Issue: 57 / Sunday 10 February , 2019
"Pinot Noir is about pure, unadulterated, varietal expression, illuminating the character of the terroir and the skill of the winemaker and when treated right, can define the simple essence of what it is to enjoy a glass of wine."
Thin skinned, prone to rot, difficult to ripen, easy to over ripen… the list of reasons not to grow Pinot Noir is vast and it’s understandable why many growers shy away from this notoriously problematic variety. But, when grown well this troublesome grape can show itself to be one of the most complex varieties in the wine world, covering the whole spectrum of aromas, flavours and styles. From delicate, light and lifted styles that express fine red cherry and strawberry fruits, through weightier styles that show deeper, brooding, bramble fruit and spice. Pinot Noir can mature well, developing savoury notes of mushroom, truffle and forest floor with some of the finest expressions able to age for decades. It can be a wine that is enjoyed lightly chilled on a summer’s afternoon in the garden or as a perfect accompaniment to a warming winter stew. It can work well with oak or as a pure, simplistic fruit driven wine and barring sparkling wines, is very rarely blended with other grapes. Pinot Noir is about pure, unadulterated, varietal expression, illuminating the character of the terroir and the skill of the winemaker and when treated right, can define the simple essence of what it is to enjoy a glass of wine.
It is one of the oldest grape varieties thought to be over 1000 years old and one of the original varieties of Vitis Vinifera, the species of vine that almost all wine grapes are from. The long history of this grape has led to an array of mutations including Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Meunier, all a result of a random mutation of Pinot Noir.
Vines can be reproduced by crossing or cloning. Growing vines from seed will potentially result in a new vine that shares no characteristics with its parent. Crossing is combining genetic material from two different varieties that will result in a new variety that shares the characteristics of both parent plants, a famous example being Pinotage, a crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsault. The only way to completely preserve the characteristics of a single vine is by cloning. This is the method of planting a cutting from the vine, a process that can continue for many decades, each clone being identical to and directly related to the original parent vine.
There are 40 different clones of Pinot Noir, around 15 of which are noted for their exceptional quality. A trait of this grape is its ability to take on and express the unique character of the terroir in which it is grown and each clone will be best suited to a specific condition. This is one of the main explanations for the sheer variety in the style of Pinot Noir produced. Of course, regionality and the decisions of the winemaker will also play a significant role but clonal selection is one of the most crucial factors in determining the final style of the wine.
Abel Clone : A higher acidity clone that gives unparallel structure and balanced. The Abel clone originates back to a cutting from the Domaine Romanee Contee vineyard.
Dijon Clone 113 : Revered for its elegance and perfume, these qualities are utilised by skilled winemakers to help amplify the pretty, lifted aromatics in a wine.
Dijon Clone 114 : Smaller berries that give good colour and classic Pinot flavours of black cherry and spice.
Dijon Clone 115 : The most widely planted of the Dijon Clones. Resulting wines are rich in texture and flavour with deep colour, great structure and serve as the backbone to many greats wines. Flavours of black cherry, blueberry and liquorice.
Dijon Clone 667 : Known as the workhorse clone with larger berries that give great structure. It performs differently depending on the site and flavours can range from light red berry fruits to deeper winter spice depending on the climate.
Dijon Clone 777 : A very dark and rich member of the family and highly prized for its complexity. Great for giving concentration, density and powerful aromatics. Flavours of bramble fruits, cassis, leather and earthy notes.
MV6 : The most widely planted across Australia and New Zealand, MV6 originates from cuttings taken from the famous Clos Vougeot vineyard in Burgundy.
An early ripening variety, Pinot Noir is best suited to cool climates. In warmer climates, acid levels will dramatically drop once it has reached full sugar ripeness, but won’t have had a chance for the delicate flavours to develop, so a slower ripening period is needed. It can however, suffer from rot in cooler climates, during autumn rains, due to its thin skin and tightly packed bunches. It is no wonder many producers find it difficult to get right.
