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Featured Reviews




Black Estate 2017 White and Cabernet Franc, and 2016 Pinot Noir Releases

29 May,2018

Black Estate is one of the most exciting and innovative wine producers in North Canterbury. The Naish family operate from three distinct vineyards that each offer unique characteristics. The ‘Home’ vineyard was acquired from Russell and Kimiko Blanck who planted 10/5 clone Pinot Noir and Mendoza clone chardonnay in 1994. The Naish family extended plantings there in 2011. The ‘Damsteep’ vineyard, situated approx. 10 km north of the ‘Home’ vineyard features close-planted Riesling and Pinot Noir planted in 1999. The ‘Netherwood’ vineyard, where the winery is situated, was established by Danny Schuster and Russell Blanc to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in 1986. All three sites are certified BioGro organic, for the 2017 vintage. To me what is so special is that these three sites give Black Estate the opportunity of expressing terroir in multiple single site bottlings, joining the likes of Escarpmenr Vineyard, Fromm, Valli Vineyards and Gibbston Valley. Black Estate’s winemaker Nicholas Brown has already begun doing so, with remarkable results (click here to see my reviews of the three 2015 vintage Pinot Noirs).

Besides, this single vineyard aspect is Black Estate’s approach to making wine, that being highly non-interventional, to the point that it could be said that they were ‘natural’ winemakers, making funky wines that are distinctly non-conventional. The reality is that many winegrowers who appear to be ‘conventional’ have incorporated techniques that the more extreme natural winemakers use, in the making of their wines. To that purpose, Black Estate employ organics, and use vineyard derived indigenous yeasts for fermentation, often use skin contact (they have already made ‘orange’ wine), single vineyard co-fermentations, the avoidance of new oak, and using very little, or no sulphur. However, almost all of Black Estate wines have the appeal of balance without excessive reductive, skin contact or oxidative characters which put can such wines into the realm of being faulty. Instead, the use of these methods has resulted in wines that express variety and provenance. One can forgive that the occasional wine that crosses the line; but that is a sign of pushing boundaries. Here, I review a selection of 2017 whites and a Cabernet Franc, plus two 2016 Pinot Noirs. www.blackestate.co.nz

FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW



Black Estate ‘Damsteep’ North Canterbury Riesling 2017

Riesling from New Zealand – Canterbury & Waipara

17.5+/20

Bright, even, light golden-hued straw-yellow colour with some depth. The nose is softly full with gentle volume of savoury yellow stonefruits and citrus fruits, entwined with subtle notes of yellow florals and hints of minerals. Lime and lemon notes emerge with aeration. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is fresh, bright and lively with an amalgam of lime and lemon fruit along with yellow stonefruits and savoury mineral nuances, with suggestions of nuts, unfolding white and yellow florals. The fruit forms an elegant core with good energy. The mouthfeel is lively and fresh with crisp acidity and the wine flows along a very soft, fine-textured phenolic line, leading to a long, citrussy finish. This is a bright and lively dry Riesling with yellow stonefruits, savoury citrus notes and floral nuances on a crisp, fine-textured palate line. Match with Asian fare over the next 4 years. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Damsteep; vineyard, 85% foot-crushed to give 40% whole berries, given 4-18 hours skin soak, WBP, and indigenous yeast fermented in stainless-steel, with 15% in seasoned 500 L barrels to 12.0% alc. and 6.4 g/L RS, TA 5.8 g/L and pH 3.09, the wine aged on lees. Cerified BioGro organic. 339 cases made. 17.5+/20 May 2018 RRP $30.00

