The end of lockdown may be looming fast but with the weather taking a chilly turn, the irony is that many of us will be hunkering down rather than venturing out. And what better wine to do it with than the country’s most popular and most important red, Pinot Noir. There are 5,625 hectares of Pinot Noir grown in New Zealand, making it the second most planted grape variety overall and the most planted red. It suits New Zealand’s relatively cool climate well because it is an early ripening red grape. And so without further ado, here are two brand spanking new Pinot Noirs, which were delivered to my front door by hand – and by social distancing with a conversation with the woman who produces the wines.
Wairarapa winemaker Jannine Rickards works at Urlar Estate in Gladstone and also makes her own Huntress wines. This new pair from the 2018 vintage have just been released and are her second vintages of two Pinot Noirs made from some of Martinborough’s oldest vines, including the On Giants Shoulders’ Vineyard, planted in 1986 by the late Jack McCreanor.
2019 The Huntress Waikura Rosé, 12.9% ABV, $28
The Maori name Waikura refers to the red glow in the sky, which ties it to the bright ruby hue of this very pretty, bold, savoury take on the rosé theme. It’s made from two different clones and three different vineyards of Pinot Noir grown in Martinborough.
The much revered Abel clone (also known as the gumboot clone, due to its not so illustrious covert importation into New Zealand) forms part of the blend, along with the 10/5 clone from On Giants Shoulders Vineyard and more Abel from The Cliffs in Gladstone. Abel has relatively thick skins and small bunches, which contribute to the earthy style. The wine was given 65 % whole cluster carbonic fermentation with the remaining 35% destemmed and pressed, cold settled and fermented in old French oak barriques. It had no fining and was given 45ppm of sulphur dioxide at bottling and sterile filtration.
It’s dry, medium bodied with dried cranberry and plum flavours followed by a long, refreshing and succulent finish. It opens up after a day and tastes best lightly chilled (30 minutes in the fridge) served in a large glass.
The grapes in this wine come from the On Giants Shoulders’ Vineyard in Princess Street, Martinborough, planted in 1986 by the late Jack McCreanor. It’s a co-ferment of hand harvested Pinot Noir clones 5, 828, Abel and 10/5 with 40% whole bunch fermentation with wild yeasts, 28 days on skins and 10 months aging in older French oak barriques followed by six months aging in tank before bottling. Total production of the 2018 Huntress Pinot Noir was 1111 bottles.
Like its lighter bodied sibling, the Huntress rosé, this wine opens up with time, revealing a softer side to its dry, savoury flavours, the day after it’s initially opened. It tastes youthful and its savoury structure suggests it can age and evolve for four to five years and possibly longer. Flavours are of juicy red and dark fruit with a long, succulent finish. Super tasty.