The Wines of C.P. Lin – Mountford Estate (New Zealand)


Today show features the world’s only blind winemaker, C.P. Lin, of Mountford Estate in New Zealand

Taiwan-born C.P. Lin was a brilliant mathematics student at University of Canterbury who became captivated by wine through participation in a social wine club on campus. He realized early on that he had an extremely well-developed sense of smell. Lin was blinded by retinoblastoma (carcinoma of the retina) in both eyes at the age of three but was not deterred into becoming a winemaker. He attended enology and viticulture classes at Lincoln University but could not graduate because his disability prevented him from completing the practical lab work required for a degree. Nevertheless, he went on to work successfully in the wine industry and has brought Mountford Estate in Waipara to international prominence. The wines of Mountford Estate have become a cult wine, with only 2,000 cases produced of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Our in-studio interview with Lin, who visited the states recently, covers a wide range of wine and winemaking topics and is truly one of the most fascinating programs we have ever presented.

Sponsor: Porter Family Vineyards – Napa Valley:

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Show #274
(1:03:04 min 45MB)

7 Responses to “The Wines of C.P. Lin – Mountford Estate (New Zealand)”

  1. 1 Gerald Wright Nov 5th, 2010 at 6:34 am

    I enjoyed this interview a lot. C.P. Lin came across as a person of strong convictions and opinions… an artist.

    I admired how he described the importance of being unbiased when it comes to judging wine.

    But I’m not sure I follow his logic on the question of “faults.” He appeared to define a fault as a characteristic in wine that a large majority of wine drinkers find unpleasant. So, to him, the kerosene aromas in some rieslings is a fault, as would be brett. But, by this definition, wouldn’t tannin be a fault? The majority of wine drinkers want their wines smooth as fruit juice. I’d imagine that the high acidity and powerful minerality of Chablis might also be unpleasant to a majority of American wine drinkers….

    Obviously excessive volatile acidity or oxidation are faults. But some wine characteristics are better described as acquired tastes.

  2. 2 Rusty Gaffney MD Nov 5th, 2010 at 8:13 am

    Hi Gerald

    You make a very good point. Faults appear at any stage in the winemaking process, affecting the wine’s organoleptic qualities and can render the wine unfit for consumption. Faults are almost always aromatic. When the chemical responsible for the fault is in low concentration, it is referred to as a flaw and may even add charm to the wine. The major faults in wine include vegetal (trans-2-hexanal, due to under ripe grapes or insufficient destaulking), rotten apple (acetaldeyde), vinegar (acetic acid), glue (ethyl acetate), soap (decanoic acid), sulfur (sulfur dioxide), rotten egg (hydrogen sulfide), cauliflower (dimethyl sulfide), horse (4-ethyl-phenol), mouldy-earthy (2-ethyl-fenchol) and cork (2,4,6, tricholoroanisole). Oxidation is also a fault as you point out.

    I think what Lin was trying to say is that some characteristics of wines such as petrol aromas are acceptable or even desirable to some (by analogy a flaws) but unacceptable or repulsive to others (as in faults).

    Kerosene aroma in wine is due to the chemical 1,1,6-Trimethylduhydroinphthalene (TDN). I would think that in small concentrations it could be considered a flaw and in large concentrations a fault.

    According to the definition of fault in Wikipedia: “An unpleasant characteristic of a wine often resulting from poor winemaking practices or storage conditions.” Under that broad definition high tannins or acidity would qualify as faults but are not generally considered faults per se in the general wine lexicon.

  3. 3 Gerald Wright Nov 5th, 2010 at 1:41 pm


    Thank you for your response. It brings to mind the gray area in the balance between art and science in winemaking. Too much science and the wines may be “flawless” and “faultless” but also homogenous and and without character. Too much art and what may be described as “terroir” or “nature” is really certain chemicals or bacteria out of control.

  4. 4 Peter Jackel Dec 9th, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    I really enjoyed the Mountford Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir I came across last year at HiTime. I wasn’t familiar with C. P. Lin until that experience but gained a real appreciation for his talent.

    Just as an aside, I’ve met David Hunt (of Hunt Cellars – Paso Robles) a number of times. I DO know that he’s blind, but am not sure how much of the wine he actually makes. When you refer to Lin as “the world’s only blind winemaker” is the distinction that Hunt is not a full-time winemaker? Really just curious.

  5. 5 GrapeRadio Bunch Dec 10th, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Peter, I do not know. Anybody know the answer?


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