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Pinot Noir 2013 – Day Three – Marlborough

By January 30, 2013No Comments

A fairly technical address by Emmanuel Bourguignon began the third day of Pinot Noir 2013. His expertise in in the microbiology of soil and it’s interaction with vine, and his message was based on presenting ideas for vine management and health to enable the plant to show a sense of place in its wines. With a conference full of winegrowers, this would have been a welcome change from the diet of ideology, philosophy and marketing that can tend to dominate such wine events. His plain language and clear presentation made his viticultural theories and practices accessible to the lay person, and his positivity made his presentation a delight. In essence, the ‘Easy Way’ in growing grapes led to wines that expressed variety, whereas the ‘Long Way’ resulted in terroir wines. Understanding vines means working well with an organism that has the potential to reveal the desired terroir. “Patience and humility” are required by Pinot Noir producers in New Zealand.

In a similar vein, Rajat Parr, wine director of Mina Group made a personable presentation for the lunchtime address, his subject encouraging New Zealand Pinot Noir producers to “Express Yourself”. Clearly a man of considerable experience, expertise and responsibility, he described his journey of learning with an unassuming demeanour; always open to discovery, and constantly being amazed and inspired by the world around him. His message was: “the consumer wants to hear your story”, and the magical and mysterious tale of Pinot Noir should be one that New Zealand producers must be ready to tell.

What Bourguignon and Parr had to say was not new by any means, and the content has been covered and presented many times before, but both speech makers appealed to me as humble people with a ‘glass half-full’ approach, presenting it in their human way, and it was easy to warm to them and thus hear their advice.
 
Marlborough
This third day brought each stream of conference delegates to their final regional destination, mine being Marlborough. A more formal and structured presentation than that of the other regions was conducted, setting the scene with history, topography, climate, sub-regions and infrastructure. It was surprising to hear that the producers see the Marlborough region as still being in its infancy. Though Pinot Noir was planted in the mid-1970s, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that Pinot Noir could be considered in a serious light, as far as they are concerned. I certainly believe the Marlborough Pinot Noir scene has moved passed this infancy stage. The definition of the ‘Marlboroughness of Pinot Noir” struck a chord with me. The wines are in the red fruit spectrum, show a good acid thread, are reliable and over-deliver in price. This is true and encapsulated what I tasted.

With wines from 37 exhibitors, what I tasted had an incredible homogeneity, as amazing as the diversity of the wines in the ‘Pioneer’ regions tasted yesterday. This evenness of quality and character is to be celebrated, as such consistency means the consumer will be able to be fully aware of what they are getting and satisfaction is guaranteed. The wines in general offer far greater value and indeed can be considered bargains, when compared with the wine from the other regions, and their greater volume will ensure strong and resilient brand awareness. It is important to state that there is real diversity too, and wines that push the envelope, just as much as in the other regions.

Here are some of the wines that caught my attention in the morning session, which generally focussed on those from the superlative 2010 vintage:
  • Ara ‘Resolute’ 2011 – dense with a core of red fruit, with sweetness and suppleness
  • Brancott Estate ‘Letter Series’ ‘T’ 2011 – very elegant, with a building concentration, and restrained richness and detailed interest
  • Churton ‘The Abyss’ 2010 – dense, dark-fruited, solidly packed with a chunky mouthfeel, yet fine-grained tannins, a statement wine for sure
  • Clos Henri 2010 – lovely sweet red fruit with superb oak nuance in balance, an underlying grip that builds, this will age well
  • Delta ‘Hatter’s Hill’ 2010 – tight and fine-textured with minerally fruit underpinned by oak spices
  • Dog Point 2010 – full of dark red fruits, with ok and smoke, extremely supple with layers of flavour
  • Fromm ‘Fromm Vineyard’ 2010 – very tightly bound and concentrated, a sleeper that will need time to develop approachability, potential plus 
  • Greywacke 2010 – full and fruity, bright, with an array of flavours, and an excellent linearity, finishing with spicy nuances
  • Lawsons Dry Hills 2010 – superb clarity of fruit, magical cut and wonderful drive and line, the purity of flavours outstanding
  • Saint Clair ‘Pioneer Block 14 – Doctors’ Creek’ 2010 – rich and fruity, lush and juicy, succulence is the hallmark
  • Staete Landt ‘Paladin’ 2010 – bright and lifted, with a concentrated and sleek mouthfeel, exuding finesse
  • TerraVin ‘Eaton Family Vineyard’ 2010 – lovely delicacy of perfumes, beautifully aromatic, and a driven core and excellent acid liveliness
  • Tohu ‘Limited Release Rore’ 2010 – fully sweet and ripened, with resultant lusciousness of fruit, still tight, with racy acid underneath, excitingly vibrant
  • Vidal ‘Reserve Series’ 2010 – fragrant and lifted, with a balance of fruit, acid and tannin that is harmonious and immediately accessible
  • Villa Maria ‘Reserve’ 2010 – lusciously up-front with breadth, softness and richness, the complete wine, beautiful supple mouthfeel

