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One of the most serious English Sparkling producers. This historic estate has been in the Goring family since 1743. The tiny 16-acre vineyard is close-planted on a steep south-facing chalk escarpment described as 'similar to the Côte des Blancs' in Champagne. The fruit is picked very selectively with quality being the absolute focus. The grapes are pressed gently using a traditional Coquard press. After three years on the lees this wine, composed of 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay & 22% Pinot Meunier, is hand disgorged and balanced with a minimal dosage of just 4g/L. It has a fine counterbalance between toasty richness and power from the wines élevage in Burgundian French Oak barrels, with racy acidity, tension and a focused chalky minerality.

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Friday
Dec272013

{Terra Ignota}: Te Whare Ra (TWR) Back in Stock!

I am super excited to announce that Te Whare Ra (TWR) one of our favorite direct import properties is now back in stock after much too long of an absence (thank you government shut down).

Te Whare Ra is a real family winery, Jason and Anna have two sets of twin girls!

For those of you that have not seen any of TWR’s wines before here is the scoop: Te Whare Ra is a small organic certified and Biodynamic practicing estate in Marlborough’s Wairau Valley. The owners / winemakers Jason and Anna Flowerday bought a section of old vines (planted in 1979) in 2003. After converting the estate over to their strict viticultural practices they have been focusing their efforts on making wines with a powerful sense of place, excellent textural presence and wonderful elegant poise. All of their wines are small production and are lovingly hand-crafted. The 2012 Pinot noir is a 300 case production, the Chardonnay for 2012, just 90 cases! We are incredibly lucky to be working with these folks and I really hope people will try out their remarkable range of wines. They have all become true staff favorites at K&L and when you taste the wines you will know why!

Jason and Anna showcasing their organic vineyard with Buckwheat cover crop

Here are the latest offerings that we now have in stock:

2012 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, $18.99

The 2012 vintage in New Zealand produced very high quality wines from low yields in a long, cool growing season. This sauvignon blanc is sourced from the Trelawne Farm Vineyard in the Upper Awatere Valley and TWR's home block in the Wairau Valley. The fruit was very gently pressed and is a large proportion of free-run juice. A slow cool ferment was used to preserve this wines bright aromatics and flavors while a small proportion of the juice was fermented in old Demi-muids (large neutral oak barrels) to give added texture and complexity on the palate. Jason and Anna’s notes read: “White currant and passion fruit coupled with ripe tropical and citrus notes from the Wairau components. These follow through to the palate -- which is fine and soft with vibrant, fleshy fruit balanced by ripe, juicy acidity and lingering minerality." This is a fresh zesty SB with great acidity and very exotic aromatics. The wines racy qualities are beautifully balanced by a rich textural mid palate from the extra lees contact and barrel fermented proportion.

2012 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Pinot Noir, Marlborough, $26.99

The fruit for this Pinot Noir comes from TWR’s home vineyard in the Renwick sub-region of Marlborough. The fruit is farmed organically and biodynamically. After careful handpicking, gentle de-stemming (without crushing) the fruit is then sorted by the individual berry! The ferment takes place in tiny one ton open fermenters where it is gently punched down by hand four times per day. The wine then spends 12 months in top quality French oak with 35% being new wood. According to the winemaker this wine “exhibits fragrant notes of ripe strawberry, and cherry with hints of mocha, violets, spice and some complex savory undertones. The finely textured, silky tannins combine with vibrant flavors of ripe strawberries and omega plums. The palate carries onto more savory and complex flavors and finishes with a lingering persistence of fruit, fine tannin and well integrated oak. Bottled unfined and with mineral filtration”. I love this wines balance of exuberance with its juicy accesible fruit along with more complex layers of exotic spice, agar wood, floral tones and deep forest floor notes. A easy wine to enjoy on so many levels.