Pinot Noir from Yarra Valley is becoming highly saught after, with a range of styles being produced, Yarra Valley’s reputation for producing premium Pinot is growing. It’s a surprisingly cool climate, being cooler than Bordeaux but slightly warmer than Burgundy, being more inland than many of Australia’s Pinot areas and feeling less maritime affects, significant influences come from the Great Dividing Range where planting can reach higher altitudes at lower temperatures. Due to the variation of climates across Yarra Valley, Pinot Noir can vary from silky, fine textured fruit to agricultural,
earthy flavoured wines.
Eileen Hardy Pinot Noir 2014
94 Points – James Halliday
"Deep crimson-purple; competes with its sister Bay of Fires Pinot, and has a similar throbbing power behind the deep colour of its robes. It is still impossibly young and trenchantly demands time for its texture to open up and its spicy black cherry/plum to supply the mouthfeel."
£29.95 per bottle
Mayer Close Planted Pinot Noir 2017
A real diehard’s style of Pinot. Timo Mayer’s catchphrase is “bring back the funk”, and he’s not talking about James Brown! German born with an enormous ancestry of wine making, Timo Mayer has broken the boundaries of Australian Pinot production.
96+ Points – The Wine Front
"What is left to say about Timo Mayer, aside, he keeps on making outstanding, fascinating, wonderful wines. There’s the howling at moon, baying at the wind, shirt tearing and pant splitting stuff, of course, and his incredible, unique site, but we know all that. This, of all the ‘Mayer’ wines, is only half whole bunch, the rest destemmed, where typically Mayer wines are 100% whole bunch. One thing you could reason, is that Timo’s wines are usually even better in worse years, but 2017, as great a season as it was for Yarra Valley, makes a hash of that rule.
Whiffs of smoke, gravelly-earthy note, dark cherry, mushroomy funk, undergrowth; where the wild things are. Love this fog of scent. Fine boned in the palate, draped in silky-sweet cherry and herbal flavours, rolls on a sheet of glossy acidity, finishes fine, perky, tight and squeaky. It’s a superb pinot noir, detailed, complex, layered and yet compact.
Watch this unfurl."
£46.50 per bottle
With a naturally cool climate and growing regions that exploit the cool air coming from the oceans surrounding the island, Tasmania is becoming one of the world’s most ideal regions for growing Pinot. And one whose potential has only just began to be tapped. It is the oceans that define this region and the vineyards are planted around the coast, the cool breezes helping to lengthen the ripening period, enabling the flavours to fully develop. The Tamar Valley vineyards on the north side of the island are less effected by coastal influences and have a slightly warmer climate. The Pinot Noir grown here tends to be riper and fruitier. The vineyards on the east coast are affected more significantly by the oceans, the furthest south feeling the effects of cold winds blowing off the Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean. The wines produced here are the most delicate in style.
Cutting edge Tasmanian producer Dr Edge creates three Pinot Noirs from three single vineyards, each from a different growing region on the island. For these wines he uses just one clone, Dijon 115 and vinifies them all in exactly the same way to highlight the differences in micro climates experienced in the three sub-regions. Pinot Noir is famous for taking on the features of its environment and expressing them in the final wine and Dr Edge has masterfully exploited this to create three stunning and uniquely different wines.
Dr Edge 'North' Pinot Noir 2017
One of our most recent exclusives, Dr Edge produces just four wines, three of which are single vineyard wines highlighting the differences in growing regions on three sides of the island and the fourth is a blend of all three. North is his most serious and powerful of the trio.
96+ Points - Gary Walsh (The Wine Front)
"It’s a Big Day in the North. Woah. Pow pow powerful, yet light too. Dark cherries, damp earth, spice, maybe some cheeky violet, but a brooding kind of ‘minerality’ throughout. Tannin is firm, a long emery rasp through the palate, pure acidity, perfume, earth and grip on a long finish. There’s some meatiness and smoky reductive stuff here, for sure, but the fruit and vineyard shines through. I’m all about this. Wonderful."
