Scutt Wines is a tiny producer you may not have heard of before because owners Johnson Scutt and Georgie Hoby Scutt only recently made their wines available for you and me to buy after adding winemaking to their business interests. In Johnson’s case it is turning the clock back to being a hands-on winemaker once again while artist Georgie produces the exceptional artworks for each label.
A couple of years ago the couple leased a winemaking facility in Orinoco, Upper Moutere and harvest fruit from vineyard the winery is located on.
They recently released just 90 cases of 2022 vintage Pinot Meunier Rosé 90 cases of Chardonnay and 150 cases of Pinot noir, the first wines made on Johnson’s home soil in Nelson after twenty years travelling the world as a ‘flying winemaker’, winemakers who travel the world working vintages in both the northern and southern hemisphere winemaking countries.
When I met with him a couple of weeks ago Johnson told me he decided he wanted to be a winemaker when he was 14 years old. His mother was a shareholder at the original Cellier Le Brun in the 1980’s and 90’s so he grew up hanging out at the winery and working there in the school holidays.
“Working with Daniel and mixing with several French winemakers over the years lit a fire in me for making great wines. The stories the visiting winemakers told me made me want to learn as much about the world of wine as I could.”
After leaving Nelson College he went to New South Wales to study wine at Charles Sturt University and, after finishing his degree in Wine Science he initially worked at Miranda Wines in Australia before landing a job as a flying winemaker for an English company that makes and supplies wines to English supermarkets.
“This job meant I got to make wine all around the world, wines made to specifications the supermarkets wanted. I spent several years travelling to and working in Italy, France, Spain and Argentina.
“Then I was overseeing winemaking projects for a large English importer for a couple of years before a friend asked if I wanted to join an American firm sourcing wine from around the world for them rather than making it.”
That move saw him move from hands-on winemaking to travelling the world sourcing wines to satisfy the demand from supermarkets, on-line retailers and various specialty outlets in America.
He met Georgie in London where she was working in the private equity sector and because he was sourcing a lot of wine from Europe the couple moved to Barcelona where they lived for six years before moving back to Nelson in 2009.
“We had our first daughter so it was time to move home. While Georgie and I met in London she is originally from Nelson so it was a simple decision to make Nelson our home in New Zealand. The nature of my work means I can live anywhere so I’m still sourcing wines from around the world for the global wine market as well as their own brands and private labels.
“The company I work for, WX Brands, is one of the top ten wine companies in the world and as well as sourcing and distributing wines they also own the number one winery in Argentina, Grupo Penaflor.”
Johnson’s main job is buying lots of wine to satisfy every sector of the international market, from cheap to premium but he was also keen to “get my hands dirty again” and make small volumes of quality wine for himself.
With a focus on wines handcrafted with care and passion all fruit is hand-harvested from their boutique vineyard in Upper Moutere he also wants to make serious wines for fun people.
“We want to create a product that is more than what’s in the bottle. Each bottle reflects our family values. My 75 year old mother, Carol Scutt helps in the winery and the kids (Ivy 14, Willoughby 12, and Lilly 10) get involved at every opportunity too.
“Then I thought what am I calling this, who am I and how am I going to sell it? Georgie is a contemporary artist so started an art series of wines, each year we will use one of her art works on each wine, a different label each year.
Johnson and Georgie have started a new wine brand from nothing, they have developed a unique identity for their delicious wines that will be limited to a total production of just 5000 bottles, with each bottle featuring a fantastic artwork, is hand numbered and signed by the winemaker.
As a special promotion to launch the brand Scutt Wines are on special on their website (www.scuttwines.co.nz) and in selected retail outlets. While the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are available now the Scutt Wines 2023 Rose and 2022 Riesling are due for release in a week or two. Here are my thoughts on a couple of these delicious wines.
Scutt Wines 2023 Pinot Meunier Rose
Rose made from Pinot Meunier grapes that are usually used as one of the grapes to make Champagne tends to have a drier flavour profile than those made from Pinot Noir. This particular version has lovely summer berry characters with off-dry powdery acidity that leaves you wanting ‘just one more glass please’. Perfect for summer drinking around the barbeque. 4 stars.
Scutt Wines 2022 Chardonnay
Made from fruit grown on the Waimea Plains the delicious stonefruit aromas follow through in a flavour profile that is rounded on the palate with those same stone fruit/delicate peach flavours and an added twist of fresh lime. Made without the use of new oak or malolactic fermentation. This is a pure expression of chardonnay fruit and vineyard location. 4 stars.
Published in the Nelson Mail 20-09-2023