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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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Entries in Pinot Noir (78)

Monday
Aug052013

{Terra Ignota}: Introducing New Direct Import - Oakridge Estate

Oakridge Estate winemaker and CEO David Bicknell is a 20+ year veteran of his craft in the Yarra Valley and one of the most highly regarded Chardonnay producers in Australia. His Chardonnays transcend all that you think you might know about Australian Chardonnay. They are the definition of precision, focus, tension and complex minerality. White Burgundy lovers will be amazed by these wines as they have the drive and focus of great Puligny-Montrachet. Oakridge also makes some fantastic Shiraz, subtle, bright and elegant Pinot Noir, and a very textural, complex Fumé Blanc. The scores all speak for themselves, but these wines are not to be missed. They were all instant staff favorites!

Oakridge has many estate vineyards across Yarra Valley, just outside of Melbourne in Victoria. The vineyards highlight the different micro-climates of Yarra and the region's diverse soil types. Yarra has numerous undulations and some pretty dramatic geographical features that effect airflow and temperatures throughout the valley. Many of Oakridge’s sites are elevated and on sloping terrain all adding more nuances to the terroir. 2011 was the coldest vintage on record for much of Victoria and Yarra Valley (that is already a very cool region) was no exception. The season had it's ups and downs with some untimely rains and limited sunshine. However, the white wines that have emerged are some of the most remarkable I have ever tasted. Indeed Mr. Bicknell believes the Chardonnays that have come from this extreme vintage are the best of his long career! 

Oakridge's style, that is deliberatly focused and linear, was exaggerated even further by the high natural acidity and lower ripeness levels of 2011. All the fruit is hand picked and meticulously selected. Whole bunch pressing to top quality Burgundian cooperage, mostly 500L (Puncheon) barrels, where the wine is fermented slowly using all wild yeast. After the ferment is complete the wine is sulphured to prevent Malo. This is distinctive and gives the wines their intense brightness and snappy acidity. I think it also allows the beautiful flinty, stoney minerality to shine through. All of the Local Vineyard Series (LVS) Chards are made in exactly the same way, thus allowing the individual sense of place to come through in the wines. These are precise studies of each vineyard and it's very particular flavor profile.

2011 Oakridge Local Vineyard Series "Barkala Ridge Vineyard" Chardonnay, Yarra Valley $24.99

95 Points James Halliday

Intensely flinty and mineral driven. Intriguing aromas of matchstick and spicy white oak. Bright quince and crunchy Anjou pears are highlighted on the long, linear and chiseled palate. Quite Chablis like. Very much for Burgundian Chardonnay drinkers rather than big butter bomb lovers.

2011 Oakridge Local Vineyard Series "Denton Vineyard" Chardonnay, Yarra Valley $24.99

95 Points James Halliday

The softest and most rounded of the Local Vineyard Series wine from Oakridge. Ripe orchard fruit, yellow peach and fresh apricots. Broader and less linear than the other vineyard expressions. Very charming and immediately expressive. Silky texture, elegant. A true expression of place as the wines are all made identically.

 

From their many single vineyards, each year Oakridge picks a few select parcels to release as part of their 864 Single Block program. These are simply the best of the best from all of their estate. Treated with the utmost care and attention. The best hand selected clusters, finest barrels, daily hand monitoring. These are designed as wines to rival the best of what the rest of the world can offer and I can attest that they do exactly that. The two single block wines we have are quite simply two of the best Chards I have ever tasted. My time here at K&L is split between Australia, NZ, South Africa and working with Burgundy buyer Keith Wollenburg. With absolutely no disrespect to the stunning Burgundies I have tasted in the last few years, I would quite happily run these wines against anything that I have tasted from the Burgundy, in any price point. I also believe they will be as long lived in the cellar as many of their French counterparts.

2011 Oakridge 864 Single Block Selection "Charlie's Block: J&J D'Aloisio Vineyard" Chardonnay, Yarra Valley $49.99


96 Points James Halliday

Best young Chard I have ever tasted, period. I am simply amazed by this wine. Drive, texture, complex layers of flavor so dynamic they defy description. Exotic spices, Agarwood, endless mineral tones. Simply amazing.

2011 Oakridge 864 Single Block Selection "Drive Block: Funder and Diamond Vineyard" Chardonnay, Yarra Valley $49.99

95 Points James Halliday

A very worthy if not slightly leaner single block selection. Matchstick wood, oak spices, ginger snap, quince and lime blossom. Crisp acidity drawing out the palate into a linear force. Spectacular wine that I imagine will age for a decade plus.

Beyond Chardonnay...