£39.95 per bottle
Dr Edge 'East' Pinot Noir 2017
96 Points - James Halliday
"The Dr Edge Pinots are part of a voyage of discovery, so it is that the East, North and South are all clone 115 (the ‘16s were MV6), and all have identical vinification: half whole-bunch carbonic maceration, half whole berries, once wild fermentation begins, 80% of the bunches are destemmed on top with 20% remaining as whole bunches, matured in French barriques (10% new) for 9 months. Fragrant, with more red fruits, long and silky; reflects the clonal change, driven by the very cool vintage, the tannin sotto voce."
£39.95 per bottle
Dr Edge 'South' Pinot Noir 2017
Ranked #1 of 125
2017 Pinot Noir from Tasmania
95+ Points - Gary Walsh (The Wine Front)
"Fine perfume, pretty and floral, strawberries dusted with pepper and spice, smoky autumn leaves and walks in the park. It’s delicate, rose petals over strawberry, cool bell-clear acidity, a playful rasp of tannin, and a spicy strawberry finish of impeccable length. Lacy, delicate wine. Diaphanous and thoroughly charming. Oh yes."
£39.95 per bottle
Glaetzer-Dixon Avancé Pinot Noir 2017
One of our exclusives since last October and the best Vinorium wine to date for staff member Peter. We are so confident in the quality of this wine that we bought over 1000 bottles. (Mainly for ourselves... but also to share with our loyal customers)
96+ Points - Stuart McCloskey
“The Pinot Noir for the ’17 Avancé was sourced from three vineyards in Southern Tasmania’s Upper Derwent and Coal Valleys. Sweet, succulent entry with an abundance of red cherries, wild strawberry, plums and sweet spices all laced together with bright, perfectly judged acidity. Medium-bodied, with pure silky tannins. The quality of racy, plush fruit is exquisite however, it’s the wines overall balance and completeness which stands out the most. You will have to look very hard to find a better buy for the money. A wine of pure and total pleasure. Just gorgeous and not to be missed”. Served in Zalto Burgundy glass (Highly-Recommended by the way! ), drinking beautifully now but will develop over the next 3-6 years.
£22.50 per bottle
House of Arras Brut Elite NV
94 Points - Stuart McCloskey
"Primarily based on the 2013 vintage with the fruit (57% Pinot Noir & 43% Chardonnay) sourced from Coal River Valley, Derwent Valley & Huon Estuary. The wine has gone through partial fermentation in oak barrels which has enabled Ed to significantly drop the dosage levels. Served in Zalto’s Universal glass and needs a little aeration to come alive. The ’07 Grand Vintage offers warmth whereas the ‘Elite’ comes to the fore with tension – perhaps a little reserved at first. Minerals, grapefruit, citrus and a touch of smoke. The oak influence is a masterstroke as this adds a layer of additional palate weight and complexity never found in wines of this extraordinary value. This is a great wine from House of Arras. Striking, brilliant and perhaps has no world equal for value. Disgorged after four years."
£17.95 per bottle
House of Arras Late Disgorged 2003
99 Points - Stuart McCloskey
"Extraordinarily left on the lees for 12 full years and disgorged June 2015. This is far from a New World gimmick - Mind-bogglingly brilliant and without question, the greatest sparkling wine outside of Champagne and better than many within. A sublime blend of 61% Chardonnay & 39% Pinot Noir which offers a profusion of aromatics and flavours. The wine delivers mouth-filling generosity with nutty honeycomb, toasted brioche, bread (a factor of the extended lees contact), toasted grains, caramel and citrus notes. I detect some ocean sea salinity which makes sense given the marine location. Clearly, the wines maturity is for all to see however, the purity and finesse is quite staggering. A towering masterpiece, riveting, difficult to share as several glasses is never enough and I honestly can't imagine it getting any better. Truly epic and the New World benchmark. Almost perfect! Served using Zalto universal. Only 2,200 bottles produced."
