Paddy Borthwick 2017 Sauvignon, 2016 Pinot, and 2014 Left Hand and Right Hand Pinots
As one of the Wairarapa’s most experienced winemakers Paddy Borthwick puts out consistently high quality wines, much of which is exported. However Paddy has a loyal following in New Zealand, and these consumers have plenty to pique their interest in the output of his 27 ha vineyard on Dakins Road, near Gladstone. I have a feeling that as the vines, planted in 1996 gain in maturity, and Paddy has settled in his home even more, the latest wines show a step up, especially with the Pinot Noirs.
Left Hand and Right Hand Pinot Noirs
One of the more interesting projects with Pinot Noir in the country involve the Paddy Borthwick ‘Left Hand’ and ‘Right Hand’ Pinot Noirs, where his "logical, precise” winemaker Braden Crosbie made his version of a wine, the ‘Left Hand’, and where Paddy, deemed more "intuitive and impulsive” made his version, the ‘Right Hand Pinot Noir, both wines coming from fruit selected at vineyard level, and elevaged separately, then three barrels of each selected. This experiment was run in 2011, until 2014 (with no 2012, a difficult season), after which Braden departed to start his own venture. There were no 2015s due to the reduced yields, but Braden made a guest appearance to make the 2016 selection. In the meantime new assistant winemaker Thomas Rockinger, originally from Germany, has been involved in making his selections, and it appears he could be the new ‘Left Hand’.
This has proven an extremely interesting exercise for Paddy, who has shown the wines to many of his clients, especially overseas. He states that "it makes the taster choose a preferred style” as well as showing how winemaker signature plays a critical role in the expression of the final wine. In a world which tends to focus on site and terroir, this is one aspect that is worth highlighting and reminding people of its power. What Paddy Borthwick is doing reminds me of the equally fascinating ‘Calvert’ Central Otago Pinot Noirs made by Felton Road, Pyramid Valley and Craggy Range around a decade ago.
For me, only having tasted the 2011s and 2013s, there is a pattern evident. The ‘Left Hand’ Pinot Noir is focussed, possibly tighter and finer or firmer, with more fruit purity, maybe of less dimension. The ‘Right Hand’ Pinot Noir is broader, fuller, with maybe a wider array of flavours, possibly more complex, maybe even funkier. Any value judgements must be style and subjectively based when comparing the two. It is easy to see why it is easier to sit on the fence!
Here, I review some of Paddy’s new releases, the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, the 2016 Pinot Noir, and 2014 ‘Left Hand’ and ‘Right Hand’ Pinot Noirs. www.borthwick.co.nz
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Paddy Borthwick Wairarapa Sauvignon Blanc 2017Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand - Wairarapa & WellingtonReview Date : 18-Aug-2017Bright, light straw-yellow colour with slight green hues, pale edged. The nose is softly fresh and a little restrained, but showing gentle depth and volume of gooseberry and tropical fruits entwined with white florals, fresh herbs, snow peas and hints of nettles. The nose has a fresh, minerally edge. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is elegantly concentrated with a firm core of gooseberries melded with fresh herbs, white florals, cut grass and hints of minerals. The mouthfeel is crisp and slippery, the acidity fresh and racy, and the wine flows smoothly along a fine-textured phenolic line, leading to a light, lingering finish. This is a racy and edgy Sauvignon Blanc with a firm core of gooseberry fruit, herbs and grass, on a slippery, thirst-quenching palate. Fruit from the ‘Borthwick’ vineyard, cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 13.1% alc. and 2.6 g/L RS, the wine aged 5 months on lees with batonnage. 17.5-/20 Aug 2017 RRP $17.00
Paddy Borthwich Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2016Pinot Noir from New Zealand - Wairarapa & WellingtonReview Date : 18-Aug-2017Dark-hearted ruby-red colour with black hues, lighter on the rim with purple tints. The nose is fresh and bold with up-front, but deep aromas of black berried and dark-red cherry fruit intermixed with black plum and dark herb elements. The aromatics show an elegant core that unfolds volume with aeration. Medium-full bodied, the palate has sweetly rich and vibrantly fresh primary fruit flavours of ripe black berried fruits, dark cherries nuances of black plums and dark herbs. The fruit is ripe and succulent, and the mouthfeel is lush. Fine-grained tannins underline the fruit and the structure builds to form a rounded, concentrated heart. The palate has balanced, lacy acidity and the wine flows with good energy to an elegant, lingering finish. This is a sweetly rich ripe black berried and dark-red cherry fruited Pinot Noir with a lush, rounded mouthfeel and underlying fine structure and vitality. Clones 115, 777, 667, Abel, 5, 828, 943 and MV6 from the ‘Borthwick’ vineyard, indigenous yeast fermented to 13.7% alc., the wine aged 11 months in30% new French oak. 18.0/20 Aug 2017 RRP $35.00
Paddy Borthwick ‘Left Hand’ Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2014Pinot Noir from New Zealand - Wairarapa & WellingtonReview Date : 18-Aug-2017Ruby-red colour with some depth, a little lighter on the rim with some garnet. The nose is firmly concentrated and well-packed with savoury, secondary aromas of dark-red and black cherry fruit with dark and dried herbs at the core, unfolding a little nutty oak. This has excellent depth and intensity with complexing layers. Medium-full bodied, the palate has a deep and ounded core with concentrated flavours of savoury black cherry and dark-red berry fruits along with dark herbs and nutty oak. The fruit is sweet and rich, and is supported by fine-grained tannin structure and extract that provides depth, body and presence. The acidity is integrated and the wine carries to a long, lingering, sweetly concentrated finish of savoury dark-red fruits and dried herbs. This a rich, concentrated and firm Pinot Noir with a core of complex, savoury, dark-red berried fruits with dried herbs on a well-structured, balanced palate. Match with game meats nd casseroles over the next 6-8+ years A selection of Abel, 375 and clone 5 fruit from the ‘Borthwick’ vineyard, fully destemmed and indigenous yeast fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in 30% new French oak. 840 bottles made. 18.5+/20 Aug 2017 RRP $55.00
Paddy Borthwick ‘Right Hand’ Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2014Pinot Noir from New Zealand - Wairarapa & WellingtonReview Date : 18-Aug-2017Full, even, ruby-red colour, a little lighter on the edge. This has a full, open, up-front and accessible nose with sweetly ripe fruit aromas of ripe, dark-red berry and cherry fruit, entwined with dark-red florals and fragrant, fresh herbs, unfolding a little spice. This is aromatic and quite ethereal, with beautifully delicate, interwoven youthfully fresh, primary nuances. Medium-full bodied, the palate is rich and lush with sweet fruit flavours of bright, dark-red cherry fruit with lifted florals and fresh herbs. This is vibrant, juicy and primary, and the fruit richness is underlined by fine-grained, flowery tannins that allow the fruit sweetness to prevail. The acidity is integrated and the wine flows to a succulent, long and sustained finish. This is a sweetly rich and juicy, succulent Pinot Noir with fresh aromatic fruit and very fine-grained structure. Match with poultry and pork dishes over the next 6-8+ years. A selection of Abel, 115 and 5 clone fruit from the ‘Borthwick’ vineyard, fully destemmed and indigenous yeast fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in 45% new French oak. 840 bottles made. 19.0-/20 Aug 2017 RRP $55.00