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Raymond Chan: Escarpment 2015 Insight Series

Escarpment’s 2015 Insight Series range is to be released at a press launch in London next week. Raymond Chan recently published his review of the wines, awarding Te Rehua Pinot Noir an incredible 19.5+/20! Please read on for his comments and tasting notes:

Here, I review the 2014 Escarpment Chardonnay, showing the evolving handling of this variety, and the 2015 Martinborough district blend plus ‘Insight’ single vineyard Pinot Noirs ‘Pahi’, ‘Kiwa’, ‘Te Rehua’ and ‘Kupe’. The Pinot Noirs show a remarkable consistency of ripe black fruits and considerable structure and complexity. The wines, including the district blend have a uniformity of power and strength showing the nature of the vintage and matching winemaker inputs. Yet the vineyard specific personalities come through clearly in the single vineyard wines. At Pinot Noir 2017, I was particularly excited by the ‘Te Rehua’ and ‘Kupe’, giving the nod to the latter. On tasting the wines for ‘Feature Reviews’, the ‘Te Rehua’ pips the ‘Kupe’. As Larry would say, “it all depends on the day how they will show”. Whichever day it is, these are wonderful and serious wines.

2015 Te Rehua Pinot Noir: Full, black-hearted ruby-red colour with slight purple hues, a little lighter on the rim, youthful in appearance. The nose is full and voluminous with vibrant, aromatic dark-red and black fruits, lifted with a complex amalgam of black florals, savoury whole cluster stalk elements, anise and dark herb elements. This has excellent depth and concentration allied to perfumed lift and complexity. Medium-full bodied, the palate is succulently rich with ripe black cherry and black-berried fruits along with aromatic dark-red, violet and black florals, underlined by subtle whole cluster stalk and dark herb detail. The palate has freshness and vibrancy with lacy acidity along with fine-grained tannin extraction and structure. As the wine flows, the acidity lifts the fruit aromatics and enriches the sweetness. This has power, vitality and energy, and carries to a sustained, succulent, complex finish. This is a beautifully rich, vibrant and powerful, but impeccably balanced Pinot Noir with aromatic black fruits and subtle layers of complexity. Match with lamb, beef and venison dishes over the next 8-10 years. A blend of many clones from the Barton ‘Te Rehua’ vineyard, Huangarua Road, vines 23 y.o., indigenous yeast fermented with 65% whole bunches to 13.9% alc., the wine spending 24 days on skins and aged 18 months in 30% new French oak barriques. 19.5+/20

2015 Kupe Pinot Noir: Full, even, dark, black-red colour, a little lighter on the edge. This has a full, rich nose of ripe black cherry and black-berried fruits with notes of liquorice and lifted spicy oak, entwined with fine black herb and savoury whole bunch stalk perfumes. The nose has real intensity and vitality. Medium-full bodied, the palate is wonderfully rich and succulent with flavours of ripe black cherry and black-berried fruits, along with blackberry compote and a layering of spicy oak, with well-integrated whole bunch stalk elements and dark herb detail. The fruit sweetness and richness is balanced by very fine-grained powdery tannin extraction, and the palate is enlivened by fresh, vibrant acidity lending vitality and energy. The wine carries to a very long, lingering finish of black fruits, liquorice and spices. This is a succulently rich and vibrant, black-fruited Pinot Noir with layers of spice, oak, dark herbs and whole cluster complexities on a very fine-grained, fresh palate. Match with Middle Eastern lamb dishes and most game meats over the next 8-9+ years. The eleventh release of ‘Kupe’. Abel clone fruit from the Escarpment Te Muna Road vineyard, close-planted in 1999, indigenous yeast fermented with 70% whole bunches to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 18 months in 50% new French oak barriques. 19.5/20

2015 Pahi Pinot Noir: Dark, deep, black-hearted ruby-red colour with slight purple hues, lighter on the edge. The nose is refined in expression with a core of ripe black cherry and berry fruit entwined with dark-red and black florals, with finely integrated savoury dark herb and whole cluster stalk suggestions. Subtle notes of liquorice emerge, and the aromatics grow in depth, intensity and volume with aeration. Medium to medium-full bodied, the palate has elegantly concentrated and intense flavours of black cherries and liquorice with subtle spice notes, unveiling black florals and integrated and harmoniously interwoven dark herb and whole bunch complexities. The palate has a concentrated core with fine-grained, flowery tannin structure and refined acidity. Floral elements unfold and carry through to an aromatic, lingering finish of finesse. This is an elegantly concentrated, refined Pinot Noir with ripe black fruits, florals, liquorice and spice notes, integrated with whole bunch detail and flowery structure. Match with wild duck and pork dishes over the next 6-8+ years. A blend of clones 10/5, Abel and 5 from the McCreanor ‘Pahi’ vineyard, Princess Street, vines 28 y.o., indigenous yeast fermented with 50% whole bunches to 13.1% alc., the wine spending 17 days on skins and aged 18 months in 30% new French oak barriques. This is the last ‘Pahi’ made by Escarpment. 19.0+/20

2015 Kiwa Pinot Noir: Even, dark ruby-red colour, a little lighter on edge with a suggestion of garnet. The nose is softly full and beautifully balanced and integrated with harmonious aromas of savoury dark-red and black cherry fruit, along with earthy elements, dark and dried herbs, unfolding a soft layering of whole bunch stalk complexities, This ha subtle spicy and funky nuances and the nose is quite complete. Medium-full bodied, the palate has stylishly restrained flavours of ripe black-berried fruits in a complex amalgam of savoury whole bunch stalk, dark and dried herb notes with earthy and spicy elements. The fruit is encased by fine, grainy tannin extraction and considerable structure that carries the wine to a long, textural finish of black fruits and savoury and earthy flavours. This is a complex, savoury black-fruited Pinot Noir with earth, whole bunch and herbal complexities on a well-structured and textural palate. Match with casseroles and slow cooked game meat dishes over the next 8-9+ years. A blend of clones 5, 6 and 13 from the Cleland ‘Kiwa’ vineyard, Cambridge Road, vines 28 y.o., indigenous yeast fermented with 50% whole bunches to 13.4% alc., the wine spending 21 days on skins and aged 18 months in 40% new French oak barriques. 19.0/20

You can view and download spec sheets and bottle shots here.