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