Jason hand plunging the Pinot Noir

2012 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Chardonnay, Marlborough, $26.99

This 2012 Chardonnay is selected from their 32 year old home block in Renwick. The vines are Mendoza clone famous for its small berries and intense flavor concentration. The fruit it all handpicked and fermented in French oak Puncheon barrels that are 50% new. The Chardonnay then spends 11 months on its full lees adding layers of complexity and enhancing textural components. The total production of this wine was 90 cases. The wine shows good concentration with beautiful rich baked orchard fruits, balanced toasty oak and lovely lees quality punctuated by subtle mineral accents. Really exotic aromatics lead the way onto a complete palate that finishes fresh and lifted.

2012 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Riesling "D" Marlborough, $18.99

Showcasing the winery's old vine fruit which is sourced from thier 30+ year old vineyard. All fruit was hand-picked and hand-sorted before being gently pressed and fermented at cool temperatures to retain the wine's floral aromatics. From the winery: "Lifted aromas of jasmine, fresh lemon, kaffir lime leaf and mardarin follow on to the palate. These flavors of fresh lime juice, lemon sorbet and ripe grapefruit with hints of floral spice are balanced by a fine backbone of ripe acidity. This Riesling is a dry style which has excellent fruit weight and concentration to balance the lingering mineral acid structure. This wine is finely structured with great length of flavor." This is dry Riesling at its finest. Not austere and pithy like some incarnations. This wine has classic Riesling pronounced aromatics and soft texture on the palate but with driving acidity and persistence. Delicate yet powerful, good fleshy fruit but excellent focus. Lovely wine, a real staff favorite.

2013 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Riesling "M" Marlborough, $18.99

TWR takes inspiration from the great wines of the Mosel in this energetic and off-dry Riesling. The long hours of sunshine and cool overnight temperatures in Marlborough lend themselves perfectly to retain the natural acidity ( 9.5g/L) for this food-friendly and dynamic style. Jason and Anna describe it having "lifted aromas of orange blossom, mandarin, lime and white peach follow onto vibrant, ripe flavors of pink grapefruit, peach and lime with underlying slatey mineral notes. This wine is fine and soft with excellent fruit weight and concentration to counterbalance the mouth-watering acidity." I am amazed by this wines balance. It's hard to imagine that this wine has 30g/l of residual sugar but the remarkable 9.5g/l of acidity balances it perfectly. This wine gives the best German Kabinett / Spätlese offerings a serious run for their money!

2011 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Syrah, Marlborough, $29.99

The fruit is entirely hand picked, sorted by the cluster, gently de-stemmed and then re-sorted by the individual berry! A small portion is fermented whole cluster to enhance structure. The ferment is conducted in tiny one ton open top fermenters. A seven day cold soak is followed by 7-9 day ferment and another week post ferment maceration. The Syrah is matured for 12 months in French oak (35% new). This wine is quintessential ultra-cool climate Syrah. Treat this like a northern Rhone Syrah as regards to food pairing and you will not be disappointed. A tiny production wine that we are delighted to put on the shelf. The nose is full of violets and flowers with more serious undertones of cured meat and ground spice. The palate is mid weight with great acidity and silky fine grained tannins. Long and focused on the palate. 

Truly Hand-crafted winesAll of these wines are worthy of your attention. I believe they are as good of a line up as you will find anywhere. Jason and Anna's passion and dedication to quality shines through in all these wines and we are excited to have them back in our stores and online.

Cheers!

Ryan Woodhouse, New Zealand / Australia / South Africa Wine Buyer

***

 Terra Ignota is Latin for "Unknown Land". It was the name for the South Pacific region during intial mapping and exploration of Australia and New Zealand. As we are going to be exploring new and exciting wines from this region, we think this is a fitting title for our blog series on wines from this part of the world. Stay tuned for more!

Thursday
Jul252013

{Terra Ignota}: Seresin - One of NZ's Finest Estates

Working with the wines of Seresin Estate is a true pleasure. These are most definitely some of the best examples of authentic Marlborough wines I have ever come across.

I believe Seresin has truly become an iconic producer for the region that has elevated the quality of Marlborough wine. They have achieved this by making brave decisions in the vineyard and sticking by their convictions in the cellar. To paraphrase renowned British critic Jancis Robinson, they have raised their head above the parapet of mediocrity.

