Mon Cheval – Current Releases
I've known Mon Cheval, a micro-producer in the Waipara Valley, for quite a few years and the 2010 La Char has always been one of my favourite Pinot Noirs.
Mon Cheval is named after the champion harness racehorse ‘Under Cover Lover' whose success enabled the establishment of the Pearson Estate by Graham and Deborah Pearson. They purchased the estate with land at the entrance to Weka Pass in 2001. The vineyard is 2.2 ha, with 2 ha planted to Pinot Noir in 2003 and the rest to Riesling in 2007.
They released their first vintage in 2008, with a Pinot Noir made by C. P. Lin. C. P. made their wines for a number of years, and now Graham, who has a Post Grad Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology at Lincoln University, is making their wines himself.
Both Graham and Deborah are passionate wine lovers, tending the vineyard, handpicking the grapes and making the wines with minimal intervention with their very own hands. The special thing about them, which is really rare in New Zealand, is that they hold their wines back for a long time. This practice gives their Pinot Noirs time to evolve over the years in the bottle and develop complex tertiary aromas, which is a brilliant bonus for wine lovers.
Their current vintage of Pinot Noir is 2012, and their 2011 Pinot Noir and 2010 La Char Pinot Noir are still available too. All their Pinot Noirs are unfined and unfiltered. The Mon Petit Pinot Noir is a youthful expression of their site. Here they’ve employed carbonic maceration to create a more approachable style when young, and it shows beautiful spices and complexity, too.
Mon Cheval also produces a Riesling (the style changes slightly depending on the vintage, but it’s often off-dry to medium-sweet), a Gewurztraminer and a rosé. Below are my reviews of their current offerings.
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Mon Cheval Riesling 2017, North CanterburyRiesling from New Zealand - Canterbury & WaiparaReview Date : 31-May-2021Bright, pale yellow-gold with some depth, even colour throughout. The nose is full and invigorating, nuances of citrus, clementine zest, jasmine tea melded with honeycomb. Medium-full bodied, off-dry to taste, aromas of clementine, lime cordial and citrus zest have a concentrated core, adorned by jasmine tea fragrance, honey and a hint of hay. Refreshing acidity persists to a long, zesty, dry finish. Flavours have good concentration and intensity; refreshing acidity provides a lean and clean palate for the unnoticeable 35 g/l RS. Match with lemongrass and chilli pork chops and Thai-style steamed fish over the next 6+ years. Tank fermented to 11% alc. 18.5+/20 pts (94 pts) May 2021 RRP $27.50
Mon Cheval Gewurztraminer 2020, North CanterburyGewurztraminer from New Zealand - Canterbury & WaiparaReview Date : 31-May-2021Bright, even, pale yellow colour. The nose is full, opulent aromas of lychee, pear with a ginger undertone, Turkish delights and a touch of rose petals. Dry to taste, medium-bodied, lovely flavours of lychee lengthen by nashi pears' acidity, enriched by roses fragrance, Turkish delights and ginger powder. Acidity is refreshing, provides a balanced and lifted palate to the residual sugar. Mouthfeel is lightly creamy and smooth with fine phenolic texture, elegantly presented and vibrant. This is a refined Gewurztraminer with classic flavours, refreshing acidity and a fine-textured palate. Match with cajun fish and pork satay over the next 5-7 years. Macerated on skins for 24 hours, fermented in barrels to 13% alc, 7 g/l RS. 18.5/20 pts (93 pts) May 2021 RRP $29
Mon Cheval Rosé 2020, North CanterburyRosé from New Zealand - Canterbury & WaiparaReview Date : 31-May-2021Brilliant, even, pale salmon-pink. The bouquet is elegant and light, with nuances of rose petals, watermelon with raspberries at the core. Medium-light bodied, pretty and vibrant palate display a fresh palate of watermelon, subtle rose petals with raspberries vibrancy, the finish lingers with a hint of fragrant herbs. Fine-textured palate with dusty phenolics and a poised acid line, smooth flowing and moreish. This is an elegant Pinot Noir rosé with raspberries and watermelon on a fine-textured palate. Match with parma-wrapped melon and hot smoked salmon over the next 3 years. 100% Pinot Noir, clone 10/5, fermented in tank to 12.5% alc, 5 g/l RS, aged 4 months in old barrels. 18.5/20 pts (93 pts) May 2021 RRP $27.50
