February 17, 2020
Q&A with Chris Darling
It’s no secret that New Zealand wine is legendary.
Our terra firma and crisp conditions allow a variety of grapes to develop and produce top quality wines to be export to cellars around the world.
We’re connecting with the country’s leading winemakers to ascertain what it takes for their grape to flourish and where their drop sits in the market. Today we’re hearing from Chris Darling, the winemaker of The Darling.
Who is The Darling?
The Darling is a formidable two-man band made up of Chris and his Viticulturist Bart Arnst, who are making wine with grapes from the Marlborough region. After years of perfecting other’s products, the pair decided to go out on their own and then was born The Darling.
Although they don’t own their own vineyards, they say maintaining good relationships with their solely organic growers is key to keeping their brand honest.
For the last four years The Darling’s Sauvignon Blanc has received gold medals consecutively at the NZ Organic Wine Awards, making it the most awarded wine at the honours.
What is your point of difference?
The Darling is certified organic which means no herbicides, pesticides or fungicides. As an increasing number of producers are moving this way, Chris says for them, it just makes sense.
Darling says that by having full control over the process, they’re able to guarantee healthy soil and vines which in turn allows natural depth and textured wines.
“We think organic grapes give you a better grape, better wine. We seem to get really thick skin on the grapes and that’s actually where a lot of the flavor is. The thicker the skins, the more flavor we’re actually getting.”
How do you fit into the New Zealand wine landscape?
The Darling is one of the first producers in the Marlborough region to be fully certified organic.
“Bart is one of the longest standing organic consultants in New Zealand, he was probably the pioneer of this in Marlborough,” says Chris.
People should try your wines if…
“If they want to try premium organic wine that tastes fantastic!”
Whisk us away with your best bottle’s tasting notes…
This year marks their 10th vintage, but that hasn’t got them sitting on barrels, dabbing their brows. This year, their highly-awarded The Darling Sauvignon Blanc promises more kick than ever before.
‘The first thing you will notice is the intense aroma of this wine with notes of citrus and tropical fruits. These flavours follow through on the palate, while the wild fermentation in barrel adds great weight and texture to the wine that makes you want to go back for more.’
What does the future of NZ wine growing look like to you?
Darling says that consumer understanding and awareness about what we press to our lips is becoming more widespread – and that’s great.
“People really want to know where their food is coming from and knowing how it’s being produced, and that includes wine. Going forward the organic sector’s getting bigger and bigger and I think because Bart and I have done a lot of pioneering in terms of the organic space, we hope to be able to help other people go the same way.”
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