 
Hatsch Kalberer – Fromm Winery
Thought, wisdom and detail personified

 
The afternoon session lead off with discussions on points crucial to the future of the Marlborough region. Organics, biodynamics and sustainability are valued and practised in the main, with no major costs after the initial set-up. The benefits of employing these regimes comes second to the search for quality, however. As vines and vineyards mature as do winemakers, the building-in of phenolic textures has become a focus. Manipulations are generally eschewed, with the acceptance of acid additions, one of the more common and accepted throughout the New Zealand industry. The final point touched on the expression or belief in the consistent sub-regional character. I was somewhat surprised, if not shocked that producers in the main were reticent in labelling wines with sub-region due primarily to lack of concrete definition and recognition. This is extremely interesting as I believe an increasing number of consumers think they can see the differences!
 
Older or different vintage wines were offered following the discussion. Here are some wines that perked my interest:
  • Auntsfield ‘Single Vineyard’ 2010, ‘Road Ridge’ 2010 and ‘Hawk Hill’ 2011 – the first showing full, packed, dark and savoury nuanced flavours with considerable power; the second more in the ethereal expressive, dark herbed, linear style; the third with concentration and cut, and a fine, lifted dark berry fruited core
  • Cloudy Bay ‘Mustang’ 2010 – wonderfully aromatic with dark red fruits and oak, finely poised with energy from lovely acid support, and great line and length
  • Framingham ‘F-Series’ 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 Barrel Sample – the 2009, soft, lightest, with sweet fruit and attractively accessible now, the 2010 more textured and weightier, and with richer fruit, the 2011 introducing 15% whole bunch, showing savoury herbs and a concentrated, firm core, the 2012 sweeter red berry fruits and supple, excellent drive, but more floral with its whole cluster
  • Foxes Island ‘Renard’ 2010 – beautifully subtle, gentle and fine layers of detail and drive
  • Jackson Estate ‘Gum Emperor’ 2010 – rich and lush with fleshy dark red berry fruits and a warm, powerful body
  • Nautilus 2011 and ‘Four Barriques’ 2010 – the 2011 very elegant, pretty and showing sweetness along with delicacy, the ‘Four Barriques’ also elegant and tight, building to reveal its range of savoury detail and completeness, handling the 75% new oak superbly
  • Seresin ‘Home’, ‘Raupo Creek’, ‘Tatou’ and ‘Sun and Moon’ 2009s – the ‘Home’ showing finesse with light minerally elements entwined with savoury-cedar elements, piquant acidity; the ‘Raupo Creek’ fuller, plump, fleshy, yet with density; the ‘Tatou’ lifted black fruits with underlying stone and mineral notes, tight and taut; the ‘Sun and Moon’ with complexity and interest, unfolding in subtle waves from its dense core
  • Wither Hills ‘Benmorven’ and ‘Taylor River’ 2010 – the former with soft red fruits and harmonious oak, soft, pretty and gentle in presentation, the latter with dark red fruits, greater richness, depth and structure

Again, as in the other sessions, there were far more wines than one could taste with proper precision in the time allotted, and one could only gain snippets of background information, less than desirable for sure, but the opportunity of seeing so much was a treat. The Marlborough region made a strong impression with its evenness and high quality, as well as the more subtle, but definite differentiation between producers and labels, sub-region and vineyard sites, and vintages. There’s a ‘Marlboroughness’ for sure, but also sufficient individuality. It’s been said that Marlborough will be the engine room for New Zealand Pinot Noir due to its size, dependability and very high overall quality. It seems to be the case for me. www.pinotnz.co.nz

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