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Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Cab Sauv Merlot Malbec 2016 (1x75cl)

The 2014 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 edition expert tasting of Global Bordeaux blends (see blue link below).

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Merlot Malbec Cabernet Franc 2014 - April 2020 Decanter review

Please see some notes written for us by Esk Valley's winemaker, Gordon Russell, regarding this new 2016 vintage.

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve CS-Merlot-Malbec 2016 - winemaker notes

Situated in the north of New Zealand's picturesque Hawkes Bay, at Bay View is the Esk Valley Estate winery. The winery sources fruit from Hawkes Bay, including the world-renowned Gimblett Gravels, and Marlborough, as both regions consistently produce grapes of an extremely high quality.

Esk Valley is a boutique winery, but it is unique in that many of the techniques used to craft its award-winning wines are dictated by the winery itself. The old concrete vats, the layout of the buildings, and the absence of modern technology mean the winemakers at Esk Valley have had to make wine in a simple, honest, hands-on way.

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Wines are made from grapes sourced from specific, lower-yielding, intensively-managed blocks of vines. Thety are widely recognised as being amongst the best wines of their kind in New Zealand. Along with The Terraces, this is Esk Valley’s most iconic and revered collection of wines.

This, the Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Red is also the wine which pioneered the use of Malbec in Bordeaux-style blends in New Zealand.

It is only made in the best years/harvests and its blend varies from year to year in order to optimise use of the very best varieties in that year (which explains the changing % mix, names and labels across the vintages).

The fruit is hand picked, de-stemmed, then loaded into Esk Valley’s open-top concrete fermentation vats where it is hand-plunged and left in its skins, before being pressed off into barrels for malolactic fermentation.

Each vineyard parcel is fermented and aged separately before blending. 40% of the 2016 wine went in to new French oak barrels (the other 60% to older barrels) for 17 months, creating a wine that is full bodied and powerful, but elegant and food-friendly too.

"This is a wine that has been made to age well in the bottle, I can quite confidently predict that it will still be drinking beautifully in fifteen years." – Senior Winemaker, Gordon Russell

Cabernet Sauvignon 38%, Merlot 32%, Malbec 30%.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Esk Valley. Eagle-eyed customers will spot that they have used the wrong bottle shot.

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve CS-Merlot-Malbec 2016 - fiche technique

This Winemakers Reserve blend is widely regarded as one of the finest of New Zealand's red wines. Since the initial 1990 vintage, this is the first Cabernet-based vintage reflecting the nature of the season and Esk's desire to produce the finest wine possible. Deeply coloured, showcasing black cherry, fruitcake, tobacco and subtle oak spice, this is a dry and complex and age-worthy wine.

ABV = 14.0%.

£21.40

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Merlot Malbec Cabernet Franc 2014 (1x75cl)

** ALL NOW GONE, BUT PLEASE NOTE THAT THE EXCELLENT, CABERNET SAUVIGNON-RICH AND RECENTLY-RELEASED 2016 VINTAGE IS ALSO AVAILABLE (click link) AND RECOMMENDED!

SEE THAT PAGE FOR WHY THE ESK LEAD WINEMAKER THINKS IT MAY BE BETTER STILL!  **

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 edition expert tasting of Global Bordeaux blends (see blue link below). 

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Merlot Malbec Cabernet Franc 2014 - April 2020 Decanter review

Situated in the north of New Zealand's picturesque Hawkes Bay, at Bay View is the Esk Valley Estate winery. The winery sources fruit from Hawkes Bay, including the world-renowned Gimblett Gravels, and Marlborough, as both regions consistently produce grapes of an extremely high quality.

Esk Valley is a boutique winery, but it is unique in that many of the techniques used to craft its award-winning wines are dictated by the winery itself. The old concrete vats, the layout of the buildings, and the absence of modern technology mean the winemakers at Esk Valley have had to make wine in a simple, honest, hands-on way.

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Wines are made from grapes sourced from specific, lower-yielding, intensively-managed blocks of vines. Thety are widely recognised as being amongst the best wines of their kind in New Zealand. Along with The Terraces, this is Esk Valley’s most iconic and revered collection of wines.

