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Pinot Noir 2017 – Day Three Road Trip – Marlborough/Nelson

By February 2, 2017No Comments

The toughest day of any wine competition or conference is the last day. Many participants will have partied out, for sure, but the sheer volume of information, the amount of food, and assaults on the taste buds with an accumulating number of wines causes fatigue. For the Pinot Noir 2017 conference, the last day, had Day Three’s Road Trip for the Marlborough/Nelson region. This combined region is of course, our country’s largest, and with the most number of wineries and examples to taste – or so it seemed. However, as they say. “it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it”. The theme for Day Three was ‘Evolve’, and many of the exhibitors were showing their latest wines, some of them unfinished tank and barrel samples which displayed experimentation and innovative techniques.

I continued my methodology of tasting generally only one wine from each producer, and that wine the youngest on offer. So I got to taste many barrel samples. I reiterate the constraints of this approach in trying to taste around 40 wines in 3 hours, with all the social activity around. Only impressions can be made, and a detailed assessment of the wines is not possible. However, impressions do count, and possibly favour the bolder wines over the delicate. As intimated above, an element of fatigue could be operating, so my notes may be somewhat repetitive and must be read with these points in mind. I have not added the notes to my database due to the lack of rigour, but I hope the reader finds them of interest. As with my reports of the first two days, the wines are presented alphabetically and by region, and the wines I liked the most are identified by their names being italicised. www.pinotnoir.co.nz

To see my tasting notes on 38 North Island and North Canterbury wines from the Day One Road Trip, click here. To see my notes of 40 Central Otago/Waitaki wines from the Day Two Road Trip, click here. You can see my report on the International Tasting by clicking here.

Bruce Abbot – Allan Scott

Allan Scott ‘Generations’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Bright, light red colour. This has an elegant red berry fruited nose, fresh, youthful and uncomplicated in expression. The palate is sweet-fruited and near plush with up-front red berry fruits underlined by a textural grip and structure, with freshness from the acidity.
Ara ‘Single Estate’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Dark ruby-red colour. This has elegantly present black berried fruits, with a touch of minerally reduction and/or oak toast. The palate has black-red fruits, sweet and fresh, with notes of plum and liquorice. Some herbs show. Fine tannins and fresh acidity provide completeness.

Astrolabe ‘Province’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Dark, deep, ruby-red colour. The nose is bright-fruited with ripe plummy aromas along with some whole berry ferment jam notes. Plush and juicy on palate, the fruit is underlined by fine, chalky tannins, the acidity quite soft. Simon has deliberately moved to greater fruitiness. Predominantly Southern Valleys fruit with a small amount of Kekerengu grapes.

“What’s this?  My glass is empty!”
Belinda Jackson – Blind River Wines
Blind River Awatere Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
From 1.9 ha. Light red colour with some garnet. The fruit is in the cooler-spectrum with red cherry, some herb and peppery elements. Fresh and juicy on palate, with good fruit, supported by fine-grainy textures and balanced acidity. A more sinewy and firm style.
Brancott Estate ‘Chosen Rows’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Fruit from the Brancott vineyard, fully destemmed and indigenous yeast. Aged 20-21 months in around 100% new oak. Deep red colour with some garnet. This is very elegantly presented and tightly bound with black berry and cherry fruits along with fine, toasty oaking. Rich fruited on palate with black fruits, plums and liquorice, spice notes emerge to add to the detail. This is tightly bound with very fine structure and balanced acidity. The oaking is up there, but so is the wine.

Peter Jackson – Catalina Sounds
Catalina Sounds ‘Sound of White’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Aged 10 months in 40% new oak with a further 5 months in seasoned oak. Very dark, deep, ruby-red colour. This has well-ripened black berried and dark plum fruit aromas along with complexing herb, earth, mineral and toasty oak notes. Ripe and sweet-fruited, and well-concentrated and tightly bound. This has serious structure, balanced acidity and minerality. Best Pinot Noir yet from Catalina Sounds.
Churton Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Deepish red with slight garnet hues. The nose is very soft, gentle and harmonious with red fruit aromas. Soft red berry fruits feature on the palate, but underlined by firm structure with powdery tannins. The fruit could be forward for the grip, but this has substance.
Clos Henri Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016 Barrel Sample
100% clone 10/5 with 20% whole cluster. Light ruby-red with youthful purple. Fine and tight on nose with red fruits and florals and subtle whole bunch stalk nuances. Deep and firmly packed on palate with red fruits, herbs and stalk nuances, along with a touch of reduction. Flowery tannins and brisk acidity lend to a sinewy style. The fruit and whole cluster work well here.