It is commonly known that most wineries founded by movie industry folks lack authenticity or shall we say - enological inspiration. Many are very commercial projects that simply pump out generic wines in very rigid, manipulated styles. However, heralded cinematographer Michael Seresin (known for works such as: Bugsy Malone, The Midnight Express and Harry Potter – The Prisoner of Azkaban) who founded this estate of the same name, clearly had more ambitious, engaged and dynamic visions for his vinous adventure.

Hillside Vines

The principles of Seresin are literally grounded in organic and biodynamic viticulture. They take the truly holistic approach to grape growing with a strong belief that natural balance and health in the vineyard will ultimately produce the truest expressions of place and vintage. The estate operates a full farm producing their own compost and biodynamic preparations. Beneficial cover crops, Goats and Chickens take the place of modern herbicides and pesticides. Their own cows fertilize the vines, and horses are used to do much of the labor in the vineyard reducing soil compaction from tractors etc. 

I have previously written at length about the erroneous application of Old World / New World labels. I much prefer to talk about producers using the terms Traditional vs. Modern. Seresin is a perfect example of this debate being that they are certainly geographically located in the “New World” but most definitely philosophically located in the “Old World.” These methods, carefully applied by winemaker Clive Dougal, have resulted in a line up of characterful wines, each an honest and vibrant representation of vineyard and climate. Every wine is a product of passion and dedication to healthy vines and delicate yet precise winemaking.

Seresin’s wines are loosely divided into two programs with the upper tiers of “Seresin” wines and the lower tier of “Momo” wines.  “Momo” meaning “offspring” in the native Maori pays homage to Momo’s place in the larger Seresin family. I believe the Momo range has long represented some of the best values in the category. The fruit is still largely estate grown and soon to be even more so. The fruit is farmed organically and some biodynamically.  The 2010 Momo Pinot Noir is taken mostly from the flat parcels of Seresin’s estate vineyards that lay on the floor of the Wairau Valley. Here the vines grow in deep alluvial gravels, producing bright fresh Pinot Noir. The Momo Pinot is hand picked, hand sorted and gently de-stemmed. The ferment is open top and uses only wild yeast. Post ferment, the wine is gently transferred to French Oak barriques, mostly older wood, for eleven months maturation. The wine is then bottled with very minimal, if any, fining or filtration, mercifully leaving the texture and authenticity of the wine intact. This wine represents way more true Pinot character than any other sub $20 contender I can think of from anywhere around the world.

2010 Momo (Seresin) Pinot Noir, Marlborough, NZ $16.99

The wine exhibits beautiful aromatics of crushed dark berries, plum skin, poultry herbs of sage and rosemary, earthy, fresh cut mushrooms. On the palate the wine is medium bodied with nice ripeness and moderate extraction. Again gently crushed berries and herbs take center stage with nice spicy French oak tones chiming in at just the right moment. The wine has great energy and life, with the freshness of the acidity and moderate extraction lifting the finish elegantly. This is serious wine at twice the price.

2012 Momo (Seresin) Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, NZ $14.99

The 2012 Momo Sauvignon Blanc also has dynamic drive and freshness. Snappy acidity of citrus and grapefruit with some tropical notes typical of the warmer areas from which these grapes are grown in the Wairau Valley. There is only a subtle hint of that “greenness” more commonly found in Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is very dry, very refreshing, quaffable with nice chalky minerality and little more substance than most of it’s competitors. A great seafood wine for oysters etc.

