Escarpment releases pinot noir fab five

The Escarpment vineyards in Martinborough (Photo: Escarpment Wines)

A first foray into “the hipster world of organic minimal intervention winemaking” increased Escarpment’s annual pinot noir release to five wines (excluding “2016 The Edge Pinot Noir” which has not yet been submitted for review).

The flagship 2016 Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir is clearly the star – power, perfume, complexity and a sensual texture.

The 2017 Escarpment Noir Pinot Noir was naturally fermented in a clay amphora and left on skins for 270 days prior to pressing. The juice and wine had no additions, including sulphur dioxide. Un-fined and unfiltered, it is the purest expression of pinot noir Escarpment has fashioned to date. I found it difficult to judge. I liked the floral and fruit flavours, was puzzled by a curious meaty character and found the palate a little tough. Drink by the end of 2018. (NZD $30)

To describe the 2016 Escarpment Pinot Noir as an entry-level pinot noir is to do it a disservice. This is a serious pinot with obvious cellaring potential and quite a complex palate that promises to grow in stature with bottle age. (NZD $50)

The 2016 Escarpment Te Rehua Pinot Noir was produced from 24-year-old vines on deep alluvial gravels in the Barton Vineyard. I particularly liked the wine’s intensely perfumed aroma although, like the wine above, the flavours are fairly locked-in by firm tannins. The wine needs time to release its full potential. (NZD $85)

The 2016 Escarpment Kiwa Pinot Noir is another elegant and concentrated pinot noir with a firm structure, although I found it slightly more accessible than most. (NZD $85)

Finally, the flagship 2016 Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir is clearly the star – power, perfume, complexity and a sensual texture. The wine has no shortage of tannic backbone but it’s balanced by intense fruit and alcohol sweetness. Good now, better later. (NZD $115)

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