Escarpment Vineyard 2014 Martinborough, ‘Insight’ and ‘Kupe’ Pinot Noirs

21-Apr-2016
The quality of the 2013 Escarpment Vineyard single vineyard Pinot Noirs earned Larry McKenna and his team the ‘Raymond Chan Winery of the Year’ award last year. In arguably the best vintage ever experienced in Martinborough to date, the Escarpment Vineyard Pinot Noirs fulfilled the potential as promised by Larry McKenna and his vineyards, with a stunning set of terroir-expressive wines of stupendous quality. (Click here to see my reviews of the 2013 Escarpment Pinot Noirs.).

Larry McKenna believes that the Martinborough region will provide wines of a similar level of quality in 2014, 2015 and possibly 2016. All of these vintages have produced outstanding fruit, though the growing seasons for each year will provide stylistically different and unique expressions. According to Larry, 2014 yielded an average crop from a textbook summer and perfect harvesting period. No rain was recorded while the Pinot Noir fruit was brought in, and he was able to choose the time of picking, rather having it dictated by the weather, which could otherwise threaten dilution or disease. As in Hawke’s Bay where the 2014 growing season saw warmer temperatures than 2013, the 2014 Martinborough Pinot Noirs show greater fruit intensity as a result. This was confirmed with my tastings of the Escarpment Vineyard Pinot Noir barrel samples in January 2015 (click here to see my report).

The 2014s continue the development that Larry McKenna and Huw Kinch have undertaken to increase the character and complexity as they did with the 2013s over earlier releases. The primary focus is to enhance the terroir or site characteristics of each of the single vineyard wines. Integral with this is the general increased use of whole bunches, across the board. Extended elevage in barrel from 12 months to 18 months, with a general increase of new oak has been seen to work in especially well with the expression of these wines, and the 2014s employ these changes again, though the new oak component has been reduced slightly from 40% in 2013 to 30% in 2014 for the ‘Insight’ wines.

The Escarpment Vineyard Pinot Noirs figure among Martinborough and New Zealand’s greatest Pinot Noirs, not only in quality, but in their expression of site and terroir. Here, I review the 2014 Escarpment Pinot Noirs, these being the ‘district blend’, the ‘Insight’ ‘Pahi’, ‘Kiwa’ and ‘Te Rehua’ bottlings, and the flagship ‘Kupe’ Pinot Noir. As usual, they carry considerable complexity and structure and deserve the time spent in appreciating them. In addition, I review the 2014 ‘Kupe’ Chardonnay. www.escarpment.co.nz

FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW

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

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