£57.95 per bottle
House of Arras Vintage Rose 2005
96 points - Stuart McCloskey
I was curious to sample the ’05 as I am not a huge fan of sparkling Rosé. A beautiful copper colour with cranberries, red stone fruits, sweet raspberry, orange peel and a little rosewater. In fact, the wine builds with endless layers and has the structure (as with the entire Arras range) of great, Grand Cru Champagne. There’s no holding back with this wine – It’s been released to be relished. There’s real depth and a density on show which takes this Rosé to the head of the class and deservedly so. I could imagine a dozen grilled, Loch Linnhe langoustines partnered with a chilled bottle of
the ’05. Simply, heaven.
£26.75 per bottle
One of the most southerly wine regions in the world, Central Otago claims to produce the finest Pinot Noir outside of Burgundy. Original plantings were just an experiment amongst other varieties, but Pinot quickly showed itself to be completely at home here and now dominates plantings. The climate is semi-continental with high sunshine hours but very cool nights which prevent the grapes from ripening too quickly and help to preserve vibrancy and freshness. There is no one style of Pinot Noir here, within Central Otago there are various sub-regions that will each show a different face. We tasted four samples this week, from Valli Vineyards in Central Otago. All the wines were from one region but different vineyards and all were completely unique. They were quite simply stunning, and each wine varied in style from deeper, blackcurrant and sweet spice to delicate and ethereal sweet cherry with sparks of vanilla oak. We all agreed which was our favorite, but the room was split regarding 2nd and 3rd place. Either way, we were unanimous on the fact that we should buy all four and the deal has now been done. We will offer these wines exclusively in the UK and will let you all know when they are arriving.
Bannockburn is one of Central Otago’s driest sub-regions with warmer, north facing slopes that reach some of the highest temperatures in Otago. Due to this, the wines from Bannockburn are deeply coloured with a concentrated, bramble fruit profile and spice.
(Image: Felton Road Winery)
Felton Road Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2016
95 Points – Bob Campbell
"Felton Road's entry level pinot noir is an elegant blend of several vineyards with a mix of savoury, earthy, herbal and coffee flavours with cherry, floral and spice characters. It's a supple and complex wine that reveals power through a lengthy finish."
£36.95 per bottle
Felton Road Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2017
“What can we say about the 2017s?” Says Nigel Greening, winemaker at Felton Road…
There’s not much of it is the first thing. A shame, because they are rather exciting, to put it mildly. Low yields have given us concentration, but the vintage itself, with its cooler more mixed weather, leaves a stamp of freshness and purity. That last word: pure, is the watchword of the vintage. These aren’t hefty, despite the serious concentration. They aren’t so much multidimensional wines; rather they are infused with a transparency, a clarity which I find very exciting and will appeal to those who revere the ability of Pinot to show purity. Make no mistake, this is going to be a very fine vintage. The best yet? Way too early to say, but it’s a contender.
Last of all, we were somewhat shocked to have Drinks International move us into the top 10 most admired wine brands on earth. A pretty outrageous statement for a small family winery in the middle of nowhere. To be sitting immediately above Guigal and Chateau D’Yquem is surreal. The fact that we were voted into 9th place by 200 wine professionals around the world is humbling.
No pressure then! I feel confident that the 2017 vintage; our 21st, is as worthy of such trust as anything we have made to date.”
95 Points – Bob Campbell
"Aromatic pinot noir with spice, plum and violet aromas that are joined by liquorice, prune and subtle nutty oak on the palate. Dense, intense wine with strong sweet fruit restrained by subtle tannins. A rich, almost chewy wine, with impressive underlying power. Best served slightly chilled to temper fruit sweetness."
£36.50 per bottle
Wanaka, another of Otago’s sub-regions, is one of the coolest sites with vineyards reaching up to 380 metres. Akitu is the Mauri word for summit, apex or highest point and their vineyards are right at the peak of this in amongst the picturesque surrounding of Lake Wanaka. These extreme conditions, at this altitude, in the southern most region in the world means a very cool climate and high continentality. The days are very sunny, the nights are very cold and the growing season is long and slow. These are ideal conditions for Pinot Noir and this is highly evident in their wine.
