Sileni Estates 2015 ‘Cellar Selection’ and ‘Plateau’, and 2014 ‘EV’ Pinot Noirs
While Hawke’s Bay is well-recognised as making this country’s best Chardonnays, Bordeaux-varietal blends and Syrah, the most under-rated variety in the region must be Pinot Noir. But recent developments with new clones and rootstocks, and vineyards planted in higher altitude inland or cooler coastal areas have resulted in very high quality fruit that has produced an increasing number of exceptional Pinot Noir wines. The plantings of Pinot Noir in Hawke’s Bay figure over 300 ha, on par with that of Syrah.
Sileni Estates has been taking the production of top class Pinot Noir extremely seriously, and now crushes over 500 tonnes annually. The company draws Pinot Noir fruit from its inland ‘Plateau’ and ‘Springstone’ vineyards on the Mangatahi Terraces these sites with approx. 25 ha and 5 ha respectively, as well as from its ‘Parkhill’ vineyard at Te Awanga which has over 14 ha of the variety. Sileni also contracts fruits from a number of other cool sites, in particular, from Crownthorpe. The company has nearly 80 ha of Pinot Noir in total to draw from.
Although Sileni’s chief winemaker is an avid fan of Merlot as his favourite red variety, he has taken on the challenge of Pinot Noir with Cairn Coghill, the company’s red winemaker. It’s an exciting time at Sileni as the viticultural and winemaking teams are increasing the production of higher quality and more complex Pinot Noir wines encompassing all the modern techniques which are so well recognised in the other Pinot Noir producing regions of the country.
Here, I review the current Sileni Estates Pinot Noirs, the 2015 ‘Cellar Selection’ and ‘Parkhill’ reserve, plus the limited edition 2014 ‘Exceptional Vintage’. The ‘Cellar Selection’ is fruit focussed, the ‘Plateau’ and ‘Exceptional Vintage’ have intensity and robustness, the latter a ‘dry red’ style. To experience the next stage of growth, I tasted a barrel sample of a 2015 ‘Springstone’ single vineyard wine, employing 15% whole clusters and 5% new oak. This showed greater aromatic finesse with floral detail, and a fresh, fine-grained, elegant palate and structure. (Being a barrel sample, it is not posted as a reviewed wine.) It appears Sileni are on the right track with Pinot Noir. www.sileni.co.nz
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Sileni Estates ‘Cellar Selection’ Hawke’s Bay Pinot Noir 2015Pinot Noir from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 02-Jun-2016Even ruby-red colour with slight purple hues, youthful in appearance. The nose is fresh and up-front with fruit-focussed aromas of dark-red berry fruits that unfold soft layers of dark herbs and earthy elements. Medium-bodied, juicy flavours of ripe dark red berry and cherry flavours are entwined with notes of dark herbs, earth and nuances of bitter cherries. The palate possesses moderate, but supple tannin extraction, with integrated acidity that lends good energy and drive, carrying the fruit flavours to a moderately sustained finish of dark cherry and berry fruit. This is an up-front, juicy, uncomplicated Pinot Noir with flavours of dark-red berry and bitter cherry flavours on a supple palate. Match with tapas, antipasto, pasta and poultry over the next 3 years. Fruit from the cooler sub-regions, destemmed and fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine given light oak contact. 16.5/20 Jun 2016 RRP$ 19.99
Sileni Estates ‘Plateau’ Hawke’s Bay Pinot Noir 2015Pinot Noir from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 02-Jun-2016Moderately dark ruby-red colour with light purple hues, paler on the rim. The nose is full with good volume of dark-red berry fruit aromas melded with liquorice and spices and nuances of dark plums. The aromatics build in depth and intensity with aeration, retaining an elegant proportion. Medium-full bodied, the palate is fine in presentation with deep and tightly bound flavours of dark-red and black berried fruits along with subtle notes of plums, liquorice and herbs. The fruit has vitality and sweetness and the palate follows a fine-grained line of tannin. The structure is elegantly firm and the acidity integrated, and the wine carries to a lingering finish of dark red berry and liquorice flavours. This is an elegantly concentrated and tightly bound Pinot Noir with dark berry and liquorice flavours and a fine, firm line. Match with duck and pork over the next 4-5+ years. Fruit from Mangatahi, destemmed and fermented, approx. half with indigenous yeasts to 13.5% alc., the wine spending 3 weeks on skins and aged 9 months in 25% new French oak barriques. 17.5/20 Jun 2016 RRP $32.99
Sileni Estates ‘Exceptional Vintage’ Hawke’s Bay Pinot Noir 2014Pinot Noir from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 02-Jun-2016Moderately dark ruby-red colour with some garnet hues, a little lighter on the edge. This has a full, solid, but rounded bouquet with a deep core of ripe dark-red berry fruit entwined with savoury, secondary and complexing notes of dark and dried herbs, subtle, nutty oak, liquorice, spices and nuances of stalk. This has depth and power on the nose. Full-bodied, the palate is rich and fulsome with packed flavours sweetly ripe dark-red berry, black plum and liquorice, along with a layering of dark and savoury herbs. The mouthfeel is robust and filling, the fruit supported by grainy tannin grip and structure. This has real power and drive, and the palate leads to a strong, but rounded finish of savoury red fruit and herbs with liquorice detail. This is a fulsome and robust, rounded Pinot Noir with ripe dark berried fruits and liquorice flavours and plenty of structure and power. Serve with casseroles and slow-cooked game meat dishes over the next 6 years. Clones 114, 115 and 667 from the Mangatahi terraces, destemmed and fermented, 30% with indigenous yeasts to 14.5% alc., the wine on skins 4 weeks and aged 9 months in 20% new French oak barriques. 18.0/20 Jun 2016 RRP $69.99