Marguerite & Jean-Charles Van Hove – Clos Marguerite
Clos Marguerite Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Awatere fruit with 10-15% whole cluster. Dark, deep red colour, youthful appearance. Very tight and concentrated with intense and penetrating dark red fruits entwined with dark herbs. Black berried fruits show on palate along with a herbal layering, plus minerality. Firm and finely extracted, with brisk acid presence, but in good balance overall.
Cloudy Bay Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Dark, deep ruby-red colour with slight garnet. Full and vibrantly fruit, near vigorous with dark fruits, toasty oak and some reduction here. Rich fruited with plenty of sweetness of ripe black fruits, also with minerally reduction. Fine tannin structure and crisp, balancing acidity.
Corofin ‘Churton Vineyard’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Deepish ruby-red colour. The nose is full and rounded with deep aromas of black and savoury dark-red fruits at the core. Some whole bunch detail shows. More an elegant wine with soft red fruit flavours at the core, savoury strawberries and complexing detail. The structure is very fine and with balanced acidity, this is smooth flowing. It will develop.

Rachael Cook – Dog Point Vineyard

Dog Point 100% Whole Bunch Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016 Barrel Sample
Dark, deep purple-red, youthful colour. The nose is very firm and intensely concentrated with black-red and black berried fruits along with up-front stalky whole cluster notes. There is no unripeness here. Drying, firm tannin structure, but fine-grained, the black fruits holding their own with herb and whole cluster presence.
Esk Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
From the ‘Ballochdale’ vineyard. Bright ruby-red, with pale edge. The nose is finely presented with fragrant red fruits and florals , still quite primary and also with a herbal edge. Sweet fruit flavours feature with fresh, soft herb notes, the tannins fine and modestly extracted. The acidity all in style. This is all there and accessible, but with underlying balance to keep.

John Forrest & Hamish McRae – Forrest Wines
Forrest ‘John Forrest Collection’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013
Clone 5, old vines, 18 months in 25% new oak. Pale red with some garnet. Red fruits with a strong core, unfolding soft savoury layers of detail. Quite fulsome and mouthfilling, the red fruits now developing some secondary interest. This has plenty of extraction and fine tannins to help it keep. No hurry at all.
Framingham Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016 Barrel Sample
Probably destined for the F-Series. Dark, deep ruby-red colour. The nose is well packed with firm aromas of ripe dark-red berry and plum aromas, with subtle herbal interest. Blacker fruit expression with real depth and fine-grained, tight tannins. The acidity levels are up. This is a serious step up for Framingham Pinot Noirs.
Fromm ‘La Strada’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Deepish ruby red with a good heart. Full and fresh with red fruits and balanced herbal nuance. Fulsome and vigorous on palate with bright and rich fruit. The structure is also prominent, maybe a touch grippy, and along with fresh acidity lends balanced potential. This looks better here than my recent review, showing the benefits of aeration.

Kurt Simcic – Giesen Wines
Giesen ‘Clayvin Vineyard’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Approx. 10% whole bunch, aged in 27% new oak. Dark, deep ruby-red with purple hues. This is firm and tight on nose with dense black fruit aromas, with a layering of herbs and subtle stalk whole cluster suggestions. Rich and luscious, the black and dark-red fruit exhibits lovely vitality. This has serious extraction and structure, the tannins fine-gained and flowery. Layers of herbs and whole cluster nuances complex the flavours. This is worthy of attention.

Kevin Judd – Greywacke
Greywacke Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015 Tank Sample
Very dark, deep, black-hearted red. The nose displays very bold, ripe, black berried fruits with excellent depth and density, unfolding plums and liquorice, pushing ripeness but within parameters. Rich and succulent on palate with bold black berried fruits, plums, liquorice, subtle herbs, spices and oak, which grows somewhat in prominence. The structure is underlying, but this could be a little more extracted. Balanced acidity. This is totally delicious.
Herzog ‘Grand Duc’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013
A little age showing with its garnet colour. Full and soft with secondary savoury development. Quite harmonious with complex fruits, game, herbs and a little undergrowth. Red-fruited with a spicy overlay and secondary development and interest. The tannins are fine-grained and there’s good acidity. 18 months in 20% new oak.
Jackson Estate ‘Vintage Widow’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2014
Deepish red with some garnet. The nose is a tad shy with a soft, but deep core of red fruits along with herbal nuances and savoury, secondary development. Juicy and sweet-fruited on palate with secondary notes emerging. Soft tannin extraction and zesty acid provide good balance. A wine that’s slightly understated, but is all there.