18 Points - Raymond Chan - Light, even ruby-red colour with slight garnet-purple hues, lighter on the rim. This has a softly concentrated and well-packed nose with aromas of savoury dark-red berry and black cherry fruit melded with dark herbs and notes of earth and black minerals, unveiling subtle and harmonious oak and whole bunch stalk detail. Medium-full bodied, the palate has a well-concentrated core of sweet dark-red and black berried fruit intermixed with dark herb and subtle whole bunch stalk elements, along with black mineral nuances. The extraction provides balanced, fine-gained tannins and the mouthfeel is enlivened by fresh, balancing, lacy acidity. This has a good line, leading to a lush, lively finish od red and black fruits and subtle herb notes. This is a moderately concentrated, sweet, dark-fruited Pinot Noir with moderately extracted, supple tannins and fresh acidity.
£31.50 per bottle
We have a small parcel 'en-magnum' of the A1 Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015 and the A2 Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014 (18.5 / 20 - Raymond Chan), personally hand signed by the winemaker and are displayed in a stunning presentation box.
£52.95 per magnum
* Only 1 Available *
At the north end of the South Island is Marlborough, protected from rains by mountains to the west, Marlborough enjoys sunny conditions combined with cooling sea breezes. Famed for Sauvignon Blanc, plantings of Pinot Noir were initially poor due to producers planting vineyards in sites most suited to Sauvignon Blanc. Thankfully, various sub-regions were identified, and Pinot Noir started to thrive. Wairau Valley benefits from sea breezes and valley slopes and generous sunshine producing Pinots of great intensity. Dog Point pioneered this region for Pinot Noir after Ivan Sutherland and James Healy discovered its potential during their time at Cloudy Bay. Churton plant hillside vineyards between Waihopai and Omaka Valleys at 200m above sea level. North facing slopes provide great sun exposure during the morning and the altitude gives cooler evening temperatures resulting in very refined Pinot Noir.
Dog Point Pinot Noir 2015
97+ Points - Stuart McCloskey
What a welcome back after a three-vintage absence (for me, not the wine!). Waves of plums, mulberries, black cherries and hints of blood orange wash effortlessly across your palate. There is an intense core of rich dark fruits perfectly framed by fine tannins which is impossible not to admire. Certainly, an intriguing Pinot Noir which straddles styles and certainly would not be out of place with some of Sonoma’s ‘top’ Pinot Noirs. Utterly joyful and quite honestly soars above many of its New Zealand peers. Served in a Zalto Burgundy glass but I do feel a little unkind with my score – Perhaps another point (98+) if I had the patience to decant which I would highly recommend."
£27.95 per bottle
Churton Special Blend Pinot Noir 2016
Churton is the solo project of winemaker Sam Weaver whose ethos is to try and achieve Pinot Noir of the highest quality. His passion and drive has seen him create wine in Burgundy, Eastern Europe and four different regions within New Zealand where he also works as a wine consultant.
96+ points Stuart McCloskey
"A fabulous mature nose of undergrowth, earth and balanced beautifully with a dash of spicy red fruits and rosehip, which could easily be interpreted as a high-class Burgundy. There’s lots to discover on the palate – time in the glass / decanter reveals a real depth and complexity rarely found at this price level. The palate is subtle, silky with a lovely sweet entry. Layers of fruit continue to build leading into blood orange, cranberry and a touch of warm spice. A beautiful wine with perfectly judged acidity and ultra-fine tannins. This is a model of pure sensitivity –simply, a faultless joy."
Served using Zalto Burgundy glass.
£20.50 per bottle
Blank Canvas Pinot Noir 2015
Blank Canvas Pinot Noir 2015 is awarded an incredible 97 Points from Master of Wine Bob Campbell. The score propels this wine to a number one ranking out of 112 tasted Marlborough Pinot Noir wines from the 2015 vintage.
97 Points - Bob Campbell MW
"Evocatively perfumed wine with savoury, fresh herb, violet, red rose, cherry and berry flavours supported by classy spicy oak. Dense and seamless with an impressively lengthy finish. Delicious wine."
