Pinot producers backing Burgundy

Rippon winegrower Nick Mills is helping Burgundy achieve World Heritage status. Photo by Mark Price.
Rippon winegrower Nick Mills is helping Burgundy achieve World Heritage status. Photo by Mark Price.
Central Otago pinot noir winegrowers are lending colleagues in the Burgundy region of France a hand to lobby the New Zealand Government.

Burgundy has set its sights on achieving Unesco World Heritage status and must show the region has relevance and value.

To help its case, the Burgundy region is sending a delegation of three to Wellington later this month, seeking Prime Minister John Key's signature on a letter explaining the value New Zealand has derived from its relationship with Burgundy.

Wanaka winegrower Nick Mills is organising the visit, believing what is good for Burgundy will also be good for Central Otago.

He told the Otago Daily Times yesterday the two pinot noir regions competed against other wine varieties but not against each other and the regions had been hosting educational and cultural exchanges since 2006.

Pinot noir has a 25-year history in Central Otago but a 2000-year history in Burgundy and Mr Mills said Central Otago had adopted many of the techniques developed in Burgundy.

''It's a sort of cultural seed that has floated its way around the planet, pretty much as far as it can go before it starts coming home again, and germinated itself here in Central Otago.''

Mr Mills said the delegation included the world's leading figure in pinot noir production, Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, and he would have the chance to see how the seed of pinot noir production from Burgundy had taken root in Central Otago.

By supporting Burgundy in its application to Unesco, the New Zealand Government would be ''celebrating and allowing Central Otago to be celebrated under the same auspices'', Mr Mills said.

A letter of support from the Government would be ''validating everything we are trying to do down here as well'', he said.

Central Otago Winegrowers Association president James Dicey said in a statement an ''immense depth'' of knowledge, tradition and culture had been offered by Burgundy to Central Otago winegrowers.

''We're delighted to support their world heritage bid.

''Their win is also ours.''

After attending a reception in Wellington on January 26, the delegation will travel to Central Otago.

A reciprocal event is planned in Burgundy in October.

mark.price@odt.co.nz