New releases from Prophet’s Rock

Paul Pujol

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Prophet’s Rock winemaker, Paul Pujol (pictured), worked his first vintage at Seresin Estate (tastings) in Marlborough before heading for France where he worked in three consecutive vintages in the Languedoc, for Henri Bourgeois in Sancerre and for Maison Kuentz-Bas in Alsace. That’s remarkable only when you consider that was four vintages in one year. He stayed on at Maison Kuentz-Bas for the next three years as chief winemaker then spent the next few years making wine in Oregon.

Pujol is a thinking winemaker with a wide range of winemaking experiences to help fuel the creative process to get the best results from bony, hillside vineyards at the southern end of Bendigo in Central Otago.

He was in town recently with an armful of new release wines, which we tasted over lunch at the excellent Wine Chambers restaurant in Shortland Street.

I must confess to being underwhelmed by the first wine I tasted, Rocky Point 2015 Rosé $21.99 (tasting), which I’d tasted some months previously. Everything pointed to an exciting wine – the vineyard is steeply sloping and stony. More importantly, the vines are dedicated to making Rosé rather than the more common practice of bleeding a bit of juice from fermenting Pinot Noir. The wine is concentrated, soft and broad, but to my taste is a little soapy and needs a touch more acidity to add energy. Pujol confessed that “I’m not a massive fan of Rosé made from Pinot Noir”, although he was pleased with the wine which he thought deserved promotion to Prophet’s Rock status.

Prophet’s Rock 2013 Dry Riesling $35 (tasting) was a much more impressive wine with a perfect pitch of fine acidity that neatly balanced a small amount of residual sugar (6g/l). The wine has wonderful energy and purity with concentrated varietal flavours.

Even more impressive was Prophet’s Rock 2014 Pinot Gris $23 (tasting), a weighty, juicy wine with concentrated pear, apricot and floral flavours that gain gravitas from a delicately nutty yeast lees character. With Pinot Gris picking date is everything, explained Pujol. Miss the mark and the flavours become nondescript.

The Rocky Point 2014 Pinot Noir $30 (tasting) is a super-classy wine at a “second label” price. I loved the wine’s perfume – a mix of violet and black cherry characters with a tease of spice. It has a fine-grained texture that’s very appealing. A great buy at this price.

Finally the flagship Pinot Noir, Prophet’s Rock 2010 Retrospect Pinot Noir $119 (tasting). It’s a limited edition barrel selection. I’m normally a little sceptical of barrel selections at twice the price of the normal label but, tasted alongside the regular 2013, this really does look pretty good. It has more structure, intensity and density and, though a little closed right now, promises to cellar very well indeed.

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