£25.50 per bottle
Leung Estate Ma Maison Pinot Noir 2015
Winner of our
Best Value Red of 2018
98 Points - Stuart McCloskey
"An incredibly exciting wine from the boutique winery based in Martinborough. Dark, brooding with a wonderful perfume - full of the aromas of Autumn. Damson, cinnamon, spice and a touch of woodsmoke. The palate exudes intense, luscious and concentrated flavours of sweet, ripe damson, plum, spiced cherry and black fruits. The quality of the fruit enriches the fleshy mouthfeel which is so satisfying and moreish. Lots of drive and energy too. The texture is luxurious and balanced perfectly with fine-grained supporting tannins. A superb wine which flows seamlessly and lasts on the palate forever. Just beautiful” Zalto Burgundy glass is a must!"
£22.95 per bottle
An enormous producer of Pinot Noir that is championed in various sub regions such as Santa Barbara, California’s overwhelming influence is from the Pacific Ocean. California is long and all coastal with the ocean to the west and the Sierra Mountain range to the east with its central valley lying behind. This creates ideal conditions for cool climate varieties such as Pinot Noir as early morning fogs roll in from the ocean, cooling the morning temperature. These fogs can be channelled further inland through the Sierra valleys cooling vineyards planted up the valley slopes.
Anthill Farms Campbell Ranch Pinot Noir 2014
97+ Points - Stuart McCloskey
We thought the 2013 was something special, however the 2014 could well go down as one of the greatest ‘young’ Pinot Noirs to ever pass our lips. The ’14 is blessed with an incredibly intense, powerful nose - the perfume is extraordinary, almost exotic. Although young, the palate is showing beautiful structure, filigree tannins and is utterly sensuous. This is an irresistible Campbell Ranch, a little fatter and more generous than the previous two vintages. Effortless, mercurial and brilliant.
£39.95 per bottle
Chanin Wines Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir 2015
95 Points - Antonio Galloni
The 2015 Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict Vineyard is bold and racy, but also shows a good bit of freshness. Dark cherry, plum, lavender, mint, violet and sweet spices are front and center. Pliant and ripe, but with good supporting energy, the 2015 is all about balance.
£52.95 per bottle
Winemakers often just stick to one particular clone but many choose to blend a selection to take advantage of each clone’s subtle nuances and to enhance the complexity of their wines. It is not dissimilar to blending different grape varieties in that each add a separate component to the finished wine that result in being greater than the sum of its parts.
Don McConachy of Devotus in Martinborough chooses to work with Dijon clones blending several different types. His Pinot Noir 2016 is a blend of clones 667, 777, 114 and 115 resulting in a highly complex wine that is distinctly Burgundian in style.
97+ Points - Stuart McCloskey
“A stupendous Pinot Noir from Devotus, which is getting better and better with each passing week. Wonderful aromatics of plums, spice, sour cherry, petal, cedar and warm earth. The palate is medium-bodied, tensile, layered, incredibly balanced with fine, grained tannins. The sweet entry is adorable which would lead most to the wrong conclusion; this is a regal, fine-boned Pinot Noir executed perfectly by a supremely skilled winemaker. Furthermore, a wine which happily outshines any Burgundy at this price level. My advice is that fans seeking energy, quality, and a laser-like focus should flock to this fabulous wine”. Only 2,502 bottles produced.
Served using Zalto Burgundy glassware.
A week-long special @ £33.50 per bottle
Viticulture: This wine was grown from our 22 year old vines consisting of Dijon clones (667, 777, 114, & 115) and the Abel clone. Devotus vines were non-irrigated and their farming methods are natural. Weeds are controlled with mechanical cultivation and crops grown within the vineyard (such as barley, oats, clover and lupin) to plough back into the soil for organic vine nutrition.
