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Featured Reviews




Luna Estate Martinborough, Eclipse and Blue Rock Single Vineyard Releases

05 October,2017
Luna Estate is the revitalised Murdoch James brand of Martinborough Wines. Wellington businessman Charlie Zheng purchased Murdoch James on Dry River Road, south of the Martinborough village in 2011 and then Alana Estate on the Martinborough Terrace in 2014. Luna Estate is the new unified brand going forward. The change is part of some significant changes, most importantly a programme of replanting so that Luna Estate will eventually have an 80% Pinot Noir and 20% white wine production, a reversal of the former situation which was approx. 75% white and 25% Pinot Noir. This is to reinforce and represent the dominance and quality of Pinot Noir in the region. At present there are 25 ha of vines bearing, due to the replanting, but the total vineyard area will be 44 ha from the two sites. With the rebranding, Luna Estate has introduced single vineyard wines, the ‘Eclipse’ label representing wines from the Martinborough Terrace, and the ‘Blue Rock’ label for the wines from the clay-influenced soiled site of the former Murdoch James site.

Joel Watson, a Kiwi, is the winemaker, with the company since February 2015, coming from Curly Flat Vineyard in the Macedon Ranges in Australia, where he confirmed his obsession with Pinot Noir. He has Regan Waru-Sutherland as his assistant. Daniel Philips, with the company for 7 years, oversees the viticulture with the consultancy of Nick Hoskins of Vine Managers. Here, I review the new release Luna Estate wines and single vineyard ‘Eclipse’ and ‘Blue Rock’ wines. www.lunaestate.co.nz

FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW



Luna Martinborough Pinot Gris 2017

Pinot Gris from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington

17/20
Bright, pale golden-hued straw-yellow colour with a suggestion of blush, lighter on the edge. The nose is soft and full with aromas of yellow stonefruits and apricots with pear and honey notes, and subtle nutty detail. The aromatics show good depth, unfolding yellow florals. Dry to taste and medium-full bodied, the palate has restrained flavours of savoury yellow stonefruits with honeysuckle and nutty notes. The palate is rounded with good presence and weight, and soft acid freshness. The wine flows along a light, textural line leading to a light, dry, stonefruited finish. This dry Pinot Gris has an aromatic nose with a restrained palate with good vinous presence and a soft, textured mouthfeel. Match with poultry and pork over the next 3+ years. Hand-picked fruit from mature vines from the ‘Blue Rock’ vineyard, fermented in tank with 30% in seasoned oak to 13.5% alc. and 1.5 g/L RS, the wine aged on lees. 535 cases made. 17.0/20 Oct 2017 RRP $24.00

Luna Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington

16.5/20

Bright, light straw-yellow colour with pale gold hues, lighter on the rim. The nose is fresh and elegant with a tightly bound core of gooseberry fruit with nettle and cut grass notes, along with fresh herbs and green capsicums. The fruit is in the cooler spectrum. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has light, zesty flavours of gooseberries, fresh herbs, cut grass and nettles. The mouthfeel is refreshing with crisp acidity, and the wine flows with good energy along a thirst-quenching, light-textured line. The flavours carry to a light, slender, lingering finish. This is an elegant, cool-spectrum Sauvignon Blanc with gooseberry, cut grass and nettle flavours on a brisk palate. Serve with seafood, salads and vegetables over the next 2 years. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Eclipse’ and ‘Blue Rock’ sites, from mature vines, fermented in tank with 20% in seasoned oak to 12.5% alc. and 2.5 g/L RS. 1,515 cases made. 16.5/20 Oct 2017 RRP $24.00

Luna Martinborough Riesling 2017

Riesling from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington

17.5+/20
Bright straw-yellow colour with light lemon-gold hues, paler on the edge. The nose is soft in presentation with a gentle core of fresh lime fruit, yellow florals, a little honeysuckle and thirst-quenching mineral notes. Dryish to taste and light-medium bodied, the palate has a finely concentrated core with flavours of lime and lemonade, white florals and subtle notes of honeysuckle and minerals. The mouthfeel is refreshing with bright and racy acidity, and the wine flows along a fine-textured line of fruit extract, leading to a dry finish of citrus fruits and minerals. This is a finely concentrated dry Riesling with lime and lemon fruit and notes of honeysuckle and minerals on a refreshing palate. Serve as an aperitif or with Asian fare over the next 4 years. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Eclipse’ vineyard, from mature vines, cool-fermented in tank to 10.5% alc. and 4.0 g/L RS, TA 9.0 g/L and pH 3.05. 125 cases made. 17.5+/20 Oct 2017 RRP $24.00

Luna Martinborough Pinot Meunier Rosé 2017

Rose from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington

18-/20
Bright, cerise-pink colour with some depth and slight purple hues, lighter on the rim. The nose is softly voluminous with fresh and vibrant, fragrant aromas of strawberries and cream, entwined with raspberries and red cherries, red florals and notes of confectionary. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has up-front aromatic fruit flavours of strawberries and cream, soft raspberry elements, red florals and confectionary nuances. The flavours are mouthfilling with an underlying positive core and line, and the mouthfeel is enlivened by fresh, lacy acidity. The wine carries to a dry, strawberry and cherry fruited finish with good length. This is a vibrantly aromatic dry rosé with strawberries and cream, and raspberry notes on a fresh palate with good linearity. Serve as an aperitif, with canapes, tapas and antipasto over the next 2 years. Fruit from a single block at the ‘Blue Rock’ vineyard, given 5 hours skin contact and cool-fermented in tank to 12.5% alc. and < 1.0 g/L RS. 435 dozen made. 18.0-/20 Oct 2017 RRP $28.00

