Little Beauty Wines with Fleur McCree

29 Aug 2015
4 min read
Little Beauty’s are bespoke wines from the elemental and unique Waihopai Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand, made from good old Kiwi passion and pride. FOUR spoke to founder Fleur McCree, who represents the new generation of independent winemakers, about how fine wine should have integrity and sustainability as its core.

Where did you grow up?

An idyllic part of the world, Nelson, the town adjacent to Marlborough, at the top of the South Island of New Zealand.Life was about riding our ponies, going to the beach, hiking in the mountains, fishing in the rivers.My entire school from 5 years old to 12 years old only had 28 kids total.At times, the whole school would go rafting in the local river instead of doing maths.It was a really special place to grow up.

What did you aspire to be when you grew up?

Definitely something with Mother Nature and I needed to see the world.

How did you find your way to into the world of viticulture?

Career choices in NZ at the time were heavily oriented towards agriculture, horticulture, or tourism, andit was about the time that New Zealand wine companies were starting to make their mark internationally.I loved how wine was such a social thing, and always focused around food too.Viticulture was an exciting industry to get involved with and I definitely wanted to be a part of it.

Can you tell us a bit about the history of Little Beauty Wines?

Our philosophy is ‘the wine is made in the vineyard’ so it was important we started with a site that had the potential to grow premium fruit. We wanted a ‘blank canvas’ so in 2002 we went in search of a site.We found a sheep farm hidden away in the Southern Valley’s part of Marlborough. It was perfect; undulating terraces, diverse soil profiles, high diurnal temperatures, beautiful vistas.Very harmonious.We started planting 2003 and finished 2007.Launched the Little Beauty range (five varietals) from the 2008 vintage in London 2009.In the height of the recession – it was brutal timing, but we just had to get on with it.We’d already spent 7 years waiting for the vines to grow so there was no turning back.We got ourselves out in the market, knocked on doors, got the wines in front of people.By chance we came across two incredible guys in Scotland who worked with premium On Premise.Some of our first customers were Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles (2* Michelin), The Kitchin (1*), Martin Wishart (1*) and Claridges Hotel – where the wines are still listed to this day.It also vital to have a good team to work with and ours are best in class.The vineyard is managed on a day to day basis by two of the best in the business – they know Marlborough grape growing like the back of their hand. Furthermore,in the winery we havean incredibly special individual with amazing attention to detail, our winemaker Eveline Fraser.She is very gentle and it shows in the wines – they are elegant and balanced.

What makes Little Beauty Wines so special in your opinion?

The passion of the team.The authenticity.That they are bespoke.The name – very charming. It was hugely important that it was distinctive and had a sense of individuality.Everyone knows New Zealand as a little nation with beautiful scenery (thanks to Lord of the Rings) and we are a little wine company aiming to make beautiful wines.It’s also a phrase used in New Zealand – a phrase of endearment and celebration. The two words are very positive and I see what the team do on a day to day basis, year to year, so it had to be respectful to that effort.All the Little Beauty wines are classified ‘single vineyard’ too, meaning the area is isolated from others for its superior attributes.‘Single Vineyard’ is effectively a quality mark.Plus, we have broader varietal set than most – as well as Sauvignon Blanc we also grow Dry Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir.Some of it in very limited quantities – the Black Edition range for example, there’s less than 250 cases made of each – truly artisanal.The Little Beauty wines are wonderfully gastronomic – hence our connection with Trishna.

What does it entail to be a wine producer?

Can you give us a bit of insight into your routine?Three words: tenacity, tenacity and tenacity.You’re grappling with seasons, exchange rate fluctuations, macro-economic issues that directly affect demand, working with multiple time zones and cultures…and drinking and eating A LOT. It takes you to incredible places and you meet incredible people in this industry….and you find the common thread – out and out passion (for the industry).

What interesting trends/themes are going on in the wine world?

Recognition of something truly authentic (in the world of beer this is equivalent to the ‘craft’ movement).Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc continues to be hugely appealing but there also increasing interest for other varietals from New Zealand – Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir.Stylistic variations from New Zealand, for example, our Black Edition Sauvignon Blanc is a wild barrel ferment (as opposed to Little Beauty Limited Edition which is stainless steel ferment).Consumers seem to be much more interested in food matching and as such are more becoming more adventurous with their wine choices.

What are your FOUR indispensable wine collection favourites?

From my range, no favourites.I love them all, for different reasons.From outside of our range, same – no favourites, as long as they have been made with integrity.I would also thoroughly recommend to invest in a good set of wine glasses (Riedel for example).Getting the right glass for the variety makes a huge difference.

If you want the chance to sample some of Fleur’sLittle Beauty wine collection, then she will be taking part in the second installment of ‘An unexpected Pairing‘ on the 2nd September. She will be collaborating withleading sommelier, Sunaina Sethi, co-owner and wine buyer for Michelin starred Trishna andGymkhana, as theytalk guests through a selection of Little Beauty Wines pairedwith a four course Indian menu. The menu will express Trishna’s focus on the South West coastal cuisine of India, using the best British ingredients and traditional Indian techniques, the evening will demonstrate that wines can not only be paired with spiced dishes, but can actively elevate their flavours to new levels.

Following the success of the sell-out first event, the highly anticipated event featuringLittle Beauty Wines is set to be equally as sought after. Creating bespoke, independent wine from the unique Waihopai Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand , Little Beauty Wines are only available on limited release, with annual production representing 0.00055% of the total global wine market.

Find out more about Fleur and Little Beautywines here |