Matt Connell was born in Taranaki and grew up in Christchurch, eventually making his way north to where working at iconic Auckland microbrewery Galbraiths inspired him to complete a post-grad degree in Oenology and Viticulture in 2001.
Winemaking took Matt to Wynns of Coonawarra Australia, Elk Covey in Oregon and finally back to NZ to Central Otago where he worked at Peregrine and Olssens of Bannockburn.
Prior to establishing his eponymous label he spent seven years as winemaker and general manager of Akarua in Central Otago. During his time at there he was able to re-establish Akarua as one of New Zealand’s premium pinot noir producers, winning major trophies for the label with each vintage.
And, just to hand, The New Zealand International Wine Show 2018 awarded his 2017 Rendition Central Otago Pinot Noir trophies for the Nissan New Zealand Champion Wine of Show and the Negociants New Zealand Champion Pinot Noir – at the awards ceremony held on Saturday the 13th October in Auckland.
I caught up with Matt a few weeks ago and was given a sneak preview of his 2017 vintage releases, including what was to be the highly awarded Rendition Central Otago Pinot Noir.
I concur with the judges!
Matt Connell Wines Lowburn Central Otago Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2017 $NZ 38
Very subtle nose of orange blossom, pineapple and elder flower. Elegant and integrated palate of mandarin, brioche, mineral and poached pear. Creamy and soft mid palate from extended lees ageing, with subtle French oak influence.
Matt Connell Wines Bendigo Central Otago Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 $NZ 67
Spice, black berry fruits and tamarillo on the nose. Opens up on the palate with gamey savoury flavours, medium tannins, black cherry, dark chocolate and raspberry liquorice. Very lengthy finish.
Matt Connell Wines Rendition Central Otago Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 $NZ 44
Smells like poached tamarillo, cherry and spice, with a whiff of wood smoke. On the palate, it has ripe and spicy dark fruit – with boysenberry, plum, black cherry and earthy savoury truffle. Lengthy medium tannic finish. Just gorgeous. Classic Central Pinot.