The Margrain vineyard, planted in 1992, was born of the passion for fine wine, good food and the country lifestyle held by then Wellington couple Daryl and Graham Margrain. Graham’s straight forward philosophy in naming the venture was, “If it’s worth doing properly, it’s worth putting your name on.” They were part of the second wave of wine enthusiasts who came to town following on from the success of the pioneer wineries which had established themselves some 10 years earlier. Having developed a love for the regions’ wines, they quickly came to realise the importance of the local climate and the now well recognised Martinborough Terrace soils. They settled on the original four hectare property, which was purchased as bare land and combined perfect location with the essential soil type; a shallow layer of dark brown fine sandy loam overlaying a bed of large gravel up to 15m deep. They immediately planted Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris; a combination of what were already emerging as the region’s most suited varieties. To complement the vines they also set about developing 18 rooms of private accommodation on the property, together with a café and conference facility. This unique aspect of the business is now run by their daughter Michelle.
Winemaker Strat Canning began his career in wine in 1987 and gained an Oenology Degree from Charles Sturt University in Australia. His industry experience includes stints as cellar hand, as assistant winemaker, a harvest at Domaine Gachot-Monot in Burgundy and three years as Vineyard Manager for a local company. Having also planted, run and produced wine from his own small block in the township for many years, he has an excellent understanding of the complexities of the region and is totally absorbed with the evolution of flavour and structure from vine to wine. Pinot Noir is his particular passion and he relishes the challenge of coaxing the best from individual parcels of fruit before finally blending wines of great subtlety and complexity. Margrain also produces a range of white wines of which Riesling is the variety Strat holds dearest, marvelling at the succulent fruit flavours, the punchy acidity and raunchy texture of this sometimes underrated varietal.
Two clones of Pinot Gris are grown on different sites throughout the vineyard. The oldest and most prevalent of which is the old and low-cropping "Mission" clone, reputed to have been brought to New Zealand by the Catholic brotherhood in the late 1850s. Midrows are grassed down throughout the year and all grapes are produced under Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand protocol.
Following hand harvest and whole bunch pressing, the juice is fermented in stainless steel and aged on full yeast lees for an extended period to add extra depth to the palate. The wine is fermented bone dry which sets it apart from most New Zealand examples.
Made in a restrained and bone dry style, this food-friendly wine overlays subtle pear and coconut characters onto a tightly structured yet floral palate. The extra time on yeast lees gives a smoother, richer dimension to the mouth feel.