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Tasting Reviews

Gladstone Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011-2005


Alexis Moore and Christine Kernohan
Gladstone Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011-2005

Awareness of Gladstone Vineyard as a producer of top-flight New Zealand Pinot Noir is growing both domestically and internationally. Though only having been produced from the 2003 vintage, every wine from 2004 to the present has won gold. It can be regarded as Gladstone Vineyard’s flagship. To mark the imminent release of the 2011 wine, proprietor-winemaker Christine Kenohan and new winemaker Alexis Moore conducted a vertical tasting of the Gladstone Vineyard Pinot Noir from 2005 to 2011 for a select media group.

The wine has been a work in progress from the start, and Christine acknowledges the work of her winemaker Gerhard Smith from 2005 through to the 2012 vintage, Gerhard now returning to his home in South Africa. The fruit source for the wine has been very varied, coming from all over the Wairarapa, including grapes from the well-known ‘Petrie’ and Falloon’s ‘Biddeford’ vineyards near Masterton, and the ‘Pond Paddock’ vineyard of Jeff Barber in Te Muna Road in Martinborough to supplement the company’s fruit from Gladstone. As time has progressed, there has been an increasing reliance on the fruit from their ‘Dakins Road’ vineyard.

The main clones employed have been 5, 6, 777 and 667 with Abel and 10/5 playing significant roles in different vintages. Christine and Gerhard’s approach has been to keep the clones and blocks separate, fermenting small batches to allow the greatest blending options. The aim is to make the best wine possible for Gladstone Vineyard from the fruit available, with the remainder going into the softer and more approachable "12,000 Miles” tier, or sold off. Wines of structure are desirable, if the vintage conditions are suitable. The winemaking has always been on the conservative and risk-aversive side, with inoculated ferments after cold soaking, and traditional post ferment maceration. Whole bunch fermentation has been minimal. The wine is aged using approx. 30% new French oak. The production has grown to 60-70 tonnes of fruit for around 4,000 cases.

Alexis is keen to introduce indigenous yeast fermentation and look closer at whole bunch fermentation as she becomes increasingly familiar with the performance of the various sites. Her desire to "express the land” is at the heart of her philosophy of winemaking. The work of viticulturist Kyle Mason in Biological Viticulture over the last 4-5 years has seen a remarkable change for the better in the health and performance of the vines and this fits in well with Alexis’ work with the organic and biodynamic regimes employed at Seresin Estate, Marlborough, where she was previous to Gladstone Vineyard.

The Vertical Tasting
The remarkable finding from the tasting was the consistency of style, regardless of the varied fruit sources over the years. The wines were in the red fruit spectrum, rather than darker berry fruits, and a Wairarapa savouriness was evident in them all. The wines are clearly part of the greater Wairarapa style, which encompasses those from Martinborough. Climatically, the greater region experiences essentially the same weather patterns, so the Gladstone Vineyard wines reflect the vintages in a most similar fashion to that of Martinborough. Interestingly, over the years, there has been an alternating expression of masculinity and femininity, the bigger wines in 2005, 2007 and 2009, with the lighter wines in (2004, which was not tasted), 2006, 2008, 2010 and now 2011 which appears to have broken the cycle. The wines seem to gain well in weight, richness and depth with bottle age, and the secondary development flavours are classical. Here are my notes on the wines, tasted from youngest to oldest:

Gladstone Vineyard Gladstone Pinot Noir 2011
Light ruby-red colour with some purple hues, the nose is fresh and fragrant with lifted red cherry and berry fruit aromas with a slight herbal underlay along with a little savoury interest. This gives a nod to the cooler spectrum, but is attractively elegant. An elegantly sized wine on palate, featuring aromatic red berry fruit flavours along with subtle stalk and stem nuances. The palate is driven by the acidity which seems prominent, the extraction lighter and in the background. This is slender with a sinewy mouthfeel and has a moderately long finish which shows some toasty notes. This is very fresh and youthful in expression, but should put on considerably more weight with some bottle age. Christine Kernohan feels the 2010 was showing similarly at the same stage. 17.5+/20

