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Featured Reviews

Martinborough Vineyard 2015 Chardonnay, 2015 Te Tera, 2014 Home Block and 2013 Marie Zelie Pinot Noirs

05 May,2017
Martinborough Vineyard is one of the pioneers of the Martinborough winegrowing district, first planting Pinot Noir vines in 1980. The company has an illustrious history of making some of the region and country’s finest wines. After a period of difficult trading exacerbated by the GFC, the company came into ownership by Foley Family Wines in 2014, joining the portfolio that nearby Te Kairanga became part of in 2011. Consolidation and investment, just as at Te Kairanga has seen Martinborough Vineyard resume its position as one of the producers of some of the district’s top wines. Martinborough Vineyard draws from around 42 ha of vineyards, some shared with Te Kairanga, and crushes around 150-200 tonnes annually. The asset of old vines is the heart of the quality, and this is treated with great respect by winemaker Paul Mason who has been with the company since 2007. He is assisted by Phill McArthur, working at Martinborough Vineyard since 2010. The viticulture is under the care of Dave Shepherd, who also tends the Te Kairanga vineyards. The premium tier comprises the ‘Estate’ wines from the best fruit from established vineyards. The ‘Te Tera’ range introduced in 2002 comprises wines which are more approachable in their youth. The ‘Marie Zelie; is the limited release super-premium Pinot Noir.

The ‘Marie Zelie’’ Pinot Noir
The ‘Marie Zelie’ is the flagship wine of Martinborough Vineyard, taking over from the ‘Reserve’ Pinot Noir developed in earlier years. It is a barrel selection wine, made only in exceptional years. Invariably it comes from the best-performing and oldest blocks of estate vines. It is named after Marie Zelie Hermance Frere who married Wairarapa pioneer William Beetham; she planted 3,000 vines at their Highmore Estate in 1892. (Click here to read my report and tasting notes of her 1903 Lansdowne Claret, the oldest known surviving wine made in New Zealand.) Her great, great niece married Derek Milne, one of the founders of Martinborough Vineyard. The first vintage of ‘Marie Zelie’ was the 2003, released in 2006. There were 737 bottles made. The other vintages released have been the 2006, with 984 bottles, 2008 with 1,096 bottles, and the 2010 with 1,868 bottles. The 2013 vintage is the fifth release with 1,312 bottles and 32 magnums made. Winemaker Paul Mason is particularly pleased with this wine as he considers it shows the character of the older ‘Home’ blocks, and the 10/5, 5 and Abel clones, these contributing to greater secondary complexity and tannin completeness. He says it shows a "real Martinboroughness”. Here, I review the 2015 ‘Home Block’ Chardonnay, and a trio of Pinot Noirs, the 2015 ‘Te Tera, 2014 ‘Home Block’ and the 2013 ‘Marie Zelie’. All of the wines grow in richness with aeration.


Martinborough Vineyard ‘Home Block’ Martinborough Chardonnay 2015

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington

Bright, even, straw-yellow colour with light green-gold hues, paler on the edge. The nose is elegantly presented with gentle breadth and depth of ripe white and yellow stonefruits along with subtle notes of nutty oak and lees, entwined with mealy nuances and creamy barrel-ferment suggestions. A little toasty and smoky detail adds complexity. Medium-full bodied, the palate gas vibrant and gently rich flavours of white and yellow stonefruits along with mealy complexities, entwined with nutty oak and creamy barrel-ferment suggestions and smoke. The flavours form an elegantly concentrated core. The mouthfeel is fresh and bright with lively acidity, and the wine flows easily along a very fine-textured line, leading to a tight, concentrated, lingering finish with stoonefruits and complexing mealy and nutty notes. This is an elegant, but vibrant and lively complex Chardonnay with stonefruit, mealy and nutty flavours on a fresh, fine-featured palate. Match with grilled and roasted seafood, poultry and pork over the next 4-5 years. Clones Mendoza, 95, 15, 6 and 2/23, fully indigenous yeast barrel-fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 12 months in 25% new French oak, undergoing batonnage with two-thirds MLF. 19.0-/20 May 2017 RRP $40.00

Martinborough Vineyard ‘Te Tera’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2015

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington

Dark, even ruby-red colour with light purple hues, a little paler on the rim, youthful in appearance. The nose is well-proportioned with good volume and depth of ripe dark raspberries, black cherries and plum fruit, along with spice and liquorice notes. The fresh fruit aromatics are joined by some savoury herb and earth detail with aeration. Medium-full bodied, the palate is rich and sweetly juicy with plush flavours of dark raspberries and black cherries, along with plum and liquorice notes. The fleshy fruit is balanced by fine-grained, supple tannins and fresh acidity that enable accessibility. The palate has vibrancy, richness and sweetness that carries to a sustained finish. This is a rich, fleshy and plush, dark-red, black berry and plum fruited Pinot Noir on a fine-textured, supple and refreshing palate. Match with poultry and pork, and with Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine over the next 4-5+ years. Fruit from the company’s younger vineyards, vines 8-20 y.o., predominantly hand-picked, fully destemmed and indigenous yeast fermented to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 10 months in French oak. 18.5/20 May 2017 RRP $29.00

Martinborough Vineyard ‘Home Block’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2014

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington

Even, dark ruby-red colour, a little lighter on the edge. This has an elegantly presented nose with ethereal volume of ripe savoury dark-red berry fruits entwine harmoniously with a layer of dried herbs and earth, along with nutty and slightly resinous oak. Subtle dark-red florals emerge in the glass. Medium-full bodied, the palate is rich and well-concentrated with vibrantly sweet fruit flavours of savoury dark-red berry fruits complexed by layers of dark and dried herbs, and earthy and nutty oak interest. The fruit richness is enhanced by lacy acidity, and supported by balancing fine-grained, flowery tannin extraction. The fruit and textures carry with harmony to an elegantly firm and lingering finish. This is an elegantly rich, concentrated and complex-detailed Pinot Noir with savoury dark-red fruits with herbal and earthy notes on a fine-structured and balanced palate with good vitality. A classical expression of Martinborough. Match with game meat and casseroles over the next 6+ years. Fruit from the company’s oldest blocks on the Martinborough Terrace, hand-picked and hand-sorted and indigenous yeast fermented with 20% whole bunches to 13.5% alc., the wine spending on average 24 days on skins and aged 12 months in 31% new French oak barrels. 19.0/20 May 2017 RRP $68.00

Martinborough Vineyard ‘Marie Zelie’ ‘Reserve’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2013

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington


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

Moderately deep red colour with lighter garnet hues on the rim. The bouquet is refined and elegantly presented with an ethereal layer of savoury dark-red berry fruit building to show complex dark and dried herbs, earth, game and nutty oak detail. Red floral fragrances emerge to add interest. The aromatics subtly grow in volume with aeration. Medium-full bodied, the palate has a softly concentrated and gently multi-layered palate showing savoury dark-red fruits with dark and dried herbs, earth, game, undergrowth and nutty oak. Subtle red floras provide lift. The palate is harmoniously balanced with the rich, lush fruit supported by very fine-grained, flowery tannin extraction and integrated lacy acidity. The sweetness and fine textures carry to a long and sustained, vibrant finish. This is a beautifully elegant, refined, but concentrated ethereal Pinot Noir with multi-layered complexities of fruit, earth and game with subtle florals. It beas more than a passing resemblance to some Musigny wines. Serve with game meat dishes and semi-hard cheeses over the next 7-10 years. A selection of the five best barrels. 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. 19.5-/20 May 2017 RRP $225.00
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