He was the first non-family member to head the winemaking team at Maison Kuentz-Bas and that experience has informed the wines Paul Pujol has made ever since.
'Delicious’ is typically the first word I hear from a guest after pouring a taste of Prophet’s Rock pinot gris; ‘fantastic’ when it comes to the pinot noir. Paul Pujol is based in Central Otago, making his wine off a small landholding overlooking the Cromwell Basin. He has a complete understanding of the land and fruit he works with and makes some incredibly cellar-worthy wines.
“I had an interest in wine and had done an intro wine tasting course while at Otago in an unrelated degree. A chance encounter with a hitchhiker alerted me to the post-graduate viticulture and oenology course.”
After graduating, Pujol’s first wine industry role was at Seresin Estate; he worked both the vineyard and winery, where his experience and understanding of grape-to-bottle plus insights into organic land management gave him the desire for more international experience.
In 2000, Pujol worked vintages in the Languedoc and Alsace at Maison Kuentz-Bas. He was subsequently offered the head winemaking position becoming the first non-family winemaker at Kuentz-Bas since the house was founded in 1795.
Pujol has also spent time in Oregon at boutique organic producer Lemelson Vineyards and in 2009 at Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé.
It’s easy to understand and taste his passion for Alsace and Burgundy varieties through the wines he makes here in New Zealand.
“I have a strong connection with France thanks to my father,” Pujol declares. “Travelling there and living with my dad’s attempts to incorporate French food and wine culture into our lives was important – even if the wine was in a box on the fridge and the cheese tasted like jandal rubber.”
What are your favourite wines to make?“I’m lucky to be making wines – once the gewürztraminer and muscat come into production – suitable for Central Otago, and wines that I really love. Having the latitude and support to grow and make them in line with our site’s potential and my sensibilities makes picking one favourite impossible. The Cuvée Aux Antipodes Blanc 2018 is a pretty special wine and we love to champion pinot gris.
How would you like to see New Zealand’s wine industry evolve in the longer term?“I’d love to see broad recognition of the diverse range of site-driven wines that the country and individual regions produce, an evolution beyond cursory ideas of national or regional style.”
Best beer and pizza combination? “A cleansing, refreshing beer with a profile that’s not too heavy, too alcoholic or over-hopped.”
Cameron Douglas MS
Photography by Prophet’s Rock.
REGION | Central Otago
YEARS IN INDUSTRY | 21
ANNUAL CRUSH | 130 tonnes
STANDOUT WINES | 2018 Prophet’s Rock Cuvée; Aux Antipodes Pinot Noir