The Buyer
Michael Seresin on taking a new direction with Beautiful Chaos

Michael Seresin on taking a new direction with Beautiful Chaos

Celebrated film and winemaker Michael Seresin is not a man to stick with the status quo and the launch of three new natural wines under the sub-brand Beautiful Chaos witnesses him showing the world another angle to Marlborough wines. Peter Dean caught up with him and runs the rule over the three new wines.

Peter Dean
17th January 2024by Peter Dean
posted in Tasting: Wine ,

“I think natural wine lovers will lap this up, perhaps a broader audience too, but only those who don’t like playing safe all the time,” writes Dean about Beautiful Chaos Pinot Noir.

Beautiful Chaos: a new direction for Seresin Estate

Independent, visionary, creative, lateral-thinking… Michael Seresin is all of these whether you’re referring to his cinematic output as a world class cinematographer or as the producer of world class wines. Whether it was the way in which he matched a Mickey Rourke close-up with Courtney Pine’s haunting sax in Alan Parker’s Angel Heart, or championed biodynamic Pinot Noir grown in Marlborough long before anyone else was doing it, he is both facilitator and iconoclast – a man not afraid to regard the rule book with his own particular sense of style. It’s not for nothing that the logo of Seresin Estate Wine is his big paw print because, even though he is based in London’s Maida Vale and not in New Zealand, all the output comes through his lens.

What started as a love affair with winemaking over a bottle of Pinot Noir in Tuscany before he set up the estate in 1998, continues today with the launch of three new wines under the sub-brand Beautiful Chaos. The new additions are all 100% natural wines and different in many ways to the rest of his portfolio, but in an evolutionary sense. There is a creative thread that follows from the purity and (largely single) site expression of his existing wines – but in Beautiful Chaos they are stripped down without any polish, a sort-of Unplugged approach if you will. The wines have all had a long time on skins, which is one of Seresin’s signature styles, although in Beautiful Chaos’ case it is four weeks rather than the six of the Seresin Estate Pinots.

Another change is that, being natural wines, they do not spend a further two years in bottle like Seresin’s other reds which has stylistic and, of course, cash flow attractions.

Michael Seresin chatting on Zoom, November, 2023

There is a clear attempt to distance Beautiful Chaos away from the mother brand and try something new; they are the only Seresin wines not to bear his name or handprint, and they look feel and taste different, the illustration and branding a wry play on Sun and Moon, Seresin’s top Pinot cuvée, and looking as though it was illustrated by an artist for an ‘olde worlde book of spells and magick’.

The wines are complex and fascinating and, in addition to the look and feel, tick a lot of boxes that a younger demographic are using as buying criteria – mindfully made, reined-in alcohol, skin contact, organically and biodynamically farmed, vegan-friendly, no filtering or fining, approachable and damn well gluggable. Oh, and the prices are pretty reasonable too.

The name Beautiful Chaos? The press bumpf quotes Michael Seresin as saying “Beauty resides within chaos and chaos within beauty, both grape growing and wine making have elements of beauty and chaos embedded within. A natural progression was to embrace a little more chaos and beauty within these two related cultures.”

On the phone he adds that it was damn near impossible to find any new names.

Beautiful Chaos Natural White 2022

Fresh, well-made and extremely dry natural wine with reined-in alcohol that ticks a lot of boxes and may have broad appeal with lovers of natural wine. A blend of biodynamic fruit – Pinot Gris and Riesling – fermented on skins in small clay amphorae for 24 days. Deep orangey gold, wonderful savoury aromas remind you of a Georgian qvevri wine – dried fruits and flowers, grilled nuts, saffron, terracotta. In the mouth the wine is fresh, finely textured, soft tannins, nice breadth of flavour; it’s as complex as you’d expect with orange notes predominating. Lovely long, dry river stone texture-finish with a pretty lift on the fruit on the tail, orange water perhaps. On the (technical) back label it’s called Amphora Natural White. Loving the fact this is lowish with 12% abv.

Beautiful Chaos Pinot Noir 2022

The fact that Seresin can make a distinctive Pinot Noir like this, given how many different cuvées he makes, says a great deal. In order to get there he’s used biodynamic fruit fermented in small clay amphora with 50% whole bunch, unfined and unfiltered. To look at the wine is medium pink-purple, slightly cloudy. The nose is intensely perfumed with pretty violets, fruits of the forest, wild red cherries, leaning towards the funk; in the mouth the wine is juicy, warm, textured, vibrant and lush with a fine, dry stone mouthfeel, softly tannic, washes of fruit, lip-smacking dry. I think natural wine lovers will lap this up, perhaps a broader audience too, but only those who don’t like playing safe all the time. 12.5% abv

Beautiful Chaos Syrah 2022

A naturally made, spicy Syrah with some real attitude that resembles a Languedoc red in its intense, garrigue-driven aromas. This is made from biodynamic Syrah, hand-harvested and fermented in small clay amphorae. Dense purple to look at, the aromas are classic Syrah – concentrated, black-fruit dominated (wild blackberry) spicy, with wild herbs and pepper. In the mouth, the wine is lively, firmly structured around a core of textured black fruit, firm acidity and finely-judged, ripe tannins. Fantastic to have this much intensity for 12% abv. It can be done people!

We also tasted new vintages of Seresin Rosé and Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris, 2022

A rich, textural Pinot Gris using organic fruit from Marlborough pressed, using natural yeast, and fermented in neutral French oak barriques. Pale gold to look at, you are met with aromas of pear, almond, honey on bread; medium-bodied in the mouth, a touch oleaginous, silky mouthfeel with bags of flavour – gently spiced pear, stone fruit – then the structure reveals itself on the finish, with a refreshing touch of lime spritz and saline. 13.5% abv.

Zosia, Pinot Noir Rosé, 2022

Serious single vineyard rosé with a quiet intensity and attractive ripeness. Pinot fruit is hand-picked, naturally fermented and then aged for four months in neutral French barriques. Very pale pink blush; a distinctive popcorn note blows off in the glass with time, but the nose retains a mystery and distinctiveness – subtle aromas of dried flower petals, red berry fruit, vanilla. In the mouth the wine is fresh, refreshing, dry with lightly spiced red apple and cherries. Lovely medley of fruit flavours on the finish. 13% abv

Beautiful Chaos and the other wines of Seresin are still made under the direction of Kelly Washington and are sold and distributed in the UK through Enotria&Coe which is a commercial partner of The Buyer. To discover more about them click here.