Dada Wines
Dada Wines

After 'In Advance of the Broken Arm' by Marcel Duchamp. Photograph: Brian Culy

In 1960, Emile Peynaud, (one of the worlds greatest oenologists) noted that “the best wines are produced with cultivars that just achieve ripeness under the local climatic conditions, as if quick ripening of the grapes burned the essences that make the finesse of great wines.”

It is with these words in mind that we researched sites that would meet the above criteria and provide the basis for the Dada Wine Project. Sites that would consistently achieve optimum ripeness over the longest possible period of time.

New Zealand viticulture is classified as cool climate. Hawkes Bay as the driest and warmest region of New Zealand, provides the ideal conditions to ripen the varieties that make up the Dada Wines.

Hawkes Bay

Located on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, Hawke’s Bay is blessed with a maritime climate and diverse landscape.  It encompasses high mountain ranges to the north, south and west that shelter the region from cool winds and weather and steps down towards the coast, flattening out to the plains and the Pacific Ocean.

The meso and topo-climatic variability combined with differing soil types offer the vigneron incredibly diverse conditions for growing grapes.

It is this diversity that enables the region to successfully produce a wide range of varieties (cultivars). Further to this, particular varieties can show strong yet unique characteristics depending on the site.

Distinguished sites

We have identified distinguished sites within the sub-regions Gimblett Gravels, Mangatahi, the Triangle and Te Awanga characterised as follows:

  • Gimblett Gravels – dense, dramatic, high in colour and structure yet can be subtle and pretty.
  • The Triangle – generous fruit sweetness, strong savoury characters, moderate structure.
  • Mangatahi – best suited to white varieties.  Citrus, floral and mineral characters with a steely backbone.
  • Te Awanga – aromatic, plush yet elegant.

Aside from the obvious criteria of ‘optimum ripeness’ the basis of our selection was that these sites provide us with floral and elegant characters for the red wine and floral, minerality, restraint and austerity for the whites.

Naturally, great wines will only result when the vines have received lavish care and attention. Precise pruning, de-budding, shoot and bunch thinning, hand leaf plucking and low yields are de rigueur.

The fingers of a wooden hand mannequin is used to graphically represent the numerical symbol of the Dada Wines. It is both unconventional and a...