Wines for those with an open mind and appetite for the extraordinary. Gregory Collinge says his wines are made “for people with open minds”. The Supernatural Wine Co. produces delicious natural wines that resonate with those searching for difference, an interesting food pairing, or a dinner party talking point.
Natural wines – in essence, wines made with as little intervention as possible to reflect site and season – have been steadily evolving for a number of years. “It’s a growing movement – one of the smallest but fastest-growing categories in Aotearoa New Zealand right now,” Gregory from Supernatural Wines says.
There is no formal certification for natural wines, but the broad aims are to farm organically, do as much by hand as possible, use wild yeasts indigenous to the vineyard, allow spontaneous fermentation and eliminate additives and manipulation. In some cases, the methodology extends to reducing the use of heavy machinery on the vineyard. “I know of one that has reintroduced Clydesdales to help reduce soil compaction,” notes Gregory.
The Supernatural Wine Co’s four offerings – its flagship bottling, The Supernatural Sauvignon Blanc, The Green Glow ‘orange wine’ (with its unconventional glow-in-the-dark label), The Paranormal nouveau-style red and The Quiet Earth Pinot Noir – are a different experience from more standard wine examples, says Gregory, whose home is Hawke’s Bay.
“New Zealand drinkers typically lean towards fruit-forward styles, and within the natural wine movement, the examples are often more savoury or spicier – even slightly saline. The aim is to reflect the terroir as best as possible and embrace seasonality. Natural wines only include one additive and that’s sulphur, which is used at minimal levels to preserve the integrity of the wines.”
The Supernatural Sauvignon Blanc was first bottled back in 2009 with grapes from Gregory’s 9ha home block, attached to luxury accommodation provider, Millar Road, and sitting proudly on the hills above coastal Haumoana. Deliberately very different to a classical Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, the style is more tropical, creamy and soft than acidic and green, with notes of stone fruit. “We take 10-12 months to make the wine, with lots of lees stirring to build texture and creaminess.
“Our home vineyard is not on gravel, rather lime-rich clay, which actually puts the vines under stress as the roots work through the hard clay pan to find nutrients. It helps add complexity, and the volcanic topsoil adds spiciness to the wine – a soft jalapeño quality.”
The Green Glow (in the past a skin-fermented Sauvignon Blanc from the home block) is this year a collaboration with Te Tairawhiti’s Millton Vineyard using Muscat and Marsanne grape varieties. “It’s skin fermented for between seven and 10 days, which means it retains the tannic qualities of a light red wine.” Savoury and food-oriented, it’s an excellent match with goat’s cheese, along with charred and bitter foods such as endive.
The Paranormal is the second of the two wines made in conjunction with Millton. It’s a light and low-alcohol style which is ideal served chilled – not something we Kiwis are used to doing, but we’re getting better at it,” Gregory tells. With plenty of savoury elements like cherry tomatoes, along with notes of raspberry, boysenberry and Japanese fermented plums, it’s the perfect wine match for a summer barbeque or charcuterie board.
The Quiet Earth – the name an intentional nod to the dystopian film starring notable Hawke’s Bay resident, the late great Bruno Lawrence – is “our take on a Martinborough Pinot Noir, so naturally more chalky and earthy than a Central Otago Pinot.” Using 40% whole bunches of grapes lends woodiness, greenness and savoury flavours from the stalks. “It’s 93% Pinot and 7% Syrah, so lots of fruit on the nose with a beautiful colour and a little edginess.” Just like Bruno himself.
For those new to the category, Gregory advises a broad-minded approach “because not all natural wines are the same. There will be many you enjoy, but some you might not.”
His approach to winemaking is in line with Gregory’s desire to become more sustainable in all that he does. “At my Millar Road property, I’ve commenced a long-term native regeneration project, and so far we’ve planted around 2,500 natives. My hope with the land is to become an inland oasis for carbon neutrality. And my mission with The Supernatural Wine Co. is to create classical wines but make them as naturally as possible, intervening only when absolutely necessary.”
The Supernatural Wine Co. is BioGro™ certified and wines are available to purchase, in strictly limited quantities
Purchase through the online shop: https://www.supernaturalwine.com/
For trade enquiries, contact Sebastian Hampson of Kemp Wine Merchants https://www.greatlittlevineyards.com/