Tasting Reviews

Corofin 2016 Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs with Mike Paterson

Marlborough wine industry stalwarts Mike and Anna Paterson have contributed much to the regional scene, with Anna in marketing and sales for a number of high profile companies, and Mike as winemaker at Jackson Estate. Mike is fully immersed in the ‘Naked Wines’ U.K. originated mail order retailer business. Over the years they have forged good relationships with others in Marlborough, and in particular a number of growers who share similar philosophies about the vineyard, winemaking and wines. This led to the release of their own label ‘Corofin’ which was to have Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that were terroir and site-expressive. The first wine made was the ‘Settlement’ vineyard Pinot Noir from the 2012 vintage, the fruit from Ivan Sutherland’s site (click here the see my review). I’ve since seen the 2013 releases which saw a ‘Cowley’ Pinot Noir added to the range. And with the 2014 wines, a ‘Carter-Ashmore’ vineyard Chardonnay introduced a new site and variety. I have been impressed with the wines. The Patersons aim for minimal inputs with maximum vineyard voice.

I didn’t catch up with the Patersons for the 2015 vintage releases, but thankfully this year Mike Paterson called around for a quick visit to show his latest wines from the 2016 vintage. The 2015s were particularly good and I wished I had seen them. The 2016s come from a vintage with larger berries, bunches and yields, so the vines needed focussed management, and the winemaking taking a different approach, especially with the Pinot Noirs. 2015 being a more concentrated and structured vintage, Mike felt he best if the bunches were fully destemmed, and reduce the time on skins to 12 days. With the 2016 Pinot Noirs, he had a cuvaison of 22-26 days and included 15% to 40% whole bunches (depending on the site). www.corofin.co.nz

Mike Paterson and his 2016 Corofin Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs

The 2016 Wines and the Future
The 2016 wine release consisted of two Chardonnay – one each from the ‘Folium’ and ‘Carter-Ashmore’ vineyards, the fruit from Takaki Okada and Ivan Sutherland respectively, and three Pinot Noirs, from the ‘Settlement’, ‘Cowley’ and ‘Churton’ sites, these from Ivan Sutherland again, The Cowley family and Sam and Mandy Weaver. Essentially the winemaking is pretty much the same for the two Chardonnays and three Pinots, so the major differences between the wines are indeed site. The 2016 wines were made at the Fromm Winery facility, and the 2017s made at Dave Clouston’s new ‘Wine Studio’ winery. In 2018, the Patersons intend to introduce a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the ‘John’s’ vineyard on Wrekin Road
Tasting the 2016 Wines
As mentioned above, the Chardonnay vinification for the two single vineyard wines is essentially the same, involving hand-picking of the fruit, WBP, and indigenous yeast fermented with high solids in 80% puncheons and 20% 300 L hogsheads, all seasoned, for 11 months with no batonnage, but full MLF, the wine then given a further 6 months resting in tank.

Coroin ‘Folium Vineyard’ Marlbrorough Chardonnay 2016
Bright, light golden colour with some depth. The nose is rich and concentrated with yellow stonefruits and citrus fruit aromas with mealy elements, some creamy barrel-ferment and nutty oak. This is fine in proportion with a firm core and has complexity. On palate, rich, softly textured, luscious and really quite fulsome, with layers of stonefruits, citrus fruit and mealiness, entwined withbarrel-ferment creaminess and nutty oak notes. The fruit richness results in plenty of weight, soft acidity and very good length. This is rich, plush and with good weight and complex detail. 4 years ahead for this. A blend of clones 6, 5 and Mendoza, vines 16 y.o. 13.5% alc. 100 dozen made. 18.5+/20 Oct 2018 RRP $55.00

Corofin ’Carter-Ashmore Vineyard – North Corner’ Marlborough Chardonnay 2016 
Bright, light golden-hued straw-yellow colour, lighter edged. The nose is very fresh and tight, quite elegant in proportion showing citrus fruit and minerals, entwined with white florals and mineral nuances, unfolding barrel-ferment and nutty oak complexities. The palate is fresh and tightly bound, showing white peach and citrus fruit with lovely depth and intensity, along with an aromatic floral lift. The mouthfeel has excellent vitality with beautifully fine, lacy acidity lending the palate great poise and refined textures, with a sustained finish. This is refined and intense with vitality. 4-5 years ahead. 100% Mendoza clone, 20 y.o. vines. 13.5% alc. 120 dozen made. 18.5+/20 Oct 2018 RRP $55.00
Pinot Noir
With the Pinot Noir, the vinification and elevage is about the same with minor adjustments to work with the nature of the fruit. Hand-picked, and indigenous yeast fermented with up to 40% whole bunches, the ‘Churton’ wine with 15% whole bunches, 22-24 days on skins, 26 days for the ‘Churton;’, the wine aged 12 months in seasoned Francois Freres barriques, then given a further 6 months in tank.

Corofin ‘Settlement Vineyard – East Slope’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016
Ruby-red colour with some depth, some garnet hues. This has a very fine, tight and elegant nose, still very taut, with soft red berry fruit aromas and subtle herbal detail and lifted red florals. The aromatics build to form a firm core with intensity and depth whilst retaining elegance. Medium-bodied, the palate is refined but with an underlying firmness to the line. Attractive and accessible sweet red berry fruits possess lusciousness, and form a firm core with good concentration. The fruit sweetness is balanced by lacy acidity lending freshness and energy. The wine has very good linearity. This is a wine of elegance and a degree of accessibility, but will keep 5-6 years. Clones 777 and 667. 13.0% alc. 170 dozen made. 18.5/20 Oct 2018 RRP $55.00

Corofin ‘Cowley Family Vineyard – Main Slope’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016 
Dark ruby-red colour with a deep heart, a little lighter on the edge with slight purple hues. The nose is fulsome and broad, with solidness and depth, with density, weight and presence, with dark-red berry fruits, some black berries and dark her complexities, revealing whole bunch stalk elements. On palate, this is a solid but rounded mouthfeel, with plush and juicy, ripe, dark-red and black fruits. The fruit richness is enhanced by dark herb and stalk detail, and plenty of tannin structure, with good acid energy adding vibrancy. Oaking is in good balance. This is a rich and sensual wine that will develop over 6+ years. 13.5% alc. 150 dozen made. 18.5+/20 Oct 2018 RRP $55.00

Corofin ‘Churton Vineyard – Clod Block’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016
Light garnet-red colour with some depth, a little lighter edged. The nose is firm and tight with a hard and concentrated core of dark-red and black berried fruits with earth, dark herbs and whole bunch stalk elements, and definite minerality. This has density to the aromatics, along with power and penetration. On palate, this is sweetly rich and luscious, with plenty of dark-red and black fruits, showing both sweet and savoury. Berry fruit, dark herbs and mineral complexity are on display. The fruit richness is matched by plenty of tannin structure and grip, and the mouthfeel is balanced, with a line of acidity enhancing the drive and length. This will develop over the next 6-8 years. 13.0% alc. 150 dozen made. 19.0-/20 Oct 2018 RRP $55.00
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