Auntsfield Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 (Marlborough, NZ)
14%, Screwcap, $69 on wine list
Source: Wine List
It’s not widely trumpeted, but the Marlborough wine scene is actually much older than it is given credit for. Admittedly, Marlborough has only really sprung into the global wine consciousness within the last 30 odd years, but its history dates back much further than that.
Indeed the first of the regions wine gapes can actually be traced to 140 years ago, having been planted only a few hundred metres from where this Pinot Noir was sourced from on the Auntsfield property.
Of course it wasn’t Pinot Noir then, and the original single acre plot of brown muscat (Muscat a Petit Grains) planted back then produced a very different sort of wine to this one, yet the history remains (complete with pictures too, check out the Auntsfield website via the link above).
Further, It wasn’t just a vineyard alone that was started either, with Marlborough’s first cellar (of sorts) also erected on the estate in 1873 to process the grapes.
Sadly, those original Muscat vines aren’t around anymore, having been ripped up in the early 1930s. Nor is much of the wine either, even though a random bottle or two is still floating around (apparently).
What is good news is that the original 1870s cellar – which was being treated as a waste storage area at one stage in those ‘lost years’ – has now been fully revitalised by the current owners, the Cowley family, with the original Muscat also intended to be replanted (with Muscat grapes) as a little homage too.
That restored building is useful for nostalgia purposes too, carrying with it a real sense of history. Wines seem to show more personality (perceived or otherwise) when they’re made in a lovely old facility, particularly given just how different such a building is in the shiny modern world of modern Marlborough winemaking. That cellar presents a proper, nostalgic contrast that helps flesh out the Marlborough story methinks.
Beyond thr old building, the winemaking and viticulture is welcomingly dynamic at Auntsfield too, the business run by the youngish brothers, Ben and Luc Cowley, both of whom believe in championing the ‘Southern Valleys’ unofficial sub-region where the Auntsfield vineyard lies (and particularly the potential of the Pinot friendly clay outcrops of this part of Marlborough). Viticulturist Ben was a great source of knowledge during a recent Marlborough visit too, also helping nab bottles of Burgundy from other people’s tables at a regional dinner put on at the time.
High fives all round.
Given all that context, it was entirely satisfying just how tasty this 2010 Pinot Noir tasted too. It was even better than I remember the barrel sample, which is great as often really decent people seem to make average wines. Great wines are often made by uncompromising assholes you see…
Why I liked this so much is simple really – it’s just so perfectly proportioned. A dark ruby colour, it smells fully, perfectly ripe, with both dark cherry and strawberry fruitful aromatics capped off with an edge of varietal stalk and black pepper. The perfectly posed palate has a lovely raspberry, Marlborough flesh in a quite ripe mould, yet never looks anything above medium bodied, the acid gentle and natural, the tannins fine and integrated.
A Pinot Noir that manages to be both delicate and weighty, I can’t really fault this aside from a slight warmth on the finish. For intended style and function it is near perfect. It’s not a profound wine but it I loved it and everyone I shared it with loved it too. Yes.
Score: 18.6/20 94/100
Would I buy it? Definitely.