Doug Decants: Sato Riesling L’Atypique, Central Otago

Sato Wines was established by Yoshiaki Sato, and his wife, Kyoko Sato, as a small project in 2009. Kyoko and Yoshi met in 1998 at a Japanese bank, where they were working. After 12 years of work at the bank in Tokyo and London, they moved to New Zealand in 2006, aiming eventually to make their own wines and both studied for graduate diplomas in viticulture & oenology at Lincoln University, Christchurch. Immediately after graduation, they settled in Central Otago and started their winemaking careers.

La Ferme de Sato is the culmination of Yoshiaki and Kyoko Sato’s dream of growing and making great wine in Central Otago, along natural principles and harnessing the philosophies and skills they have gained along the way working at a stellar roll call of the world’s finest addresses; Domaines Bizot, Matassa, Huber, Pierre Frick, Christian Binner, Pacalet, Felton Road and Mt Edward.

After searching for five years, they found the perfect site on a peninsula of the Pisa Ranges on the upper slopes (295-345m asl) of Lowburn district and in 2016 proceeded to plant out 3.2ha of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc with biodynamic methods. Close-planted at 5,600 vines/ha, the vineyard is fully certified organic with BioGro and all the wines are vinified at their own winery (previous to 2019, the wines were made at Rockburn and prior to that at Mt. Edward).

Their domaine wines are called La Ferme de Sato, whilst their Sato range is augmented by wines made from grapes bought from organic and biodynamic producers throughout the Central Otago region.

All the Sato wines share a similar quality. Edgy and unorthodox at times, they are analogue wines in a largely digital wine world.

Yoshiaki & Kyoko believe grape vines need to be grown in organic ways – preferably with biodynamic methods. They believe grapes should be simply transformed to wine, with minimum intervention by human hands, chemicals or additives in order to protect the natural microbiological balance in the vineyard and winemaking process, so that the real character of the terroir where the vines grow is truly and purely expressed in the wine.The newest wine from them is called Riesling L’Atypique and reflects their interest in making balanced skin-maceration whites.

The wine comes from fruit sourced from two organically certified vineyards: Red Shed Vineyard, Bendigo (68%) & Domaine Road, Cromwell (32%). Red Shed Vineyard is on alluvial sandy loam, well-drained soil with river gravel, Domain Road on clay-loam from the remains of an ancient lake.

Manually harvested and sorted, the grapes from each vineyard were processed separately, both destemmed into open-topped fermenters. After 6-8 days of cold soaking, they undergo natural ambient fermentation for two weeks on skins with gentle punch downs and then a further post-fermentation maceration for 7 days, before pressing. The free run and press juice are blended in tank, then racked into neutral French oak barrels, where the wine matures for 11 months on fine lees with malolactic fermentation occurring naturally. It is then bottled without filtration or fining. Around 15 ppm of sulphites are added – some at racking, the rest before bottling.

This is a lovely Riesling that balances late summer/autumn golden fruit with the more classic springy citrus-edged iterations of the grape. Rich, golden colour in appearance, L’Atypique is light and delicate yet with white flesh and fine-grained tannins. A well poised, elegant wine that drinks with texture, colour and complexity due to its skin-contact.

All the Sato wines share a similar quality. Edgy and unorthodox at times, they are analogue wines in a largely digital wine world.


Interested in finding out more about the wines of Sato? Contact us directly: | | 01483 538820

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