Changing tack

With Butterworth Estate wines, Brad and Warren Butterworth continue to evolve and indulge in a passion for New Zealand winemaking. For the legendary yachtsman, success from the vine is as tangible and desirable as success under sail.

“We loved the wine so much we bought the vineyard.”

It’s the sort of tongue-in-cheek quip the inimitable Brad Butterworth has become synonymous with. But as we’ve come to appreciate from the man, that mischievous and sometimes polarising banter is never served without an underlying measure of sincerity.

Beyond the team colours – or the flag he may be representing in competition on the water – that grit and drive to succeed is 100% home-grown and never far from the surface. Brad’s steely determination and competitive mindset is writ large upon the endeavour he embarked on with his cousin Warren Butterworth in 2019, when the duo acquired an established Wairarapa vineyard.

Naturally, Brad is aiming high with his vision for Butterworth Estate: very high. He and Warren aspire to see the Estate, located along iconic Te Muna Road outside Martinborough, recognised as one of the very best producers in the world.

However, for the Butterworths the move into viticulture isn’t as out-of-left-field as you may think. Winemaking and its heritage in New Zealand have been a passion of both Brad and Warren, born from their own family lineage. Their great, great grandfather, W. Heathcote Jackman, was a pioneering grape grower in New Zealand at Whakapirau on the shores of the Kaipara Harbour in the late-1800s.

After looking at several vineyards around New Zealand, the Butterworths identified the Julicher Vineyard, which boasted 25-years of cultivating, as an excellent base from which to start and ultimately expand on. The vineyard’s experienced Vineyard Manager, Kyra Day, and Winemaker, Martin Bell were assets Brand and Warren were eager to retain, while General Manager, Nick Hewitt, was introduced to oversee the business.

“The team we have inherited and developed are exceptional,” says Brad. “The Julicher Vineyard had its fair share of gold medals already and we wanted to retain that formula and grow from there.”

Indeed, as Brad claims, the taste test sealed the deal. “The difference in the wine definitely appealed to our palate – it certainly made the decision easy.”

The Butterworths have put their mark on the vineyard since acquiring the property, Brad sees it as an evolutionary strategy that reenergises the vineyard for times ahead.

Since the acquisition three years ago, the pair have facilitated expansion of the vineyard’s footprint substantially. Now, there’s a vision to grow new varieties and wine offerings, with the Butterworth Our Single Vineyard premium selection of wines effortlessly expressing the unique site aspect and free draining soils that have made Te Muna Road an exemplary wine growing region.

2018 Pinot Noir | With aromatics of wild raspberry and blackberry, cinnamon and nutmeg, the 2018 Pinot Noir presents an earthiness that jumps from the glass. The palate is spicy, with great length and beautifully delicate tannins. An un-fined and pure expression of Butterworth Estate’s best Pinot Noir vines, blended to create a distinctive and satisfying wine.

2019 Sauvignon Blanc | Blackcurrant leaf, pineapple, and mandarin pith combine with the vanilla bean of the French oak on the nose. The palate showcases the Te Muna racy acid line, with a richness from the wine’s time on full lees.

2020 Chardonnay | With limited availability, the 2020 vintage has already sold out. No wonder, with sweet aromatics that start with oak, cedar and spices and finish with apricot and peach. Richly textured with the racy acid line Te Muna is famous for, there is length and breadth and a chalky, oyster shell finish. It’s one to get in early for with forthcoming vintages.

2020 Regatta Rosé | The aptly nautical-themed Regatta Rosé combines vines from the Butterworth Julicher home block on Te Muna Road and Butterworth Estate’s second block on Martinborough Terraces. The wine has been made from 100% Pinot Noir. There were three separate picks to showcase the purity of acid, good mid-palate weight, and riper flavour.

2021 Dry Riesling | Ripe rock melon, lime blossom and lemon zest are prominent aromas. This dry Riesling offers a pure and linear entry, with a surprisingly full mid-palate that is only surpassed by the length and cleanliness of the finish. The wine lingers for minutes, making for a salivating experience.

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