The Pinot Gris 2012 was the palate teaser. The gentleness on the nose belies the fruit richness on the palate. Excellent fruit clarity and bright acidity on the finish. Less worked than previous releases, and something I endorse. Properly dry at <2 g/L rs, but has apparent fruit sweetness.
It was immensely interesting to compare two lots of the potential regional blend Escarpment Pinot Noir 2012, based on Abel and 667 clone fruit. The ‘A’ version aged in 25% new oak with approx. 30% whole bunch, dark in colour and with dark violet florals and dark cherry-berry flavours on palate. A soft dryness with well-proportioned tannin grip and size, the oak a little noticeable, but as it should show at this early stage. This will be a little less robust that some earlier releases, but it is very Martinborough in character. The ‘B’ version, with no new oak influence, lighter, but still dark fruited and showing no evidence of the greens. Less volume, and the acidity more of a feature. The length of finish and fruit nuance was its drawcard. What to do – Blend in some of the ‘B’ to the ‘A’ for layers, softness and length at the risk of making the wine lighter? We’ll see where Larry and Huw take it in due course.
Next a sample of ‘Pahi’ Pinot Noir 2012, now made from the ‘Front Block’ of the McCreanor vineyard on Princess Street, now that the virus-affected ‘Back Block’ vines have been grubbed up. Around 30% whole bunch and 40% new oak, as with all the ‘Insight’ wines. Though the average age of the vines used is slightly lower, this has no loss of florality, the signature of this wine, and indeed this year is expressed with great clarity. The lightest of the ‘Insight’ wines, as is appearing to be the case nowadays, but very fine-grained with bright and near succulent fruit. Lovely vitality with the acidity contributing to this. A feminine beauty.
The ‘Kiwa’ Pinot Noir 2012, from the ‘Cleland’ block on Cambridge Road, which has always given the most ‘Burgundian’ style with its savoury flavour layers. This is the situation again, with dried herb, meaty complex nuances to the dark berry fruits. Excellent richness, a solidness and chunkiness, unfolding waves of flavour. The acidity more restrained in this, maybe not quite the vibrancy, but there is no lack of interest.
The star on this showing was the ‘Te Rehua’ Pinot Noir 2012 from the ‘Barton’ vineyard on Huangarua Road. Masses of bright and lively dark berry fruits, quite lush, but in perfect balance with the tannin structure. Beautiful acid lending brightness and freshness with stand-out tension and energy. This has an exceptional core of fruit and linearity. The more I taste wines from this site, the more I like them.
The special wine for Escarpment is the ‘Kupe’ Pinot Noir 2012, from Abel clone fruit from the home ‘Te Muna Road’ block. This is given a little more whole bunch, this year around 35%, as the structure and composition of the wine suits its inclusion to this degree, even in a cooler vintage such as 2012. The ‘biggest’ wine, just a little more so than the ‘Kiwa’, but significantly more layers of interest and the distinctive savoury-aromatic whole bunch component obvious. More density and presence, and more of a statement, without losing any of its ‘Pinot-ness’. The tannins quite integral with the presentation, and acidity quite discreet. There are four barrels of ‘Kupe’ 2012 with 100% whole bunch, and tasting from one was most illuminating. Lighter in colour, the whole bunch character was more in the secondary fruit spectrum. Real complexity allied to fruit sweetness, laced with acid prominence. 2012 may not be the year to go 100% on whole bunch, but I’d imagine this will make an excellent ‘seasoning’ component.
Tasting through the barrels again highlighted Larry’s thoroughness and drive to exploring the options in making the best wine possible. I can’t wait to see them finished. www.escarpment.co.nz