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Potential Palliser Pinot Noir 2013

By February 24, 2014No Comments
At the start of December last year, I was privy to participating in a tasting of 2013 vintage Martinborough Pinot Noir barrel samples, some of which approximated what could be the final premium blends. The tasting indicated there were some superb wines made in that vintage (click here to read my report).

On this visit to the district, I was able to call in to see Allan Johnson, winemaker at Palliser Estate, and have a catch up with how the 2013s are looking now. Allan took me through a few representative barrel samples of the 2013 Pinot Noir to enable another look and possibly a better feel for what might be in the bottle. Allan and his team were racking and beginning to undergo final blending of the wine for a release in 2 months’ time. Their 2013 ‘estate’ Palliser Pinot Noir will follow directly from the 2011 vintage, as Allan decided not to bottle a wine under the ‘estate’ label from the challenging 2012 vintage, diverting that wine to the second Pencarrow tier. It may be that the 2012 Pencarrow Pinot Noir will be a particularly good one!

Allan Johnson – drawing barrel samples

Tasting 2013 Barrel Samples
Tasting the 2013s, first sample was An ‘East Base’ blend of 667 and 777 in 3 y.o. oak. Light in colour, nearly disconcertingly so. But beautifully aromatic and truly pretty with pure cherry florals with red cherry fruit. On palate quite lush, elegant and supple, not quite the depth expected, but clearly it will be a part of the blend contributing fragrance.

Second sample was an ‘East Base’ new barrel sample. A little deeper ruby-red with purple. Marked by new oak and spicy in nature on bouquet, but quite rich and a complete wine to me on the palate. This barrel including 40% whole bunch and showing the classical dark spices and herbal nuances.

Thirdly another ‘East Base’ 667 and 115 clone blend with 40% whole bunch. A little darker again, with an interplay of savoury dark fruits with oak spices. A little more substance and seriousness to the mouthfeel, as well as flavour complexity and interest. But surprisingly supple despite the suggestion of firmness.

Finally an ‘East Bays’ 777 fully destemmed. Very fine and tightly constructed with fruits in the red berry spectrum. On palate quite dense and weighty, but very rounded. Possibly less dimensioned, but an honest and up-front nature that is very pleasing.

The overriding impression was of suppleness of mouthfeel and texture in the 2013 Pinot Noirs. There are no doubt , wines made by others that will push the boundaries in complexity and acceptability, but here, Palliser Estate will be elegant and freshly fruited if these samples tasted were representative. The wines are less full-on than the sample put together for the tasting at the start of December and they are delicious drinking.

Allan mentioned that the aim is to make the Palliser Pinot Noir a little more elegant and finer featured, pulling back on the inputs than previous. There will always be the development in flavours as a Martinborough wine, so the 2013 will become more complex than what I saw here. But the approachability is at the heart of these wines. The question posed is: how much of this direction to greater accessibility can be attributed to the 2013 vintage?  www.palliser.co.nz

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