Claire Edwards & Jules Taylor – Jules Taylor Wines
Jules Taylor ‘OTQ’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Single vineyard, hand-picked, no whole cluster, wild ferment, no new oak. Darkish ruby-red colour. The nose is bright and intensely perfumed with black fruit and dark herbs, along with a faint touch of minerally reduction. Beautifully rich and luscious, the sweetness of fruit quite startling. Black berries, herbs, tastes and feels of whole cluster. Very fine powdery tannins and fresh acidity. Gorgeous to drink.
Lawson’s Dry Hills Waihopi Clone 5 Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016 Barrel Sample
100% destemmed. A 1 y.o. barrel. Light purple-red colour. This has a concentrated nose with black fruits and minerals, some reduction showing. Plush and sweet fruited with dark-red berry fruit and dark herbs, the tannin extraction very fine and powdery. Lovely acid freshness, but reduction emerging. This will be attractively sweet.

Brian Bicknell – Mahi
Mahi 40% Whole Bunch Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016 Barrel Sample
Just days (one day?) out of barrel. Very dark, deep ruby-red colour. Dark red and black fruits with liquorice and savoury herb notes. Loads of volume and whole bunch stalk aromas. Deliciously sweet black-berried fruits, plush and juicy with liquorice, herb, whole bunch complexities. The acidity is elevated, but the tannin extraction only moderate. Looking very good and well-balanced.

Clive Jones – Nautilus Estate
Nautilus Southern Valleys Marlborough Pinot Noir 2014
Deep ruby-red, with youthful purple hues. Intense aromatic penetration with elegant dark-red berry fruit, with hints of herbal detail and reductive/toasty oak suggestions. Lovely fruit sweetness on palate, plush and juicy, but supported with fine structure and integrated acidity. Impeccable balance and gorgeous accessibility and drinkability. It will keep doing so for several years through its balance, while developing savoury notes
Saint Clair ‘Pioneer Block 23 – Master Block’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Fruit from Ben Morven. Bright dark-red colour, vibrant and youthful. This has a fulsome, deep and solidly concentrated nose of ripe plum and red berry fruits, showing a stylish restraint. Rich, sweet-fruited, plush dark red berry fruits along with subtle herb nuances. The tannin extraction and acidity allow the fruit to prevail and feature. Satisfying wine, that is red wine more than Pinot Noir? But with this drinkability, it doesn’t matter!
Seresin ‘OSIP’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Ruby-red colour with youthful purple hues. This is tight and fresh with fragrant primary red fruits and florals, some steely herbal notes and savoury elements unfolding. Fragrant fruit flavours of dark-red berries, the acidity softer, but the tannins firm and grippy. This is serious in extraction, the tannins very refined in the final analysis.
Spy Valley 50% Whole Bunch Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016 Barrel Sample
No plunging employed! Dark, purple-hued ruby-red colour. Lovely violet perfumes along with black fruits and stalky whole bunch aromas. This builds in intensity. Sweet black fruits on palate with whole bunch stalkiness. The tannin structure is very fine and flowery, with balanced acidity. Plenty of goodness here.
Staete Landt ‘State of Grace’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Light purple-hued red colour. Tight and slender in presentation with black fruits along with minerally reduction ant toasty oak elements. Elegantly presented with black fruits, some savoury game complexities, with fine tannin extraction and fresh acidity. Slender and lingering.

Jim Robertson – Stoneleigh, Pernod-Ricard
Stoneleigh ‘Rapaura Series’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
A single vineyard wine, 11 months in 40% new oak. Light, purple-hued red colour. Very pretty and attractive with fresh red fruits and violet florals, and oak spices. Sweet fruited and elegant, with tight concentration of fine grained tannins. The oaking is spicy and out there, dominating the dark fruit a tad. This will be consumer and maybe wine judge friendly.

Gordon Ritchie – TerraVin
TerraVin ‘Te Ahu’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015 Tank Sample
The ‘Te Ahu’ tier will encompass Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as flagships. This fully destemmed. Very dark black-red colour. This has a firm, solid and dense nose of ripe black berried fruits. On palate very rich and succulent, with delicious layers of richness. The tannin structure still matches the fruit, and the acidity lends vitality. This works some magic for its size and blackness.

