CHARTERIS is a trans-Tasman story of exploration, love and connection. Its protagonist is PJ Charteris, an eternal dreamer whose heart burns with a contradiction: fondness for home and desire to explore. Wine, a lens through which to view time and place, is the perfect medium to satisfy those yearnings and to share the fruits of experience with others.
Kiwi-born PJ’s journey has gone full circle and halfway back again, with wines that embrace both his beloved Central Otago and his adoptive Hunter Valley home. It’s emblematic as much as inevitable that the business is shared with his other love - partner Christina (Chrissi) Pattison whom he met while serving as head winemaker at Hunter icon Brokenwood Wines. PJ Cut his teeth pruning vines in NZ as a teenager before coming to Australia in 1988 to study winemaking at Roseworthy. He first set foot in the Hunter Valley in May that year after hitchhiking solo from Adelaide.
His first winemaking gig after graduating was back in the Hunter, where years later he’d end up spending 12 years at Brokenwood. When it came time to start their own label, some soul-centred magnetism drew PJ back to his motherland, spurred by visions of great Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown in Central Otago. Those vine varieties are famed as perhaps the most powerful transmitters of place, thus offering PJ an outlet to satiate that thirst for home and a means to convey those uniquely dramatic landscapes to wine-lovers elsewhere.
Years later, a stirring within has prompted PJ to add to that yin the Aussie yang. Semillon, Chardonnay and Shiraz are the grapes to paint the other half of the picture. Hunter Semillon, renowned the world over for its inimitable personality, is itself an enigma. PJ sees it as “a complex amalgam of one thing”; a deeply compressed, initially reticent kernel of citrus that flowers into a kaleidoscope of lemon, lime, kumquat, grapefruit and more, with toast and honey eliding into the frame. And the Hunter Shiraz, another deceptively simple trick - a subtly complex wine that requires skill, instict and a lifetime’s experience to get right, with tannins in step with the succulence and medium-bodied flow of the wine. Get it right and the taste is a clear scene from PJ’s childhood: The Black Doris plums picked with his brother for this grandparent’s tree, poached by mum in nutmeg, clove and cinnnamon.
When you move through a landscape that moves you, emotions flows without reflection. Like with love, it’s hard to pick apart the threads. It can take years of searching and striving to see all the angles that make the moment. And to put it back together so a stranger migth savour the same? Even longer. And that is CHARTERIS. The joy of times and places fixed and fleeting, personal and universal.