Mon Cheval Mon Petit Pinot Noir 2020, North CanterburyPinot Noir from New Zealand - Canterbury & WaiparaReview Date : 31-May-2021Moderate ruby-red with a black hue and good transparency, lighter on edge. The nose is soft with sweet fragrances of blackberries, black cherries melded with sweet basil, vanilla and lifted spices. Medium-light bodied, aromas of blackberries, black cherries aligned with the bouquet, along with sweet herbs, vanilla and subtle black pepper. The fruit is forward with purity and some depth, smooth flowing with creaminess and subtle fine texture; sweet fruit and herbs linger to a moderately long finish. This is a black-fruited Pinot Noir with sweet-scented herbs and spices on a smooth palate. Match with black pepper beef and Moroccan spiced lamb over the next 3-4 years. Clone UCD5 from home vineyard at Weka Pass, carbonic maceration, fermented to 13% alc, unfined and unfiltered. 18-/20 pts (89 pts) May 2021 RRP $30
Mon Cheval Pinot Noir 2011, North CanterburyPinot Noir from New Zealand - Canterbury & WaiparaReview Date : 31-May-2021Deep ruby-red with a tinge of garnet, good transparency, slightly lighter on the rim. The nose is softly full and captivating; aromas of savoury development enriched cherries, dried cranberries; dried thyme, five-spice, soy, old rose petals, and smoke unfold; complex and mealy. Medium-full bodied, the palate has concentrated aromas of cherries, dried cranberries; savoury, game, smoke fills the palate, complexing nuances of dried thyme, black pepper, liquorice, old roses enriched senses. The palate is packed with secondary development; there is concentration and strength in the flavours, showing vitality. Balanced acidity flows on a fine-textured, silky palate; smoky black tea fragrance lingers to a long, satisfying finish. The intensity and strength will carry the wine further with development and enjoyment. Match with wild board and smoked duck over the next 8+ years. Fruit sourced from home vineyard at Weka Pass, clones UCD5, 115, 10/5, 777 and 667, fermented to 13.5% alc, aged 18 months in oak, approx 33% new oak. Unfined, unfiltered. 19/20 pts (95 pts) May 2021 RRP $50
Mon Cheval Pinot Noir 2012, North CanterburyPinot Noir from New Zealand - Canterbury & WaiparaReview Date : 31-May-2021Deep ruby-black with good transparency, slightly lighter edged. The bouquet is alluring, filled with aromas of maraschino cherries, black plums, melded with dried thyme, lemon myrtle, a hint of game and spice dusting. Medium-full bodied, with good intensity aromas of maraschino cherries, black plums enriched with black pepper, cinnamon and black liquorice. Herb nuances unfold, dried thyme, lemon myrtle interweave a hint of game and hibiscus. The wine has a complex range of flavours; primary has intensity extended tertiary flavour development, appear youthful with vitality and brightness on the palate. Acidity is lacy and integrated, flows along with silky, fine-grained tannin mouthfeel, linger with an amalgam of spices to a very long and satisfying finish. This harmoniously complex Pinot Noir shows graceful development and vitality. Match with venison and beetroot stew and herb-crusted lamb over the next 8 years. Clones UCD5, 115, 10/5, 777 and 667, fermented to 14%, aged in oak for 18 months, approx 1/3 new oak, unfined and unfiltered. 19/20pts (95 pts) May 2021 RRP $50
Mon Cheval Le Char Pinot Noir 2010, North CanterburyPinot Noir from New Zealand - Canterbury & WaiparaReview Date : 31-May-2021Deep ruby-black with a tinge of garnet, lighter on the rim. The nose is gently full and comforting, enticing aromas of dried cherries, prune, ginseng melded with integrated spices and subtle gamey complexity. Medium-full bodied, velvety and concentrated the palate showing a savoury toned nuance of mushrooms, and forest floor interweave liquorice, ginseng underlying dried cherries, prune, along with cinnamon and cloves linger to a very long, complexed closing. The wine has strength and depth, displaying on a condensed, weighty mouthfeel with a creamy, velvety texture. Savoury complexity added interest to an already complete wine. Fine-grained tannin is integrated and supple along with lacy acidity, provide immense pleasure. The development is evident as an 11-year-old wine, but there's plenty of time ahead with the support of intensity and length. This is an enticing Pinot Noir packed with complex development, concentration and strength, full of beautiful flavours to be discovered. Match with pigeon with truffle sauce and roasted duck over the next 5+ years. Clones UCD5, 115, 10/5, 777 and 667, fermented to 14%, aged in oak for 18 months, approx 1/3 new oak, unfined and unfiltered. 19.5-/20pts (97 pts) May 2021 RRP $70