The growing trend for hands-off winemaking has resulted in some wonderful pinot noir, writes JOHN SAKER.
AS THE CUISINE PANEL made its way through the entries at this pinot noir tasting, a sense of excitement grew. Many of the wines that were being called back for retasting were more than simply “very smart Kiwi pinots”. They were elegant, luminous wines, the results of honest, handsoff approaches to the craft of winemaking. Emblematic of the trend is our top wine, which was grown in an organic vineyard and was made using a 100 per cent whole bunch ferment (see top wine profile).
“We’re seeing more sensitivity in the wines, more trust in the integrity of the fruit,” said panel chair John Belsham. “This makes wines more challenging but also more transparent. We’re in a good space.” Ben Glover, who had just chaired the three-day Pinot Noir NZ 2017 conference, was equally upbeat: “Over the last three vintages – since 2013 – I think we’ve seen changes in the way we handle fruit. There’s a ‘less is more’ approach. I’m rapt.”
TASTING PANEL For this pinot noir tasting, John Belsham, an international wine judge and owner of Foxes Island Wines in Marlborough, was joined by Ben Glover, an international wine show judge and winemaker/ owner of Zephyr Wines, and John Saker, author and Cuisine wine writer.
This is a compelling wine. “It hits the top of your nose with more than the usual suspects,” noted Ben Glover. “You’d sniff it for 15 minutes before drinking it.” Added John Belsham: “It’s an expression of pinot noir that is definitive of the variety.” It begins subtly, with seductive red and dark fruit florals mingling with fresh cut herb scents. In the mouth it grows in vigour and interest, with fascinating Campari-like bitterness offsetting the more regulation sweet fruit notes. Finely woven, dense, well-managed tannins pave the way to a lengthy, satisfying finish. It offers a sense of volume, but not in an obvious way.
This wine leads with texture rather than flavour,” said John Belsham. Gibbston-grown, …2
Older vines and recent conversion to biodynamics have seen Quartz Reef pinots …3
A distinctive expression from a distinctive vineyard, planted by Oregon pioneer Gary …4
Rich lilac and buddleia scents fill the nostrils. In the mouth a …5
The experience and craft of Grant Taylor can be seen in this …6
John Belsham admired the “lovely pure florals” and Ben Glover praised the …7
From the very warm 2013 vintage, this wine is both delicate and …8
It wouldn’t be a Cuisine pinot noir tasting without a Rockburn, a …9
There is still plenty of youthful bounce and sweet fruit in this …10