Vineyard was one of the pioneers of this region. Back in the late
1970s the New Zealand government commissioned a report prospecting
for new vineyard sites.
Dr Derek Milne, one of the authors of the
report, was so impressed by the potential of the Martinborough
region that he invested, along with five partners, in the
Martinborough Vineyard, which was established in 1980, the same year
that Clive Paton began Ata Rangi.
Pinot Noir on some of the oldest vines in the
Milne was right.
This is a special place for growing wine grapes, and its
success—with Pinot Noir the standard bearer for the region—made
the world sit up and take notice.
varieties planted here were Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Riesling,
Sauvignon blanc and Gewürztraminer. The first commercial vintage
was 1984, but things really began to take off when Larry McKenna was
hired as winemaker in 1986, becoming managing director in 1987.
until 1999, by which stage the reputation of Martinborough Vineyard
for making excellent Pinot Noir was firmly established. He was
followed by Claire Mulholland (who left for Amisfield and is now
with Burn Cottage), and the current winemaker Paul Mason (since
I met with Paul
viticulturalist Pete Wilkins (left) and general manager Janine Tulloch to
look round the vineyard and taste the wines.
Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Martinborough, New Zealand Very nice aromatics: fresh, with subtly herbal notes. Lovely
palate with freshness and a bit of complexity. Restrained with
lovely balance. 89/100
Vineyard Chardonnay 2008 Martinborough, New Zealand Fresh, toasty nose with bright citrus fruit and mineral notes.
Fruit-focused palate is quite bold with nice texture and good
acidity. This comes from the home block. 90/100
Vineyard Te Tera Pinot Noir 2008 Martinborough, New Zealand A second label, this shows lovely focused bright cherry and herb
notes with some savoury, meaty characters. Fresh and juicy on the
palate with vivid sappiness and a spicy finish. 92/100
Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008 Martinborough, New Zealand This comes from the oldest vineyards. 1000 case production.
Elegant and textured with good fruit and some spiciness. Smooth with
pure fruity and nice balance between the richness and structure.
Mineral finish. 93/100
Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007 Martinborough, New Zealand Sweet and rich with some meaty notes and bold plum and raspberry
fruit. This was a short year because of frost and cold weather
during flowering, but the resulting wine has a lot of concentration.
Dense, rich and spicy on the palate with lots of richness and
Vineyard Syrah/Viognier 2006 Martinborough, New Zealand Beautiful nose: bright and focused with floral peppery fruit.
Lively, with hints of meat. The palate is sweetly fruited with
cherry and raspberry fruit. Nice texture, with a bit of softness as
well as a peppery edge. Beautiful. 94/100
Vineyard Jackson Block Riesling 2009 Martinborough, New Zealand Nicely limey with some mineral notes. Fresh, tight and
harmonious with crisp fruit. A nice wine. 87/100
Vineyard Manu Riesling 2009 Martinborough, New Zealand
27 g/l residual sugar; this has 10% botrytised grapes. Nice
texture and purity here with some spicy notes. Rounded, smooth and
quite focused. 88/100
Vineyard Bruno Riesling 2009 Martinborough, New Zealand Spätlese style with 55 g/l residual sugar and 9.5% alcohol.
Light and focused with minerality and some spicy notes countering
the sweetness and richness of fruit. Good acidity. 89/100
The Martinborough region is one of New Zealand's best sites for
growing that most enigmatic of grapes, Pinot Noir. It's home to
several producers who are Pinot experts, including Ata Rangi,
Palliser Estate, Te Kairangi and of course Martinborough Estate. Of
the wines on show here, only the Riesling was less than very
good—in particular, Martinborough really seem to have cracked
Pinot Noir, producing tasty, complex, varietally true wines with a
little bit of a New Zealand twist to them. Prices are still
relatively sane for these wines, too. The pick of the bunch for me
was the 1999 Pinot Noir: although the 1998 Reserve Pinot is a
bigger, ambitious wine that may well improve in the bottle for some
time, the regular cuvée is delicious now and a tad less expensive.
Martinborough Vineyard Riesling 2000 I've yet to be really convinced by a New Zealand Riesling. This
example has quite a bland 'boiled sweets' nose, with rather simple,
bright fruit flavours on the palate. Let's hope this one
metamorphoses into something interesting with a couple of years in
the bottle. Good
Martinborough Vineyard Chardonnay 1999 A classy new world Chardonnay. Elegant nose with savoury oak and
toasty, bready notes. Rich, complex fruit on the palate. Full and
soft, with well integrated but prominent oak. May develop in
interesting ways. Very good+
Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir 1997 Cherry colour with a browning rim. Lively, full nose of sweet,
soft, herby fruit. The palate shows attractive herby/cherry fruit.
Quite complex; refined and full-on. My preference for the 1999 could
be because of vintage differences, or because I prefer this wine
earlier in its evolution. Very good+
Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir 1999 Deep red/purple colour, with a pungent, medicinal edge to the
sweet berry fruit on the nose. The palate is lovely, rich and
savoury, with quite firm tannins and good complexity. Very
Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir Reserve 1998 This is a much 'bigger', more structured wine than the standard
Pinot Noir. The nose is quite intense, with complex meaty, medicinal
notes, cherry fruit and toasty oak. The lovely complex palate shows
ripe fruit, some tannin and very savoury spicy oak notes. Quite
intense. Very good/excellent