Simplicity and authenticity define Lucie Lawrence – and also the wines she produces at her Central Otago winery.
Lucie Lawrence’s wine journey began in Burgundy, where her family have hospitality roots. Although there was a small family vineyard that supplied wine for restaurants, Lawrence had never considered becoming a vigneron. But a chance comment from her father, suggesting oenology as a field of study started the ball rolling.
In her first year, she worked at Domaine de l’Arlot and met her husband Brook, a winemaking apprentice who regularly undertook duties at his family’s vineyard in Central Otago.
The family now live among the vines in Lowburn, converting to organics in 2010. She credits this as one of the strongest influences on her wine philosophy. With organics as the canvas and starting point, all decisions in the vineyard, winery and business are made against that backdrop. The estate and its vines are their garden, the winery their workshop and they welcome guests into their home through the cellar door. Although there is always work to do on the estate, Lawrence makes a point of finding the joy in it – be it gardening, looking after the vines, checking on the wines or looking after family. Perhaps this is why she often speaks of wine being soulful and joyous.
Coming from the Old World, New Zealand gave her the space to think, and the freedom to experiment and develop ideas. Over the years, she became more comfortable with her skills and each vintage stripped back more from her winemaking to reveal the beautiful fruit they grow. Keenly aware of the balance in all things around her, she resists rushing in winemaking, preferring to wait and see, trusting the wines will get there in their own time. She has also recently been finding other ways to express herself, getting more into pottery-making. Lawrence tells me, “I really like simplicity and authenticity.” And that’s definitely something that comes through in her wines.
Her wines possess a ready charm and drinkability early in life, which is rare to see, and belies the fact that they also age very gracefully. Unlike classical notions of a vin de garde, these don’t start out as hard shells. They are wines of ease, plushness and purity, they comfort and have lovely softness to them across the board. Even the top cuvées of pinot noir show a softness and delicacy wrapped around the concentrated and powerful cores. Her two teenage daughters, Mathilde and Madeleine, not only have wines named after them, but are budding winemakers themselves. While her family heritage initially hid the possibilities of a winemaking life from her, a string of chance encounters have led Lawrence to establish her own legacy of vine and wine. Such is the poetry of life.
Text by Stephen Wong MW
Photography courtesy of Aurum Vineyard.
FACTS AND FIGURES
REGION | Lowburn, Central Otago
YEARS IN INDUSTRY | 20
STAND-OUT WINES | Madeleine Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris Amber Wine.