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Visiting New Zealand's wine regions 
Part 6: Millton Vineyards, New Zealand's biodynamic pioneer - tasting the wines

(...continued from part 5) Biodynamics aside, what about the wines? In short, they’re great – I’d count this among one of New Zealand’s top estates. What is remarkable is the sheer diversity of varieties that Millton seem to be able to get to work here, ranging from Syrah, to Riesling, to Pinot Noir, to Chenin Blanc. The first set of notes are those from the visit in Novermber 2007; the second set are from a tasting in London with UK agent Vintage Roots in March 2008; the third are from a more recent tasting in June 2009.

Millton Opou Vineyard Chardonnay 2006
Complex nose of apples and herbs which is nutty and broad. The palate is fresh and minerally with lovely focus and purity. There’s a nice texture here: this is fantastic stuff with real presence and freshness. ‘I think we can do a hell of a lot better than this, but I’m happy with it’, says James Millton. 90/100

Millton Clos Ste. Anne Viognier 2005
Made in 600 litre barrels. This is precise, aromatic and a bit minerally, with notes of herbs and straw. The palate has lovely focus and texture with a bit of nut and straw. Rounded personality. It’s not at all blowsy, with lovely smoothness and elegance. 92/100

Millton Clos Ste. Anne ‘The Crucible’ Syrah 2005
From a narrow strip at the top of Clos Ste. Anne, this is a really serious wine. Fantastic nose of pepper and spice with bright red fruits. There’s some ferrous character, and a whiff of meatiness. The palate is peppery and fresh with lovely savoury presence and brightness, as well as quite firm tannins. Fresh, precise, peppery and exciting. 95/100

Millton Clos Ste. Anne Pinot Noir ‘Naboth’s Vineyard’ 2003
Quite a brooding earthy, spicy nose, with some elegant cherryish fruit. The palate has spicy depth with nice earthiness and quite firm tannins. It’s a very expressive wine with old world in profile with lovely freshness and presence. 91/100  

A short film about James Millton's compost heap. This is made with the help
of biodynamic preparations, and the microbial activity means that 
temperatures of 70 degrees Centigrade are reached. 

Tasted in March 2008:

Millton Chardonnay Riverpoint 2006 Gisborne
80% fermented in stainless steel, 20% in oak. Deep yellow colour. Rich, slightly reductive nose with bold, peachy, nutty fruit. The palate is fresh and a bit herby with lots of personality. 88/100 (£7.99)

Millton Opou Riesling 2007 Gisborne
18 hours skin contact. Beautifully aromatic: expressive, perfumed and a bit limey, with some honeyed, melony notes. The palate is off-dry with pure, delicate citrussy fruit. Lovely. 90/100 (£10.99)

Millton Te Arai Chenin Blanc 2006 Gisborne
Half fermented in 600 litre oak demi-muids, half in stainless steel. Deep coloured. Lovely nose with some cheese, some straw and herby complexity. The palate is quite dense and savoury with focused fresh fruit, good minerality and a sense of structure. Lovely. 92/100 (£10.99)

Millton Opou Chardonnay 2005 Gisborne
Fermented in 228 litre barriques, 15% of which were new. Half went through malolactic fermentation. Very rich, creamy, toasty nose, which is generous yet taut at the same time. The palate is broad, creamy and toasty with lovely freshness and great fruit expression. 92/100 (£10.99)

Millton Clos de Ste. Anne Viognier 2005 Gisborne
Fermented in 600 litre barrels. Quite an unusual, distinctive, broad, rich style of Viognier with textured pear and peach fruit. Rich but still fresh. 89/100 (£18.95)

Millton Te Arai Malbec 2005 Gisborne
80% Malbec, 20% Merlot. Fresh, bright, assertive nose is cherryish and fresh. The palate is bright, fresh and peppery with grippy tannins. A light, savoury style. 88/100 (£10.99)

Millton Clos de Ste. Anne Pinot Noir 2005 Gisborne
Complex, intense spicy, cherryish fruit on the nose. Lively and interesting. The palate is complex, savoury and quite spicy with brilliant freshness and some attractive earthiness. Lovely. 92/100 (£18.95)

Tasted in June 2009:

I caught up with James again in London on a recent visit to try his latest releases, along with Peter Gordon at the Providores restuarant.

Millton Riverpoint Chardonnay 2007
Very fresh and quite minerally. Bright and focused with lively fruit. Lemony, intense and minerally. Expressive and bright. 91/100

Millton Opou Vineyard Chardonnay 2007
Lovely complex, mealy and minerally nose. Focused with some lemon pith notes and also a bit of fig. The palate has great concentration and freshness with lovely presence. Mouthfilling with nice acidity and hints of vanilla and spice. A lovely expressive wine. 92/100

Millton Opou Vineyard Chardonnay 2005
Yellow/gold colour. Lovely intense, nutty nose with some creaminess, and also fresh citrus notes. The palate is dense and nutty with figgy, toasty notes and also lovely crisp citrussy, spicy freshness on the finish. Great balance here: drinking beautifully now. 93/100

Millton Clos Ste Anne Chardonnay Naboth’s Vineyard 2007
Toasty, aromatic nose with some fresh citrus and grapefruit notes, as well as richer more tropical fruitiness. The palate is dense, mineralic and concentrated with lovely focus and balance. Alive. 94/100

Millton Chenin Blanc Te Arai Vineyard 2007
Deep yellow colour. Wonderful nose with intense herby, citrus, apricot and spice notes, together with honey and wax. The palate is intense with a lovely savoury dimension. Waxy, spicy and apricotty with some minerals. A really distinctive wine. 93/100

Millton Viognier Riverpoint 2007
Lovely fresh aromatics: lemons, pear, a bit of honey. The palate is lively and fruity with lovely fresh yet thick textured melony fruit and a nice savoury dimension, too. 92/100

Millton Clos Ste Anne Pinot Noir Naboth’s Vineyard 2006
Faded cherry colour. Nose has a herby, spicy, slightly undergrowthy edge to the cherry fruit. The palate is herby and fresh with nice cherry fruit and lovely elegant, spicy tannins. Great presence and savoury elegance here. 92/100

Millton Malbec Te Arai Vineyard 2005
Distinctive minty, slight meaty nose with some medicinal notes. The palate has a lovely fresh, slightly peppery character with minty notes. Interesting and fresh, with a eucalypt edge to the blackberry and dark cherry fruit. 89/100

Millton The Crucible Syrah 2006
Peppery and fresh; meaty, spicy and dense. Very focused with a lovely white pepper character. It’s vivid and intense with lovely ripeness and focus. Just so lively and bright with amazing old world/Northern Rhône character. 94/100

Millton Clos Ste Anne The Crucible Syrah 2007 
I love this wine. It has a really fresh peppery nose with lovely vivid red berry fruit. Quite northern Rhône like. Lovely freshness and focus on the palate with dark pepper, dark cherry and raspberry notes, as well as some spiciness that may be from a bit of new oak. Fantastic effort. 93/100

Wines tasted 06/09

see also: 

Wines tasted: November 2007
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