Escarpment Vineyard 2014 Chardonnay and 2015 ‘Pahi’, ‘Kiwa’, ‘Te Rehua’ and ‘Kupe’

2015 is an unprecedented third outstanding vintage in a row for the Martinborough district. (2016 will make it a fourth!) The 2013 vintage ‘Insight’ single vineyard Pinot Noirs of Larry McKenna and Huw Kinch of Escarpment Vineyard in Martinborough were of such an exceptional standard that their quality resulted in my awarding Escarpment Vineyard as ‘Winery of the Year’ at the end of 2015. The 2014 releases of these wines were practically at the same level, the ‘Te Rehua’ and ‘Kupe’ rated as my top Pinot Noirs tasted in 2016. The 2014s came from a season marginally warmer than 2013, and the wines have slightly more fruit intensity. The 2013s had an edge of nervosity which in my opinion gave them the edge. The Escarpment single vineyard wines, regardless of vintage, have a proven consistency of site expression and terroir.

The 2015 Escarpment Vineyard Pinot Noirs are to be released at the start of next month, 1 May. The vintage, as noted above, is also an exceptional one, with a ‘normal’ summer and yields a little below average. Harvest conditions were perfect, with no rain or threat of dilution or disease. Larry reports that they picked the grapes exactly when they wanted to. I tasted these wines from barrel in January last year (click here to see my report), and felt them to be beautifully fresh and elegant with classical expression of fruit and place. From the Escarpment Vineyard view, they incorporate their growing confidence in maceration and extraction techniques, the increased usage of whole clusters in fermentation as well as greater new oak support. Larry and Huw are extremely pleased with the wines, and I share their enthusiasm, based on my barrel tastings.

Here, I review the 2014 Escarpment Chardonnay, showing the evolving handling of this variety, and the 2015 Martinborough district blend plus ‘Insight’ single vineyard Pinot Noirs ‘Pahi’, ‘Kiwa’, ‘Te Rehua’ and ‘Kupe’. The Pinot Noirs show a remarkable consistency of ripe black fruits and considerable structure and complexity. The wines, including the district blend have a uniformity of power and strength showing the nature of the vintage and matching winemaker inputs. Yet the vineyard specific personalities come through clearly in the single vineyard wines. At Pinot Noir 2017, I was particularly excited by the ‘Te Rehua’ and ‘Kupe’, giving the nod to the latter (click here to see my report). On tasting the wines for ‘Feature Reviews’, the ‘Te Rehua’ pips the ‘Kupe’. As Larry would say, "it all depends on the day how they will show”. Whichever day it is, these are wonderful and serious wines.


  • Escarpment Martinborough Chardonnay 2014
  • Escarpment Martinborough Pinot Noir 2015
  • Escarpment ‘Pahi’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2015
  • Escarpment ‘Kiwa’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2015
  • Escarpment ‘Te Rehua’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2015
  • Escarpment ‘Kupe’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2015

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