This, the Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Red is also the wine which pioneered the use of Malbec in Bordeaux-style blends in New Zealand.

It is only made in the best years/harvests and its blend varies from year to year in order to optimise use of the very best varieties in that year (which explains the changing % mix, names and labels across the vintages).

The fruit is hand picked, de-stemmed, then loaded into Esk Valley’s open-top concrete fermentation vats where it is hand-plunged and left in its skins, before being pressed off into barrels for malolactic fermentation.

Each vineyard parcel is fermented and aged separately before blending. 60-70% of the wine goes in to new French oak barrels, creating a wine that is full bodied and powerful, but elegant and food-friendly too.

"This is a wine that has been made to age well in the bottle, I can quite confidently predict that it will still be drinking beautifully in fifteen years." – Senior Winemaker, Gordon Russell

Merlot 54%, Malbec 31%, Cabernet Franc 10%, Cabernet Sauvignon 5%.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Esk Valley. NB: it's a small thing, but we know how eagle-eyed some of you are ... Esk V have used the wrong bottle image on this sheet, being that for a year in which Cabernet Sauvignon was the better/more prominent Cabernet!

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Merlot Malbec Cabernet Franc 2014 - fiche technique

This Winemakers Reserve blend is widely regarded as one of the finest of New Zealand’s red wines. The 2014 vintage is deeply coloured with aromatics hinting at black fruits including cherries and blackberries, with hints of cedar and smoke. The flavours, typical of Gimblett Gravels Merlot blends tend toward fruitcake, cherry, chocolate and oak spice. The palate is soft and mouthfilling showcasing the high percentage of Merlot and finishes dry and long. This is a fine vintage for this blend.

ABV = 14.0%.

£21.00

Millton La Cote Pinot Noir 2016 (1x75cl)

James Millton is a living legend in the New Zealand wine scene. A pioneer of organic and biodynamic winemaking, he has ploughed his own furrow for three decades, quietly convinced that his sustainable approach to viticulture and winemaking was the only way to progress.

The Millton winery's own tasting notes for this wine are excellent, so please click the blue link below to see all this wine's details.

Millton La Cote Pinot Noir 2016 - fiche technique

100% Pinot Noir.

ABV = 13.0%.

£20.40

Mt Difficulty Bannockburn (Series) Pinot Noir 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (Rebecca Gibb MW) in their January 2019 tasting (see blue link below).

Mt Difficulty Bannockburn (Series) Pinot Noir 2017 - January 2019 Decanter review

Established in 1992, the Dicey family owns some of the oldest vineyards in the Bannockburn region of Central Otago on the famous Felton Road and have acquired land over the last ten years to build up to over 40 hectares, including six single vineyard sites. Their portfolio vineyards spans Central Otago from Gibbston to Lowburn Valley and on to Bendigo home still under Mount Difficulty at Bannockburn.

Central Otago provides New Zealand’s only continental climate, combined with unique soils ideally suited for growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. The Bannockburn area, in particular, is one of the few sites outside of Burgundy that lends itself to the growing of the pernickety Pinot Noir grape; Mt Difficulty craft wines in the Burgundian style whilst stamping the uniqueness of the terroir to produce structured and serious wines. Not content with growing superb Pinot Noir, they are also known for their aromatic whites and grape varieties such as their grower series Lowburn Chardonnay and Estate Chenin Blanc.

Winemaker-in-chief Matt Dicey has a lifelong association with the wine industry and is a fourth-generation vigneron. After achieving a Masters Degree in Oenology and Viticulture, Matt spent four years gaining experience overseas.

As with all New Zealand wines, Mt Difficulty adhere to strict sustainability practices and constantly strive towards organic production.

Mount Difficulty is the name on the leading wines. The ‘second label’ is named Roaring Meg; these wines are produced in a more fruit-driven, early-drinking style and have become a mainstay of the Mt Difficulty stable since their introduction in 2003.

See the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the team at Mt Difficulty.

Mt Difficulty Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2017 - fiche technique

This wine is 100% Pinot Noir.