Gladstone Vineyard Gladstone Pinot Noir 2010
Good depth of colour, ruby-red with some purple still, a little garnet also. This is tight and firm on bouquet, showing density and depth, with ripe, dark red berry fruit aromas, the nose quite fine in its fragrance in expression. Medium-full bodied, red berry fruits and dark plum flavours form a deep core. There is good structure and tannin extraction and balanced acidity. Together, this has a linearity to the core, and the wine has sweetness and drive with liveliness and tension. Very subtle herb interest is apparent, and the wine shows well with good aromatic character. This has developed well in the bottle, becoming richer and sweeter. 18.5+/20

Gladstone Vineyard Gladstone Pinot Noir 2009
Moderately deep ruby-red with youthful purple hues. The bouquet is softly full, with depth and presence, unfolding layers of aromas. Savoury red berry fruits are complexed by a subtle amalgam of dried herbs, stalks, game meat, in the secondary stage. Fullish in body, rich and succulent fruit flavours of dark red berry fruit fill the mouth with a fleshy mouthfeel. This is solid in weight, but rounded, with very fine-grained tannins in support. This has a suppleness to the extract, enlivened by balanced acidity. A little secondary interest is showing, savoury game and some forest floor nuance adding detail. This has a good life ahead, say 5-6+ years yet. 19.0/20

Gladstone Vineyard Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2008
Medium deep ruby-red with garnet hues. This is very elegant on nose with fragrant, lifted red fruit aromas well-integrated with savoury forest floor and mushroomy elements, the bouquet showing good refinement. Medium-full bodied, the palate is vibrant, lively and sweet with rich red fruit flavours infused with waves of savoury forest-floor and mushroom notes. A little sweet gaminess also shows, and the flavours flow smoothly, supported by very fine-grained tannins. This has vitality all along the palate line, and the mouthfeel is energetic and fresh. The acidity is light and lacy, but with the tannins become a little more prominent, carrying the flavours to a firm finish. This is remarkably vibrant and fragrant, with secondary expression indicating the wine now on its plateau. 3-4+ years ahead easily. 18.5/20

Gladstone Vineyard Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2007
Dark, deep colour, garnet-hued ruby-red with orange and bricky hints. The bouquet is full with complex meaty, game and dark truffle aromas, dense, powerful and distinctly robust in expression and fully in the secondary spectrum. On palate full-bodied, powerful with density, depth and concentration, packed with ripe, red and savoury brown fruits that are luscious and fleshy. This is fulsome and mouthfilling with real depth. The tannin extraction is significant, but in excellent balance and proportion, and there is sufficient acidity that adds to the juiciness. The secondary savoury game, mushroom and undergrowth component is now a feature. Fully developed and mature, now, this is still a big wine. Drink over the next 3-4 years. 19.0+/20

Gladstone Vineyard Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2006
Even dark red colour with some garnet hues. The bouquet is elegant and evenly presented with integrated and harmonious aromas of fragrant red fruits infused with savoury brown earth, game and undergrowth nuances. Medium-bodied, the fruit is restrained and a little reticent, but distinctly in the dark red fruity berry spectrum. The secondary development is in balance and unfolds subtle earthy, savoury nuances. The acidity is apparent, with fine tannins combining to form a firm and linear mouthfeel, with plenty of freshness and driven energy. This is an elegant wine, near slim, the fruit now modest, but still attractive and well-balanced. Its freshness will enable brightness and food-friendly approachability over the next 3+ years. 17.5+/20

Gladstone Vineyard Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2005
Very deep, dark ruby-red colour with hints of black and garnet. The nose is very full and powerfully packed with savoury secondary and tertiary aromas of forest floor, mushroom, decaying game and dried herbs, as well as some stalk and stem notes. On palate, full-bodied, with a richness and robustness to the mouthfeel, the flavours showing plenty of succulence, enhanced by the prominent acidity. The tannins are beginning to resolve, but here is plenty of fruit and extract for weight and presence. The flavours are tertiary, with earth and game, also some drying herb and undergrowth. The acidity carries the lively mouthfeel very well. This is fully mature and complex, with the herbal underlay and acidity coming to the fore. Drink over the next 2+ years. 17.5/20



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