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Featured Reviews

Black Estate 2016 Chardonnay, 2015 Cabernet Franc, and Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs

22 March,2017
The Naish family are making exciting and contemporary wines in the Waipara Valley. Core to their approach is the distinctiveness of the three estate vineyards they source fruit from. The ‘Home’ vineyard was originally planted in 1994 with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and more recently to Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. The soils are sedimentary clay fan. The ‘Damsteep’ vineyard was established in 1999, and Riesling and Pinot Noir are grown. The soil is sandstone and fractured limestone. The ‘Netherwood’ vineyard was planted in 1986 with Pinot Noir and a mass selection of Chardonnay, thought to be Mendoza clone. The soil is mudstone and sandstone. All three sites are farmed organically and biodynamically, the ‘Home’ and ‘Damsteep vineyards since 2010, and the ‘Netherwood’ since 2012, and all sites will be BioGro certified March 2017.

While all of the Black Estate wines show great interest, the Rieslings and Chardonnay are particularly fine, reflecting classical style. However, it is the three single vineyard Pinot Noirs that are especially fascinating. Winemaker Nicholas Brown aims to allow the different terroirs be expressed, and his winemaking inputs are designed to enhance their individuality. The wines join those of a small number of Pinot Noir producers who are highlighting site and terroir, and are thus worthy of serious study and enjoyment when comparing. Here, I review the 2016 ‘Home’ Chardonnay and 2015 ‘Home’ Cabernet Franc, this the first harvest and the wine unsulphured, plus the three 2015 single vineyard Pinot Noirs.


Black Estate ‘Home’ North Canterbury Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Canterbury & Waipara

Light golden-yellow colour with some depth, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is soft and harmoniously packed with aromas of yellow stonefruits melded with mealy and nutty notes, unfolding subtle creamy barrel-ferment and lemon-curd MLF elements, revealing fresh earth and mineral nuances. Medium-full bodied, the palate has a deep core of yellow stonefruits and mealy elements, along with a complex layer of nutty oak and mineral notes.. The flavours are mouthfilling, unfolding creamy barrel and lemon-curd and butty MLF nuances. The palate is fine-textured with good fruit extract and some grip alongside fresh, lacy acidity. The palate carries with excellent presence to a long, full finish of stonefruits, nuts and minerals. This is a complex-flavoured Chardonnay with stonefruit, nutty and creamy oak with mineral detail on a fresh, fine-textured palate. Match with seafood, poultry and pork over the next 5 years.. Hand-picked fruit, ungrafted Mendoza clone from vines planted in 1994 with Mendoza, 95, 548 and 1066 clones from vines planted 2011, WBP, 15% foot-crushed and vineyard yeast fermented in 225 L, 500 L and 600 L French oak casks to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 7 months in 20% new oak on lees with 100% MLF. 828 dozen made. 18.5/20 Mar 2017 RRP $45.00

Black Estate ‘Home’ North Canterbury Cabernet Franc 2015

Cabernet Franc from New Zealand – Canterbury & Waipara

Even ruby-red colour with youthful purple hues, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is soft and restrained in expression but shows good depth and vinous breadth and presence, revealing dark redcurrant fruit with subtle notes of fresh herbs, leaf, spices and soft earthy elements. Medium-bodied, the palate has gently mouthfilling flavours of savoury redcurrants with nuances of blackcurrant leaf, dark herbs, spices and earth. The palate has soft, grainy tannin extraction and brisk, mouthwatering acidity. The wine flows with plenty of energy, carried by the acidity to a fresh, lively, dry finish. This is a soft restrained, redcurrant fruited Cabernet Franc with herb, leaf, earth and mineral notes on a supple, refreshing palate. Match with herb-marinated poultry, pork and lamb dishes and serve with Mediterranean fare over the next 4 years. First vintage, clones 214, 327 and 678 from 0.3 ha planted in 2011, hand-picked and fully destemmed, fermented with vineyard derived yeast to 12.0% alc., the wine on skins 28 days and aged 6 months in 68% seasoned barriques and 34% stainless-steel, with no SO2 added. 37 dozen made. 16.5+/20 Mar 2017 RRP $45.00

