One of my favourite things about running the NZ Wine Directory, is discovering new, small-scale boutique winemakers, their vineyards and wines. The number of new natural, organic and sometimes completely “out there” wines that are being produced make for a wonderfully diverse & interesting wine landscape, which we in New Zealand can all enjoy.
Introducing the Featured Winery of April 2023 – Meet Daniel Sorrell, owner, and winemakers at Sorrell Wines in Marlborough.
After nine years of corporate banking in London, Daniel Sorrell longed for something else; he was fortunate to take a break from corporate life and spent some time working on luxury boats in Europe and, at the end of the season, found himself invited back to a friend’s village in France. It was harvest time. Wide-eyed, watching the excitement and celebration, he saw a harvest up close, and loved it.
His long respect for nature was imparted to him from a young age by his grandfathers, growing up on a New Zealand farm with them. Being a part of this harvest lifestyle in France was infectious, and he knew from that moment he wanted to exist in this world of wine.
He returned to London, resigned from his job and headed home to New Zealand to study wine-making in the Hawke’s Bay. During his years there, he crammed in four-night vintages and was hooked. ?After graduating, Daniel landed his first wine-making role in the Swan Valley, north of Perth. That role gave him an understanding of bulk wine-making, which was all about the bottom line; it lacked excitement and craftsmanship.
With the arrival of his first child, he relocated his family to the famed Margaret River region, where he was fortunate to work under some exceptional winemakers. At the same time as he honed his own skills, an opportunity came up in New Zealand. It was an opportunity too good to miss and he’d also be closer to his family, so he grabbed it with both hands.
Daniel says developing his career in premium brands has dramatically benefited his wine-making skills but, like many winemakers, he wanted to take those skills learned over the years and make something for himself: that’s what Sorrell Wines is about, special wines that can showcase everything Dan has learned over the years.
Based in Marlborough Sorrell Wines’ mantra is “minimal intervention with maximum flavour. All Sorrell wines are organic, small batch and single vineyard. With a strong connection to place. While the wines are complex, they work hard to make drinking their wines is an effortless and joyous experience.
Committed to traditions, place of origin and respect for the meticulous work done in the vineyards, they aim to ensure that all that hard work and love of the land is in every bottle. Indigenous vineyard yeast fermentations are used extensively in Sorrell wines to build on the flavour profile, structure and intensity of mouthfeel but, more importantly, to make that connection to place.
This minimal manipulation of the final product allows an authentic interpretation of the soil, vines and season to shine through humility and dedication to achieving the purest wines possible.
‘There are so many factors that influence the craft of wine-making. Working with exceptional vineyards is vital, and after undertaking vintages in Europe, it reinforces how crucial terroir and exceptional viticulture is. At Sorrell, we are fortunate to work with some of the best.”Daniel Sorrell – Winemaker
Daniel sources his grapes from three sub-regional vineyards in Marlborough – Auntsfield, The Wrekin and Churton, all very well-established vineyards that have been producing stunning wines for many years.
Auntsfield Estate was initially founded in 1873 by Scottish man David Herd Marlborough’s first commercial vineyard/winery. Seeing what David did back then recognizes that Marlborough’s landscape, soil and weather were all perfect for wine-making. With its mix of high mineral Greywacke rock and old low fertility Loess clay soils. This outstanding vineyard is regarded for its riper styles of wine with more structure, texture and minerality. The vines receive optimal heat during the day and are cooled at night. These conditions allow each of the two Sauvignon Blanc clones planted in this vineyard to display its own unique character, and this celebration of individuality is the essence of Sorrell.
The Wrekin – The grapes are sourced from this stunning dramatic hillside vineyard with a unique variety of soils. They work bio-dynamically, constantly adapting their practices to their vineyards’ demands. Deeply respecting their environment, they promote biodiversity in many ways to protect and preserve their land. The unique gravel and rock soil composition combined with the gentle sloping contour of this block ideally stresses the vines and produces stunning fruit with phenomenal concentration varietal intensity and bright, natural acidity.
