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Category: Cellaring (page 1 of 2)

Can Cloudy Bay make New Zealand Pinot as famous as Sauvignon Blanc?

Can Cloudy Bay make New Zealand Pinot Noir as successful as Sauvignon Blanc?

The question sprang to mind last week at a tasting held at Cloudy Bay HQ on Jackson’s Road, Blenheim. This was not just any old tasting. We were tasting bottles of great wines with enormous price tags from all over the world, alongside their far humbler priced Cloudy Bay Pinot Noirs.

So, what was the point of the tasting?

Cloudy Bay senior winemaker Tim Heath said he wanted to compare and contrast his Pinots with great reds from around the world – and he wasn’t  mucking around.

The full list of wines appears at the end but my stand outs were:

2011 Vega Sicilia Valbuena Ribera del Duero ***** (5 stars)

Spain’s most famous red or merely its most seductive? Not that there’s anything ‘mere’ about this powerful wine, which  puts Cabernet Sauvignon’s most commanding foot forward here, only it’s riper, rounder and more approachable than Cab’ Sauv’ can usually hope to be. And speaking of feet, it has one in both the traditional camp – it’s blended with Merlot and Malbec – as well as the maverick one; it also contains the characterful red fruit appeal of Tempranillo (known as Tinto Fino in the Ribera del Duero region). It was aged in both old and new oak and the grapes were grown at relatively high altitude in this warm region, which accounts for the retention of acidity, which freshens this big red. It has enormous potential to age and was my star of the tasting.

 2009 Sori San Lorenzo from Piemonte ***** (5 stars)

When first made in 1967, this became the first cru Barbaresco ever produced by Italy’s modern wine pioneer, Angelo Gaja, who named it after its location – sori means hilltop with a southern exposure and that tastes like it works a treat for the late ripening, Nebbiolo grape, which is paradoxically delicate and intense (floral, a touch of tar, smoked meat, red fruit, full body, high acid, long finish, another seductive red). It was also the best wine with the food , due to its high acidity cutting a delicious path through the cheese, the salad and even the salmon that I ate after the tasting when we were able to re-try the wines at lunch.

2011 August Clape Cornas **** (4 stars)

This is like super concentrated teen angst; it needs time to chill out before it’s ready to socialise. It’s all about earthy flavours, tar, black olives and pepper with loads of everything (tannin, acid, super dry, full body). It was made using wild yeasts, was aged for 20 months in old oak then bottled unfined and unfiltered. It was not my fave to drink right now, but it’s impossible not to be impressed with the depth, length, body and all that jazz.

2013 Domaine Dujac Clos de la Roche Grand Cru **** (4 stars)

Made from grapes that were organically grown and taken from a Grand Cru vineyard, but more revealingly, it has a high percentage of whole bunch fermentation, which tasted intensely stalky, but provided impressive concentration, which seemed to dominate the delicacy that I look for in Pinot Noir. It’s an impeccable wine, although its style polarised the room.

2014 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir  ***** (5 stars)

This is the best Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir I have ever tasted and it’s not the first time it’s made an outstanding impression on me in a blind tasting. It is made from 3 vineyard sites: Mustang in the Southern Valleys, Barracks planted in 2004 and the Delta Vineyard acquired by Cloudy Bay in 2013. About 15% of the wine went through whole bunch fermentation and there is no oak evident on the palate, which has clearly benefited from the intentional oxidative maturation that well used oak aging can bring to wine.

Winemaker Tim Heath says this: “We’ve worked really hard on the use of oak over the past four or five years. That, and our focus on how many whole bunches to include in the fermentation of Pinot Noir have been such an obsession that I needed to take a mental break from after our extensive trials. The aim is to make a Pinot that benefits from both, but doesn’t scream of those winemaking bells and whistles.”

2014 Cloudy Bay Te Wahi Pinot Noir **** (4 stars)

This wine is made from a 50/50 blend of grapes which it purchases from the Calvert Vineyard and grown on the Northburn Station Vineyard, which it now owns. And while it is elegant, fresh and full bodied, it says far more about Pinot Noir than the first Te Wahi (made in 2010) ever did, thanks a significant reduction in the use of whole bunches  in the fermentation. This is a beauty; all red fruit, elegance, a lively style and long finish. A keeper and it drinks very nicely right now.

The aim of the Cloudy Bay Pinot Salon 

This was New Zealand’s first Pinot Salon – a curious name for an event focussed on many wines that weren’t even made from the tricky old, oversensitive, thin skinned, Pinot Noir grape.

The Pinot Salon has replaced the annual Pinot at Cloudy Bay event, which was held annually until 2015 when the salons were launched in London. Senior winemaker Tim Heath and viticulturist Jim White have hosted salons in London and Tokyo and have more planned around the world. This year’s was the first time it has been held in New Zealand.