Luna Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington

17.5+/20
Even, dark ruby-red colour with purple hues, lighter on the rim, and youthful in appearance. The nose is soft and gently full with moderately deep aromas of ripe dark-red berry, raspberry and plum fruit, with fragrant violet florals and suggestions of herbs and earth, with spicy oak unfolding in the glass. Medium-bodied, the palate has sweet, juicy and lively fruit flavours of dark red cherry and berry fruit, with a harmonious amalgam of herbs, earth and florals, with spicy oak, unfolding raspberry nuances. The mouthfeel is enlivened by fresh acidity and the fruit is supported by supple tannin extraction. The fruit sweetness carry the wine to a lively and luscious finish. This is a sweet, dark cherry and raspberry-fruited Pinot Noir with subtle herb, earth and spicy oak notes on a fresh, supple palate. Match with poultry and pork over the next 4 years. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Eclipse’ and ‘Blue Rock’ vineyards, mainly destemmed and fermented to 12.5% alc., the wine spending around 20 days on skins, and aged 12 months in 10% new French oak. 6,558 cases made. 17.5+/20 Oct 2017 RRP $33.00

Luna ‘Eclipse’ Martinborough Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington

18.5/20
Bright, light yellow colour with pale gold hues and some depth, lighter on the rim. The nose is full and concentrated with well-packed aromas of ripe yellow stonefruits and citrus fruit, melded with mealy notes and complexing creamy and nutty barrel-ferment elements with toasty oak and flinty suggestions. Medium-full bodied, the palate has good depth and concentration of ripe yellow stonefruits and citrus fruits, mealy elements and a layering of creamy barrel-ferment and nutty, toasty oak. Some flinty hints add interest and detail. The flavours are mouthfilling with integrated acidity adding to the fruit richness. The wine carries to a long, sustained finish of citrus fruit and toast. This is a rich, well-concentrated and complex flavoured Chardonnay with stonefruit and citrus fruit, nutty and toasty oak. Match with grilled and roasted white meats over the next 4+ years. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Eclipse’ vineyard from mature vines, WBP and barrel-fermented with high solids to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 11 months in 40% new barriques and puncheons, with no batonnage, and 50% MLF. 376 dozen made. 18.5/20 Oct 2017 RRP $40.00

Luna ‘Eclipse’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington

18.5-/20
Dark ruby-red colour with some depth and slight purple hues, lighter on the rim. The nose is full and deeply concentrated with aromas of dark-red and black berried fruits melded with complex, savoury dark herbs and earthy layers. Some dark-red floral notes and nutty oak add interest. Medium-full bodied, the palate is fulsome with a deep and well-packed heart of savoury dark-red and black berried fruits entwined with dark herbs and earthy elements. The fruit is matched by generous tannin extraction providing plenty of structure and mouthfeel. The acidity is integrated, enhancing the solidness of the palate. The flavours lead to a restrained finish of black fruits and savoury herbs. This is a classical, fulsome Martinborough Pinot Noir with dark fruits and savoury herb and earth complexities on a well-structured palate. Serve with casseroles and slow-cooked game meat dishes over the next 6-8 years. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Eclipse’ vineyard, from mature vines, mainly destemmed and fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine on skins 30 days and aged 12 months in 30% new French oak. 490 dozen made. 18.5-/20 Oct 2017 RRP $52.00

Luna ‘Blue Rock’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington

18.5+/20
Even ruby-red colour with slight purple hues, lighter edged. The nose is softly full with ethereal and fragrant aromas of dark-red cherry and berry fruit with dark-red florals, entwined with subtle herb and oak spice notes. This has an elegantly concentrated core and shows beauty and finesse. Medium-bodied, the plate is elegant in proportion, possessing good depth and penetrating intensity of dark-red cherry and berry fruits melded with aromatic red florals and spicy oak. The fruit is underlined by fine-grained, flowery tannin extraction and lifted by balanced acidity. The fruit has lusciousness and succulence, and carries to a long, lingering finish. This is a beautifully fragrant Pinot Noir with cherry and berry fruit and an array of florals and spices on a fine-grained palate. Match with poultry and pork over the next 6-8 years. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Blue Rock’ vineyard from mature vines, mainly destemmed and fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine spending 30 days on skins and aged 12 months in 30% new French oak. 385 dozen made. 18.5+/20 Oct 2017 RRP $52.00

Luna ‘Blue Rock’ Martinborough Syrah 2016

Syrah from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington

17.5+/20
Even, dark purple-red colour, a little lighter on the rim, very youthful in appearance. This has a firmly packed and concentrated nose with aromas of blackberry fruit melded with black pepper, spices, violet florals and a subtle layering of reduction and mineral elements. Medium-full bodied, the palate has a well-concentrated core of blackberries and dark raspberries, with notes of black pepper, violet florals, spices, earth and subtle reductive elements. The fruit is supported by fine, grainy tannins providing flowery textures and good structure, with balanced acidity lending freshness and liveliness. The wine flows positively to a light, lingering, nuanced finish. This is a fine and firmly concentrated Syrah with blackberry and raspberry fruit with black pepper, violet and spice flavours along with some earthy reduction. Match with lamb, beef and venison dishes over the next 6-8 years. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Blue Rock’ vineyard from mature vines, fully destemmed and fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine spending 20 days on skins and aged 12 months in 30% new French oak. 223 dozen made. 17.5+/20 Oct 2017 RRP $52.00
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