humble farm.
It’s roughly 0.50h or just over an acre and is 27 years old and planted entirely to Pinot Noir.
It sits in the steep hills of an area known to the indigenous peoples of this country as
The mountain range was created at a similar time to the Otway region when sedimentary
rocks were uplifted then eroded into the current mountain ranges.
The vineyard sits at about 350m absl within these ranges. The rainfall is high (by Australian
standards) and the weather is often inclement during the cooler months.
There are about 7 different clones interplanted in no particular order and all on their own
roots (no rootstock).
The soils are comprised of a compacted sandstone base which becomes more compressed
and stone like the deeper you go. There is a large portion of silica particles imbedded in this
layer and there is a highly fertile, organic loam layer of about half a meter over the top of it
that is teaming with worms and microbial life.
The vines have deep taproots which go down over 1.5 metres (as deep as I have dug) into
the base layers. The fact that there have never been pesticides or herbicides used is clearly
evident in the health of the soils and the property as a whole. The soils and the eco systems
above them are incredibly healthy and are teaming with life and microbial activity.
Everything in the vineyard is carried out by hand (except one or 2 mid-row mows in
summer), Over winter sheep keep the grass down and fertilize the soil. All year round ducks
keep the snail and slug population to healthy levels (and also add nitrogen rich manure).
Being such a small plot I am able under take all of the pruning, shoot thinning, weeding etc
myself. To be honest this vineyard has become an obsession to me.
It is akin to the beginning of a long friendship or loving relationship where the beginning was
not head over heels infatuation but more of a slowly but surely evolving one.
One where the more that is slowly revealed over time and the more I understand and learn
about it, the more I admire, respect and ultimately understand it as it’s own entity.
It has been an enlightening journey for me so far to say the least.
Although now having made 3 vintages from this site and putting the 2018 Nikau Pinot into
bottle a year and a half ago, I feel the 2019 is currently the more approachable of the 2 and
so will be the first release.
The yields in 2019 were tiny and we harvested about 700kg of fruit in total. The quality of
the fruit though was exceptional with tiny berries on very small bunches producing very
concentrated flavours while still holding great acidity.
I won’t talk much about the winemaking as there is really not a lot to say..
100% hand destemmed fruit into stainless steel and left to start fermentation by it’s own
accord. The fermentation was low and slow at relatively low temperatures due to the cool
weather (it was April by this stage).
No maceration, no plunging, no movement.
After about 6 weeks the wine was pressed back into stainless steel for 10 months before
being bottled by gravity directly off of its full lees.
This is by far the most “less is more” wine I have ever made, and has only been made
possible by being able to grow fruit of the highest quality and health.
It is a profound and captivating wine that is a very transparent and honest view
of time and of place. It has immense energy, purity and vitality that I think can only happen
when everything that contributes to a wine aligns in synchronicity and balance.
Words By Dane Johns