Wild Irishman 2011 Pinot Noirs
No doubt the moniker ‘Wild Irishman’ is what many people who are close to Alan Brady feel is appropriate, especially considering the tumultuous time he has had in pioneering the modern Central Otago wine scene. Alan has chronicled his three decade story in his book ‘Pinot Central’ (click here to see my review), but I see him as erudite and experienced with a strong sense of drive and class rather than a ‘wild Irishman’. In any case, ‘Wild Irishman’ refers to ‘Matagauri’ (discaria taumatou), the prickly shrub that grows wild in the Central Otago hills. It’s known as such because of its fighting spirit that has enabled it to survive in the harsh climate, as also epitomised by the goldminers and settlers in the region. So, maybe the title is truly appropriate then, when one thinks of Alan Brady…
The ‘Wild Irishman’ wine label is Alan and his family’s third beginnings in making wine, Alan starting Gibbston Valley Wines and then Mount Edward with Duncan Forsyth and John Buchanan. Upon leaving the latter in 2005, retiring, Alan couldn’t deny the winemaking spirit in his blood, but wanted to return to a small, hands-on venture, as he started out with in the 1980s, thus establishing Wild Irishman in 2006 with his daughter Susan and son-in-law Terence. There are two wines made, both single vineyard expressions, one from a block in the ‘Desert Heart’ vineyard in Bannockburn, the other, named ‘Three Colleens’ from Brian and Maureen Dennis’ vineyard in Gibbston. Both blocks are micro-managed and low-yielding, around 1.5 tonnes/ha, producing 5-6 barrels of each wine annually. The winemaking is low intervention and by hand, the fruit destemmed, indigenous yeast fermented with a low sulphur regime, manual punch down, gentle pressing and aging in 30% new oak for 10 months. Thus the two wines are explorations of site and sub region, just as the model of Burgundy.
At the Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration at the start of this month, Alan provided a bottle of each of his wines from the 2011 vintage to taste. The vintage for Alan was an early one with a warm spring, early flowering but a cooler January with some rain events in January and February. Harvest was earlier than average at both sites. Here are my reviews of the two wines. www.wildirishmanwines.co.nz
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Wild Irishman Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011Pinot Noir from New Zealand - OtagoReview Date : 10-Feb-2014Full, even, purple-hued ruby-red colour, youthful in appearance. The bouquet is tightly bound and somewhat brooding, with a concentrated core of black and red cherry fruit along with herbs, liquorice and minerals, unfolding nuances of cooler-spectrum stalky notes, spices and herbs. Medium-full bodied, the palate is rich with good breadth of open flavours of black berry fruits, herbs and stalks enlivened and lifted by fresh, lacy acidity. The fruit grows in density and depth supported by supple, background tannins that form a dry, textured line that carries to a very long, sustained finish. This is a full, softly concentrated Pinot Noir with black berry fruits and stalky, herbal notes that grows in structure and density. Match with most red meat dishes over the next 6+ years. Mainly clone 667 with some 115 from the ‘Desert Heart’ vineyard from 8 y.o. vines, fully destemmed and indigenous yeast fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 30% new French oak. 18.0/20 Feb 2014 RRP $40.00
Wild Irishman ‘Three Colleens’ Gibbston Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011Pinot Noir from New Zealand - OtagoReview Date : 10-Feb-2014Predominantly clone 777 with some 5 and 115, from the 480 m a.s.l. ‘Mt Rosa’ vineyard of the ‘Dennis’ family, from vines planted in 2002, fully destemmed and fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 30% new French oak. Dark, deep, ruby-red colour with some garnet hues on rim. The nose is fresh and elegant with vibrantly fresh aromas of red berry fruits along with an underlay of cool-spectrum herbal elements. Lifted red floral perfumes and piquant thyme herb notes unfold from a tight core and blossom in the glass. Medium-full bodied and elegantly proportioned, attractively rich, succulent and juicy red berry fruit flavours form a concentrated heart to the palate, and the fruit sweetness is enhanced by elevated acidity. A fine-grained, supple tannin line guides the flavours which reveal ethereal nuances of violets and red florals. The mouthfeel is vibrant and racy and is carried by the acidity to a very long, lingering finish with cherry fruit and herbs. This is an elegant, supple and aromatic Pinot Noir with vibrantly succulent red fruits and racy herb nuances. Serve with poultry and pork dishes over the next 5-6+ years. 18.5/20 Feb 2014 RRP $40.00