Vinification: Picking by hand was completed on 28th March 2016 with sugar levels at 23.4°Brix (average across clones). After careful sorting 50% of the whole bunches were included in the ferment. Cold maceration was held at 8°C for 3 days. Fermented with wild yeasts from the vineyard. Peak fermentation temperature was 30°C. Total on skin contact time 11 days. Matured in French oak barrels for 11 months (no new oak).
No fining. No filtering.
Exclusive to The Vinorium:
Kay Brothers - McLaren Vale
New wines from one of our top selling producers.
An outstanding vintage with perfect ripening conditions.
Vintage 2017 was set up by wonderful winter and spring rainfall, with 2016 the wettest season since 1992. The abundant rain gave the soils and the entire eco-system a much needed flush after the dry summers of 2015 and 2016. A cool September and October delayed bud burst and spring growth. The vines flourished leading into flowering because of the excellent sub soil moisture with shoots showing good vigour.
Flowering conditions were mild and fruit set was quite good. Disease pressure was higher than average because of excess rain and humidity, however timely fungicide sprays kept the fruit clean and healthy. The summer months were cool, with only 2 days over 40ºC, the vines enjoyed these conditions and canopies were healthy and less stressed than in most years.
The season continued to track much later than normal. However the final ripening period was warm with cold nights, very favourable conditions for flavour development. Setting the scene for an outstanding high quality vintage. Harvest began on the 15th of March, one of the latest on record, with the picking of block 8 and block 11 Shiraz. Block 6 was harvested on the 21st of March and the final pick was block 2 Mataro on the 21st of April, a late one in deed. Yields were excellent across all varietals, colour and natural acidity outstanding with generous full-flavoured fruit characters shining through.
2017 Griffon's Key Grenache
Griffons are powerful and majestic creatures that have the body, tail and hind legs of a lion and the head, talons and wings of an eagle. They symbolise divine power and are known for guarding treasure and priceless possessions. We felt that the symbolism of the Griffon matched this premium Grenache perfectly.
The fruit was hand-picked from a remarkably expressive parcel in the Amery vineyard. Artisanal winemaking ensures a rich, concentrated and powerful style reflecting its name and character. Tread carefully past the mythological ‘king of creatures’ and discover the drinking pleasure it is guarding.
The vineyard has a North-Eastern exposure. Soils are shallow red sandy loam over complex geology comprising quartz and ironstone gravels, weathered and calcareous sandstone, siltstone and limestone.
Bud-burst was late but flowering conditions were mild and fruit set was quite good. Because of the mild summer temperatures vine canopies thrived with little stress compared to most years. The final ripening period was warm with cold nights, very favourable conditions for flavor development. Setting the scene for an outstanding high quality vintage.
The best parcels of hand-picked Grenache were selected from the Amery vineyard. Fruit was open fermented and hand plunged for 10 days on skins, prior to traditional basket pressing in our 1928 press. The wine matured a further 10 months in aged French oak puncheons.
£25.95 per bottle
2017 Basket Pressed Shiraz
Our hallmark style and signature varietal. This wine represents everything we love about McLaren Vale Shiraz including generous approachability. For well over a century Shiraz has played the main role in producing wines of outstanding quality, depth and longevity at Kay Brothers. The Basket Pressed Shiraz continues this tradition.
The vineyards sourced for this wine have a predominately eastern exposure. Soil varies from sandy loam at the top of the hill to heavier loam and clay as it transcends down the hill towards the creek. The dry climate forces the vine roots, ranging from 9–18 years, to delve into the complex underlying geology consisting of quartz and ironstone gravels, weathered and calcareous sandstone, siltstone and limestone.
Following 9-12 days on skins, the wine then matured in a combination of American, French and Eastern European oak barrels for 13 months. The Basket Pressed Shiraz provides a fruit driven, full bodied McLaren Vale Shiraz in true Kay Brothers style.
£15.95 per bottle
Low yields - good quality.
The growing season for 2015/16 began with well below average winter and spring rainfall. September was cool with daily temperatures below average, this combined with low rainfall meant the vine shoots grew slowly in early spring. Then 3 consecutive months of warmer and drier than average conditions demanded earlier irrigation than the vines would normally require.
