Devotus 2017, and 2016 and 2017 Aprentis of Devotus Pinot Noirs

06-Jun-2018

Devotus is the boutique Martinborough Pinot Noir vineyard of Don and Valerie McConachy who own 3 ha on the corner of Puruatanga Road and Regent Street on the Martinborough Terrace, next to Dry River. The McConachys have revitalised the vineyard since 2013 after they acquired the site to release their first wines from the 2014 vintage. The wines, a Devotus Pinot Noir and ‘Reserve’ Pinot Noir, made by different local winemakers achieved instant acclaim (click here to see my reviews of the 2014s), and these were followed by the equally good, if not better 2015s (click here for my reviews) and 2016s (click here for my reviews).

The basis for the differentiation of the wines comes from the age of the vines. The Devotus Pinot Noir comes from 1.3 ha of Dijon clones 667, 777, 114 and 115 with Abel, that are now 24 y.o. The ‘Reserve’ wine comes from 0.38 ha of 32 y.o. Pommard clone planted in 10 rows on the Regent Street side of the vineyard. In 2016, the McConachys introduced a third label ‘Aprentis of Devotus’ from the youngest vines, then 11-17 y.o., consisting of Dijon and Abel clone. Don and Valerie have planted a further 1 ha of new Pinot Noir vines since they have been there, there is the possibility of a ‘Young Vines’ wine when these plants bear sufficient crop.

In my opinion, the key to the quality of all the wines made to date has been the meticulous vineyard care the McConachys have put into the maintenance of the vines. I don’t think there is any vineyard in Martinborough that is so well-tended. The vines are non-irrigated and they grow cover crops to plough back into the soil for nutrition. As noted above, the McConachys have contracted two winemakers to help make the wines, the ‘Devotus; and ‘Aprentis’ by Alex Craighead, and the ‘Reserve’ by a Kate Hammond, of 'Poppies' and formerly Dry River. Needless to say the winemaking has been impeccable, and although two approaches are taken to making the wines, I believe that as time progresses, the vineyard character and terroir will come into play in the wines’ expressions. From 2018, Wilco Lam of Dry River will take over the making of the ‘Reserve’ wine.

The Devotus wines have been remarkably successful, and most of the allocations are taken up by avid mail order customers. A small amount is reserved to retail and on-premise, but it’s probably best to register your interest in obtaining these wines as soon as you can. I understand the 2017s, which are due for release in August are practically all taken up. It must be a wonderful situation to be in for a new producer. The McConachys are very aware of the pricing and that it doesn’t go to stratospheric levels due to the demand. The retail prices I quote may seem high, being on par with some of the region’s top producers, but the ‘en primeur’ mailing prices are significantly lower. Here, I review the new 2017 ‘Aprentis’ of Devotus, and ‘Devotus’ Pinot Noirs, from a relatively challenging season, plus a re-look at the 2016 ‘Aprentis’ of Devotus. A 'Reserve' wine was made in 2017 and will be reviewed at a later stage after sufficient cellaring time,  www.devotus.nz


FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW

  • Aprentis of Devotus ‘Single Vineyard’ Martinborough Terrace Pinot Noir 2016
  • Aprentis of Devotus ‘Single Vineyard’ Martinborough Terrace Pinot Noir 2017
  • Devotus ‘Single Vineyard’ Martinborough Terrace Pinot Noir 2017

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