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Te Kairanga Martinborough 2015 Barrel Samples

By January 7, 2016No Comments

Wind Machine – Sutherland Vineyard, Te Kairanga

Te Kairanga’s vineyards were established early on for Martinborough, with the first vintage in 1978. Te Kairanga as a wine producer came on the scene in 1984. From then, there was a chequered history, but always with the promise of excellence. In September 2011, Foley Family acquired Te Kairanga, following a period of difficult trading. Under the Foley ownership, Te Kairanga has begun to realise its potential with consistency. This is extremely beneficial for the Martinborough region which is experiencing a period of growth and commitment from new arrivals and the consolidation of some of the more established players. It’s an exciting vignoble again.

Te Kairanga, and Palliser Estate are the largest producers in the Martinborough district, approximately equal in size. Te Kairanga has around 100 ha of vineyards, the main ones on the Martinborough Terrace, near the winery, and two outposts, one at Spring Rock north of the village at Longbush, off the Ponatahi Road, and a significant development at Ruakokoputuna to the south of the Te Muna Valley extension. From these, the company crushes around 600 tonnes of fruit yearly. Two-thirds of the production is Pinot Noir, followed by Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

John Kavanagh is the chief winemaker and the public face of Te Kairanga nowadays, arriving from Neudorf Vineyards in Nelson shortly after the 2012 vintage. His first vintage at Te Kairanga was 2013, and the wines show his winemaking acumen along with the benefits of considerable financial investment from the Foley Family in the vineyards. John tells me the 2014s are a further step up, and he is extremely pleased with them. I had the opportunity of visiting Te Kairanga and catching up with John, who showed a selection of 2015 barrel samples. www.tkwine.co.nz

John Kavanagh – Chief Winemaker, Te Kairanga

Tasting 2015 Barrel Samples
Some of John Kavanagh’s skills are in the identification and rating of the quality of different parcels of wine and the blending of them to the appropriate tiers and labels. Our tasting of the 2015 barrel samples showed this along with the character of the vineyard sources. Following are my impressions of what was tasted.

Chardonnay: Mendoza clone fruit from the ‘East Plains’ vineyard, from a 3 y.o. puncheon. Bright straw-yellow with a hint of light gold. This has rich stonefruit and citrus fruit aromas along with coconutty and luxuriously sweet oak notes. On palate, creamy in texture and flavour with stonefruits, citrus and nutty layers. Excellent depth and intensity, along with lively acidity. This has a very long and dry finish. A lovely, rich sample.

‘Spring Rock’ Pinot Noir: From the Longbush area, relatively cool in growing conditions compaed with the Martinborough Terrace. Lightish purple-red colour. This has an elegant and rather delicate, fragrant nose of violet and dark red florals with red berry fruits. On palate, again elegant and refreshing with bright raspberryish fruit, lifted florals and a fine line of tannins with lacy acidity. Excellent linearity and length, unveiling a little dried herbal nuance.

‘Ruakokoputuna’ Pinot Noir: Light purple-red colour. This is cooler again with less berry fruit and more herbal notes on the nose. Lighter than the ‘Spring Rock’ wine on nose and palate, this is tightly bound, with light flavours of red berry fruit, some piquant herbal flavours, but also with less extraction, thus balanced. The acidity is more elevated. A crisper expression of Pinot Noir. This may be used as a component in the ‘Estate’ blend, and possibly destined for an export label.

‘Sutherland East’ Pinot Noir: Martinborough Terrace, with clone 5 fruit. Dark purple-red colour. Altogether richer with aromas of dark red and black berried fruits entwined with herb and spice elements. Greater concentration and richness, with tightly bound flavours of blackberries and raspberries, with fine tannins adding to the depth and core. Fresh and lively, the mouthfeel has sweetness and the wine has length.

‘Sutherland West’ Pinot Noir: Martinborough Terrace, and clone 667. Moderately deep ruby-red with youthful purple hues. A more elegant nose, smaller in scale, but with proper proportion. Dark red and black fruit aromas complexed with a little oak toastiness. This has tightness and intensity on the palate, with excellent florality, unveiling spice notes. Sweet, lush and supple, and smooth-flowing, this is delicious.

‘McLeod Block’ Pinot Noir: A sample of the lesser seen clone 13 fruit, Martinborough Terrace. Dark purple-red colour. The nose is full, deep and densely packed with a complex array of aromatics, more savoury in expression. Dark red berry fruit with game, dark herbs and meat are present. Quite fulsome with richness and sweetness, providing a rounded, bold and mouthfilling palate. Sweet and savoury flavours which will clearly lead to complexity. Mushroom and game here. This is well-structured, the tannins matching the fruit. There is underlying power and real length.

‘McLeod Block’ Pinot Noir: Abel clone from the Martinborough Terrace, 20% whole bunch. This will make 40% of the ‘John Martin’ flagship. Very dark purple-red colour. Full, deep and concentrated on nose with ripe black berried fruits and subtle layers of dark herbs and whole cluster complexities. A powerful wine on palate, fullest in body, but remarkably bright, vibrant and refreshing. Intense black fruit flavours, with noticeable whole bunch elements. This has appropriate extract and structure. The finish is rich, sweet, plummy and long.

Te Kairanga winery

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