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Palliser Estate 2015 Pinot Noir Barrel Samples

By February 9, 2016No Comments

The Team – Palliser Estate
Lesley, Carla, Pip and Allan (L to R)
Palliser Estate is a hero for the Martinborough winegrowing region. From its first days, the quality of the wines and the strong, professional commercial and business ethic has provided the company with consistency and stability, these attributes indispensable for its success, which has assisted the growth of the region.

The basis for Palliser’s strength lies in the 75 hectares of vines, centred on two proven varieties in the Wairarapa, also making wines styles representative of New Zealand. Pinot Noir accounts for half of the plantings and 30% of the production, and Sauvignon Blanc accounts for one-third of the plantings but 50% of the production (the yields higher with the latter variety). The remainder of the vines are Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Gris. An extensive replanting programme over the last 8 years has seen the ungrafted vines replaced, with the final hectare of own-rooted Pinot Noir plants on the ‘Pencarrow’ vineyard being taken out after the 2016 vintage. The company’s holdings oldest vines are a respectable 26 years old, showing the forethought in viticultural planning.

Allan Johnson – delivering 2015 Pinot Noir barrel samples

Allan Johnson has been the winemaker since the 1991 harvest, taking over from Rob Bowen who made the inaugural 1989 wines. Allan presides over an 800 tonne capacity winery, which is well-organised and fully-equipped for both white wine making as well as the specialised handling required for Pinot Noir. The wines have become more elegant and sophisticated in recent years, reflecting the maturity of the vineyard and Allan’s winemaking philosophy and cumulative experience. Allan has just been joined by Guy McMaster, formerly of Urlar and The Escarpment Vineyard, in a role covering winemaking and viticulture. No doubt Guy’s arrival will further strengthen the technical production at Palliser Estate.

Guy McMaster – winemaking & viticulture

The other significant change at Palliser Estate was the retirement last year of Richard Riddiford, the founding managing director. Pip Goodwin has taken up the position of CEO, having been with Palliser Estate for 10 years, in winemaking and marketing roles, as well as accountancy input. Pip continues the business from a strong and stable position, but I know she will institute new initiatives. It will be a pleasure to see the continued development at Palliser Estate. www.palliser.co.nz

Pinot Noir fermenters – Palliser Estate

Tasting 2015 Pinot Noir Barrel Samples
I had the pleasure of being shown a selection of 2015 vintage Pinot Noir barrel samples by Allan Johnson with Guy McMaster. The growing season had its challenges with a cold start and affected flowering leading to a reduced Pinot Noir crop. Rain events towards vintage had an impact on picking decisions. As a result, the wines are elegant in size and show the more aromatic nature of the variety. However, quality is present, and was evident in the wines I tasted. Here are my notes from the tasting in the barrel hall:

‘Clouston’ vineyard, Abel clone young vines, seasoned oak: Tightly bound with pure, soft, fragrant floral aromas. The palate has fruit sweetness with good grip from firm tannins prominent. The structure stronger than the fruit here. A good textural component.

‘East Base’ vineyard, clones 667 and 777: Deeper fruit aromas, dark cherries, violets and spices on nose. Juicy, plush, up-front dark red fruit flavours, tannin in the background allowing the fruit sweetness to show. Probably destined for the ‘Pencarrow’ label.

‘East Base’ vineyard, clones 667 and 777, 1 y.o. oak: Intense black cherry fruit aromas with noticeable oak shine and lift adding richness. Lovely sweet and succulent fruit. Quite elegant on palate, with spice and floral detail. All in balance with fine tannin and acidity. Quite complete and fully representative of 2015?

‘East Base’ vineyard, from the eastern side, clones 667 and 777, 2 y.o. oak: Good volume and depth of ripe, dark-red and black fruit aromas. Rich and succulent, with fruit weight, and a step up in structure with balanced tannin and acid. Again, quite a complete expression. This part of the vineyard identified as performing well.

‘Wharekauhau’ vineyard, Abel clone, with 23% whole bunch: Dense aromas of black fruits along with complex, savoury dark herb and whole bunch aromas. On palate, rich, deep and succulent with plenty of presence. Layers of savoury dark-red and black fruits supported by considerable tannin structure. Fine-grained textures and acid vitality keep it all classy. This will be a serious component in the top label.

‘East Base’ vineyard, 777 clone, hand-picked and later in harvesting: Deep fruit aromas with good ripeness, but nothing excessive. Beautifully rich, sweet and luscious, with some complexing earthiness. Very fine-textured and fresh acid underlying. Another premium component here.

‘Winery Block’, M6 clone, second crop: Very fresh, fruit-focussed, dark raspberry fruit aromas, lovely depth and intensity. Strong dark fruit aromatics, the raspberry notes prominent. Excellent concentration with fine, flowery tannins, the acidity soft. This Australian clone has much to offer.

Jane Lenting – Palliser Estate Cellar Door

The Cellar Door
I should mention the Palliser Estate Cellar Door, run very professionally by Jane Lenting, a former engineer who was attracted by the wine industry. She has worked vintage at Palliser since 2012, which stands her in good stead for answering the more geeky questions! Jane also ‘looks after’ the Karearea N.Z. Bush Falcon chicks in the Martinborough project, which is alone is a good reason to visit, however, it’s worthwhile buying some good bottles here.


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