New Zealand new releases – part 2
Martinborough, Nelson, Canterbury and Central Otago
Here is part two of the New Zealand new release tasting held late last year. A range of wines were shown at retail price points ranging from £8.99 up to £66.00 a bottle. A broad assembly of wineries were represented from industry leaders to small high quality boutique operations as well as four newcomers to the UK. Here then is the second selection of wine and winery highlights, which includes only wines that will be newly added to the 11th edition of Wine behind the label. In part one we covered Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay. Here in part two we include wines from Martinborough/Wairarapa, Nelson, Canterbury/Waipara as well as Central Otago and in particular Pinot Noir.
Felton Road – The Elms Vineyard
From Martinborough, Luna Estate is new to the UK market. A small range is made from Syrah, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Riesling as well as a Pinot Meunier rosé. All come from Estate fruit and the top wines are labelled Eclipse and Blue Lake, both single vineyards. The 2016 Eclipse Vineyard Pinot Noir is from mature vines grown in silty clay and loam soils. Dark red fruits are underpinned by an earthy, savoury quality. Well crafted with well judged oak. The 2016 Blue Rock Pinot Noir is a touch rounder and fleshier with fresh cherry scented fruit and good intensity. As well as Pinot Noir Syrah also ripens well at the site. The 2016 Blue Rock Syrah it is in a not dissimilar style to a cooler sited Northern Rhône Syrah with black fruits, herb spice and black pepper notes and a hint of earthiness.
The Seifried Estate is long established in the small Nelson region, which has promising potential for sparkling wine like Marlborough to the east. Seifried make a fine NV Aotea Méthode Traditionelle in a very dry Extra Brut style. Fresh and zesty with good fruit intensity and a subtle background bready yeast quality. The 2017 Sauvignon Blanc Aotea by Seifried Family also showed well. Crisp and impressive green fruit, underlying passion fruits and a mineral hint are apparent. The weight and breadth on the palate enhanced with just a hint of residual sugar. Aotea is now the premium label for the winery’s top releases. Aotea Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer are also released as well as a wide range under the Seifried label.
Only one winery was represented from Canterbury/Waipara, which was a shame with an increasing number of small boutique operations producing increasingly impressive results from this area, particularly with Pinot Noir. Pegasus Bay though is a well-established pioneer in the area and a number of wines were shown; 2015 Riesling, 2015 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon and 2014 Pinot Noir. Pride of place though went to the 2015 Bel Canto Riesling and 2013 Prima Donna Pinot Noir. The Bel Canto is sourced from vines grown on stony, mineral rich soils and naturally cool nights promoting fresh vibrant acidity offering a combination of ripe green fruits and a hint of noble rot. It’s a dry style though with just a hint of residual sugar. The Prima Donna is the flagship Pinot Noir, which comes from a range of clones with vines up to 30 years of age adding further depth and complexity. It’s full of character and opulence with dark cherry and raspberry fruits, and a fine, rounded supple structure.
Felton Road is arguably the pre-eminent name in the increasingly important Central Otago region. From a first vintage in 1997 it is now a regional benchmark for Pinot Noir, while Riesling and Chardonnay are also proving very successful. 2017 Riesling Block 1 is an intense style with marked residual sugar (70 gms/ltr), almost Auslese in style. Like the finest German examples the sweetness is very well balanced with a rich green fruit style and marked mineral character. The 2016 Chardonnay Block 6 is the third impressive Felton Road example of the variety along with the Bannockburn and Block 2 wines. Finely crafted, elegant and steely this comes from north facing and steeply aspected vines. The range of Pinot Noir is now well established with exceptional Block 3 and Block 5 wines as well as a fine Cornish Point Vineyard bottling. Tasted for the first time was the 2016 Calvert Pinot Noir. This single vineyard Pinot is farmed from a site that is just 1 km away from the home Elms vineyard. It is an impressive and stylish red, with opulent, juicy red fruits and a perfumed edge. Like the other wines there is a natural fermentation and minimal handling in the gravity fed winery.
A number of other impressive Pinot Noirs were also shown from Central Otago. The Prophet’s Rock winery is based in the Bendigo sub-region of the area. Riesling and Pinot Gris are made as well as Pinot Noir. The firm have two Bendigo vineyards, Prophet’s Rock Home Vineyard and the Rocky Point Vineyard. The 2016 Pinot Noir Rocky Point Vineyard offers both good value and quality. It is fresh and forward with bright red berry fruits and supple, polished tannins. It is aged for slightly less than a year in mainly used barrels. More structured is the 2014 Prophet’s Rock Home Vineyard Pinot. Coming from low yields and fermented with natural yeasts, this flagship red is bottled unfiltered after 17 months in barrel. Rich and sumptuous, dark berry fruit is underpinned by finely structured tannins and the wine offers real depth and intensity.
At Akitu the vines were originally planted in 2003, although the first wines were only released from the 2012 vintage. Two Pinot Noirs are released from vineyards planted at an altitude of 380 metres above sea level. As well as the rich and concentrated flagship A1 Pinot here is now a fine second label. The 2016 A2 Pinot Noir is supple and approachable with forward dark plum notes, a hint of floral spice and soft structure after one year in 15% new wood.
Showing in the UK for the first time was the small family owned Immigrants Vineyard. Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer are cultivated and a Pinot Noir rosé is also produced. The first vintage was only in 2014. The 2016 Ruru Pinot Noir offers bright red berry fruits and a supple nicely rounded structure.
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