As it turns out, every winery doesn't release their 2010 vintage in 2010. Or their 2010 in 2011. Rather it's a combination of when the wines are ready to drink, or for those requiring further ageing, when the last vintage has been sold out. Which explains why Larry McKenna’s Escarpment Pinot Noir 2010 release was scheduled for March 2012.
I had hoped to go to the Escarpment Winemakers Dinner at Martin Bosleys on 29 February. It was not to be.
That is until I got a DM on Twitter from @winenoter, also known as Raymond Chan. “A highly respected wine advisor in the New Zealand wine scene”. This is as I’ve come to understand, but it’s also a direct quote from his website, www.raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz.
Raymond had been sent a sample of the complete Escarpment Pinot Noir 2010 release. He, I imagine, poured a glass from each bottle, swirled, sniffed, sipped and wrote his notes on what he found in each glass. And when he was done he DM’d me and offered to share the experience.
Easy as that I got to taste the Escarpment 2010 release after all. The box of bottles came with Raymond’s notes on the wines, which, I have to say, can be pretty intimidating. As well as incredibly helpful and appreciated.
So, what did I think? (Please note, what follows is what I could be sure came from my own experience.)
I tasted the release over the course of two days. The first day I collected an understanding of what I believed winemaker Larry McKenna’s intention to be; the second day was to look at the wines individually.
From day one, the grand intention, I saw a family dynamic emerge, complete with sibling rivalry. The shy and understated, the ambitious and successful, the extroverted and adventurous – they were all there. Each of the six stood on their own and were weaved through with that similar thread that ties together any family – a shared wine maker, a shared terroir.
Kupe Chardonnay by Escarpment: the adopted sibling. Rock melon syrup and a leafy, nutty underbrush. Beautifully clear and light with a long, creamy finish.
Escarpment Pinot Noir by Escarpment: the entry level Pinot Noir, the introduction to the range. My partner was swept away by the bouquet of this one. For me, this was the lightest and most ready-to-drink of the bunch. Florals and perfume on the nose, tangy fruit flavour with a medium finish.
Kiwa by Escarpment: relying solely on memory I would have lumped the Kiwa and the Pahi together as twins. Same, same but different. This is why you take notes. The Kiwa is dark, dense, with a real meaty flavour. If the Kiwa and Pahi are twins, they would be fraternal.
Pahi by Escarpment: spicy, tart blood orange zing. Rich tannins. Every sip made me think this would be great paired with food. Finished with first-class friends and lively conversation.
Te Rehua by Escarpment: if this wine were a person it would have a pink Mohawk, a lip ring and a tattoo sleeve. Lovable in its unconventional nature. Dark plums, root bark, savoury elements and red berries and oak. Its indefinable quality is what draws you in, compelling you to take another drink, until mysteriously the glass is empty. And then the bottle.
Kupe by Escarpment: the reserve – mature and well mannered. You could drink the wine through the aroma alone. The rich diverse characters of dark berry, flinty mineral qualities and oak on the nose. It didn’t disappoint on the palate. I understand this is what they call big. I expect that day-to-day, year-to-year this wine will evolve and continue to delight.
Thank you Raymond for the opportunity to taste these beautiful wines. So very much appreciated.