Black Estate ‘Home’ North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2015

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Canterbury & Waipara

Full, dark, deep ruby-red colour with youthful purple hues, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is softly full and solidly packed with aromas of dark-red cherry and berry fruit along with subtle plum notes, unfolding dried herbs and an earthy-mineral amalgam. With aeration, dark herb and stalk suggestions add complexity, and the aromatics grow in density. Medium-bodied, the palate is rich and vibrant with ripe dark-red berry and cherry fruit along with notes of red plums, unfolding an array of dark herb nd stalk notes, lifted florals and mineral elements. The palate is fulsome in flavour with fine-grained tannins and fresh, underlying acidity providing energy and drive. The structure and the acidity carries the wine with positive linearity to a long, rich, flavoursome finish. This is a rich, ripe, fulsome Pinot Noir with cherry, berry and plum flavours interwoven with herb, stalk and floral notes on a tine-grained and structured palate. Match with lamb, beef and venison dishes over the next 6-8 years. From ungrafted vines, predominantly clone 10/5 planted in 1994, hand-picked and 76% destemmed giving 80% uncrushed berries, and vineyard yeast fermented to 12.5% alc., the wine on skins 28 days and aged 12 months in seasoned 228 L French oak. 638 dozen made. 18.5+/20 Mar 2017 RRP $45.00

Black Estate ‘Damsteep’ North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2015

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Canterbury & Waipara

Dark, deep ruby-red colour with purple hues, lighter edged. The nose is elegantly concentrated with deep and intensely packed aromas of fresh, but savoury, ripe dark-red berry and cherry fruit along with subtle violet and red floral lift, unfolding an array of fragrances and perfumes. The aromatics build in intensity in the glass. Medium-bodied, the palate features attractively rich and lusciously sweet, juicy flavours of ripe red cherries and dark red berry fruits, complexed by subtle notes of dark herbs, lifted by dark-red and violet florals. The palate is vibrant with succulent fruit and elegantly proportioned, with fine-grained flowery tannins and balancing acidity lending poise, energy and tension. The wine leads to a long, lingering finish showing vitality, fruitiness and aromatics. This is an elegant, vibrant, succulently sweet-fruited Pinot Noir with red cherry and berry fruit lifted by herb and floral aromatics on a fine-grained palate with lively acidity. Serve with poultry, pork and veal dishes over the next 6-8 years. From 9 parcels, vines planted in 1999, hand-picked and 75% destemmed giving 70% whole berries, and vineyard yeast fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine on skins 28 days and aged 12 months in seasoned oak. 442 dozen made. 19.0/20 Mar 2017 RRP $45.00

Black Estate ‘Netherwood’ North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2015

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Canterbury & Waipara

Even ruby-red colour, lighter on the rim with purple hues. This has a very elegant and fragrant nose with ethereal aromas of red cherry and berry fruit interwoven with dark-red florals, attractively piquant fresh herbs and a lifted floral amalgam at the core. A little oak lift emerges. This is refined, perfumed and has intensity with penetrating aromatics. Medium-bodied, the palate has vibrant and lively, ethereal and aromatic fruit flavours of red cherries and berries interwoven with an array of florals intermingling with fresh herbal notes. The fruit forms an elegantly concentrated core and is supported by very fine-grained, powdery tannins and refreshing acidity. This has considerable linearity, carrying the wine to a long and sustained, tightly bound and poised finish. This is an elegant, refined Pinot Noir with an ethereal array of red cherry and berry fruits with floral aromatics on a lively, fresh and fine-grained palate. Serve with poultry and pork dishes over the next 6-8 years. Ungrafted Pinot Noir fruit, vines planted in 1986, hand-picked and fermented with 100% whole bunches by vineyard derived yeast to 12.0% alc., the wine on skins 28 days and aged 12 months in seasoned French oak. 289 dozen made. 19.0/20 Mar 2017 RRP $60.00
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