Black Estate ‘Home’ North Canterbury Chenin Blanc 2017

Chenin Blanc from New Zealand – Canterbury & Waipara

18.5+/20

Bright, even, straw-yellow colour with pale green-gold hues. The nose is very fresh and elegant with finely penetrating aromas of white stonefruits, white and yellow florals, and pure minerals with a saline hint. This has beautiful clarity, fine concentration and ultimately plenty of presence. Dry to taste and light-medium bodied, the palate has tight and intense, vibrant flavours of white stonefruits, minerals and saline elements. The fruit is expressed with crystal clarity, and it forms a concentrated core with surprising presence and a positive line. The mouthfeel has fresh acidity and tension, and the wine flows smoothly to a crisp, clean, delicate, lingering finish. This is a beautifully refreshing, crystal clear dry Chenin Blanc with white stonefruit, floral and mineral notes on a refined palate with depth and energy. Serve with seafood over the next 4+ years. Clones 880 and 220 from the ‘Home Block’, vines planted in 2011, the fruit hand-picked, 12% foot-crushed, WBP, and indigenous yeast fermented in 600 L demi-muid and 500 L puncheon with high solids to 11.5% alc. and 0.15 g/L RS, TA 5.8 g/L and pH 3.18, the wine aged 8 months in barrel with 100% MLF. Certified BioGro organic. 236 cases made. 18.5+/20 May 2018 RRP $45.00

Black Estate ‘Home’ North Canterbury ‘Young Vines’ Chardonnay 2017

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Canterbury & Waipara

17.5/20

Bright, even straw-yellow colour with pale golden tints. The nose is softly full with aromas od savoury yellow stonefruits and soft nutty notes along with delicate oxidative detail forming a well-packed heart with good depth and intensity. Medium-bodied, the palate is softly full with moderately concentrated, but gently broad and mouthfilling flavours of yellow stonefruits with savoury nutty elements, mealy nuances and a little complexing oxidative detail. The fruit forms a rounded, concentrated core with fine, lacy acidity providing freshness and energy. The wine carries to a light, lingering nutty finish. This is a softly full and gently concentrated Chardonnay with yellow stonefruit and oxidative detail on a palate with a good core and fresh acid. Match with seafood, pasta, poultry and pork over the next 3+ years. From 1.0 ha of new plantings in 2011, clones Mendoza, 95, 548 and 1066, hand-picked and 25% foot-crushed, fully WBP and indigenous yeast fermented in 500 L casks to 12.5% alc., the wine aged on lees 7 months in barrel, all seasoned, with 100% MLF. Certified BioGro organic. 140 cases made. 17.5/20.00 May 2018 RRP $39.00

Black Estate ‘Home’ North Canterbury Chardonnay 2017

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Canterbury & Waipara

18.5/20

Bright, full, even lihjt golden-hued yellow colour with some depth. The nose is softly full and well-concentrated with deep aromas of yellow stoefruits along with creamy barrel-ferment elements and nutty oak, unfolding savoury mealy layers with hints of oxidative complexities. This is very well-balanced and presented, and shows plenty of vibrancy. Medium-bodied, the palate has rich, near luscious, mouthfilling and vibrant flavours of yellow stonefruits along with mealy and nutty notes, a little creamy barrel-ferment and subtle complexing oxidative detail. The flavours are rich and mouthfilling with a positive heart, and are enlivened by fresh acidity. The wine carries to an elegant, long finish. This is a rich, mouthfilling Chardonnay with stonefruit and citrus fruit, along with savoury and complex detail, a deep heart and fresh mouthfeel. Match with poultry, pork and veal over the next 4+ years. Fruit from Mendoza clone fruit plated 1994 and vines planted 2011 to clones Mendoza, 95, 548 and 1066, hand-picked with 27% foot-crushed, and all WBP, indigenous yeast fermented tin 500 L casks to 12.5% alc., the wine aged 8 months on lees in 11% new oak with 100% MLF. Certified BioGro organic. 547.58 cases made. 18.5/20 May 2018 RRP $45.00

