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Tasting Reviews

Martinborough Vineyard and Marie Zelie 2013 – 2006

Following my recent tastings of new Martinborough Vineyard releases at the start of May, which included the super-premium 2013 ‘Marie Zelie’ Pinot Noir, and then a tasting of one of my own 2006 ‘Marie Zelies’ from my cellar, I could not resist the temptation of attending a tasting of Martinborough Vineyard current releases along with a four vintage vertical of ‘Marie Zelie’. My reviews of May (click here to see) showed the beautiful ethereal nature of the 2013 vintage ‘Marie Zelie’, whereas my tasting of the 2006 ‘Marie Zelie’ showed me a wine of great richness and depth. I had to reconcile the differences. This tasting with the vertical of ‘Marie Zelie’ was organised by Meredith Parkin of Glengarry Wines, Wellington, and had Martinborough Vineyards winemaker Paul Mason present taking us through the wines.

Paul Mason - Martinborough Vineyard

Martinborough Vineyard is one of the pioneering producers in the district, planting vines in 1980. It quickly became one of the top performers with Pinot Noir in the country. Winemaker Paul Mason has been with the company since 2007. The company was purchased by Foley Family Vineyards in 2010, and is supported by Te Kairanga, also owned by the Foley Group. The two companies retain their distinct identities, but clearly there is sharing of vineyards and equipment, as well as expertise. Martinborough Vineyard can now focus on the higher end of the quality spectrum, which is what the company was originally founded to do. The super-premium ‘Marie Zelie’ Pinot Noir was introduced with the 2003 vintage, and this has been followed by a 2006, 2008, 2010, and now a 2013. Around 100 dozen or less are made, it being produced from the best performing parcels of the oldest vines, then undergoing a barrel selection process. It is the highest priced New Zealand Pinot Noir with a RRP of $225.00. This pricing was set in benchmark tastings with top burgundies in the mid-2000s, but clearly the burgundies have jumped up even more in price.

The Tasting
The tasting was divided into two parts, the first showing the 2014 ‘Home Block’ Chardonnay, 2014 ‘Te Tera Pinot Noir, 2013 ‘Home Block’ Pinot Noir and the 2005 Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir. I’ve tasted these wines before, so it was good to see their development. The second part was the ‘Marie Zelie’ vertical from 2006 to 2013.

The Introductory Wines
If anything, the2014 ‘Home Block’ Chardonnay and ‘Te Tera wine looked a little better, the 2013 ‘Home Block’ Pinot Noir looking more structured, and the 2005 Pinot Noir in remarkable condition. The interesting fact gleaned from the discussion was that the ‘Te Tera’ wine includes fruit from vineyards south of the village with clay soils, contributing to a brighter fruitiness. Here are my notes:

Martinborough Vineyard ‘Home Block’ Martinborough Chardonnay 2014
Bright, light golden-yellow colour, a little lighter on the rim. The bouquet is softly full and integrated with aromas of ripe yellow stonefruits and mealy notes, entwined with subtle creamy and nutty barrel-ferment elements, the nose just beginning to develop secondary savoury detail. The aromatics have density. Medium-full bodied, the flavours are a little restrained inexpression, but the palate has weight, unfolding layers of savoury yellow stonefruits and mealy complexities. This has an intense core, with integrated nutty and creamy flavours, and soft textures with balanced acidity. A harmonious wine, the flavours continue to unfold detail as the wine carries to a long, lingering finish. This is beginning to drink well now, but will continue to grow for another 4 years. Fruit from old vines on the Martinborough Terrace, hand-picked and WBP, and indigenous yeast barrel-fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 12 months in 25% new French oak, undergoing batonnage and 100% MLF. 18.5/20 Jun 2017 RRP $38.99

Martinborough Vineyard ‘Te Tera’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2014
Moderately deep ruby-red with some garnet hues, lighter on the edge. This has a firm, tight and well-concentrated, focussed nose with aromas of ripe, dark-red berry fruits, entwined with dried herbs and notes of liquorice, and nutty oak elements. Medium-bodied, the palate is elegant in presentation with a good core of sweetly ripe dark-red berry and cherry fruit with subtle notes of dried herbs and liquorice adding detail. The fruit richness carries the wine, underlined by fine-grained tannin extraction, leading to a long, lingering finish. This retains its sweet coe, and is now showing subtle complexities. Drink over the next 4-5 years. Fruit from the company’s younger vineyards, predominantly hand-picked, fully destemmed and indigenous yeast fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 10 months in French oak. 18.5/20 Jun 2017 RRP $26.99