The grapes for this wine come from their estate vineyards on the Felton Road. Handpicked and hand crafted, this wine reflects the nature of the vintage displaying great concentration and balance. Red fruits of the forest along with blackberries dominate the aroma, these are underpinned by savoury herb and liquorice. The wine has a abundant fruity front palate which is fleshy and well textured. Wonderful smooth silky tannins combine with a hint of oak and delivers a truly expressive pinot with mineral characteristics associated with Central Otago.

ABV = 14.0%.

£24.20

Mt Difficulty Roaring Meg Pinot Noir 2018 (1x75cl)

"Medium-deep red-purple colour, youthful and fresh, as it is also on the nose. Bright Campari, bitter-herb aromas, with dominant red and black-cherry aromas. The wine is medium bodied and bright on the tongue, with remarkable depth of flavour for the money and plenty of soft, fine tannin. There is a lovely core of sweet fruit, too." 91 Points, Huon Hooke, 26 September 2018

Established in 1992, the Dicey family owns some of the oldest vineyards in the Bannockburn region of Central Otago on the famous Felton Road and have acquired land over the last ten years to build up to over 40 hectares, including six single vineyard sites. Their portfolio vineyards spans Central Otago from Gibbston to Lowburn Valley and on to Bendigo home still under Mount Difficulty at Bannockburn.

Central Otago provides New Zealand’s only continental climate, combined with unique soils ideally suited for growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. The Bannockburn area, in particular, is one of the few sites outside of Burgundy that lends itself to the growing of the pernickety Pinot Noir grape; Mt Difficulty craft wines in the Burgundian style whilst stamping the uniqueness of the terroir to produce structured and serious wines. Not content with growing superb Pinot Noir, they are also known for their aromatic whites and grape varieties such as their grower series Lowburn Chardonnay and Estate Chenin Blanc.

Winemaker-in-chief Matt Dicey has a lifelong association with the wine industry and is a fourth-generation vigneron. After achieving a Masters Degree in Oenology and Viticulture, Matt spent four years gaining experience overseas.

As with all New Zealand wines, Mt Difficulty adhere to strict sustainability practices and constantly strive towards organic production.

Mount Difficulty is the name on the leading wines. The ‘second label’ is named Roaring Meg; these wines are produced in a more fruit-driven, early-drinking style and have become a mainstay of the Mt Difficulty stable since their introduction in 2003.

See the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the team at Mt Difficulty (this is the 2017 sheet; 2018's is impending!).

Mt Difficulty Roaring Meg Pinot Noir 2017 - fiche technique

This wine is 100% Pinot Noir.

The Roaring Meg is a classic example of Central Otago Pinot Noir. It exhibits a lovely mix of red and black berry fruits with further complexity gained from oak spice. The wine has a sweet berry palate which displays these same characters in abundance. Tannins rise gracefully out of the mid-palate to finish the wine; these are balanced by the wine’s natural acidity and fruit, to produce a long and fruit-driven finish.

ABV = 14.0%.

£17.30

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 14 Doctors Creek Pinot Noir 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2020 edition panel tasting of New World, single-vineyard Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 14 Doctors Creek Pinot Noir 2017 - February 2020 Decanter review

Neal and Judy Ibbotson were pioneers in the Marlborough wine industry, first planting vineyards in the valley in 1978 and then establishing Saint Clair Family Estate in 1994. They own 160 hectares of vineyard in 10 different Marlborough locations chosen specifically for the attributes of their individual "terroir" and ability to produce top quality grapes. Neal Ibbotson combines his extensive expertise in viticulture with the talent of one of New Zealand's leading winemaking teams led by Hamish Clark. Since 1994, when wines from the first vintage all won medals including gold, the name Saint Clair has been synonymous with quality and its award-winning record continues today. This is a sentiment shared by Bob Campbell MW, who says “Saint Clair now makes the country’s and perhaps the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc”.

The grapes are selected from the single vineyard "Doctor's Creek" block, named after the small stream which runs through the centre. Situated south-west of Blenheim. The soils are made up of clay and are rich, vigour moderating soils.

2017 wines are looking very good, despite Saint Clair navigating challenging weather conditions during véraison and the harvest period. Flavours came into the fruit early and although the wines are a little lighter in alcohol, they are still appreciably full flavoured. 2017 was a good year for the early ripening varieties; Pinot Noir had beautiful small bunches and berries of very good quality and Chardonnay also stands out with full flavours.

