Terra Sancta | Terra Sancta’s Rosé - A story of craft and magic
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Terra Sancta’s Rosé - A story of craft and magic

Terra Sancta’s Rosé

A story of craft and magic

What started as a casual conversation among the Terra Sancta tean back in 2012 as to whether to make a Rosé, quickly turned into a quest to create the best Rosé in New Zealand.

Winter is not usually associated with Rosé - but it was during a mid-winter meeting at the Terra Sancta winery in 2011, that we first discussed the possibility of making a Terra Sancta Rosé. This was at the tail end of a lengthy review of what the Terra Sancta wines of 2012 would be. Of course there was Pinot Noir - this was exciting - we had the oldest vines in Bannockburn - what were they capable of producing? Then there was Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris and finally the question, “should we make a Rosé?”

With the world wide explosion in the popularity of Rosé in recent years, it is hard to believe that in 2011 Rosé was such an afterthought. There was increasing consumer interest in New Zealand, but there was yet to be a winery that had earned a reputation for consistently delivering an outstanding Rosé.

In what felt like a fit of madness, but in hindsight a bolt of brilliance, Mark declared, “let’s make the best Rosé in New Zealand!”

This was met with a long silence - and then the statements, “ no one puts their best Pinot Noir in Rosé” and “no one really cares about Rosé”. Being first in Rosé was considered like being first in synchronised swimming at the Olympics - a bit of fun that few take seriously.

At the time, among winemakers, Rosé was generally considered to be the final resting place for bad fruit - the poorest quality - unripe - youngest - most acidic grapes that couldn’t find a home anywhere else. We were new to the wine industry and from our outsiders’ perspective, it seemed to us that Rosé was a wine that was treated as an inconvenience in the winery and generally given some sappy name to reinforce that it shouldn’t be taken seriously.

The declaration to make New Zealand’s best Rosé was powerful. It changed the conversation from “will we make a Rosé?” to “how do we make the best Rosé in New Zealand?”

Given there are very few rules around how to make Rosé, including the grape varietals and the method (there are a number), this seemed like an area ripe for innovation - and this got our juices flowing. As a new brand, with mature Pinot Noir vines, an unorthodox label and high levels of enthusiasm, we were excited to take a different approach and explore this new frontier…

Fast forward to September 2012. The Terra Sancta brand had just launched and our first wine for release from the 2012 vintage was the Terra Sancta Estate Pinot Noir Rosé 2012. It looked beautiful, we thought it tasted beautiful and so it was released into the world and we waited. What happened next can only be described as serendipitous - brought about by intention, skill and a touch of magic. For a new brand it couldn’t have been better. Not only did it win the Trophy at the New Zealand International Wine Show, but it was also awarded “Top Rosé” by Cuisine Magazine in its annual Rosé tasting. It was also well received by renowned wine writers Bob Campbell and Michael Cooper, but most importantly our customers loved it. We knew we were on the right track.

11 vintages in and that question, how do we make the best Rosé in New Zealand continues to motivate us. Creating delicious Rosé the Terra Sancta way involves:

  1. Best fruit. Our neighbours thought we were crazy. Why would you use your best Estate grown fruit for a Rosé when it could be made into Bannockburn Pinot Noir? The answer; to make the best Rosé possible! As a wise person once said, “you can’t outperform your vineyard”. A great wine begins in the vineyard and a great Rosé is no exception.

  2. Consistency. Over the years the fruit for our Rosé has consistently come from the same blocks of the Terra Sancta Estate. 1995 planted, bio-grow certified organic Sarah’s Block Pinot Noir is the heart of our Rosé and its attributes shine through every year. While we have continued to evolve our making, hallmark texture and complexity can be attributed to wild fermentation and barrel fermentation (amongst other things).

  3. Prioritisation. From the vineyard to the winery and in our hearts and minds - Terra Sancta Rosé is always top of mind.

  4. Craft. For us this means we are dedicated to making the very best Rosé possible every vintage. We continue to push ourselves. We take the time and care necessary. It is crafted by hand with the skill gained through experience. Ultimately we want this dedication to the craft of Rosé to shine forth for our customers.

  5. Team. Team work makes the dream work! From the farming to the hand harvesting, from the making to the team blending sessions and the bottling at Terra Sancta, the success of Terra Sancta Rosé is not held in a single person’s hands, but rather it is a team effort. Beyond team pride, this results in a consistently delicious Rosé.

  6. Magic. One of the best things about wine is its mystery and magical qualities. When it comes to Terra Sancta Rosé, there’s no winemaker trickery; just the best fruit, grown in the best place, combined with craft and prioritisation in the winery - and of course a touch of magic.

Over the years this approach has led to awards, accolades and praise from high places. Terra Sancta is the only producer to have gained the “Classic” and “Super Classic” classification for Rosé from Michael Cooper. Bob Campbell has rated Terra Sancta Rosé his top Rosé for 6 of the last 10 years. These awards are exciting but what ultimately drives us is hearing “ I love your Rosé” from customers. This is why we continue to make Rosé the Terra Sancta way and our pursuit continues…