Pinot Noir vertical tasting

It’s been a busy day today at Nautilus.

CJ’s been invited to attend the launch lunch (try saying that after a couple of vinos) of Silere Merino (did you know Merino sheep are not only great for wool, they are also the tastiest breed of meat?) in a couple of weeks at Hummingbird in Wellington. We’ve just had a glimpse of the menu and it looks sensational. Each course will be paired with a different vintage of Nautilus Pinot Noir, so in the interests of research and professionalism, we figured we ought to pull them out and have a taste.

We started with 2007. This was a pretty average year temperature wise, and pretty dry giving us average crop levels and pristine disease-free fruit at harvest. The wine showed great colour intensity, starting to turn garnet on the edges, and nice savoury bottle development with some roast meet and mushroom characters overlaying pretty spice adn red cherries. The palate was tasting juicy and fleshy. This wine really opened up as itwas swirled in glass and looked really quite smart.

2008 was a year with pretty average annual temperatures again. However a warm Spring had given good fruit set and larger than average bunches by harvest. The colour was a little bit lighter than the ’07 and the nose was a little more subtle but very elegant. Notes of mulberry and spice on the nose with the start of some savoury development gave way to a silky seductive palate with a seamless structure. Perfectly integrated – this was my wine of the line up, which surprised me as I had always felt the 2008 to be the weakest of this series of vintages. I guess it has just shows the benefits of aging a wine for a few years.

2009 was a warmer year with a lower crop. Some rain in February meant we had to do some pretty severe crop thinning prior to harvest and on release this wine was fleshy, voluptuous and intense. With a little age this is still the biggest wine in the line up and the oak is still evident. Fruit characters are more in the boysenberry spectrum and are very intense. On the palate the wine is round and rich and very long.

2010 was back to a more average temperature and crop level. The wine had a pretty concentrated cherry hue and naturally showed the most primary fruit of the wines. Bright and fresh, with cherry and raspberry aromas, and soft and juicy on the palate but with a core of firm tannins to give the wine structure this wine is drinking beautifully now and was my second favourite of the line up behind the 2008. It will be interesting to see how this wine develops – I think it is a little more serious than the 2009, whereas the 2009 was more flirtatious.

The mystery wine in the photo was a pre-release bottle of 2010 Four Barriques. We have only just released the 2009, and the 2010 is probably a year away from release itself. Delicious intense perfume is supported by concentrated flavour and structure. It still needs time to come together but I think this will be a ripper when it comes to release.

We finished with a pre-release sample of the 2011 Nautilus Pinot Noir. This too is some months away from release – we have had a philosophy of holding back our pinots to release later as the vintages have gone by - so many vintages in the past have seemed like “infanticide” upon release. Again, pretty primary fruit, and a soft silky texture are supported by a firm structure and spicy oak.

Several of these wines will be available to taste at the Pinot Noir 2013 event being held in Wellington in January – otherwise come and visit us at the cellar door and sweet talk the tasting staff there – you may be able to persuade them to open a bottle for you!

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