The fruit was harvested when it had reached full physiological ripeness and maximum flavour maturity. At the winery the fruit was cold macerated for five days. Cultured yeasts were used to ferment the wine and during fermentation, the must was hand plunged up to six times daily. Once dry, each batch was pressed to tank and then racked off gross lees to a mix of new and used French oak. The wine then underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged for 10 months in barrel before being carefully prepared for bottling.

100% Pinot Noir.

A rounded luscious Pinot Noir with a soft full palate and well balanced acidity. Good length of fruit with flavours dominated by redcurrant and cherries, complemented by hints of plums. Oak ageing has lent warm savoury notes to the palate.

This Pioneer Block Pinot Noir is perfectly matched with spring lamb, sweet potatoes and roast vegetables.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians.

ABV = 13.5%.

£18.35

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 14 Doctors Creek Pinot Noir 2018 (1x75cl)

2017 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2020 edition panel tasting of New World, single-vineyard Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 14 Doctors Creek Pinot Noir 2017 - February 2020 Decanter review

Neal and Judy Ibbotson were pioneers in the Marlborough wine industry, first planting vineyards in the valley in 1978 and then establishing Saint Clair Family Estate in 1994. They own 160 hectares of vineyard in 10 different Marlborough locations chosen specifically for the attributes of their individual "terroir" and ability to produce top quality grapes. Neal Ibbotson combines his extensive expertise in viticulture with the talent of one of New Zealand's leading winemaking teams led by Hamish Clark. Since 1994, when wines from the first vintage all won medals including gold, the name Saint Clair has been synonymous with quality and its award-winning record continues today. This is a sentiment shared by Bob Campbell MW, who says “Saint Clair now makes the country’s and perhaps the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc”.

The grapes are selected from the single vineyard "Doctor's Creek" block, named after the small stream which runs through the centre. Situated south-west of Blenheim. The soils are made up of clay and are rich, vigour moderating soils.

Flowering conditions in December were perfect, followed by the hottest temperatures Marlborough has experienced in January. February produced a month of rainfall. Despite these challenging weather conditions, the fruit ripened well - 10 days earlier than usual. Effective methods of canopy management and cropping levels; and extended dry periods in March kept the vines healthy. Lower yields produced ripe and intensely flavoured fruit in 2018.

The fruit was harvested when it had reached full physiological ripeness and maximum flavour maturity. At the winery the fruit was cold macerated for five days. Cultured yeasts were used to ferment the wine and during fermentation, the must was hand plunged up to six times daily. Once dry, each batch was pressed to tank and then racked off gross lees to a mix of new and used French oak. The wine then underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged for 10 months in barrel before being carefully prepared for bottling.

100% Pinot Noir.

A rounded luscious Pinot Noir with a soft full palate and well balanced acidity. Good length of fruit with flavours dominated by redcurrant and cherries, complemented by hints of plums. Oak ageing has lent warm savoury notes to the palate.

This Pioneer Block Pinot Noir is perfectly matched with spring lamb, sweet potatoes and roast vegetables.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians.

ABV = 13.5%.

£18.35

Urlar Organic Pinot Noir 2018 (1x75cl)

Proudly family-owned, Urlar Estate produces outstanding single vineyard wines using organic and biodynamic principles. Urlar is a Gaelic word that means “the Earth”. Their desire is to bring an abundance of life back to our ancient soils so that the drinker can discover the purity of flavour inherent in the land. Their journey from the highlands of Scotland to the stony soils and cool climate of Gladstone, Wairarapa has cemented a love for all things pure and true.

See this blog on Urlar, especially regarding their organic credentials.

For the Pinot Noir, the grapes were handpicked according to flavour and skin ripeness. Each clone was fermented separately in a mixture of traditional oak cuves and stainless steel vats after undergoing a period of cold soak to enhance colour extraction. Our winemaking style encourages texture, complexity and balance. Once these elements are in unison the wine is pressed off and matured in 20% new French oak barriques. The wine is gently fined but not filtered.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Urlar Pinot Noir 2018 - fiche technique

The 2018 vintage delivers an elegant wine of dark red berry fruits, dried herbs and spicy savoury notes. There are complex layers of spice, earthy cedar and forest floor. Elegantly concentrated with fine tannins and a silky texture and a lingering intensity of dark chocolate. Beautifully suited to a rack of lamb or game dishes such as venison or duck.

