Black Estate 2017 White and Cabernet Franc, and 2016 Pinot Noir Releases


Black Estate is one of the most exciting and innovative wine producers in North Canterbury. The Naish family operate from three distinct vineyards that each offer unique characteristics. The ‘Home’ vineyard was acquired from Russell and Kimiko Blanck who planted 10/5 clone Pinot Noir and Mendoza clone chardonnay in 1994. The Naish family extended plantings there in 2011. The ‘Damsteep’ vineyard, situated approx. 10 km north of the ‘Home’ vineyard features close-planted Riesling and Pinot Noir planted in 1999. The ‘Netherwood’ vineyard, where the winery is situated, was established by Danny Schuster and Russell Blanc to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in 1986. All three sites are certified BioGro organic, for the 2017 vintage. To me what is so special is that these three sites give Black Estate the opportunity of expressing terroir in multiple single site bottlings, joining the likes of Escarpmenr Vineyard, Fromm, Valli Vineyards and Gibbston Valley. Black Estate’s winemaker Nicholas Brown has already begun doing so, with remarkable results (click here to see my reviews of the three 2015 vintage Pinot Noirs).

Besides, this single vineyard aspect is Black Estate’s approach to making wine, that being highly non-interventional, to the point that it could be said that they were ‘natural’ winemakers, making funky wines that are distinctly non-conventional. The reality is that many winegrowers who appear to be ‘conventional’ have incorporated techniques that the more extreme natural winemakers use, in the making of their wines. To that purpose, Black Estate employ organics, and use vineyard derived indigenous yeasts for fermentation, often use skin contact (they have already made ‘orange’ wine), single vineyard co-fermentations, the avoidance of new oak, and using very little, or no sulphur. However, almost all of Black Estate wines have the appeal of balance without excessive reductive, skin contact or oxidative characters which put can such wines into the realm of being faulty. Instead, the use of these methods has resulted in wines that express variety and provenance. One can forgive that the occasional wine that crosses the line; but that is a sign of pushing boundaries. Here, I review a selection of 2017 whites and a Cabernet Franc, plus two 2016 Pinot Noirs. www.blackestate.co.nz


  • Black Estate ‘Damsteep’ North Canterbury Riesling 2017
  • Black Estate ‘Home’ North Canterbury Chenin Blanc 2017
  • Black Estate ‘Home’ North Canterbury ‘Young Vines’ Chardonnay 2017
  • Black Estate ‘Home’ North Canterbury Chardonnay 2017
  • Black Estate ‘Home’ North Canterbury Cabernet Franc 2017
  • Black Estate ‘Home’ North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2016
  • Black Estate ‘Damsteep; North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2016

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