Black Estate ‘Home’ North Canterbury Cabernet Franc 2017

Cabernet Franc from New Zealand – Canterbury & Waipara

17.5/20

Very dark, deep, black-hued ruby-red colour with slight purple hues, lighter on the rim. The nose is firmly packed and well-concentrated with a rounded core of black berried fruit entwined with cool-spectrum blackcurrant, dark herb, a little stalkiness and hints of black minerals. This has very good depth and intensity with fruit clarity. Medium-bodied, the palate is elegant and tightly concentrated with a core of cooler spectrum blackcurrants, blackberries, and dark herbs. The mouthfeel is fresh and vibrant with crisp, lacy acidity enhancing the fruit clarity, and lending a zestiness and raciness to the palate. The fruit flows along a finely extracted tannin line which underlines the fruit with linearity. The wine carries to a long, fine-textured finish. This is a taut and concentrated Cabernet Franc with fruit clarity, showing currant, herbs and minerals on a brisk, textured palate. Match with herb-marinated red meat dishes over the next 4 years. Fruit from vines planted in 2011, clones 214, 327 and 678, hand-picked, fully destemmed, and indigenous yeast fermented with 80% whole berries to 12.0% alc., the wine aged in 45% barriques and 55% puncheons, all seasoned oak for 7 months with no SO2 added. Certified BioGro organic. 103 cases made. 17.5/20 May 2018 RRP $45.00

Black Estate ‘Home’ North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2016

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Canterbury & Waipara

18.5/20

Moderately deep garnet-red colour, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is softly full and voluminous with ethereal red berry fruit aromas along with savoury dark and dried herbs, some earth and undergrowth along with red floral and game elements providing a harmonious array of complexing aromatics. Medium-bodied, the palate has a rich and softly concentrated but densely packed heart of luscious and succulent, savoury dark-red berry fruits along with complexing flavours of dried herbs, a little undergrowth and earth. The fruit is underlined by a fine, tight tannin structure with soft, integrated acidity. The flavours carry to a long, lingering, sweet and savoury finish. This is a rich and sweetly lush Pinot Noir with a deep core of savoury dark-red berry fruits along with herbs, undergrowth and earth on a fine, firm-textured palate. Match with wild duck and pork dishes over the next 5-6 years. Fruit from the ‘Home’ vineyard, from clone 10/5 planted in 1994, and clones 115, 667, 828, 943, Abel and 5, planted in 2011, hand-picked and 97% destemmed to give 75% whole berries, indigenous yeast fermented to 12.5% alc., the wine spending 58 days on skins and aged 12 months in seasoned 228 L French oak barrels, and aged a further 5 months in tank. 743 cases made. 18.5/20 May 2018 RRP $45.00

Black Estate ‘Damsteep; North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2016

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Canterbury & Waipara

19-/20

Dark, deep, black-hued garnet-red colour, lighter on the rim. The nose is elegant and tight in expression with a taut core of dark-red and black cherry and berry fruit along with raspberry notes and lifted dark-red and violet florals, revealing a fine layering of delicate herbal elements. This has very good intensity. Medium-bodied, the palate has richly sweet and vibrant, aromatic fruit flavours of dark-red and black cherries and berries, with nuances of dark raspberries and a suggestion of liquorice., unfolding violet florals and subtle herb notes. The fruit sweetness fills the palate and the mouthfeel is balanced by fine-grained tannin extraction with fresh acidity. The fruit sweetness is underlined by some power and the wine carries to a long and sustained finish. This is a sweet and lusciously fruited, bright Pinot Noir with dark cherry and raspberry fruit, lifted floral and herb notes on a vibrant palate with fine tannins. Match with lamb, beef and venison dishes over the next 6-8 years. Fruit from the ‘Damsteep’ vineyard, vines planted in 1999, hand-picked, fully destemmed to give 75% whole berries, and indigenous yeast fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine spending 28 days on skins and aged 12 months in seasoned French oak, followed by a further 5 months in tank. 1,057 cases made. 19.0-/20 May 2018 RRP $45.00

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