Burn Cottage Pinot Noir 2016
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The 2016 Burn Cottage Vineyard Pinot Noir is a wine of tremendous appeal and seduction. Herb-tinged black cherries and cola notes appear on the nose, while the medium to full-bodied palate is rich and silky, lined with plush yet well-defined tannins that support the fruit and linger on the long finish. It's approachable now, but it should drink well for a decade or more.
Burn Cottage is a 28-hectare vineyard, farm, and estate in the foothills of the Pisa range in Central Otago, New Zealand. The vineyard is owned by husband and wife Marquis & Dianne Sauvage, who purchased the unplanted property in 2002. It had been grazed by sheep for as long as can currently be remembered. There were, and are, no immediate vineyard neighbors. The site is quite coveted in the region, for it is sheltered from both northerly and southerly winds by large hills and forms a beautiful, protected bowl much like a modern amphitheater. It is a phenomenal site for Pinot Noir; with warm summers and cold winters, there is plenty of sunshine with particularly long warm days through the growing season and cool nights that help achieve ripeness while retaining good acidity.
Marquis Sauvage sought out Ted Lemon, owner and winemaker of Littorai in Sebastopol, CA, to plant their new vineyard. Ted proposed that Burn Cottage would be biodynamically farmed from inception, and that is the path that has been followed with great commitment and enthusiasm. From there, a great partnership was formed, thanks to the potential of the land as well as Ted’s deep connections to New Zealand, and to Central Otago in particular. Ted is head winemaker and vineyard manager, and as Marquis calls him, “the guiding hand on the tiller at Burn Cottage.”
Like Ted’s property at Littorai, Burn Cottage is a fully functional farm, with 10 hectares under vine and the rest of the land devoted to cattle, chickens, beehives, olive groves, and other native species of New Zealand plants, bushes, and trees. They also produce their own compost and grow many of the preparations needed for Biodynamic farming. At Burn Cottage, they believe that biodiversity is the cornerstone of healthy farming – and that great wines are not made from fruit but are born of the soils which nurture the vines and then made with a minimum of intervention.
Home to the globe’s most southerly vineyards, which are cultivated below the 45th parallel, Central Otago is a true one-of-a-kind wine growing region, but not only because of its extreme location.
Central Otago is more dependent on one single variety than any other region in New Zealand—and it isn’t Sauvignon blanc. They don’t even make Sauvignon blanc there.
Pinot Noir claims nearly 75% of the region’s vineyards with Pinot Gris coming in a far second place and Riesling behind it. This is also New Zealand’s only wine region with a continental climate, giving it more diurnal and seasonal temperature shifts than any other.
The subregion of Bannockburn has enjoyed the most success historically but the area’s exceptional growth has moved to the promising regions of Cromwell/Bendigo and Alexandra districts. Central Otago is known for its fruity and full-bodied Pinot noir. With the freedom to experiment here, growers and winemakers are easily exhibiting the area’s great potential.