By avoiding chemical fertilizers and herbicides, a condition of biodiversity in the soil allows the vines to naturally repel most diseases through the presence of beneficial organisms and bacteria. As stewards of the land, they have an ethical, social, and ecological responsibility to ensure the sustainability of our place for generations to come. Integrated Farming philosophy is rooted in a holistic approach where the vineyard is one part of an interconnected farm ecosystem. In addition to the 30 hectares of rolling slopes of vineyards, you will find Merino ewes, Cows, chickens, dogs, cats, deer, vegetable gardens and fruit orchards, all working harmoniously together to enhance the well-being of their land and, ultimately, the well-being of their people.
Churton – The fruit sourced from this vineyard is located on an elevated northeast-facing hillside. There is a wonderful diversity on the property, and the wine finds its compelling character and structure here. The soil has a deep layer of clay-based loess over the alluvial gravels. This denser soil type has a greater water-holding capacity, and they aim to dry farm if the season allows. The vines tend to have minimal soil compaction, resulting in a healthy microbial ecosystem and a naturally balanced substructure.
The precise nature of their farming results in healthy soils, healthy vines and delicious wines. The many ecological benefits of organic practices include healthy soils, healthy waterways, biodiversity, and a safe place for bees and other beneficial insects. Using natural products throughout production provides a safe and happy work environment.
The Wrekin Chardonnay 2021 – 100% Hand-picked and gently pressed left to settle, then racked with the desired turbidity inoculated from yeast from ‘The Wrekin’ vineyard, transferred to French barrels with no new oak, and aged for eighteen months of Secondary wild fermentation. No juice clarification. It was bottled without fining or filtration. Bright straw in colour.
The Wrekin Pinot Noir 2021 – 100% Hand-picked gravity fed into open top fermenters for a 5-day cold soak, then inoculated with yeast from the The Wrekin vineyard, Gentle pump-overs and left on skins for 21 days before being gently pressed off and aged for 16 months in aged French Oak. In spring the wine went through spontaneous malolactic fermentation. No juice clarification, It was bottled without fining or filtration: six different clones, three different picking days and only 100 cases made. RRP:$42.00
The Final Word from Dan
“This minimal manipulation of the final product allows an authentic interpretation of the soil, vines and season to shine through humility and dedication to achieving the purest wines possible. They’re proudly cool climate wines, aged in French oak, with a lovely line of pure fruit, subtlety, and elegance. The pristine fruit paired with refreshing acidity gives them a restraint, allowing them to age beautifully.” “And they’re a dream. My dream!”Daniel Sorrell – Winemaker
To find out more visit : https://www.sorrellwines.co.nz/
To purchase wine visit : https://www.sorrellwines.co.nz/the-wines
If you would like to be considered for Featured Winery of the Month contact JB
JB’s Tasting notes:
Sorrell Wines ‘The Wrekin’ Pinot Noir 2021, Marlborough NZ
Bright cherry red in colour with purple hues, lighter at the rim, medium bodied. The nose is fragrant & complex with berry, cherry & blackcurrant fruit aromas, subtle toasty oak & baking spices. The palate starts with juicy fruit flavours reflecting the nose then velvety tannins, grippy acidity & smoky oak are all beautifully integrated & in balance, long dry ‘very persistent’ finish. Another excellent example of small production Marlborough Pinot Noir. Only 100 cases made this vintage so don’t miss out.
Sorrell Wines ‘The Wrekin’ Chardonnay 2021, Marlborough NZ
Light golden straw coloured wine with great ‘legs’. It has a lovely creamy, nutty nose with ripe peach & nectarine stone-fruit & lemony citrus aromas. Wonderfully textured palate with a crisp grape-fruity acidity, layers of ripe stone-fruit, juicy lemon, spicy oak & vanilla flavours – it’s creamy, complex, textured & succulent with a long concentrated finish. You all know I do love a good Chardonnay and this is a brilliant Chardonnay.