General Blog

Devotus Vineyard Martinborough Update

By April 5, 2016No Comments
At the start of February I visited Don McConachy and Valerie Worsdale at their 4 ha ‘Devotus’ vineyard on the corner of Puruatanga Road and Regent Street, next door to Dry River in Martinborough. They are a lovely young couple with two young boys, who exude great pride and enthusiasm in tending and cultivating their Pinot Noir vineyard to produce the best possible fruit to enable the making of serious and sophisticated wine. 0.36 ha of Pommard clone 5 vines, at 30 years old are recognised as a treasure, with just over 1 ha of a mix of Dijon and Abel clones, at 22 y.o., also regarded as extremely valuable. With a long-term view to the viability of the site, they have added new Pinot Noir plants, and grow cover crops which are ploughed back into the soil to rejuvenate the land. www.devotus.nz

Their first release was from the 2014 vintage, theses being an ‘estate’ and ‘Reserve’ Pinot Noir, which were distinctly different, the former quite ‘masculine’ and the latter ‘feminine’ in character, but both of very high quality (click here to see my reviews). On my February visit, I tasted a barrel sample of the 2015 ‘estate’ wine, and found it surprisingly elegant and fragrantly pure, even though it carried a greater whole bunch component. This made me wonder if it was an expression of the 2015 vintage, or whether it was more an expression of the site, which may be predisposed towards a more refined style of wine (see my report here).


Don McConachy and Valerie Worsdale – Devotus

2016 Fruit Harvested and the 2015 ‘Estate’ Pinot Noir Retasted
I had the opportunity and pleasure of calling in on Don and Valerie again. The fruit from the oldest vines, destined for the ‘Reserve’ wine had just been picked the day before, in excellent condition. Here, the clone 5 Pinot Noir is trained to Scott Henry trellising to slow down the accumulation of sugar and brix, while allowing flavour and phenolic development in the fruit. Don and Valerie’s aim is to keep the alcohol level of the wine lower for greater elegance and finesse. The rest of the vineyard was picked a week earlier, clones 114 and 667 being the most precocious, followed by the Abel and 777. Again, the fruit was picked in optimum condition.

Don and Valerie continue their arrangement of having two winemakers vinify their wines, one for the ‘estate’ and the other making the ‘Reserve’. They report that there is a consistency in style between the two wines, especially at fruit and must stage, over the three vintages to date. So it was with great interest that I was able to retaste the 2015 ‘Estate’ Pinot Noir in finished and bottled form. The wine is made in a similar fashion to the 2014, but winemaker Alex Craighead increased the whole cluster portion from 40% to 50%. The vintage was a more challenging one for the Devotus vineyard with reduced yields.

However, the wine looked extremely good. Very dark purple-red colour, the nose possessed tightly bound aromas of dark red berry fruits along with spice notes, fragrant violet floral perfumes with subtle and integrated savoury herb-like whole bunch notes. This has aromatic depth and presence. On palate, initially tightly bound, but showing lovely textural finesse and smooth, silky tannins, the flavours of dark berry fruits with lifted florals unfolded in richness and sweetness to fill the mouth. In the glass, this grew in structure and size. The wine has certainly put on weight since I saw it last, two months ago, despite going through the bottling process. It was pleasing to see that the continuation of a comparatively more sturdy style in the ‘estate’ label.

It will be fascinating see taste both the 2015 Devotus ‘estate’ and ‘Reserve’ Pinot Noirs in due course. The wine quality appears to be very high, and the difference between the two labels quite distinctive. The wines are very enjoyable and they will reward those who follow the Devotus story.

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