The Wild Irishman – Alan Brady
Wild Irishman - a retirement project of Alan Brady, who is known as the godfather of Gibbston. He planted the first vines in Gibbston in 1981, founded Gibbston Valley Wines, then Mount Edward Wines, both sold, then the Wild Irishman label was born and recently involved in a vineyard project in Alexandra, he just doesn't stop.
In December, Alan dropped off his 2019 release in person, which means so much to me. I used to list his wines in the restaurants I worked, telling his stories to visitors; that really helped me connect with the region and be a part of the story.
Over the years, I follow his wine closely; mostly it's because of Alan's captivating presence that reflects in the wine, Alan's desire to tell the story of a site became his style of wine.
Brain Shaw, a 'flying winemaker' from Alan's homeland Northern Ireland, made the wine with Alan in 2019, who previously worked a vintage with Alan in 2014. Alan's mentor, Francois Millet, the winemaker at Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue in Chambolle-Musigny, visits Central Otago every year at Prophet's Rock to make his "Cuvee aux Antipodes" from grapes grown at Bendigo. His Burgundy wines are respected worldwide. His humility and ultra-gentle approach to winemaking has profoundly influenced Alan's ideas, confronting much of what he had come to accept as best practice over the years.
In terms of winemaking, they took a step back in the winery, delicate handling of grapes, eliminating additives and daily-punch downs in an effort to achieve wines with clarity and purity. A minimal amount of sulphur only added at the end of malolactic fermentation. Wild yeast fermented, adding another element of terroir and the wines were bottled unfined & unfiltered. You may call it a natural wine, but purity and expressing the vineyard site is what they aimed for.
Wild Irishman was established in 2006, 2019 is the 14th release.
The 2019 growing season
2019 was a season of two halves. Above-average rainfall and below-average temperatures between October and January brought vigorous growth to all three Wild Irishman vineyards but a late budburst and flowering. From January through March it was mostly sunny and warm, not as hot as 2018, but with temperatures slightly above average and little wind. April was cooler with rain and a couple of frosts. Overall a pretty good year with average yields and balanced ripeness across the region and a record harvest in Central Otago of 11,868 tonnes.https://shop.kinross.nz/collections/wild-irishman
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Wild Irishman Three Colleens Pinot Noir 2019, Central OtagoPinot Noir from New Zealand - Central Otago & WaitakiReview Date : 18-Jan-2021Deep, ruby-red with a slight garnet hue and some depth, lighter on the rim. The nose is delicately fragrant; it has an old-world essence, softly presented nuances of floral melded with subtlely savoury cherry-plum aromas, along with a hint of pepper, thyme and earth. Medium-bodied, aromas of red cherries, raspberries are fragrant, adorn by black pepper, underlines thyme and earth. The palate is smooth, structured by silky tannins; lacy acid tension weaves with the sweet fruit intensity, lends an elegant, fragrant-fruited finish. This is a delicately fragrant, alluring Pinot Noir slowly revealing its essence on a silky, lingering palate. Match with tea-smoked duck with pickled mushroom over the next 6+ years. Fruit from Mt Rose Lodge Vineyard at 470m above sea level in the Gibbston subregion is one of the highest in NZ. Wild yeast fermented to 13% alc, minimal sulphur added only at the end of MLF, unfined, unfiltered. 35 cases produced. 19-/20 pts (95 pts) Jan 2021 RRP $99
Wild Irishman Macushla Pinot Noir 2019, Central OtagoPinot Noir from New Zealand - Central Otago & WaitakiReview Date : 12-Nov-2020Moderately deep, ruby-red colour, lighter on edge. The nose is soft, poetically fragrant, penetrating red florals, red cherries, red plums, along with delicate aromatic spices underlay minerals. Medium-bodied, the palate is soft and delicate, nuances of red cherries, red plums have a taut core intermix a smoky element, minerals, unfolding subtle cinnamon and florals. The mouthfeel is supple and soft, ethereally silky, with gently extracted tannins, light-weighted structure; along with lacy, integrated acid and freshness. Floral fragrance growing in concentration on the palate lingers with detailed spices to a sustained finish. This is a soft and gentle, red cherry and plum fragranced Pinot Noir with delicate details on an ethereal silky, supple palate. Match with braised pork and roasted pigeon over the next 4-6 years. Minimal intervention winemaking, handpicked fruit from Kinross Vineyard, wild fermented to 13.5% alc. Minimal sulphur used at the end of MLF, unfined and unfiltered. 167 cases produced. 19-/20 pts (95 pts) Nov 2020 RRP $69
Wild Irishman Doctors Flat Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019, Central OtagoPinot Noir from New Zealand - Northland & AucklandReview Date : 12-Nov-2020Deep, ruby-red with a dark purple hue, slightly lighter edged. The nose is gentle with power, fragrances of dark cherries, plums building up in-depth, along with thyme, goji berry and red liquorice. The notes are subtle, and in harmony, black pepper unveil. Medium-full bodied, succulent aromas of dark plums, cherries, goji berries lead the palate, unfolding red liquorice, thyme and black pepper. The fruit is enlivened by bright acidity and freshness, supported by fine-grained, velvety tannin balance. The oak is integrated into the smooth palate, added subtle spices and interest, linger to a long elegant finish. This is a smooth dark-fruited Pinot Noir with fresh acidity on a balanced, velvety palate. Match with hare and venison loin over the next 4-6 years. Minimal intervention winemaking, handpicked fruit from Bannockburn, wild fermented to 13% alc. Minimal sulphur used at the end of MLF, unfined and unfiltered. 143 cases produced. 18.5/20 pts (93 pts) Nov 2020 RRP $69