2012 Oakridge Limited Release Fume Blanc "Fumare", Yarra Valley, $24.99

93 Points James Halliday

Another standout wine! A fascinating blend of Sauvignon Blanc (70%), Semillon (20%) and Gris (10%). The fruit is from three of Oakridge's estate properties and is fermented and matured in neutral french oak puncheons. The wine is a distinct mix of Sancerre like minerality and bright zesty, floral aromatics, with more of the weight, texture and savory lees character of white Bordeaux (without the new oak flavors). Really long on the finish, snappy and racy. Awesome shellfish wine, move over Muscadet, this is what I'm drinking with my next Oysters!

2011 Oakridge Local Vineyard Series "Denton Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley $24.99

93 Points James Halliday

The Denton Vineyard Pinot is similarly reflective of the cool 2011 vintage. The wine is very elegant, light in color and bodied. However, when it comes to flavor and complexity it is anything but light! Showing lovely aromas of dusty red berries, leaf litter, dry bark and spicy wood notes. The palate echoes the aromatics with nice purity and savory undertones. Not a big blockbuster style, but one that uses subtlety, balance and poise to communicate the true beauty of Pinot Noir. Once again Burgundy lovers should really check this out. If you are studying for your Master Somm exam, this would be a very scary wine to get blind as it might just be 1er Cru Savigny-les Beaune!? Perfect for roast chicken, light game or grilled fish.

Last but not least...

2010 Oakridge Local Vineyard Series "Whitsend & Oakridge Vineyard" Shiraz, Yarra Valley $24.99

95 Points James Halliday

2010 has been hailed as a superlative red wine vintage in Victoria. Good warm growing conditions, but without any too intense heat spikes, provided long even ripening and very little disease pressure. This wine is intense, concentrated and structured Shiraz. This is not a big, over-ripe, fat wine but one of focus, balance and purity. Rich, but not overly extracted, dark red fruits with touches of spice and dried herbs and smoked meat. Food orientated. Quite accessible now but I think it will only get better with time.

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!

 

Thursday
Jul252013

Keith's Burgundy Hotline: 2011 Domaine d’Eugenie

By: Keith Wollenberg | K&L Burgundy Buyer

Hello Burgundy Lovers,

We just received confirmation on our allocation of 2011 Domaine d’Eugenie wines.  This is the domaine (formerly Domaine René Engel) now owned by the folks at Château Latour.  They purchased the old Clos Frantin buildings in Vosne Romanée and have renovated the cuverie, putting in new wooden fermenters and are renovating the historic property.  They have an unswerving commitment to making the finest Burgundy they can.  The improvement each year under the watchful eye of Michel Mallard has been extraordinary.

They are gradually taking the domaine biodynamic, and so far the Clos d’Eugénie, the Vosne 1er Cru and the Échézeaux are entirely biodynamic.  No weed-killers are used anywhere, as plowing is preferred.  This is a domaine that will, almost certainly, rise to the top ranks.  We get these directly from the Domaine, import them in refrigerated containers, and offer them at very good prices.  These are being offered on a Pre-Arrival Basis, with arrival expected about January 2014.

The wines are on the Web and available there, or by calling 1-800-247-5987, or emailing me.  As always, quantities are limited, of course.

2011 Domaine d'Eugénie Vosne-Romanée (Pre-Arrival)      $54.99

89-91 points Allen Meadows - Burghound

Outstanding! A spicy, ripe, fresh and elegant nose of black cherry and cassis leads to energetic, detailed and velvety middle weight flavors that possess a lovely inner mouth perfume before culminating in a balanced and lingering finish. This is not only very Vosne but very promising as well. (1/ 2013)

Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

(tasted from cuve, where it was awaiting a December bottling; a blend of three parcels, including the bottom section of Brulees, which director Frederic Engerer and winemaker Mallard do not consider to be of true premier cru quality): Medium red. Redcurrant and strawberry liqueur on the slightly dull nose and palate. A bit dry and lean today, showing modest density and sweetness to its red fruit and smoke flavors. Finishes with a suggestion of autumn leaves. I wanted more verve. (1/ 2013)

K&L Notes

From Les Communes, Les Vigneux, and the lower portion of Aux Brulées which they declassify.

2011 Domaine d'Eugénie Vosne-Romanée "Clos d'Eugénie" (Pre-Arrival)         $69.95

89-91 points Allen Meadows - Burghound

There is enough wood to notice on the ripe nose where the fruit is shaded more toward the red side though there are nuances of spiced plum, violet and black raspberry as well. The flavor profile is different as well with more precision and detail if not the seductive velour quality to the nicely concentrated medium-bodied flavors, all wrapped in a lacy, balanced and lightly mineral-infused finish. This is notably different from the straight Vosne cuvée though not necessarily better. (1/ 2013)

87-90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

(vinified with one-third whole clusters, for the first time): Good deep red. Aromas of red- and blackcurrant, pepper and licorice, plus a strong element of smoky oak. Juicy, spicy and nicely fine-grained, with ripe, moderately dense purple fruit flavors enlivened by harmonious acidity. Finishes classically dry, subtle and persistent, with a saline minerality. (1/ 2013)

K&L Notes

A monopole of the Domaine, below La Tâche and next to Vosne Romanée les Chaumes 1er Cru.