Martinborough Vineyard ‘Home Block’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2013 
Deepish red colour with a little garnet, slightly lighter on edge, The bouquet is full and already complexed with layers of savoury dark-red berry fruits entwined with dried herbs and subtle whole bunch stalk notes, unfolding earthy and nutty elements. This has depth and intensity, revealing lifted new oak suggestions in the glass. Fullish bodied, the palate is fulsome and rounded, with real depth, density and weight. This has attractive layers of savoury dark-red berry fruits, dried herbs, subtle whole bunch suggestions and nutty oak. Game notes add to the complex range of flavours. The fruit is supported by good structure and grip, with good acidity enhancing the richness and lending vitality. The wine carries to a very long savoury raspberry-fruited finish. This has put on weight and will develop more over the next 5-8 years. Hand-picked fruit from the company’s oldest vines on the Martinborough Terrace, clones, 51% Abel, 31% clone 5, 17% 10/5 and 1% Dijon, indigenous yeast fermented with 20% whole bunches to 13.5% alc., the wine spending 24 days average on skins and 12 months in 31% new French oak. 19.0-/20 Jun 2017 RRP $64.00

Martinborough Vineyard ‘Martinborough Terrace’ Pinot Noir 2005
Very dark, deep garnet-red colour with dark bricking and tawny hues on the rim. The bouquet is very full, solid and deep with developed dark-red and brown fruit, melded with dried herbs, along with game and cedar. The aromatics are deeply concentrated, and grow in meatiness with aeration. Full-bodied, this is solidly packed and dense, but softly rich and evolved, showing lusciousness and mouthfilling breadth. The flavours are secondary and tertiary with red and brown fruits, dried herbs, game, earth and cedary, with meaty richness forming a strong heart and core, the tannins fine and powdery, showing resolution. Good acid retention lends life to the wine, but the palate is beginning to dry out on the finish. This will hold on this plateau for another 5+ years. Hand-picked fruit from vines up to 26 y.o., indigenous yeast fermented with 10-15% whole bunches to 13.5% alc., the wine spending 20 days on skins and aged 12 months in 30-35% new French 228L barrels. 18.5-/20 Jun 2017 RRP $N/A

The Marie Zelie Pinot Noirs 2006 – 2013
Made from a selection of fruit from the oldest blocks on the Martinborough Terrace, invariably clones Abel, 10/5, and 5, then undergoing a barrel selection.. Paul Mason has tried to ensure the wine is expressive of "Martinboroughness” more than anything else. The wines do reflect the vintages, 2006 being a warmer one, 2008 ‘average in every respect, and 2010 a cooler but dry growing season, and of course 2013 regarded as one of the great years. The decision to make a ‘Marie Zelie’ in 2010 was particularly interesting, as Paul employed the same techniques, but the fruit was, and continues to be cooler in expression. He sees considerable qualities in this, and thus a warm dry growing season need not be a pre-requisite to the making of the ‘Marie Zelie’. In this line-up, the 2006 was the odd one out, being riper and bigger (which I loved). All of the other wines were more ethereal and arguably more Burgundian.

Martinborough Vineyard ‘Marie Zelie’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2006 
Very dark, very deep hearted blackish red colour with slight garnet hues, a little lighter edged. The bouquet is very full, softly solid with concentrated and well-packed aromas of dark-red berry fruit, with hints of plums, showing wonderful ripeness, without excesses, layered with complexing dark and dried herbs, and beautifully refined and lifted dark-red floral lift. This exudes richness, ripeness and youth. Full-bodied, the palate is rich, plush and fulsome with a rounded heart of ripe dark-red berry fruits with suggestions of plums, dried herbs, liquorice and spices, a little fruit-cake even, the richness and sweetness underlined by very soft, fine-grained tannin structure. And piquant acid detail. The richness, roundness and intensity has a balancing poise, and the wine flows to a full, very long, sustained, vigorous finish. The richness, weight, and robustness are match by vigour and style. Near perfection in the riper style. Clones 5, 10/5 and Abel from the ‘Home’ block, ‘Duncan’s Paddock’ and the ‘Brewery’ block, indigenous yeast fermented with 20% whole bunches to 14.0% alc., the wine spending 20-21 days on skins and 10 months in 50% new French oak Winemaker: Claire Mulholland. 984 bottles made. 19.5+/20 Jun 2017 RRP $N/A

