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: Escarpment

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Escarpment

www.escarpment.co.nz

Te Muna Rd, PO Box 15, Martinborough

+64 6 306 8305

Escarpment is a wine project headed by the New Zealand's King of Pinot Noir, Larry McKenna, who made his name at the Martinborough Vineyard.

Escarpment Vineyard was established in 1999 as a joint business venture between Robert & Mem Kirby (of Australia's Village Roadshow) and Larry & Sue McKenna.

Meeting by chance in 1999 through Dr Richard Smith, Larry and Robert quickly hit it off and realised they had more than a love for the grape in common. Serious talk about establishing a definitive New World vineyard began in earnest even then and the 'idea whose time has come' has resulted in one of the most significant new vineyard developments in the New Zealand district of Martinborough.

Escarpment's varietal selection consists of 70% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Gris, 5% Riesling and 5% Pinot Blanc. There is now also some Viognier

While the majority of these grapes are grown on-site, Escarpment also sources grapes from two other local vineyards growers who grow and supply grapes to Escarpment: Station Bush for additional Pinot Gris and Cleland Vineyard for additional Pinot Noir.

With very deep alluvial gravels now layered over the loams the soil composition ensures exceptional drainage.

The top wines are the single vineyard Pinot Noir releases, with the Kiwa being my choice of the best of the set.

Tasting Notes

There are three types of Tasting notes:

(W) Notes from the winery (blurbs from bottle)

(GXY) Notes from a GenXY wine reviewer

(G) Notes from GenXY's Tasting events (collective opinions)

New reviews

Escarpment Kiwa Pinot Noir 2014

Purchased: Not ($48)

Drink: 2026

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2016, 50% whole cluster inclusion, perfumed and complex showing silky red berry fruits but quite ethereal rather than juicy sweetness, has some Middle Eastern spices alongside the whole cluster herbals, long and tightly wound palate with a touch of brininess on the tannic spine, should develop nicely over the next decade (*****)

Escarpment Pahi Pinot Noir 2013

Purchased: Not ($65)

Drink: 2019

(GXY) Tasting:: Dec 2015, 10/5 clone, quite perfumed morello cherry and boysenberry, has a bit more depth and power from the warm vintage, foresty with chalky tannins and good line and length, discrete spicy oak on the savoury finish  (****1/2)

Escarpment Martinborough Pinot Noir 2013

Purchased: Not ($45)

Drink: 2021

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2015, moderately perfumed and fleshy red cherry and blackberry pastille with anise and dried herb notes, long, foresty and medium bodied with a plumpish mid-palate, finishes with grainy, savoury tannins and spicy chary oak (****1/2)

Escarpment Martinborough Chardonnay 2012

Purchased: Not ($A40)

Drink: 2020

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2015,  barrel fermented and partial malo, reductive nose but brightly lit white peach, lemon and melon with some mealy nutty complexity and flint notes, lightly buttery, quite long with a steely grapefruit acid finish  (****)

Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir 2011

Purchased: Not ($A80)

Drink: 2022+

(GXY) Tasting: July 2013, quite good concentration and length, supple core of black cherry, plum and cranberry with rose petal florals and sweet exotic spices, linear and minerally palate, chalky tannins and toasty cinnamon/clove oak, good herbal edged acidity, should develop very well over the next decade (*****)

Escarpment Martinborough Pinot Noir 2011

Purchased: Not ($A43)

Drink:

(GXY) Tasting: July 2013, fleshy, foresty and medium bodied cranberry and black cherries with aniseed and dried herb notes, bright stemmy/herbally citric acids, some glycerolly plumpness on the mid-palate, grainy tannins,  medium char and spicy cedar-vanilla oak on the persistent finish (****1/2)

Escarpment The Edge Pinot Noir 2011

Purchased: Not ($A25/$NZ24)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: June 2013, this is their entry level,  ripe and robust black cherries, plums and raspberry but still quite earthy and dry, the acid is quite firm despite the warm vintage, loose knit but fine tannins (***)

Escarpment Pinot Gris 2011

Purchased: Not ($32)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: June 2013, barrel ferment, partial malo, quite dry by NZ  Pinot Gris standards (5 gms/l residual sugar), aromatic and creamy orange peel, white peach, apple and pear with toasted cinnamon and yeasty lees notes, chalky phenolics and lively citric acidity (****)

Escarpment Riesling 2011

Purchased: Not ($A27/$NZ25)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: June 2013,  sweet and sour, medium dry style showing orange peel, red apple,  lime sherbert, honeysuckle and brown spices, slightly creamy and leesy,  plumpish mid-palate and tangy savoury edged acidity  (****)

Escarpment Kiwa Pinot Noir 2010

Purchased: Not ($A60/$NZ65)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2012, from vines planted in 1979 in the Cleveland Vineyard on the Martinborough Terraces, clones UCD 5, 6 and 13, 40% whole bunch inclusion, floral and medium-full bodied red cherry, strawberry and plum with savoury roast meat, dried herbs and exotic spices, precise acid backbone with very good length and balance, web of fine tannins provide some grip, a light touch of smoky spicy vanilla/cedar from the 33% new French oak barriques (*****)

