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Martinborough Or Bust

I was recently invited to attend a tasting that contained the best and brightest of Martinborough on New Zealands North Island. Sadly, I have not been there myself, although it sounds like one of those places I will have to make the pilgrimage to at some point in my life.

Martinborough, a sub-region of the Wairarapa region is still relatively new. Really it has only been a commercial site since the early 1980s. Most of the region’s vineyards are concentrated around the town of Martinborough on special soils that are refered to as ‘The Martinborough Terrace’. Low rainful, large diurnal temperature fluctuations and strong winds all contribute to it’s unique terroir. They have built a strong reputation for quality Pinot Noir.


Not as tasty as the wine.
An example of the free draining, stoney soil in the area.

I’ve almost always liked the wines I’ve tasted from the region. In general the Chard is classy, the Sauv Blanc generally shows some restraint, the Pinots Noir aren’t the Grenache like monsters of Otago and the Gris is quite pretty.

Well worth going to.

The chance to go and taste them as a group was too good to pass up on. I won’t go through all of my notes (as I tasted quite a few wines and it’s not all that engrossing), but I am happy to if you really want.

Below are my highlights:
Ata Rangi Everything they do is good. The Gris in particular was looking great (featured in our Pinot Gris offer). Dry, floral and really enticing. And of course their Pinot Noir; floral, dark, pretty, fruit cake and long. Great drinking!

Craggy Range These guys are hard to fault in any of the wines or regions they work in. Their Sauv had great texture. The Riesling was excellent, really well balanced, tart, fleshy and crystalline. The Pinot was lean, dry, spicy, dark fruited and meaty. Very enjoyable.

Escarpment The 09 Pinot was dark and spicy, really silky and a hint bitter. A great wine from a riper year.

Martinborough Vineyards Once again, the whole range was hard to fault. They do great work in getting a textural element in their wines that a lot of new world producers over look. Chard, the two Pinots and Pinot Gris were awesome.

Palliser Estate Their Estate Pinot 09 showed good depth, nice balance and lovely concentration.

Te Kairanga Showed three Pinots that increased in quality as you went up the tree. A newly bottled Estate PN that showed potential. The dark, savoury, truffly/undergrowthy Runholder Pinot 08 and the fantastic John Martin Reserve 09.