Fermented Grape

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Lansdowne Estate Pinot Noir 2011, Masterton, Wairarapa, New Zealand

Drunk December 2015 @ home

The winery

The Landsdowne Estate vineyards are in Masterton, Wairarapa on New Zealand's north island, around 100km from Wellington.

In 1998 Margaret and Derek Hagar bought land on the west bank of the Ruamahanga River. It was once part of the Beetham Estate, and growing international quality wine as early as the 1880s, according to Derek Hagar, who with his father Derek Hagar, senior, runs the family owned business. The Masterton vineyard owned by the Beetham family and the development of Masterton as a top wine region in New Zealand was halted by the prohibition movement, which in 1908 voted 'no license'. Winemakers went out of business and the vines at Lansdowne were pulled out.

It lay between the Beetham homestead, now historic Lansdowne House, and the Ruamahanga River, which is where the Hagars put down vines in the early 2000's,
on Masterton's Gordon Street. The discovery of an early bell-shaped pump in the soil confirmed Mr Hagar senior's suspicions that his new vineyard was on the same site as the old, and a survey showed five different natural springs on the land. The six acres planted are about the same size as the original Beetham vineyard. 

The terrain with its dry climate, cool nights and long hot sunny days with stony, clay over limestone soil was promising for Pinot Noir.

For the first two or three years, the vines planted by the Hagars did it hard, with many dying and having to be replanted. "A lot of stones as big as footballs" were preventing the roots from pushing down into the soil for water, and the vines that did survive did after a struggle - but that was all for the best, Mr Hagar, Junior, believes."We believe that vines which are stressed when they are growing up produce better fruit," he said.

The commitment to producing quality wine has led to steps such as pruning off 75 per cent of the grapes and to what the Hagars believe is the real key - patience.
The vineyard has also managed to harvest the difficult-to-grow Syrah for three years running, and believe they are the only Wairarapa vineyard to do so.
The vineyard's Pinot Noir, Syrah and Pinot Gris wines are aged for two to three years in the bottle, and with no additions to the fruit - just the natural sugars of the grape."Whatever God sends us is what goes in the bottle," they say.

The wine

2494 litres, Picking date: 28th April 2011. Karl HeinzJohner. Alcohol 13.3%.

Fermented Grape Tasting Notes

Generally wines from the Wairarapa region have darker fruit aromas with a full fruity palate with dark plum and savoury notes as well as a fine tannin structure. This Lansdowne Pinot Noir 2011 also had these characteristics, with the only limitation being the low level of aromatics which you would normally have with Pinot Noir wines. No hint that the wine was overpowered by alcohol. 

It was quite different from many of the wines I have tried from Central Otago in the South Island, with its cooler climate means slightly higher acidity and less overt fruit but superior aroma and more like some parts of Burgundy. It was very enjoyable but lovers of a classic Burgundy style may be left a little disappointed, but those who like California fruit forward style e.g. Russian River Valley or Sonoma, this will be the ticket! An easy drinking style.