Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and all the other Pinots!

Followers will have read in some my old blogs that Pinot Noir is a grape that can mutate quickly to Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc or Pinot Meunier. In each variety there are also lots of different clones. All occur quite naturally - no genetic engineering here! 

I found a good explanation of this recently on the '' website. They explained that "Pinot Noir is a genetically unstable varietal. New clones, and to a lesser extent, new varietals are not uncommon occurrences in a Pinot Noir vineyard. Strolling through a vineyard of Pinot Noir, one may find one or more plants with single shoots that have characteristics unlike the rest of the wine. If you try to propagate these shoots into new vines, and all the buds on the new plant display the same attributes on the original shoot, then a new clone, or in extreme cases, a new varietal is born. Pinot Meunier, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc are some of the more successful mutations of Pinot Noir and produce distinct and unique wines on their own. Each differs from its parent, Pinot Noir, in the color of their fruit, and in the case of Pinot Meunier, a noticeable number of white "hairs" on the tip of the shoots".

If you think that this all sounds a bit odd, check out the two accompanying photographs. We are in the middle of the 2011 harvest (which I think could be one our best ever, but more about that in future blogs). When we were picking the Blue Rock Pinot Noir this year though, we found a bunch of grapes that was half Pinot Noir and half Pinot Blanc - yes same bunch. That is the top photo. 

BUT then when we looked more closely we also found a berry that was half Pinot Noir colour and half Pinot Blanc colour - yes, a single berry! All pretty amazing eh! Look at the second of the two photos and you'll see the berry I refer to almost dead centre of the image. I assure you no Photo Shop trickery here.

A few nice autumn shots below too, and a real bunch of Pinot Noir!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Is the Martinborough Region now producing the world's best Pinot Noir?

Now you all know from past blogs, that I have always thought Martinborough is the only place in New Zealand to grow classic Pinot Noir. By classic, I mean complex, layered, textured, savoury, lingering and long-lived. Well it looks to me if the world is about to realise that too!

Many newspapers and wine critics, including Huon Hooke, writing in the Melbourne Age, are head-lining the fact that a $200 bottle of New Zealand pinot noir beat off a strong field, including a $7000 bottle of French burgundy in a blind tasting in the US.

"Martinborough Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir 1998 triumphed over one of the world's most prestigious wines, 1990 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti La Tache, to take No.1 ranking in the World's Top 20 Pinot Noirs competition in Pasadena, USA. Twelve judges blind-tasted 20 wines from New Zealand, the US, France, Germany and Australia. The competition was based on the 1976 Judgment of Paris, which caused a sensation when a Californian wine was chosen over famous French wines. As well as being ranked No.1 overall, the Martinborough Vineyard wine also received the most No.1 rankings - from three of the judges".

From a personal perspective, we at Murdoch James came to Martinborough to grow Pinot Noir because it had the potential to craft wines equal to the best of Burgundy. Now we believe the world is about to find out how much the dedicated winemakers in our region have moved from potential to reality in regards to that criteria.

There is something special about the vines, soils, climate and people here that create a very special terroir. What you now need to look for are the subtle differences in Martinborough's sub-appellations. For example, the wines from the lime rich soils of the Dry River region are noticably different to those grown on the gravels north of the village.