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Seven Terraces Pinot Noir 2015
100% Pinot Noir from a single-vineyard in Canterbury. The grapes are harvested before macerating on the skins for several days prior to fermentation. Fermentation takes place in closed stainless steel vats with automatic pumpovers. The wine undegoes malolactic fermentation followed by aging in French oak barrels.
The winery, with its well-manicured grounds sit outside central Christchurch. The area is protected by the Teviotdale hills which shield the area from the winds off the Pacific Ocean. Instead, warm winds from the northwest create a microclimate with one of the longest growing seasons in New Zealand.
Partnering with the Empsons are winemakers Brent Rawstron and Alan McCorkindale.
The line is comprised of two wines. The first is a classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc that exemplifies the regions now famous harmony between vibrant mineral, flinty elements and rich tropical nuances. The second wine is a fruit-forward Pinot Noir from a single-vineyard located in Canterbury where the microclimate is well-suited for producing wines with balance and finesse.
At the southern end of the North Island about an hour drive from New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington, Wairarapa’s producers are mainly small-scale, lifestyle winemakers. The region holds less than 3% of the country’s acreage under vine but nearly one tenth of its winemakers.
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. 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 Villages or Cru level wines.