Seresin's Horse Drawn Biodynamic Preparation Spayer

2011 Seresin Sauvignon Blanc, Wairau / Omaka Valley, Marlborough, NZ $25.99

Moving now into the Seresin upper tiers, everything is Biodynamically certified fruit. Again everything is very carefully hand picked  / sorted and wild yeast ferment. The 2011 Seresin Sauvignon Blanc is surely up there as one of the most impressive wines I have tasted from New Zealand. The grapes were sourced from the upper terraces of the Home vineyard, which are comprise of varied Waimakiriri type soils of alluvial origin. This was supplemented with portions from the Tatou vineyard which is made up of a mixture of alluvial shingles, and the clay rich Raupo Creek vineyard. All in all twenty different individually fermented vineyard parcels of Sauvignon Blanc are painstakingly blended together to make this wine. The finishing touch is two small parcels of Semillon added to the blend. 15% of the wine is fermented and aged in neutral French oak barriques to give texture and complexity. The wine has such exotic, floral aromatics and yet tremendous restraint and balance to boot. Fresh cut herbs, freshly grated citrus rind and tropical flowers. The palate has phenomenal texture and persistence that is quite remarkable.  Fine minerality runs through into the finish that is immeasurably long because it will still be there when you are reaching for another sip (or bottle!) Truly special wine, and exactly what Jancis was talking about when she noted how Seresin have set about separating themselves from the plethora of others good producers in the area.

2010 Seresin "Leah" Pinot Noir, Wairau / Omaka Valley, Marlborough, NZ $29.99

The 2010 Seresin “Leah” Pinot Noir is named after Michael Seresin’s daughter. This beautiful wine is created from carefully selected parcels of fruit coming predominantly from the clay rich soils of the Raupo Creek vineyard in the foot hills of the Omaka Valley. The remainder coming off the alluvial soils of Tatou vineyard and the Home vineyard. The fruit underwent a long cold soak. During the native yeast ferment the cap was gently punched down by hand. Post-ferment came another two weeks of carefully observed maceration. The Pinot was matured in French oak barriques, 20% new, for 11 months. It is bottled completely unfined and unfiltered. This wine has a stunning perfume of crushed rose petals, red fruits with darker cherry notes. Savory elements are also on show with tree bark, moss, and warm toasted spices. This wine has a fantastic density and saturation on the palate whist remaining poised and bright. The tannin structure is super fine and silky as you would expect from the clay based soils. Succulent and rich, fuller bodied than the Momo with a rounder feel on the mid-palate and a touch more extraction. The wine finishes long and supple with invigorating acidity and excellent concentration of flavor.

Seresin also make some fantastic single vineyard wines that we hope to make available to K&L customers through a special direct purchase deal. Please keep an eye out for more Seresin wines coming soon. For now I implore you to try any of these wines. The Momo's are perfect to make your everyday drinking a little more interesting or the Seresin tier to really give you an extra special experience with these magic wines. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or leave comments below.

Cheers!

Ryan Woodhouse, NZ / Aussie Specialist

***

 Terra Ignota is Latin for "Unknown Land". It was the name for the South Pacific region during intial mapping and exploration of Australia and New Zealand. As we are going to be exploring new and exciting wines from this region, we think this is a fitting title for our blog series on wines from this part of the world. Stay tuned for more!

 

Saturday
May262012

Terra Ignota: Told You So!…NZ Pinot Noir Gets Deserved Recognition

Ryan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member

Stunning View Over Rippon Estate to Lake Wanaka and Beyond

It was with mixed feelings that I turned to page 61 of this month’s Wine Spectator. I was looking for the article splashed on the front cover “New Zealand Pinot Noir Comes of Age.” In general I am not a fan of the 100 point system or large publications having such a rampant impact on the success or failure of wines, wineries, regions, even countries. However, when one of these industry “Super Powers” puts its considerable weight behind a wine by bestowing it with a 90+ point rating, or as in this case, many 90+ ratings, behind a whole category, New Zealand Pinot Noir, one can’t help but feel excited and somewhat gratified. For many years I have been preaching how great these wines are, telling customers and colleagues alike, that NZ has truly world class potential for many grapes beyond Sauvignon Blanc. Sure some listened and have been enjoying the rewards ever since. Others still believe that NZ makes “pretty good Sauvignon Blanc”, yet refuse to believe that any NZ wine above $15 is worth considering, yet at the same time spend $100’s of dollars on Pinot with less balance, finesse and complexity from other regions. So perhaps now the “powers that be” have spoken declaring the “coming of age” for NZ Pinot Noir, more people will listen and grab some before the prices skyrocket! Being consistently ahead of the game at K&L we are already in possession of many of these top rated wines and indeed many others that may not feature in this months WS article but are nonetheless worthy of your consideration.

