Pinot Noir

From 1989 to 1993 a "Moutere Pinot Noir" was produced. In 1994 the wine, made from the two blocks on the vineyard, was still unblended at bottling time and tasting trials at the time suggested that each wine on it's own was better than the blend of the two.

Thus since 1994 the two wines "Front Block" and "Back Block" have been bottled separately. If there ever was a case of "terroir" this is it! Year in, year out the Front Block exhibits savoury gamy flavours with a good tannic finish while the Back Block has earthy, cherry flavours and even more tannin. This difference is in spite of the fact that the two blocks yield roughly the same (usually approx. 1.5tonne/acre) and reach similar sugar levels at the same time. They receive the same treatment in the winery-destemmed and crushed fruit inoculated with yeast at the outset and leuconostic bacteria when the fermentation takes off. The fermentation (in 3 tonne fermenters) gets quite hot, sometimes up to 35c,and is usually all over in 3-4 days

Depending on the year varying lengths of post fermentation maceration are employed, during which time the malolactic fermentation is almost completed. The wines then spend a year in French oak of varying ages. A proportion of 33% new oak is aimed for each year. Although the wines are big enough to support a higher level of oak it is not deemed necessary, the natural fruit tannins doing a better job of providing the right balance.
What is a "best Drink time" is different to different people but the Back Block usually takes almost double the time of the FrontĀ  Block.

It is difficult to determine exactly how long the wines will age. Since 1991 when the hot ferments were first employed (and hence higher tannin) the wines, with one or two exceptions ,have not reached their full potential. The two earlier wines 1989 and 1990 have also lasted well but do not have the same projected lifespan.
From time to time a lesser label "cerise" is produced, usually from bought in (Nelson) fruit. These wines are generally less tannic and are for earlier drinking.

Pinot Noir Vintages:

  • 1999 vintage: Early indications suggest a very good year ,high alcohol but not overripe characters, good tannins and excellent pinot fruit characters.
  • 1998 vintage: Very hot year, depressingly low yield, the Back Block almost completely non productive due to drought conditions, fruit overripe and all of it blended away into a lower priced blend. One barrel only of Pinot from Riwaka was bottled and sold as Cerise.
  • 1997 vintage: One of the very best. Nelson probably had a better year than anywhere else in NZ due to its location ,tucked away from the (quite foul) easterly weather. The two wines have very good tannins, especially the Back Block with heaps of fruit that will need at least 5 years to really show itself. Both these wines should improve over a long period
  • 1996 vintage: An average sort of year-good weather but only moderate sugar levels. The wines were made very oxidatively and show brown tinges as young wines .However I don't think that this is anything to worry about and that the wines are in fact very stable and capable of long term improvement.
    To my palate at least (I might have higher tannin tolerance than most) the 96 Back Block is beautiful right now. Although it has a whack of tannin ,it's oxidative beginnings have rendered it drinkable as a young wine. Similar comments would apply to the Front Block but it is not as rich as the Back Block and could use a bit more time to pick up some complexity.
  • 1995 vintage: A very difficult year. For all that (some ignorant) people talk about the autumn rains in Nelson this is the only vintage (in eleven) that it has been any problem at all. The rain did come down - for a whole week just at harvest time. The Back Block has weathered it reasonably well although it did not achieve the tannin levels of other years. It is drinking well now and it is hard to know what the future holds for it. The Front Block is not going anywhere and should be consumed now.
  • 1994 vintage: A very kind year - good weather without being extra hot. Consequently tannin levels are not high but the wines are nicely balanced for drinking over the next little while.I would suspect that at this point of time (8/99) many would find this vintage the most satisfying, especially, need I say it, the Back Block.
  • 1993 vintage: A very cool year in Nelson, as in most of the country. However the 1993 Moutere Pinot Noir did not suffer at all. It is drinking very well now but does need a bit of aeration to open it. (Out of the into a decanter from a great height and back again should do it). The wine should continue to age for many years.
  • 1992 vintage: Another cool year but a very good wine to drink now or in many years time. Like the 93 it needs some aeration.
  • 1991 vintage: A very hot year. This wine started life with an unbelievable level of tannin. It has now "turned the corner" in that the primary fruit has started to fade while the level of secondary development flavours is continuing to build. Good to drink now or to keep for a little while yet.
  • 1990 vintage: It is a good while since I have tasted this wine although I have reports that it is still doing well.It lacks the structure to age into a very old wine.
  • 1989 vintage: Same sort of comments as for the 1990 - a good year but not much structure and wines from very young wines do not seem to age that well.