Anna Flowerday – Te Whare Ra

Te Whare Ra ‘Clayvin Vineyard’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016 Barrel Sample
Fully destemmed but lots of whole berries. Dark, deep, purple-red colour. This has a fulsome and rounded nose with a firm core of ripe, dark-red fruits with savoury dried herb complexities. Quite plush on palte with fulsome dark-red fruits and matching extraction. Complex layers of flavours with excellent acid energy. This has the ‘Clayvin’ fingerprint on it. Could be great wine, and impressive as it already is.
Tohu Awatere Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Dark, deep ruby-red with black hues. Dark-red and black fruit aromas intermingle with subtle herbal notes on the nose. An elegant wine with sweet black fruits and balanced, fine tannins. This has good acidity and energy, and real linearity. Supple and attractive, and an accessible drink with pleasures to offer.

Dave Clouston – Two Rivers
Two Rivers ‘Brookby Vineyard’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016 Barrel Sample
Clone 777, 90% whole bunch. Dark ruby-red, youthful appearance. Very sweet, dark-red and black fruits, the whole cluster not really evident on nose. Quite perfumed. Somewhat shy on palate, the fruit restrained, and tannins more prominent, maybe from the whole cluster? This site can used for subtle whole cluster then?
Vidal ‘Reserve’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Wairau and Awatere Valley fruit. Ruby-red colour with some depth. Tightly bound on nose with dark-red fruits, liquorice and herbal elements. Surprisingly rich and succulent on palate, with elegance through fine tannin extraction and balanced acid freshness. Lovely ripeness of fruit. A wine to drink with gusto.
Villa Maria ‘Reserve’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2014
Deep red colour. Tightly bound on bouquet with red and black fruits, some herbal notes a little pepper. Not forthcoming. Then seamless and velvety on palate with richness and elegance, the dark-red fruit flavours subtly mouthfilling, unfolding subtle herb nuances and even mineals, with refined tannins and freshness. This is hoe Pinot Noir should taste.

Matt Large & Sally Williams – Wither Hills
Wither Hills ‘Honorable’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2014
A barrel selection to make a flagship wine. 30-40% new oak. 200 cases made. Deepish garnet-red colour. This has a full, dense and sweetly ripe bouquet of red fruits, spices and complex secondary layers. Rich, vibrant and lively on palate with a complex layered amalgam of flavours, showing plums, liquorice, spices and oak. Firm tannin structure and fresh acidity complete the wine.
Yealands Estate ‘Winemakers Reserve’ Awatere Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Dark ruby-red colour. This has a firmly packed nose with aromas of dark raspberries and a little whole berry jamminess. Rich and sweet black cherry fruited, but tightly bound with good intensity. Supported by fine-grained, powdery tannins. Will develop well. 17% whole bunch, but fermented with plenty of whole berries.
Zephyr ‘Mk III’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016 Barrel Sample
1 puncheon, 1 y.o., 100% whole bunch. Pale purple-red colour. Elegantly presented nose, the fruit somewhat overpowered by the whole bunch dark stalky notes. But lush and juicy on palate, the whole bunch flavours significant. Excellent structure and grip, partly from the whole bunch, brisk acidity. A serious wine.

Aronui Nelson Pinot Noir 2015
Bright, light purple-red colour. This is tightly held on nose with fresh and bright dark-red fruit aromas and notes of fresh herbs. Soft, easy and plush on the palate, the red fruits are juicy, but grainy tannin grip underlines the flow. The acidity is softer and is harmonious.

Brightwater Vineyards ‘Lord Rutherford’ Nelson Pinot Noir 2014
Garnet red colour, paler edged. The bouquet is soft and very harmonious, with gentle red fruits and savoury secondary notes. Very elegant and finely presented, with fragrant and sweet strawberry fruit balanced by light, fine textures and refreshing, lacy acidity. This is about finesse.
Left Field Nelson Pinot Noir 2014
Moutere fruit. Light red colour with some depth. A little light and tight in expression with cherry fruit and herbal notes, along with stalky hints. This is slender, but has intensity. Similar on palate, with attractive fruit sweetness. Tight and slender mouthfeel, with freshness.

Todd Stevens – Neudorf Vineyards
Neudorf Moutere Nelson Pinot Noir 2015
Medium-deep red colour. Very fresh, intense and tightly bound on nose. Youthful, unfolding nutty and savoury complexities to the layers of red fruits. Delicate expression that just grows in richness and sweetness, but the power and drive grab your attention. Very fine-grained flowery tannin structure and poised, refreshing acidity that enhances the fruit richness. Opens your eyes to what is classic style.

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