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Featured Reviews

Millton ‘Clos de Ste Anne’ 2015 Vintage Release

08 September,2017
The most interesting and highest quality Gisborne wines are arguably the Millton Vineyard’s ’Clos de Ste Anne’ bottlings. The ‘Clos de Ste Anne’ site is a unique 12 ha hillside estate developed around the original 1980 plantings of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that formed ‘Naboth’s Vineyard’. James and Annie Millton have developed the property to include besides vineyard, forest, amenity trees, livestock and olive plantations. The farming since 1989 has been by biodynamic techniques. In 2001, additional Pinot Noir, Viognier, Syrah and Chenin Blanc have been added. James Millton calls Domaine Clos de Ste Anne his ‘grand cru’ site, and the wines are of such distinctive character that he sees them as fitting tributes to his wife and business partner Annie.

I’ve been fortunate to have seen the full releases of the ‘Clos de Ste Anne’ since 2010, and can report that they are indeed special wines. The wines are inspired by the finest examples of their type from around the world, but clearly show the characteristics of the site, its terroir and the growing season. The wines ae made based on the accumulated experience of over three decades of winegrowing, and combine the philosophies of technical excellence with passion and soul, with the benefits of biodynamic regimes that are empathetic with the environment. I doubt that there are many other wines made in this country with such principles.

The 2015 vintage release comprises Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Viognier and Syrah. Unfortunately there is no Chenin Blanc, as the fruit did not meet the style parameters of a dry barrel-fermented Savennieres, the model that has inspired the making of the wine. The fruit was declassified. I review the wines here. They are to be released on 1 October.


Clos de Ste Anne ‘Naboth’s Vineyard’ Gisborne Chardonnay 2015

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Gisborne

Brilliant light golden-hued yellow colour with some depth, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is elegantly presented, revealing a deep, concentrated core of ripe yellow stonefruits, along with integrated creamy barrel-ferment notes, subtle savoury nutty elements and a suggestion of spicy oak, unfolding mineral detail. The nose grows in richness with aeration. Medium-full bodied, the palate is initially restrained in expression, but blossoms in richness, revealing harmoniously entwined flavours of ripe yellow stonefruits and citrus fruits, with soft, creamy barrel-ferment and nutty oak elements. The palate has excellent presence and is driven by a little alcoholic power with fresh, lacy acidity providing energy and vibrancy. The wine has strong linearity, flowing along a fine-textured phenolic thread, carrying to a long and sustained finish of stonefruits and nuts. This is a rich and complex, harmoniously melded Chardonnay with stonefruit and nutty flavours, freshness and power. Serve with roasted poultry, pork and veal dishes over the next 5+ years. Hand-picked fruit from the older vines, indigenous yeast barrel-fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 10 months on lees in 15% new Louis Latour French oak with batonnage, preferring minimal MLF. Certified BioGro organic and certified Demeter biodynamic. 19.0-/20 Sep 2017 RRP $75.50

Clos de Ste Anne ‘Naboth’s Vineyard’ Gisborne Pinot Noir 2015

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Gisborne

Light garnet-red colour with some depth, pale on edge with a hint of bricking. The nose is soft, gently full and voluminous with aromas of cherry and soft-red berryfruit, entwined with savoury strawberry and red floral notes, and nuances of herbs, fresh undergrowth, with complexing nuances of earth and smoke. The aromatics grow to show a soft density. Medium-full bodied, the palate has open and mouthfilling flavours of savoury strawberries with soft red floral notes, herbs and fresh undergrowth, and nuances of earth and smoke. The palate has supple tannin extraction providing balanced structure along with integrated acidity. The flavours flow with good energy, blossoming on the finish with strawberry, herb and floral notes. This is a softly mouthfilling Pinot Noir with savoury strawberry, herb, undergrowth and smoky flavours on a supple palate with a peacock’s tail finish. Match with mushroom dishes, and wild duck and pork over the next 5-6+ years. Hand-picked and sorted fruit from the older and newer plantings, destemmed, and fermented in cuves to 13.5% alc., the wine spending 28 days on skins and aged 14 months in 20% new French oak barriques. Certified BioGro organic and certified Demeter biodynamic. 18.5/20 Sep 2017 RRP $60.00

Clos de Ste Anne ‘Les Arbres’ Gisborne Viognier 2015

Viognier from New Zealand – Gisborne

Bright, even, straw-yellow colour with lemon-gold hues, pale on the rim. The nose is refreshingly poised and youthful, with pure, bright and fragrant aromas of exotic yellow florals and a fine, tight amalgam of citrus zest, stonefruits and nuances of apricot. The nose intensifies in the glass, revealing saline hints and mouthwatering wet-stone minerals. Dry to taste, the palate has freshness and vitality with piquant aromatic fruit flavours of citrus fruit and zest, yellow stonefruits and exotic florals. The fruit is expressed with purity and clarity and is carried along a driven line and some underlying alcoholic power and fresh, lacy acidity. This has a subtle unctuousness and the wine flows smoothly to a long finish of citrus zest and florals. This is a beautifully vibrant and poised Viognier with clarity and purity of fruit expression, with underlying power, richness and linearity. Serve with Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine over the next 4-5+ years. Fruit from the ‘Les Arbres’ section, whole bunch ‘crushed’ and indigenous yeast fermented in 600 L demi-muid barrels to 14.0% alc. and 4.0 g/L RS, the wine aged 11 months on lees in seasoned oak with 100% MLF. Certified BioGro organic and certified Demeter biodynamic. 19.0/20 Sep 2017 RRP $60.00

Clos de Ste Anne ‘The Crucible’ Gisborne Syrah 2015

Syrah from New Zealand – Gisborne

Dark ruby-red colour with some depth, lighter on the rim with purple tints. The nose is well-proportioned with intense and penetrating aromas of savoury blackberries and dark raspberry fruit, layered with black and white pepper notes, dark plums, liquorice and earth, unfolding nuances of Asian spices and violet florals. Medium-full bodied, the palate has a rich, rounded, but concentrated core of blackberries and raspberries entwined with black and white pepper, liquorice, spices and florals. The fruit is supported by grainy tannin structure providing plenty of grip and mouthfeel. The acidity is balanced and enhances the aromatic profile, and the wine leads to a long, textural finish. This is a rich, concentrated, well-structured Syrah with blackberry and raspberry fruit, along with pepper, liquorice and spices. Match with game meat dishes and semi-hard cheeses over the next 7-9+ years. Hand-picked fruit from ‘The Crucible’ bowl-shaped section, destemmed and indigenous yeast co-fermented with 5% whole clusters of Viognier in 1,000 L ‘cuves’ to 13.5% alc., the wine spending 28 days on skins and aged 14 months in 75% new French oak. Certified BioGro organic and certified Demeter biodynamic. 18.5+/20 Sep 2017 RRP $75.50
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