Escarpment Pinot Noir 2010

Purchased: Not ($A45/$NZ46)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2012,from a warmer vintage, 40% whole bunch inclusion, the standard estate Pinot, supple, open and fleshy but still quite shapely, foresty and medium bodied cranberry and plum with a touch of aniseed and orange peel, the warm earthy palate is underpinned with bright stemmy/herbally acids, some glycerolly plumpness on the mid-palate, modest toasty spicy cedar-vanilla oak on the finish (****)

Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir 2008

Purchased: Not ($A80)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2011, the fourth release from Escarpment’s close planted vines at the Te Muna vineyard, pure and vibrant cherry and plum showing violet and sweet spices, linear, supple and medium bodied core of fruit which opens up to rich minerality and chalky tannins, less of the Larry McKinna trademark charry oak which is a good thing with fruit this good (****1/2)

Escarpment Kiwa Pinot Noir 2008

Purchased: Prince of Wales, St. Kilda ($A55)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2010, from 27 year old vines in the Cleveland Vineyard on the Martinborough terraces, clones UCD 5, 6 and 13, the fullest bodied of the trio of single vineyard Pinots without compromising its suppleness and delicacy, medium bodied, focussed and minerally red cherry, strawberry and plum with savoury roast meat, autumn leaf and spice complexity, outstanding length and balance with lick of spicy vanilla from the 30% new French oak barriques (*****)

Escarpment Pahi Pinot Noir 2008

Purchased: Not ($A55)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2010, from 27 year old vines in the McCreanor Vineyard, single 10/5 clone, soft and delicate pristine expression of red cherry and strawberry, light-medium bodied has excellent focus and opens to forest floor and mineral complexity, long and super-fine tannins on the savoury finish, just a whisper of spicy vanilla oak (****1/2)

Escarpment Pinot Gris 2008

Purchased: Not ($A33)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2010, like The Edge this is also in the off-dry spectrum but has undergone substantial barrel fermentation, lees and malolactic fermentation, rich and creamy nectarine and pear with ample brown spice, hazelnut and nougat notes, well judged chalky grapefruit acids cut through and give the wine some drive, satisfyingly opulent and will develop further with medium term cellaring (****1/2)

Escarpment Kupe Chardonnay 2008

Purchased: Not ($A50)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2010, second release of this premium from the Martinborough Terraces, much more taut and minerally than the estate Chardonnay, lemon, white nectarine and melon, tightly wound around a flinty backbone and tangy grapefruit acidity, austere oak use brings well integrated vanilla, tobacco and spice nuances to the lingering finish (****1/2)

Escarpment Chardonnay 2008

Purchased: Not ($A33)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2010, from the Te Muna site, perfumed white nectarine and kiwifruit with savoury lees notes, lemon butter palate has undergone 100% malo but has underlying textural and mineral complexity, long with balanced spicy cashew-vanilla oak and grapefruit acidity (****)

Escarpment Te Rehua Pinot Noir 2008

Purchased: Not ($A55)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2010, from 22 year old vines in the Barton Vineyard, multi-clonal, the lightest of the trio of the single vineyard pinots, delicate black cherry and plum with gamey nuances, very long and taut with a minerally finish and well judged oak restraint, a bit too austere for my taste but there is nothing to fault the wine-making (****)

Escarpment Pinot Noir 2008

Purchased: Not ($40)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2010, the standard estate Pinot, supple, shapely and medium bodied black cherry and plum with warm earthiness offset with light stemmy acids, opens up to forest floor complexity, a touch of spicy cedar-vanilla on the minerally finish (****)

Escarpment The Edge Pinot Gris 2008

Purchased: Not ($A22)

Drink: 2011

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2010, off-dry apertif style with 7 gms/litre residual sugar, white nectarine, pear drop and melon, textured sherberty mouth feel leads to crisp and chalky lemon rind finish (***1/2)

Escarpment The Edge Pinot Noir 2009

Purchased: Not ($A22)

Drink: 2011

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2010, fragrant and juicy with bright plum, raspberry and red cherry flavours, medium bodied with a spicy finish and smooth tannins, the creamy oak is a bit overt, entry level style that reflects value for the price (***1/2)

Escarpment The Edge Pinot Noir 2006

Purchased: Not ($A22)

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: Jan 2008, drink now second label, smooth, up front and fairly confectionary showing ripe red cherry and sweet plum cake although offset to some extent with a savoury and dried herb mid-palate, smoky spicy cedar oak, the 14.5% alcohol shows how ripe it is (***)

Escarpment Pinot Noir 2004

Purchased: Not ($A50)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2006, slightly sweet (but not confectionary)medium bodied palate shows plum and bright red cherry flavours with nutmeg, clove and pepper notes, velvety tannins, attractive length and balance (****)

Escarpment Pinot Noir 2005

Purchased: Not ($A50)

Drink: 2015+

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2006, nose is a bit closed but shows plum and bright red cherry on the medium bodied palate, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and pepper features, fine grained tannins (****)

Escarpment The Edge Pinot Gris 2006

Purchased: Not ($A29)

Drink: 2007

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2006, spicy pear and honeysuckle, light quaffing style, crisp dry finish (***)

Escarpment Station Bush Pinot Gris 2005

Purchased: Not ($A40)

Drink: 2007

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2006, delicate pear and stonefruit, barrel ferment with vanilla features on the dry finish (***)