Now here’s a cult winery in the making (if not already).
I’ve had a few vintages of Kusuda over the years and each vintage the hype – and the quality of the wines – step up a little more. It’s now at the point where tracking down these Kiwi wines in Australia is hard work, due simply to that magic combo of limited quantities and rampant demand.
Speaking of hype, Hiro Kusuda has a pretty unique story too, and the fanatical attention to detail in the production process has given just the label an even more cult wine aura.
But saying that Hiro, in person, is every bit the laconic Kiwi. And these aren’t clinical or hard wines either, just expressive – and precise – showcases of the good bits about Martinborough Pinot Noir and Syrah, complete with all of the variability that single vineyard wines can show.
In case you can’t tell I like these wines. I like how Hiro doesn’t want to grow the estate anymore as it would mean he couldn’t run it as a one man band. I like the fact that these aren’t always drop dead seductive wines. No slavish oak. No points chasing. Just layered, fragrant, and firmly structured Martinborough wines.
Kusuda Pinot Noir 2014
Meaty and even quite stern Pinot. No shrinking violet. I struggle with Pinots that lack delicacy, but there is a real presence here. The red fruit on red fruit layers, combined with beef bones, leads to a palate with a very masculine profile. It might be considered regressive to be using ‘masculine’ in a tasting note, but I couldn’t go beyond that descriptor. You can just picture the warmth of the ’14 season here, but it never feels astringent. Just expansive and deeply firm, all the way building through the back end. Seriously good larger style Pinot. Best drinking: 2017-2024. 18.5/20, 94/100.
Kusuda Syrah 2013
Purple fruit and violets. After the rather more driving and firm Pinot this is quite fragrant. I noticed the white chocolate oak with this wine more, but it doesn’t necessarily dominate. Just there. Lovely vibrant purple fruit though, with a hint of mint and then some fine tannins. Unmistakeably ‘cool’ climate Syrah, and there’s a boniness here to remind you that Syrah doesn’t always get perfectly ripe. Still, the dark berries through the middle lifts this up into something more interesting. The mint could put some people off, but I think it gives an extra layer of interest. Again, this is layered, deftly handled, mid-weight-yet-firm Syrah with much going on. Best drinking: 2018-2028. 18.5/20, 94/100.