(2018) What a fabulous showing for all of the wines in the Blank Canvas range I must say. From a single vineyard in the Waihopai Valley of Marlborough, a large proportion of this was fermented as whole bunches of grapes, with wild yeasts, before ageing in French oak barriques. What an aromatic Pinot Noir, floral and herbal, bright cherry melts into a subtle earthy and nutty note, then the wine powers onto the palate: it as its seductive side for sure, with juicy, dense fruit, but there is light and air in this picture too, an edge to the firm tannins and the acidity, spice and subtle truffle character, and then a pristine finish almost like a white wine with its cool focus and length. Seriously good Pinot Noir this, multi-faceted and delicious. On offer at Â£23.95 at time of review.
(2018) From a single block in the southern valleys of Marlborough, matured 10 months in French oak, around 30% of which was new. This is a deep and black-fruited style of concentrated Pinot, 14% alcohol testifying to its ripeness and richness. On the nose a touch of charred meat, savoury dark fruit and, yes, just a glimpse of something more perfumed and floral in the background. On the palate it has a liquorice stripe of bittersweet fruit, tannin and crunchy acidity. The fruit develops nicely mid-palate to something more sweet and elegant. An impressive wine, that for me would be even better just reined-back slightly on oak, alcohol and extraction.
(2017) A selection of the best barrels of Pinot, made with fruit from the best blocks, is given a little extra time in barrel and a higher proportion of new oak. Although also a different vintage to the regular Pinot, the family resemblance is clear, with a similar profile of cherry and exotic spice, just a little extra touch of tobacco and briar from 15 months in barrel. The colour has that lovely transparency of Pinot that has not been over-done, the palate the same winning combination of agile fruit and briskness to the structure, just a touch more concentration and creaminess. At time of review Blackdog Wine Agency only has magnums at Â£55 on sale.
(2016) Not cheap, but very, very good, this has a big, bloody, ripe, truffle and game nose, with delicious depth and concentration, the mouth-filling mid-palate sweetness and the tannin grip of the finish giving this authority but not losing its innate sexiness. French oak ageing rounds the finish.
(2016) Kevin Judd rarely puts a foot wrong and so it is with this terrific Pinot which displays fabulous complexity, so much schist and smouldering embers, truffle and complex terroir character. So long, bright, but with unfolding depths. Should cellar for five years and more, but delicious now.
(2013) English couple Sam and Mandy Weaver specialise in Pinot Noir at their small Marlborough estate, which is farmed biodynamically on a hillside of the Waihopai Valley. Sam describes 2010 as "an excellent growing season" for Pinot, which he makes from whole bunches in open fermenters, and ages 14 months in French oak, only 20% of which is new. The wine has a pleasing pale but youthful colour, and delightfully vegetal and rhubarby notes, a hint of roasting chestnuts and plenty of spice, in a complex layering with earthy red berry fruit. On the palate this is Pinot in a savoury style, the spices are fruity rather than oaky, the tannins fine and grippy and good levels of acidity add to that savoury, edgy concentration. The cherry fruit begins to assert mid-palate, just softening the picture, and the swirl of smokiness from the barrels underpins. Complex stuff that evolves in the glass and will surely age, but has the substance now to take on not only festive roast poultry, duck or goose, but maybe even rare roast beef too. Terrific Pinot Noir.
(2013) English-born Sam Weaver specialises in Pinot at one of Marlborough's top estates. Farmed biodynamically, the wine is aged 14 months in French oak, around 18% of which is new. This has a deep garnet colour and a very engaging nose, with a gentle damp earth character and leafy briar over plum and cherry fruit, a touch of mint and something floral and rose-like in the background. In the mouth there is a supple, medium-bodied lithe appeal, very good freshness with a bite of cherry acidity, and a smooth, well-proportioned mid-palate where spicy berries and a touch of firm endive or liquorice add structure. This feels like a Pinot that, whilst elegant and unforced, has the structure and gravitas to age a few years too. 92
(2011) Regional Blend. Hugely leafy and fresh, with lots of earthy, mineral character and a delicious sense of earthy terroir. The palate has delicious ripeness and freshness, with a berry sweetness but also am undertow of mocha and fudge giving that lurking sense of depth and richness.
(2011) Regional Blend . Tight, quite a lot of minerality, with a touch of mint and plenty of briary, full, ripe red berries. But this retains its freshness and its focus, with lovely balance and a cherry ripeness, the classy, fresh character pushing through into a long, long finish. Delicious and fresh.
(2011) Primarily from around Brancott, handpicked, sorted, partial whole bunch, wild yeast ferment and 100% new oak. Beautifully ripe and sweet, with density and chocolaty and coffee aromas, but not heavy or charry. Deliciously silky on the palate too, with long, sweet fruit and good acidity, tannins fine.
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