There are tastings and then there are great tastings and Luna Estate in Martinborough never ceases to inspire me with its renewed focus on Pinot Noir – the original drawcard to this tiny wine region over the hill from the so-called windy capital of New Zealand. More about its makers later, suffice to say that winemaker Joel Watson is turning into one of the region’s dabbest hands at Pinot Noir, as the follow wines show.
These were tasted in Wellington on 24 August this year. These wines were my tasting highlights.
2018 Luna Martinborough Pinot Gris
This brand new Pinot Gris from Martinborough was bottled two weeks prior to tasting it, in late August 2018. It’s a great white made from New Zealand’s third most popular white grape, Pinot Gris; it’s off dry, full bodied with a fleshy texture and spicy flavours, balanced by bright acidity and a long finish.
2018 Luna Pinot Meunier Rosé
This brand spanking new Martinborough rosé has had a makeover this vintage and now sports a new pale salmon colour, which winemaker Joel Watson has tailored to be in keeping with the trend towards paler coloured pink wines – very on trend right now. It is, as always, a dry wine (which is unrelated to the colour) and it is made entirely – and unusually – from the Pinot Meunier grape, which has flavours of strawberries, raspberries and fresh plums.
2016 Luna Elipse Chardonnay
Here’s a Chardonnay that will woo lots of new fans who will love its fresh, full bodied, creamy bells and whistles and its dry style; its vibrant acidity balances its big buttery flavours and makes this wine finish on with crisp refreshing, zingy flavours.
2017 Luna Eclipse Chardonnay
This fresh young thing was bottled just two weeks prior to tasting it in late August this year and is soft, creamy and fresh with lively citrusy flavours and a long finish.
It’s medium bodied and will open up to unfold layers of citrusy flavours over the next 6 to 12 months and going forward.
2016 Luna Pinot Noir
Affordable, accessible, recognisable and very good quality – this winning combination is hard to find in any wine, let alone a Martinborough Pinot Noir.
This wine is the estate Pinot Noir of Luna and it represents 70 to 75% of the winery’s overall production. It’s made with grapes grown on both of the estate owned vineyards; a 50/50 blend of fruit from Puruatanga Road and from the company’s vineyards south of Martinborough. A modest 10% of the wine has spent time in new oak, which supports the red fruit flavours and fresh crisp cut through of the wine’s bright acidity, by adding notes of savoury, smoky, mushroom aromas.
2016 Luna Blue Rock Pinot Noir $50
Talk about a wine with the X-factor; this beautiful full bodied, savoury and fresh Pinot Noir was made with grapes planted in 1986, the 33 year old vines are 90% Abel clone and all grown on their own roots rather than being grafted to American rootstock (the preference of most winemakers globally because it prevents the phylloxera aphid from destroying the vines).
This is a stellar wine made entirely from the Blue Rock Vineyard, south of Martinborough. It has a great balance of bright fresh acidity, dry flavours, complex savoury tastes, a full body and a silky long finish.
Sealed with a cork – unusual for a New Zealand wine these days.
2016 Luna Eclipse Pinot Noir $50
The evocatively named Eclipse Pinot Noir is the full bodied but unidentical twin wine to the Blue Rock Pinot Noir (see above). It is a style departure with more savoury flavours, firmer tannins, a bone dry style and medium finish. It is also sealed with a cork – unusual for a New Zealand wine these days.