The first Ceres vintage was made in 2005, solely from the Inlet Vineyard. Ever since then the wine has been an 11 barrel blend 2 from Black Rabbit Vineyard and 9 from Inlet Vineyard. This proportion was chosen to reflect the relative sizes of the vineyards contributing to the Composition wine.
The Ceres wines brand is the result of a collaboration of brothers Matt and James Dicey. James Dicey is the viticulturalist for Mt Difficulty and the grapes from Inlet Vineyard are grown to the Mt Difficulty standard. This means a lot of hand care and attention and low yields to ensure concentrated and intensely flavoured grapes. Yields are restricted to a maximum of 6t/ha and all grapes are hand harvested.
Matt Dicey is the wine maker for Mt Difficulty wines. Wines from both Black Rabbit and Inlet Vineyard are now included as part of the Mt Difficulty estate Pinot Noir. To create the Ceres blend the barrels most representative of both the vineyard and season are selected to be part of the 11 barrel blend.
The wine has been held back from release to ensure that the wines are drinking well and have harmonised in the bottle. The current commercial release is the 2008 vintage. The more recent vintages are progressing well with the 2009 ready for release shortly.
Riesling has recently been planted on the Black Rabbit Vineyard and the Full Circle Vineyard also has this variety planted (18 year old vines). In addition it also has got Pinot Gris planted. Swansong Vineyard has recently been planted with Pinot Noir, Riesling and Gewurztraminer as well as Pinot Gris. Pinot Gris from the 2011 vintage has been added to the portfolio from Full Circle vineyard. Riesling has been added from 2012 from the Swansong Vineyard.
The Ceres wines are all about reflecting both the vineyards the grapes are grown on and effect the season has on the final wines. All the vineyards are located in Central Otago. Below we have included a brief summary of Central Otago to provide context for the Ceres vineyards.
Central Otago is located at 45º south which makes it the most southerly wine growing region in the world. It shares similarities with some of the great wine growing regions in the northern hemisphere. Burgundy, Rhone and the Willamette Valley in Oregon are all at latitudes 45-47º north. Central Otago has a maritime influenced semi-continental climate and this result in hot (and low humidity) and dry summers (with temperatures reaching 40ºC on certain days). During the autumn the region experiences a high diurnal range (a big variation between day and night temperatures) meaning flavour development occurs without acid being metabolized out of the grapes.
Central Otago is mostly planted in Pinot Noir (accounting for 70% of plantings) with Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc accounting for the rest.
The first grapes were planted in Central Otago in 1864 by a French gold miner. The first commercial wines were released in 1987 from experimental plantings around the region. Central Otago is made up from a number of sub-regions. Bannockburn, where Ceres wines are grown, is one of these that is really making a name for itself as a consistent producer of quality wines.
Central Otagos vineyards have a situated on a wide range of soils, mostly of low to moderate fertility. Each type of soil has a pronounced effect on the vine, grapes and resultant wine. In most areas these soils are derived from loess (wind-blown) or alluvial (river) deposits.