The International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) is one of the world’s most prestigious.
It has mana, which is why when Anderson, winemaker for Takapoto Estate, decided he was going to enter his wine in one show, he chose the IWSC. “I thought if you are going to do something, you might as well try and make a statement and back yourself.”
But even he couldn’t have predicted that in his first ever show that he would take away the Trophy for Best Pinot Noir for his Bannockburn 2012 Pinot, as well as New Zealand Producer of the Year. “I was over the moon, I couldn’t actually believe it. My first show, there was so much emotion. I was tickled pink.”
It was one of the great wine stories of 2017. But it has been matched in 2018, with Anderson taking out the exact same Trophy for World’s Best Pinot Noir, with his Gibbston Valley 2014 Pinot – a wine that last year collected a Silver medal.
So, what is Anderson's secret?
Firstly, fantastic vineyards. A fellow Lincoln University classmate put him in touch with Legend’s Terrace in Bannockburn, and Coxs Vineyard in Gibbston Valley.
Secondly, he holds his wines back, up to five years before releasing. The owners of Takapoto Estate, Mitch and Kate Plaw, give him the ability “to guide the Takapoto label as I see fit,” he says. “One of the things they have allowed me to do is age the wines. I think Central Otago Pinots look best at about five years old.”
The winning wine last year was a 2012 – and it had reached the stage when Anderson thought it was starting to show its best. He wasn’t wrong, given the Trophy.
Describing them as 100 per cent terroir wines, he says they fulfil his wish to make wines that are true to where they come from and that express the vineyard wholeheartedly in every way. “I think I am getting there,” he modestly comments.
The back-to-back wins are a ray of sunshine in what has been a difficult year for Anderson. Diagnosed with terminal cancer in July, he says hearing he had won the trophy was an amazing piece of news.
“It’s one of those funny things in life. It will throw you a curveball, but it might also throw you a golden egg. Finding I had terminal cancer has been tough. But winning this has been amazing. It has given me a bit more drive. I want to hand around as long as I possibly can.”
So with two trophies under his belt, is there another wine in the portfolio that could grab the triple peat? “The 2015 Bannockburn is a real belter, but I am holding it back as it is just not ready. Maybe next year, or even the year after.”
Article by Tessa Nicholson. Original version published in the New Zealand Winegrower magazine.