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Devotus 2016 Martinborough Pinot Noir Barrel Samples

By November 16, 2016No Comments
Don and Valerie McConachy have worked hard in their 3 ha ‘Devotus’ Pinot Noir vineyard on the corner of Puruatanga Road and Regent Street in Martinborough since they settled on site in 2013, and their local winegrowing colleagues have seen the site revitalised showing pleasure with the results. The inaugural 2014 (click here to see my reviews) and following 2015 vintage (click here to see my reviews) wines are clearly at a very high level of quality and it is all very good for the Martinborough wine industry. www.devotus.nz

With new plantings to come on stream, Don and Valerie have been contemplating the introduction of a tertiary tier to utilise younger vine fruit and include fruit that they may deem not up to the standard of the Devotus ‘estate’ and ‘Reserve’ labels. Part of the thinking has been inspired by the desire to raise the quality of the ‘estate’ and to a lesser extent the ‘Reserve’ Pinot Noirs even further by making even stricter selections than those presently employed. At present, no definite decision has been made.

Don McConachy – among the old Pinot Noir vines

Tasting 2016 Devotus Barrel Samples
I had the opportunity of making a quick visit to Devotus, and Don and Valerie were keen to discuss their thoughts on the future releases of Devotus wine, and show some 2016 vintage Pinot Noir barrel samples. 2016 is deemed by Don and Valerie to be an outstanding vintage for them. The growing season was excellent and allowed picking decisions to be made without any pressures. After the wind-affected vintage which halved their yields in 2015, it was heartening to have a normal size vintage, giving wine similar in quantities as seen in 2014. The wines tasted, barrel samples were from four fermenters that could go into the ‘estate’ wine. Clearly, choices will need to be made as to which lots will be used, and in what proportions.

Back Block, clones 114 and 667, vines 16 y.o., 30% whole bunch
Bright, dark purple-red colour. The nose ha a soft presentation, but an underlying firmness of dark-red berry fruit with herb notes, and a touch of pepperiness. A little free sulphur at first, but the palate shows a tight core of dark cherry fruit with dark herbs and a little pepper again. Fresh, bright acidity and soft, fine tannin extraction, and a suggestion of bitterness on the finish. Classic cooler notes showing, but with the positive attributes of freshness.

Front Block, clones 667 and 114, 22 y.o. vines, 50% whole bunch
Dark, deep, purple-red colour. This has a very fine and elegant nose, with dark red cherry and berry fruit, and lovely florals and fragrances. On palate very refined and tightly bound, but the fruit is fresh and vibrant. The tannin extraction is very fine-grained and lovely acid balance complete the palate presentation. This is a wine of aromatics, finesse and purity. Very Pinot Noir in varietal expression, almost a wine that could be bottled on its own, but some fleshiness would complete it.

Front Block, a mix of clones, with 114, 115, Abel and 777, vines 22 y.o., 60% whole bunch
Very dark, deep, black-red with purple hues. This is full and voluminous on nose with bold ripe dark berry fruit aromas and noticeable whole bunch stalk notes – well ripened, and a hint of savouriness. Rich and sweet on plate with ripe dark raspberry fruit, quite succulent, but already showing comlexing whole bunch stalk, savoury and interesting fruit – the Abel clone? The fruit is underlined by fine-grained tannins and the acid freshness is present. This is a fleshy wine, and a little structure would add to the style. As it is, a crowd pleaser.

Front Block, 10 y.o. 777 and Back Block 16 y.o. Abel, 40% whole bunch
Very dark red with purple hues. The nose is quite complex with ripe plum, boysenberry and jam aromas along with herb elements and whole bunch stem nuances. A touch of free sulphur too. On palate more tight and controlled than expected after the nose, with a combination of sweet and juicy, ripe blue fruits and a touch of jam – carbonic elements, with cooler herb and stalk notes, younger vines, maybe less ripe notes? Light tannin extraction and fresh acidity. A component to be used with care.

Tasting 2016 Devotus Pinot Noir barrel samples
with Don & Valerie in the tractor shed


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