Escarpment Vineyard 2016 Martinborough, ‘Kiwa’, ‘Te Rehua’ and ‘Kupe’ Pinot Noirs

The Escarpment Vineyard Pinot Noirs figure among the most important of their variety in New Zealand, and they are generally regarded as world-class in stature. This is a result of over three decades of Pinot Noir making in the Martinborough vignoble by Larry McKenna, and the more complex style of wine he is achieving. Since beginning Escarpment Vineyard, his own venture Larry has made benchmark Pinot Noirs, from his inaugural 2001 Martinborough ‘district blend’, then his single vineyard ‘Kupe’ Pinot Noir in 2003, then his terroir-expressive single vineyard ‘Insight’ Pinot Noirs named ‘Pahi’, ‘Kiwa’ and ‘Te Rehua’, first released with the 2006s. These are site-specific wines that behave consistently, regardless of vintage, while showing the distinctive signature that Larry instils. I’ve been a great fan of these wines, and rate them alongside the likes of Ata Rangi, Felton Road and Valli; I awarded Escarpment Vineyard my ‘Winery of the Year’ in 2015 for the stupendous 2013 vintage wines.

Of course, there have been developments at Escarpment Vineyard. Most importantly, Escarpment was bought by Torbreck Vintners of the Barossa Valley, earlier this year. With original investors the Kirby family withdrawing from the business, this purchase will allow the continuation of the growth of the Escarpment business with investment in vineyard, stock and plant, including further development of the winery. Commercially, the Escarpment Vineyard wines will receive a greater distribution network, and they will be allied with the very prestigious Torbreck wines, complementing the portfolio. Progression towards organic certification of the vineyard continues, and this will be a strong position in sustainability and environmental issues. Just last month, Escarpment Vineyard released their new ‘Artisan’ range which incorporates innovative and adventurous winemaking techniques (click here to see my reviews). I understand they have been well-received in the on-premise market and by forward-thinking sommeliers. The latest news is that Larry’s winemaker of the last 10 years, Huw Kinch will be leaving Escarpment to take over the winemaking role at Pyramid Valley in North Canterbury. The scene in the wine industry is always active.

The 2016 Escarpment ‘Single Vineyard’ Pinot Noirs
This brings us to the annual release of the Pinot Noirs, these being the 2016 Martinborough ‘district blend’ and the ‘Insight’ single vineyard Pinot Noirs. This collection no longer includes the ‘Pahi’ vineyard which was sold to the Crosby family. However the ‘Kiwa’, ‘Te Rehua’ and ‘Kupe’ remain. Larry McKenna and Huw Kinch have been on the lookout for another vineyard that will provide another wine that will be comparable to the others. The 2016s come from the fourth consecutive excellent vintage in the district. Larry reports that the 2015/2016 growing season was exceptional, with no rain in the harvesting period, and thus no threat of dilution or disease. The only spoiler was a touch of frost reducing the yield of the ‘Kupe’ vineyard somewhat. I tasted a selection of the 2016 Pinot Noirs from barrel in February 2017 (click here to see my report), and can say that I was very impressed with the quality of what I tasted. Here, I review the finished wines, due to be released on the market at the start of May. They typically show their site-specific terroirs, but also a slightly more accessible vintage character that takes nothing away from them, but lends a pleasing charm. www.escarpment.co.nz


  • Escarpment Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016
  • Escarpment ‘Kiwa’ ‘Single Vineyard’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016
  • Escarpment ‘Te Rehua’ ‘Single Vineyard’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016
  • Escarpment ‘Kupe’ ‘Single Vineyard’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016

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