Seresin Leah Pinot Noir 2006
"Sourced mainly from their Raupo Creek Vineyard, fruit de-stemmed with the wine matured in French oak (25% new), the 2006 Leah Pinot Noir has a captivating nose that reminded me of the local woods, kicking autumn leaves around on a cold Sunday morning! The palate is medium-bodied, crisp with bright cranberry, wild berries, a hint of chocolate and a touch leafy on the very natural finish. Showing great individuality and soul, I would tend to drink this in its youth rather than cellar it long-term... Seresin is certainly a name to look out for, producing some wonderful, complex, natural wines."
Michael Seresin, a New Zealand born filmmaker based in London, is the sole owner of Seresin Estate. While racking up credits as cinematographer for movies such as Fame, Angela’s Ashes and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban he also bought 167 acres in Marlborough in 1992 and started seriously exploring his passion for wines.
It’s important to Michael that all three vineyards are managed and certified organic under BioGro certification. The estate is also striving for biodynamic certification because as he recently told Wine Spectator, “Some of the best vineyards in Burgundy are doing it. It has nothing to do with sales or marketing… in essence it’s traditional agriculture.” (July 10, 2006)
This philosophy of working in harmony with nature is evident in their commitment to careful hand-tending, and hand-harvesting and sorting. It also is represented in their efforts to work with natural elements such as wild yeasts to elicit a true Marlborough character in their wines with minimal wine-maker intervention in order to allow the layers of flavor to evolve, so the wines are a natural expression of the soil from which they come.
A relatively young but extremely promising wine producing country, New Zealand is widely recognized for its distinctive wines made from the aromatic, Sauvignon blanc.
The world’s most southerly vineyards are found here, with significant climatic variation both between and within the warmer North Island and the cooler South Island. Overall, the climate is maritime, with plenty of rainfall, as well as abundant sunshine. Producers have almost unilaterally embraced cutting-edge winery technology, resulting in clean, high-quality wines at every price point from wallet-friendly to premium.
Sauvignon blanc, known here for its trademark herbaceous character, is at its best in Marlborough but thrives throughout the nation, accounting for an overwhelming majority of the country’s exports. While this is indeed the country’s most planted and successful variety, it is certainly not the only New Zealand grape capable of delighting wine lovers.
Chardonnay is the second-most important white variety and takes on a supple texture with citrus and tropical fruit aromas in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, respectively. Pinot noir, second behind Sauvignon blanc in national production numbers, is at its best in Central Otago—the most southerly winegrowing region in the world! These wines are known for bright and juicy red fruit. Taking cues from the wines of Alsace, aromatic varieties like Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer shine in Martinborough, while red Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have found success in Hawke’s Bay. Throughout New Zealand but especially in Marlborough, Pinot noir and Chardonnay are used to produce traditional method sparkling wines.
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
In the Glass
Pinot Noir is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles delving into the red or purple plum and in the other direction, red or orange citrus. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount) it can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon and tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay, not Pinot noir. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Village or Cru level wines. So "red Burgundy" still necessarily refers to Pinot noir.