Flowering conditions were quite good, not as windy as in some years, however some welcome rain in the middle of November did cause some flower caps to stick, reducing fruit set a little.
The upside of such dry conditions was that disease pressure was extremely low and the vine canopies and grapes were in pristine health.
Between the 29th of January and the 3rd of February the drought broke and we received 44 mm of much welcomed rain. The extremely dry sub soils swallowed up this rain easily, while freshening canopies and filling out berry size and fortunately no disease or berry split was to be found. The White Frontignac grapes, which produce our dry white wine “Blanc”, were the first to be harvested as the rain arrived on the 29th of January, an early start indeed.
The first reds, Block 8 Shiraz, were picked on the 17th of February and the final ripening period provided mild conditions, ideal for full flavour development. Block 6 produced a lovely balanced crop of 10.65 tonnes, picked on the 7th of March, which historical records show is pretty typical timing. What started out as an early vintage concluded with 1.56 tonnes of Nero d’ Avola, picked on the 4th of April, which is a pretty normal date to finish up.
Whilst total tonnes harvested were below long term averages, quality was solid. The wines are highly aromatic with gentle acidity and moderate alcohol levels. The stand out varietal at this early stage appears to be Grenache.
The 2016 vintage is the 32nd release of our flagship wine, handpicked from the original 1892 planting. Long held in high esteem as one of McLaren Vale’s finest Shiraz plantings, Block 6 Shiraz continues the tradition at Kay Brothers of producing full bodied red wines that have the grace and pedigree to age for decades. Handpicked and fermented in the original open top fermenters, Block 6 Shiraz is a wine of great strength, deep complexity and amazing vibrancy.
The Block 6 vineyard was planted by Frederick and Herbert Kay in 1892 and faces east. Rows run north south with significant undulation. The vines are cane pruned with the canes wrapped onto the top wire of the low lying trellis. The present 3.5 acres comprises a corner of red loam, some heavy clay in the middle of the block and gravely alluvial soils on the lower side. The underlying “South Maslin Sands” geology is extremely complex containing layers of glauconite, limestone, sandstone and siltstone. This elegant example of McLaren Vale Shiraz is matured for 23 months in 40 % new French and American oak puncheons.
£41.50 per bottle
Since Kay Brothers first planted grapes in the fertile soil of their Amery Vineyard back in 1892, Cabernet Sauvignon has never been far from their thoughts. Along with Shiraz, and Grenache, Cabernet was to make up a large portion of Kay Brothers vintage for the next century. Though often blended with Shiraz to produce full bodied Australian Claret for many years, Cabernet has long held its position as a wine of strength,
power and balance.
The 2016 vintage Cuthbert Cabernet is the 7th release of this commemorative wine. 6.81 tonnes were hand harvested on the 21st of March 2016. The grapes were traditionally processed using open fermentation for 10 days on skins and then basket pressed in our 1928 press. The wine was matured for 20 months in French oak hogsheads and barriques. Bottled in March 2018.
£23.95 per bottle
A classic example of full bodied McLaren Vale Shiraz. The Hillside vineyard was established in 1992 using cuttings from the century old Block 6. Unlike Block 6, the Hillside Shiraz allows Kay Brothers to pick various parcels of fruit so as to assemble the best blend possible. Block 11, located at the top of the hill, has shallow sandy loam soil over limestone and sandstone. These vines are very exposed to the wind and sun. As a consequence, the vines mature earlier in most years and tend to be low yielding, with intense fruit concentration and powerful tannins.
The rest of the Hillside Shiraz is located farther down the hill, in New Block 6, where dark chocolate loam and clay soil dispersed with quartz and ironstone over silty limestone. The New Block 6 component provides the finesse and elegance to the overall blend with savoury flavours and tight structure.
Matured for 23 months in American and French oak, the block 11 component was fermented and matured in a large French oak foudre (holding 5400L). The blend of these two vineyards balances each other extremely well.
£23.25 per bottle
Wishing you a fab weekend,