Over the years I’ve always enjoyed the wines of Diamond Creek, for their classical purity, freshness and balance. Despite their tiny production, they've always offered super value compared to their French counterparts, and I truly never thought they’d export their wines given the strength of the local market. However on a hot steamy, August afternoon, I drove up to visit Phil (stepson, of the late Al Brounstein), proprietor of the estate, where he generously donated his time in indoctrinating me into the wonderful and unique terroirs of Diamond Creek. A wonderful tasting, eventuated in securing the NZ distribution, or should I say very modest allocation!
These wines deliver against the first growth wines of Bordeaux, that inspired Al Brounstein to plant a 20-acre plot of land in 1966. It was only after clearing it of wild bush, that he realised he had serendipitously discovered a geologically and topographically diverse parcel of land and went about planting it with vines smuggled in from Bordeaux.
Each vineyard has its own unique microclimate, for example the Volcanic Hill attracts more heat and lies on ancient volcanic ash from Mount Konocti. Red Rock Terrace is slightly cooler as it has a northern rather than southern exposure with a higher iron content in the soil. Gravelly Meadow is the cooler still, lying on a preternatural riverbed whose gravelly soil make it the least water retentive, therefore the vines are the lowest yielding.
Al Brounstein believed in the Cabernet Sauvignon grape and had no wish to diversify into other varieties. It accounts for 88% of his planting, augmented by 8% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot that nds its way into Volcanic Hill bottling. They o er the nesse of truly great Bordeaux and the texture of truly great Burgundy.