Allan took us through a tasting of tank and barrel samples of the new 2011 vintage wines as his team worked busily around us, processing the final pickings of the harvest. Examples of fine, clear cut Riesling, pungent and weighty Sauvignon Blanc, subtly powered Pinot Gris and vibrant Pinot Noir were sampled. From what was tasted, 2011 will be another successful vintage for Palliser Estate. The positive cohesion of the team was evident at the workers’ lunch, where good nature, humour, openness and intellect were shown in the table talk. Wine, of course, was served with lunch. We were treated to the Palliser EstateRiesling 2010 (18.0+/20), fine and crystal clear with lime and floral delicacy, and a Palliser Estate‘Great Walter’ Pinot Noir 2008 (19.0/20), rich, ripe, oaky, and beautifully lush with striking opulence. I have it on good authority that the next wine in the ‘Great Dog’ series, the Palliser ‘Great Marco’ Pinot Noir 2009 is something spectacular…
Paul led us through an extensive tasting of the portfolio. Three Rieslings from the Jackson Vineyard, picked at different stages. The ‘regular’ Martinborough VineyardRiesling 2010 (19.0-/20) at 12.5% alc. and 4 g/L rs, showing great line and length, then the Martinborough Vineyard‘Manu’ Riesling 2010 (18.5-/20), at 11.5% alc. and 20 g/L rs with a beautiful balancing act of finesse and lusciousness, then the Martinborough Vineyard‘Bruno’ Riesling 2010 (18.0+/20), at 9% alc. and 54 g/L rs, much weightier and oilier, with great length. A pair of Pinot Gris also showed style ability, the Burnt Spur Pinot Gris 2010 (17.5+/20) a crowd pleaser with its sweetness carried interest and a more complex, nuanced, and vinously focussed Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Gris 2009 (18.0-/20). Rounding out the whites were the Martinborough Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (17.5+/20), showing restraint allied to weight and texture, and a sensationally rich, fulsome Martinborough Vineyard Chardonnay 2009 (19.0+/20), wonderfully layered with fruit and complexities.
Six examples of Pinot Noir were very instructive. The Martinborough Vineyard ‘Te Tera’ Pinot Noir 2010 (17.0+/20), still tight, lean, but with dark fruited length and promise, followed by the clay-soiled Burnt Spur Pinot Noir 2010 (17.5+/20), rich, plush and openly round, making it very accessible. The Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 (18.5+/20) was pale and shy on nose, but multi-dimensional and mouthfilling with amazing nuances on palate. The Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 (19.0/20) was sweeter, denser, richer, and beginning to show forest floor interest. Both will last a decade easily. Showing nearly enough substance to be a super-premium model was the Martinborough Vineyard ‘30th Anniversary’ Pinot Noir 2005 (19.0-/20). Spices cedar, meat, game and truffles all with structure and freshness. The only way to describe the Martinborough Vineyard ‘Marie Zelie’ Pinot Noir 2006 (19.5+/20) is “sensational”. Incredible density, richness, weight and yet totally harmonious, and stylish. The most expensive Pinot Noir made in N.Z. and fully worth it!
Running through the wines, the Schubert Rose 2010 (17.5/20) was sheer delicacy and refreshing zest, made from Pinot Noir. The family trademark in all the red wines must be a fine minerality and acid zing providing definite tension. The Schubert ‘Marion’s Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2009 (18.5-/20) was a lesson in elegance, finesse and “femininity”. It needs time to put on some flesh, and it surely will. The Schubert ‘Marion’s Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2008 (19.0-/20) has concentration and the coming together of its componentry. Delicious stuff indeed. Showing a “masculine” side was the Schubert ‘B Block’ Pinot Noir 2009 (19.0-/20), denser with darker fruit, spicy and vibrant, and a pleasing plummy nuance. The Schubert Syrah 2008 (18.0-/20) could polarise cool-climate Syrah aficionados. Sure it is cool-end spectrum with its white pepper, herb and acid streak, but then it has an unctuous, rich texture and supple mouthfeel that draws you in. Coolness features in the Schubert Cabernet/Merlot 2006 (17.0+/20), earthy, spicy, cedar and green olives and firmish tannins suggest it will develop at a snail’s pace. But startlingly lush and decadent was the Schubert ‘Dolce’ 2009 (18.0+/20), 6.5% alc and 350 g/L rs, made from very late-harvested, non-botrytised, raisined Muller-Thurgau. A liqueur replacement that will also be a match with creamy and blue cheeses.