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Featured Reviews

Forager Waipara Pinot Noir 2016

15 June,2018

Dominic Maxwell established ‘Forager’ as his family wine brand with a release of a 2012 Pinot Noir. The wine employed the natural vineyard ferment techniques that he had be trialling and incorporating into the Greystone Pinot Noir which he makes. The team at Greystone have been thoroughly convinced with the benefits in complexity this methodology provides, and with the 2016 vintage made a Pinot Noir wine by natural vineyard ferment in addition to the ‘regularly’ made Pinot Noirs (click here to see my review). They are extremely happy with the result, but I suspect commercial expectations and realities will mean that this procedure will be introduced gently, whether as an alternative label, or increasing this component in the main label.

With Dominic’s own label, he has taken the plunge fully into natural vineyard fermentation. He surmises that with indigenous yeast fermentation in the vineyard, exposed more to the environment and elements than in the winery, allows more input from the indigenous yeast population in the fermentation; there is a greater range of temperatures that the fermenter is exposed to, and the fermentation may be longer, resulting in greater maceration. Clearly, careful tasting throughout the process will ensure balance in the final wine. I, like Dominic and his team at Greystone, and a number of other critics see significant differences in structure and taste, the wine seemingly with more layers of complexity.

Here, I review the 2016 Forager Pinot Noir, the first time Dominic has used fruit from the ‘Blacks Ave’ vineyard rather than that from Greystone. This is an interesting departure and it will be instructive to compare this wine with the Greystone ‘Vineyard Ferment’ wine. My impression is the Greystone is more ethereal (in retrospect, I may have underscored this), whereas the Forager has a little more robustness. Both wines are in the more elegant spectrum than most ‘conventional’ North Canterbury Pinot Noirs from 2016. If Dominic uses fruit from other sites, it will be fascinating to see if terroir is discernible. I have reviews of Dominic’s 2012 Forager (click here to see) and his 2013 Forager (click here to see). Dominic only made one barrel each of the 2014 and 2015, hence no reviews were sought. Here, I review the new 2016 Forager Pinot Noir, of which there were 44 cases made.


Forager Waipara North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2016

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Canterbury & Waipara


Light ruby-red colour with some depth, a little paler on the rim. The nose is elegant in proportion with a near-firm and deep core of dark-red cherry and berry fruit, along with subtle red florals, melded with a complexing array of dried and dark herbs and a little earth. The aromatics are very harmoniously interwoven and unfold layers of interest. Medium-bodied, the palate is vibrant and lively with a rich and near-succulent, deep heart of savoury dark-red cherry and berry fruit harmoniously intermingling with red florals, dried herbs, a little earth and hints of lifted whole bunch stalks. The mouthfeel features fruit vitality and energy, and the concentrated core is underlined by good fine-grained tannin structure with balanced acidity. The flavours carry to a very long and sustained finish. This is a considerably rich and concentrated, but vibrant and elegant Pinot Noir with complex flavours of savoury red fruits, florals, herbs and earth. Match with coq au vin and game bird dishes over the next 6 years. Clones 667 and 5 from the Williams’ ‘Blacks Ave’ vineyard, from 20 y.o. vines, the fruit hand-picked and hand-sorted, with destemming, and returned to a fermenter in the sourcing vineyard, indigenous yeast fermented with 25% whole bunches to 13.0% alc., the wine spending 28 days on skins and 16 months in seasoned French oak. 44 cases made. 19.0/20 Jun 2018 RRP $55.00

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