 

2011 Domaine d'Eugénie Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru "Aux Brûlées" (Pre-Arrival)  $139.95  

90-92 points Allen Meadows - Burghound

Here the nose mixes oak spice with natural spice though the fruit is somewhat muted by the presence of mild reduction. There is lovely mid-palate concentration to the delicious and seductively textured flavors that are supported by very fine-grained tannins as well as an appealing minerality on the clean and ultra-pure finish. There is only average complexity at present though the underlying material is certainly present to allow more to develop and my predicted range presupposes that development. (1/ 2013)

89-92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

(25% vendange entier; was racked last spring following its malolactic fermentation as "it always gets reduced," according to Mallard): Good dark red with ruby tones. A whiff of reduction dissipated to reveal redcurrant and pungent rocky aromas. Silky on the attack, then sweet, plush and intense in the middle, with musky redcurrant, raspberry and smoked meat flavors complicated by pepper, herbs and iodine. A bit more masculine on the back end, finishing with firm but suave tannins and lingering notes of dark berries and minerals. (1/ 2013)

K&L Notes

From a parcel just over 1 hectare in size, from vines of over 60 years of age.

2011 Domaine d'Eugénie Clos Vougeot Grand Cru (Pre-Arrival)         $239.95  

92-95 points Allen Meadows - Burghound

Don't Miss! An exceptionally spicy nose of very fresh black pinot fruit, cassis and discreet earthy nuances gives way to wonderfully pure middle weight flavors that also possess admirably fine-grained tannins on the seductively textured and impressively persistent finish. Like the Brûlées this is not as complex at present as my predicted range suggests that it might be in time. In sum, the overall impression here is consistent with what one would expect from an Echézeaux coming from En Orveaux, which is to say a wine of finesse and refinement. (1/ 2013)

93-95 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

(25% vendange entier): Good bright red with ruby tones. Precise aromas of black cherry, licorice and herbs. Spicy and penetrating on the palate; a bit strict but offers a great combination of sweetness and minerality. At once classy and powerful, finishing with a lingering element of saline minerality and firm, noble tannins that saturate the entire mouth. (1/ 2013)

K&L Notes

60 year old vines, in an almost 1.5ha parcel high in the center of the vineyard, not far from the Chateau.

2011 Domaine d'Eugénie Échézeaux Grand Cru (Pre-Arrival)     $239.95  

91-93 points Allen Meadows - Burghound

An exceptionally spicy nose of very fresh black pinot fruit, cassis and discreet earthy nuances gives way to wonderfully pure middle weight flavors that also possess admirably fine-grained tannins on the seductively textured and impressively persistent finish. Like the Brûlées this is not as complex at present as my predicted range suggests that it might be in time. In sum, the overall impression here is consistent with what one would expect from an Echézeaux coming from En Orveaux, which is to say a wine of finesse and refinement. (1/ 2013)

91-93 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

Ruby-red. Perfumed, inviting aromas of bitter chocolate, blood orange and Moroccan spices. Round, concentrated and ripe, with sappy density to the flavors of dark fruits and spices. This is much easier to taste today than the Brulees. Finishes with sweet, ripe, even tannins and excellent length. Should be superb. (1/ 2013)

K&L Notes

From a parcel about 1/2 hectare in size, located in en Orveaux, high on the hill, just across a tiny valley from Musigny, at the same elevation.

2011 Domaine d'Eugénie Grands-Échézeaux Grand Cru (Pre-Arrival)         $279.95  

92-94 points Allen Meadows - Burghound

Reduction renders the nose impossible to properly evaluate but there is good freshness and verve to the broad-shouldered, powerful and tautly muscular flavors yet the robust character is softened by the same very fine-grained tannins that all of the prior wines display. I very much like the quality of the underlying material and while the tannins may be refined, they're also dense and this will clearly require extended cellar time to arrive at its full potential. (1/ 2013)

92-94 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

(one-third vendange entier): Good full red. Perfumed aromas of bitter chocolate, licorice, violet and minerals. Much tighter and more imploded than the Echezeaux, showing taut dark berry and mineral flavors. Best today on the peacock's tail of a finish, where dark berry and saline mineral flavors spread out to saturate the mouth. This very suave, rather feminine wine needs a lot of air, and will probably be best after five or six years of aging. (1/ 2013)

K&L Notes

From 20-60 year old vines on the southern side of Grands Échézeaux.

 

A Sante,

Keith

 

Mr. Keith WOLLENBERG

Directeur Commercial Bourgogne

K&L Wine Merchants

http://www.klwines.com

+1-650-556-2724 Direct Line

Keithw@klwines.com