Cloudy Bay’s new Estate Director, Yang Shen, also attended the event and is pictured standing in the following picture:

“Cloudy Bay first planted Pinot Noir in Marlborough in 1985, and released the first vintage in 1989. Since then we have acquired some of the finest Pinot Noir vineyards in Marlborough, and more recently in Central Otago where we are continuing to refine our style,” said Shen, who is a trained winemaker in his own right.

The tasting was co-hosted by New Zealand’s sole Master Sommelier, Cameron Douglas, and all wines were tasted blind.

The wines tasted  

2011 Auguste Clape Cornas – Rhone Valley

2014 Domaine Cedric Chignard, Fleurie, Les Moriers – Beaujolais

2013 Domaine Dujac, Clos de la Roche, Grand Cru – Burgundy

2013 Domaine de Montille, Volnay, “En Champans”, 1er Cru – Burgundy

2013 Domaine Sylvain Cathiard, Nuits-St Georges, Aux Thorey, 1er Cru – Burgundy

2009 Rene Rostaing, Cote Rotie “Ampodium” – Rhone Valley

2011 Vega Sicilia Valbuena 5° – Ribera del Duero

2009 Gaja Sori San Lorenzo Langhe – Piedmont

2005 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir Magnum – Marlborough

2010 Te Wahi – Central Otago

2014 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir – Marlborough

2014 Te Wahi – Central Otago

Wines for milestones

How many laps around the sun have you done?

This weekend, I’ll be celebrating 50 of mine, or rather, a large number of friends will be helping me not to think too hard about what five decades may or may not signify.

We’re having a party, which triples as a house warming for my boyfriend and I, and a double-50th for another wine loving friend.

The only prerequisites are to bring a person you love and a bottle of wine you love – oh, and to be invited, of course.

It’s a great excuse for me to crack open some of the wines I love, which includes this top list.

5 life changing wines

Bolly…

Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvee

Bollinger was the first bubbly ever to make me sit up and smell the hot buttered toast on speed deliciousness of what great Champagne is all about. And I’ve loved it ever since.

A minuscule 1% of all Champagne sold is Bollinger and the non vintage (made from a blend of grapes grown in different years) is the most challenging and difficult wine that the family makes each year because consistency is key. Their focus is on growing at least 60% of their own grapes so that they can control and maintain the high quality of this well known wine, which is aged for three years (double the legal French minimum) and this gives the wine its instantly recognisable deliciousness – like fresh sour dough toast with truffles on the side… it’s the warmth, the full body, the savoury ness of this bubbly that really rocks. And its consistent fantastic flavours are why I bought a magnum to celebrate this milestone. PS: It’s Pinot Noir-dominant, which also accounts for its rich savoury flavours.

 

Sauvignon with bells on…

2014 Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Semillon

One of my favourite New Zealand wines and one that I buy extremely regularly and love even more every time I open it – again, it’s all about savoury flavours rather than upfront fruity appeal, which is still present and counted in each glass of this stunning South Island white made with grapes grown in North Canterbury by the Donaldson family. Both the Sauvignon Blanc and the Semillon spent time fermenting in old oak, which adds complex creamy notes and softens the zingy acidity. Every sip lingers, every bottle I’ve ever tried has aged brilliantly. The screw cap rocks in preserving this year – earlier in the year I tried one that was 10 years old on the shore at Kaikoura after fishing with the family who made the wine. It was still fresh and zesty.

Hot Spanish red…

2014 As Caborcas Single Vineyard Valdeorras 

Mencia is an old grape variety with a new lease of life – both in Spain and in my glass. Winemakers such as Telmo Rodriguez are at the forefront of pioneering new ways with this historic grape, which is mostly grown without trellising wires – en vaso (in the shape of a vase). Vines grown this way, as mini bush vines, can maximise heat from the granite soils because they are low to the ground, which aids ripening, leading to powerful flavours of wild berries, black fruit (plums, cherries) and licorice here. The flavours suggest a wine from a warm area, but its fresh zing comes from bright acidity which adds length of flavour, thanks to sensitive winemaking and great care in the vineyard – which is at 550 to 600 metres altitude on slopes above the Bibei River.

The grapes in this wine were hand picked, fermented with native yeasts and then aged for 15 months in old large oak casks. It’s actually a blend too – Mencia is the leading grape in this wine with fellow native Spanish grapes in supporting roles – these are Merenzao, Souson, Garnacha, Godello and Brencellao.

 

Riesling rocks…

2010 J J Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese

I love Riesling. And this one is 8.5% alcohol by volume, so it’s probably going to come out later on in the evening… And this is a very special wine made from one of the world’s great vineyards – Wehlener Sonnenuhr, which means the sun dial above the village of Wehlen along the Mosel River Valley, home to many of the world’s greatest Rieslings. It’s a cool climate, so the acidity in the wine is high which makes it taste incredibly refreshing. This wine is medium sweet and tastes of honey, limes, green apples, red apples, with aromas of peach and fresh flowers. It’s all about decadance. Need I say more.

