Te Hera – Pinot Noir 2011

Te Hera - Pinot Noir 2011
Te Hera - Pinot Noir 2011

This wine comes from a single low yielding 11-acre vineyard planted over deep gravels in the Te Muna rd district. The nose is a complex mixture of mulberries, black cherries, espresso, and hot rocks. However, it is the palate that really sets this wine apart. It has that wonderful, rich, seamless mid-palate with the necessary supporting tannins required in truly great Pinot Noir. This wine is Martinborough’s answer to Chambolle Musigny. Drink 2013-2023.

About the Winery:

Te Hera Estate

This 13 acre vineyard is located in the sought after Te Muna road sub-district of Martinborough. It is run by viticulturist/winemaker John Douglas and his family. The vines were first planted in 1996, varietals include 12 acres of Pinot Noir clones and 1 acre of Riesling. The soils in this area consist of a shallow layer of topsoil over 25 metres of alluvial gravels. This results in extremely low yields and fruit with enormous character and intensity.

To say John Douglas is “passionate about Pinot Noir” would be an understatement. He is one of those rare breed of wine people who actually walk the talk. Every clone is made separately (even if it is only one barrel), each ferment is keep apart and batches are tiny. He makes what he makes from the vineyard…and no more. If John doesn’t like a batch he has been know to pour it down the drain. We are lucky to see this wine in Canada, as he is as careful selling the wine as making it.

The Region:

Martinborough is one of the three main sub-regions (Gladstone and Masterton being the other two) in the Wairarapa region of the north island of New Zealand. Martinborough lies in a rain shadow between the Taraua and Rimutaka mountain ranges, making it the North Island’s driest spot. It has 4 distinct seasons, with warm days and crisp nights during the growing season. At 40 degrees south latitude it has 1130 growing degrees and a long growing season. However, it is prone to spring frosts, which necessitates the use of wind machines in some vineyards.

Martinborough produces less than 1% of New Zealand’s grape production yet attracts an enormous amount of attention mainly due to the high quality of it’s Pinot Noir. The area is interesting because the wineries are usually small and family owned. There are a large number (over 30) of wineries dedicated to producing high quality Pinot Noir and cool climate varieties from the unique alluvial gravels found throughout the area. The cute village of Martinborough has been transformed over the last 30 years (since vineyards came) into a trendy wine tourism hub, with excellent accommodation and fine restaurants. There are only a handful of wine regions in the world that can rightfully claim to make great Pinot Noir, but this is one of them.

5 out of 5

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