ABV = 13.0%.

£17.65

Wild Earth Pinot Noir 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2016 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2020 edition panel tasting of New World, single-vineyard Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Wild Earth Pinot Noir 2016 - February 2020 Decanter review

The 2016 vintage was also awarded a Gold medal and 95 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details)

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

Other awards and reviews

Platinum BEST IN SHOW, 97 points, Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2018
Gold - Royal Easter Show Wine Awards 2019
Gold - Sydney International Wine Competition, Nov 2018
Silver - International Wine and Spirit Competition, UK, 2018
Silver - International Wine Challenge, London UK, 2019
5 Stars, Winestate’s May June 2019 
5 Stars, 18.5-/20 - Raymond Chan Wine Reviews, Nov 2018
5 Stars, 95 points - Sam Kim, Wine Orbit, Nov 2018
4.5 Stars, 94 points - Bob Campbell MW, Aug 2018
4 Stars - Wine NZ Magazine March 2019

Wild Earth founder Quintin Quider is an expatriate Californian who has spent many years living on the South Island. He has gathered a small, dedicated team to produce his Wild Earth range in Central Otago. Established in 1998, Wild Earth Wines owns 35 hectares of vineyards in two of the region's finest locations - at the end of Felton Road overlooking the Kawarau River and in the North Lowburn district beneath the imposing Pisa Range.

The grapes for this wine come from the 'Terraces' vineyard in Felton Road, Bannockburn. It is planted with predominantly Dijon clones (777,115 ,114 and 667).

A cooler growing season with more spring frosts than normal meant the vines produced lower crop levels and smaller bunches. These cool conditions and the relatively dry harvest period ensured the grapes were kept disease free and ripened evenly with highly concentrated flavours and good acidity.

The grapes were hand harvested at optimal ripeness throughout April. Seven separate ferments went into the blend, which used on average 25% whole clusters. The total time on skins was between three and four weeks to boost the tannic structure and aromatics of the wine. Maturation took place in fine grained French oak barriques (27% new, 33% year old and the remainder between two and five years old), for approximately 12 months.

100% Pinot Noir.

This wine is deep garnet in colour with aromas of cherry, blackberry, cedar, wild thyme, mushroom and an underlying earthiness. The palate is rich in texture and complemented by red and black berry, wild herb and earthy flavours. This Pinot Noir is well structured with silky tannins and enticing layers of fruit.

ABV = 14.0%.

£21.75

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Te Kahu 2015 (1x75cl)

The 2016 vintage was awarded a Platinum & Best in Show medal and 97 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

Craggy Range produces a collection of iconic wines from multiple regions in New Zealand. Owner Terry Peabody and his family pursued the single vineyard approach to winemaking, planting on green fields and bare land ensuring a focus on quality from the very beginning. New Zealand, with its diversity of soils types offered the perfect location to plant the vines. From the stony, warm soils of the Gimblett Gravels in Hawke's Bay to the volcanic, clay soils of Te Muna Road in Martinborough these exceptional vineyards produce wines with amazing aromatics, purity and complexity.

Te Kahu means 'the cloak' in Maori and refers to the mist that envelops Giants Winery in the Tukituki Valley. Legend has it that this mist was used to protect a mythical Maori maiden from the sun as she visited her lover Te Mata.

The grapes are completely destemmed before fermentation begins in closed top stainless steel tanks with the yeast being innoculated into the must. The wine then spends 17 months maturing in oak barriques (18% are new) before being fined, filtered and released for sale. 

To see Craggy Range's information sheet for this wine please click on the blue link below.

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Te Kahu 2015 - fiche technique

76% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec.

The Te Kahu is a deep crimson red. It has complex aromatics of ripe plum, a touch of cassis, fresh rosemary and roasted meats. The palate is generous and approachable but also has a high level of sophistication with fine grained tannins enveloping a dense body of succulent black fruits. This wine has the ability to age for around 12 years from vintage.

ABV = 14.0%.

£21.70
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