What would you take to a desert island? Music’s got to be high on the list for many of us but the lack of power on a desert island means the sounds would only last as long as the phone does and when that dies, the music goes with it. Wine, on the other hand, might last a tad longer, especially if it’s possible to take more than one bottle. These new 2019 Pinot Noirs have forced me to concede that I’d give up my favourite sounds for a glass of any of these great wines.
In my view, the 2019 vintage is one of the best yet for New Zealand Pinot Noir. The absolute best? I’ll hold off on making that strong a declaration but I wouldn’t be surprised, given the uniformly high quality from Martinborough, Marlborough, North Canterbury and Central Otago.
I can’t think of such a uniformly deep and delicious year for Pinot Noirs from top producers and it’s still early days.
This week’s desert island wines
Kupe, Te Rehua and Escarpment Vineyard Pinot Noir are all among the top tier of New Zealand Pinot Noirs, all produced by The Escarpment Vineyard in Martinborough. They are usually joined by another single vineyard wine called Kiwa but there was none made in 2019.
2019 Escarpment Martinborough Kupe $115
Talk about an incredible wine. Savoury, full bodied and smooth; an iron first in a velvet glove. This absolute stunner of a Pinot Noir is the pinnacle of the Escarpment Pinots and it’s made from one of the smallest vineyards in Martinborough, Kupe, which was planted in 1999 at high density of 6,600 vines per hectare. A smaller than usual crop in 2019 which fermented in wooden French cuvees, hand plunged and aged for 18 months in French oak barriques, 50% of which were new – a fairly hefty percentage but talk about handling it well.
Keep or drink now. Superlative in every way. A great Pinot Noir.
2019 Escarpment Te Rehua $85
Te Rehua is typically the weightiest, most earthy and savoury Pinot Noir in the Escarpment range, made from a small vineyard in the village rather than out at the winery in Te Muna Valley. This is the best Te Rehua that I’ve ever tasted. big, rich, dark and a keeper – one for the cellar or pour into your favourite large glass. It’s worth buying a big glass purely for the deliciousness of drinking this wine in it.
2019 Escarpment Martinborough Pinot Noir $49
Made from grapes grown on Te Muna Road, Martinborough, using 50% whole bunches in the ferment to give structure and boy does it work. Here’s a dark, dry, tannic Pinot with power to burn and softness from the 12 months aging in French oak. Yes, it’s not cheap. None of the Escarpment’s top wines are but this is a wine to wow you, your friends, your lover and anyone else important in your life.