Well, I still can’t drink, which makes it a little sad to be opening wines from one of my favourite Kiwi producers. It’s the reminder that normally I’d prefer to be roadtesting these at dinner (we have two excellent Japanese BYO restaurants within walking distance), and probably drink most of them. Fingers crossed the inflammation in my ankles goes down soon and I can go back to running and drinking. I feel like half a man at the moment.
Anyway, Dog Point. What I like about this winery is the authenticity. You’d never know that the Dog Point Vineyard is certified organic (and sells fruit to some of the best makers in Marlborough). Or that owners Ivan Sutherland and James Healy were the original drivers of Cloudy Bay (Ivan was Cloudy Bay’s viticulturist, James winemaker). There’s an understatement about everything Dog Point that extends from owners (who are genuinely great people), to production approach, right through to the minimalist labels.
As for the wines; the joy here is the volume of flavour. The Dog Point wines are typically riper, more alcoholic and fuller than the Marlborough norm. Yet the balance is typically perfect; everything just right without excessive winery manipulation. A sign that the fruit is in great shape from the start.
The 2015 wines below, in particular, showcase everything good about Dog Point. They’re expressive, open, sensual and delicious, all while carrying a shape and freshness to it. They’re what you want Marlborough Chardonnay and Pinot to taste like. The ’17 shows the cool and wet vintage with a shape that is atypically lean, even if the intensity is full tilt. An outlier.
Distinctive Marlborough wines, at a very fair price, from good people. So much to like.
Oh and if you’re interested, a few notes from a vertical of Dog Point here.
Dog Point Chardonnay 2015
Handpicked, from vines that yield 30hl/ha (ie Grand Cru Burgundy level). Wild fermented, and spends 18 months in barrel, just 15% new., with full malolactic fermentation. As ever, this is carefully coiffed; a masterpiece of how to manage the interplay between spicy oak and white peach fruit, the acid perfectly natural. It’s a proudly ripe, even sunny Chardonnay, but it still finishes with grapefruit acidity tang. I can’t fault the perfect flow of flavours. Excellent, moreish Chardonnay of volume. Probably the best Dog Point Chardonnay in years too. Just delicious wine. Best drinking: 2017-2021. 18.7/20, 95/100. 13.5%, $38. Would I buy it? In a heartbeat.
Dog Point Pinot Noir 2015
Again, handpicked and wild fermented, includes some whole bunches. 30-40% new oak. Lovely lushness to this wine, that quintessential Marlborough plump middle. It’s a little raw on the finish, but I love the juicy fullness of this wine. It feels like real Pinot; no simpleton, with a power push of tannin through the finish. What you want in Marlborough Pinot. Best drinking: 2017-2024. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13.5%, $47. Would I buy it? Yes.
Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2017
A rather different style this year, it’s grassier than it has been in some time, the alcohol lower too. It’s a sharp wine in context, the acid almost gritty but still very powerful. It’s a little sour too. A firm, distinctly shaped wine but not quite as easily drinkable as other vintages. Best drinking: 2017-2018. 17.5/20, 91/100. 12.5%, $29. Would I buy it? I’d go a glass.