 

Saucy Sicilian…

2014 Zisola Mazzei Noto Rosso

The name ‘nero’ means black and this wine lives up to its moniker with its intense aromas of blueberries, liquorice and even very ripe fruit such as peaches and blood oranges. This is intense, full bodied, long on the finish, velvety and smooth… like the party it’s going to be enjoyed at.

Blast from the past… buy wine from Peg’ Bay and Dog Point’s cellars

One of the most frequently asked wine questions is this: Can I cellar this wine and what will it taste like in 10 years’ time?

This month two New Zealand wineries have put their money where their mouths are and opened up their cellars for the public to buy 10 year old wines.

Pegasus Bay in North Canterbury and Dog Point Vineyards in Marlborough have done the cellaring for us so that we can taste well cellared wines and track the progress of flavour over a decade. It’s an interesting – and tasty – concept.

Lest this sound like a marketing ploy, the wineries in question have chosen one of the best vintages of the past decade and are not flogging off second tier wines, but their flagships. And they’re damned good too, as I have been finding out while tasting samples.

Both wineries make maverick styles of wines at prices people can afford and – for those of us who personally know the makers – they also have a deep love of the great wines of the world, which inspire their styles.

Why keep it

Now that wine is New Zealand’s fifth biggest export earner (and rising), it’s only natural that we would, could and, perhaps, should start keeping some of the best bottles made here. Not everything has to be consumed right now. It’s fun, decadent and delicious to have a small wine cellar. My own dwindled a tad when I relocated from Auckland to Wellington 18 months back because I was trying to rationalise everything I owned, so I shared, drank, swapped and gave away many old bottles. But it’s growing again and these two wineries have a growing place in it because I know their wines can age reliably well – and taste even better five or 10 years down the track.

It’s been great to retaste Dog Point Section 94, Dog Point Chardonnay, Dog Point Pinot Noir, Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir and Pegasus Bay Riesling (all from 2007), but it’s far from the first time I have tried and enjoyed old wines from these two producers.

If you want a wine cellar…

By the way, if you want to cellar wine, then the team at White Refrigeration makes custom-built cellars and consultations are free. If you can convert that unused wardrobe, spot under the stairs or spare space into a wine cellar, why not?

The cellar wines available

2007 Dog Point Vineyard Pinot Noir

2007 Dog Point Chardonnay

2007 Dog Point Section 94

2007 Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir Aged Release

2007 Pegasus Bay Riesling Aged Release

My top picks

2007 Dog Point Section 94

The 2007 Dog Point Section 94 shows Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in a bright new light – it’s 10 years old and incredibly fresh, no doubt the high acidity preserves it, as do the dialled up flavours and long finish. Here’s a succulent and complex Sauvignon that says more about the place than the grapes grown there, which were 100% barrel fermented, which adds beautiful bells and whistles to this Sauvignon.

2007 Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir Aged Release

It’s a delicious treat to revisit this North Canterbury Pinot Noir’s silky, fresh and complex flavours – every sip taste of black cherries on speed and the zesty acidity (which is Pinot’s hallmark) makes every mouthful linger. It drinks well now and still has many years up its lovely sleeve yet.

How to get them

Dog Point Vineyards… is selling cellared wines now in 6-packs through the Dog Point Vineyard Library Wine Club. Membership is free and includes information and preview offers.

More information at www.dogpoint.co.nz

Pegasus Bay Wines… is selling cellared wines from August via three different channels – at the winery cellar door, via mail order and at some specialist wine stores.

More information at www.pegasusbay.com

 

 

Cellaring wine

If you’re going to drink old wines now, then it only stands to reason that new ones should go straight into the cellar… or under the stairs, if that’s the place you store tasty treats. Try stashing these for 5 or 10 years.

2015 Pegasus Bay Riesling 12.5% ABV

This is the brand new outrageously good Riesling from New Zealand’s king of spatlese styles – Mat Donaldson, winemaker and eldest son of the Peg’ Bay winemaking dynasty in North Canterbury. Mat is a man on a mission to progressively produce Rieslings that taste ever so slightly drier in style and this is an elegant step in that direction. Concentrated lemon zest, ripe mandarins and fresh peach all combine in this great new wine. (And yes, it is Mat – with one ‘t’.)

2016 Palliser Estate Riesling Martinborough 12% ABV

Dry, deliciously lemony with zingy freshness to burn. If you like this wine now, check it out in 5, 10, or 15 years, depending on your willpower. I have regularly enjoyed many Palliser Estate Rieslings up to 15 years old and been consistently impressed by its freshness and intense flavours.

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