Mt. Difficulty Templars Hill Vineyard

Before discussing the individual wines I would also like to point out the regional diversity within New Zealand. Pinot Noir from Marlborough, Nelson, Martinborough, Central Otago, Waipara etc, etc, will have very different flavor profiles. To stereotype hugely, for me Marlborough often shows a very crunchy, red berry acidity and some orange peel notes. Nelson (specifically the Moutere Hills,) has clay soil that gives a lifted brightness to then fruit, silky texture and often shows a dusty element on the finish. Martinborough, red fruited with gamey hints, more detail and layers to the wines seem to take more air / time to show their true qualities. Central Otago Pinot is generally the power house Pinot region of New Zealand, offering darker fruits with more weight and richness. Waipara / Canterbury, with lots of coastal influence and huge site diversity generally shows an elegant and often earthy, herbal style of wine. These are generalizations, and the beauty is that many sub-regional variations exist adding further intrigue to the category. If you don’t want to take my word for it, please read the WS article and explore some of these stunning wines!

2010 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir, Martinborough

94 Points Wine Spectator: "Exotic aromatics of mahogany and sandalwood follow through to supple red licorice, cranberry, cherry and raspberry flavors that are elegant, precise and balanced. Baking spice details of clove and nutmeg persist on the finish. Drink now through 2020.”

2008 Rippon “Mature Vines” Pinot Noir, Central Otago

93 Points Wine Spectator (94Pts Wines & Spirits): “Delivers lovely aromatics, with sandalwood, Asian spice, white pepper, crushed stone and dried floral notes. The details continue on, offering strawberry, cherry and a terrific balance between tannins and acidity, keeping the flavors fresh and lively. Drink now through 2020.”

2009 Seresin Estate “Leah” Pinot Noir, Marlborough

92 Points Wine Spectator: "Wild strawberry and raspberry flavors are delicate and pretty in this stunning red, which shows spicy nutmeg, dried ginger, fresh herb and floral details, with a terrific supple texture. Drink now through 2016.”

2010 Craggy Range “Te Muna Road Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Martinborough

91 Points Wine Spectator: “Elegant and highly detailed, with plush, ripe red raspberry and cherry flavors that are fresh and juicy, joined by black tea, clove, sassafras and sage notes. Smooth and tasty, gaining momentum on the finish. Drink now through 2019.”

2009 Staete Landt Pinot Noir, Marlborough

91 Points Wine Spectator: “Light and velvety, with lovely detailed red cherry and cranberry aromas and flavors, hinting at citrus peel and white pepper as the finish lingers effortlessly. Drink now through 2015.”

2009 Momo Pinot Noir (Seresin Estate), Marlborough

90 Points Wine Spectator: "A wonderfully smooth and classy expression of ripe red fruit flavors, warm baking spices, vanillin and mineral accents. Very harmonious, with a long finish. Drink now through 2016.”

2008 Mountford "Estate" Pinot Noir, Waipara

92 Points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Pale ruby colored, the 2008 Pinot Noir gives pronounced notes of warm strawberries and cranberries going earthy/gamey with supporting aromas of underbrush, smoked duck, truffles and wet stones. Medium to full bodied, there is a lot of poise on the palate with a good backbone of high acid and a medium level of very fine, silt-like tannins. There's plenty of berry and earth flavors layering the long finish. It's good now and should continue to develop and drink to 2016.”

2009 Neudorf "Moutere" Pinot Noir Nelson

91 Points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: “Ruby colored, the 2009 Moutere Pinot Noir offers a good intensity of warm cranberry, pomegranate and red currant aromas with hints of violets, damp earth and Ceylon tea. Medium bodied, the concentration of red berry and earth flavors is well balanced with a medium level of finely grained tannins, and refreshing acidity. It finishes long and savory. Drinking nicely now, it should cellar to 2015+.”

Cheers!

-Ryan Woodhouse K&L Aussie / NZ Specialist

 

***

Terra Ignota is Latin for "Unknown Land". It was the name for the South Pacific region during intial mapping and exploration of Australia and New Zealand. As we are going to be exploring new and exciting wines from this region, we think this is a fitting title for our blog series on wines from this part of the world. Stay tuned for more!