Martinborough Vineyard ‘Marie Zelie’ ‘Reserve’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008
Even garnet-red colour, a little lighter on the edge with brick hues. The bouquet is one of elegance, finesse and purity, showing dark-red berry fruits lifted by red florals and complexed by fine dried herb detail. The aromatics form a deep and concentrated core, unfolding layers of red cherry fruit, savoury game, dark herbs, whole cluster stalk, red florals and smoke. The aromatics have a fresh piquancy and intensity. Surprisingly elegant in style, the flavours have great intensity, expressed with finesse and detail, showing lively red fruits, red florals, and savoury game, then dried herbs anda hint of mushrooms and undergrowth. The mouthfeel is beautifully fresh, with vibrancy and vigour, the flavours enlivened by bright acidity with fine-grained, flowery tannins in support. The palate has piquancy and vitality, and the sweetness and aromatic fruit lend great beauty. This will keep another 6-9 years easily. Clones 5, 10/5 and Abel from the ‘Home’ block, ‘Duncan’s Paddock’ and ‘Wharekauhau’, indigenous yeast fermented with 15% whole bunches to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 21 day on skins and aged 14 months in 50% new French oak, blended and given another 3 months in oak.. 1,096 bottles made. 19.5-/20 Jun 2017 RRP $N/A

Martinborough Vineyard ‘Marie Zelie’ ‘Reserve’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2010
Even, pale ruby-red colour with some garnet hues, light on the rim. The bouquet is very tightly bound and elegant in presentation, showing red cherry fruit entwined with fresh and dried herbs, game, savoury undergrowth, some whole bunch stalkiness. Mushrooms, earth and secondary notes meld into the herbal spectrum. The nose has intensity, cut and firmness, the herbal base revealing more in the glass. Fullish bodied, the palate is well-structured, finely firm with fresh, lacy acidity, the flavours somewhat shy in expression. Crisp red cherry and berry fruit melded with fresh and dried herbs feature. Subtle secondary earth, game and undergrowth lend interest and complexity. The palate is bright and vigorous, the acidity lending brilliant energy and drive. The wine is essentially carried by the acidity. This will keep for another 6-8+ years, but will it lose that herbal edge? A blend of clones 5, 10/5, Abel and 115 from the ‘Home’ block, ‘Duncan’s Paddock’ and ‘Wharekauhau, indigenous yeast fermented with 15% whole bunches to 13.9% alc., the wine aged 24 days on skins and aged 16 months in 14% new French oak barriques, the wine blended and given 7 months in tank. 1,868 bottles made. 18.5-/20 Jun 2017 RRP $N/A

Martinborough Vineyard ‘Marie Zelie’ ‘Reserve’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2013
Ruby-red colour, youthful in appearance with purple-garnet hues on the edge. The nose is very elegant and refined in expression, very tightly bound, with subtle, underlying depth and intensity, Aromas of red cherry and berry fruit are entwined with an array of red florals, dark and dried herbs and hints of whole bunch stalk. This is ethereal in expression, the aromatics blossoming in the glass unveiling nutty and toasty oak suggestions. Medium-full bodied, the palate features refined and elegantly proportion flavours of aromatic red cherry and berry fruits with richness, ripeness and sweetness. The fruit is lifted by florals and detailed with herbal nuances. The fruit sweetness and palate is enlivened by vibrant acidity lending freshness and vitality. The tannins are very fine-grained and powdery, lending refined textures. This has a concentrated core that shoes depth, density and linearity. This is a beautifully elegant wine with ethereal richness and flavours, and layers of delicacy. A Musigny style. This will keep a decade. Hand-picked and hand-sorted fruit, clone 10/5 from the ‘Home Block’, vines planted 1980, clone 5 from ‘Duncan’s Paddock’, planted 1985 and Abel clone from ‘Lambs End’, planted 1992, indigenous yeast fermented with 30% whole bunches to 13.5% alc., the wine spending 24 days on skins and aged 13 months in 40% new Francois Freres and Remond oak barriques. 1,312 bottles made. 19.5-/20 Jun 2017 RRP $185.00

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