Blank Canvas ‘Upton Downs’ Pinot Noir 2016

TASTING NOTE Our Upton Downs Pinot Noir is a juxtaposition of perfume and structure. The elevated single vineyard on the terraces above the Awatere River gives elegance and delicacy of fruit while the 40% whole bunch fermentation and manual punch-downs delivers an impressive tannin framework and excellent length on the palate. Bright raspberry, red cherry and currant unite with graphite, forest floor and subtle smoked bacon. This is a wine that will get more intriguing and complex with cellaring, assisted by its whole bunch fermentation characters and low-toast savoury oak regime. It has years of evolution ahead of it.

VINTAGE A good flowering during spring heralded an excellent start for the 2016 vintage in Marlborough with potential for big bunch weights. It was a classic ripening period with favourable warm sunny days and maritime breezes assisting pollination. Because of the successful flowering we substantially fruit thinned our Pinot Noir to ensure balanced low yields were in place for veraison. It was a dry and relatively smooth sailing harvest with maturation occurring in an even, normal time-frame. We hand-harvested our Upton Downs Pinot Noir on the 5th April 2016.

VITICULTURE This Pinot Noir is sourced from a single vineyard located in the Awatere Valley on Upton Downs Road. The mixture of old clay soils interspersed with loamy gravel on the terraces above the Awatere River assist with ensuring naturally low vigour. Fruit thinning just prior to veraison ensured a low yield as well as small concentrated berries. The small parcel we hand-picked is 100% Clone 777, a Burgundian clone known for its perfumed aroma profile. The vineyard is cane pruned and VSP trained.

WINEMAKING We think Pinot Noir is one of Marlborough’s most eminent varieties. Matt’s time spent in Europe has given him the best of both worlds: he learnt from the regions with centuries of knowledge pertaining to this enigmatic, magical grape and has combined it with Marlborough’s innate ability to produce blockbuster, perfumed aromatics in an elegant but serious Pinot Noir framework. The handpicked bunches were cold-soaked for 5 days before undergoing spontaneous fermentation by natural yeasts. We hand-plunged the wine during its ferment which included 40% whole clusters. The wine was pressed to French oak barriques, all of low-toast level (35% proportion new). Then Mother Nature played a role in the winemaking when a large earthquake hit the region in November taking a third of our Pinot Noir and oak barrels with it. Thus, the resulting wine has 25% new oak, and only 455 cases were produced. We bottled it without filtration on the 22nd June 2017, releasing it over a year later on 14th August 2018.

 

 

 

TECHNICAL ANALYSES

Alcohol 13.0 % pH 3.56
Acidity 5.9 g/L SO2 50 mg/L

 


ENDORSEMENTS

93 Points “Made from grapes grown in an elevated site in the Awatere Valley. An aromatic pinot noir, with typical savoury and herb Awatere characters, with cherry and plum flavours. Fermentation included 40% whole bunches, which adds a sappy character. Drink 2018 to 2023 Bob Campbell MW, Real Reviews. 16/7/2018

4.5 STARS “The 2016 vintage (4.5*) is a single-vineyard, Awatere Valley red, hand-picked and matured in French oak barriques (30 per cent new). Ruby-hued, it is highly fragrant, savoury and sweet-fruited, with mouthfilling body, cherryish, plummy, spicy flavours and good texture. A complex style, it’s a drink-now or cellaring proposition.” Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide 2019, November 2018

18 Points+ / 4 Stars “Light, opaque garnet-red colour with some depth, lighter edged.  The nose is soft and ethereal with subtle, but voluminous aromas of soft-red berry fruits harmoniously melded with fresh and dark herbs, and some whole bunch stalk perfumes.  This builds in intensity and penetration with aeration.  Medium-bodied, the palate is elegant and refined in expression with stylish and subtle, savoury flavours of red cherry and berry fruit harmoniously entwined with fresh herbs and a layer of whole bunch stalk notes.  The mouthfeel is very smooth in texture with an underlay of very fine, flowery tannin extraction, the acidity soft and integrated.  The flavours carry positively to a long, savoury floral nuanced finish.  This is an elegant and refined Pinot Noir with savoury red fruits and whole bunch stalk complexities on a fine-grained palate.  Match with wild duck and pork over the next 5-6 years.  100% clone 777 from the Laurie’s vineyard on Upton Downs Road, Awatere, hand-picked and indigenous yeast fermented with 40% whole bunches to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 16 months in 25% new French oak barriques.  455 cases made, a reduction in quantity due to loss from the earthquake in November.  18.0+/20 Raymond Chan Wine Reviews, 15/11/18

PREVIOUS VINTAGES: 2016