New releases from Black Estate, North Canterbury, New Zealand

I’ve been following the wines of Black Estate for a while now, with interest. They farm organically and make wines in a lo-fi sort of way. This is interesting New Zealand, and these latest releases are really impressive.

Black Estate Home Chardonnay Young Vines 2017 North Canterbury, New Zealand
12.5% alcohol. 1 hectare block, 6172 vines/ha, sedimentary clay soils, whole-bunch pressed, vineyard-derived yeast. This is fresh, lively and intense with nice acidity supporting mealy, bready pear and citrus fruit. It’s not overly complex, but there’s a lovely purity and texture here. Very fine spiciness, too. A really beautiful, balanced expression of Chardonnay. 93/100

Black Estate Home Chardonnay 2017 North Canterbury, New Zealand
13% alcohol. From 5 hectares, established in 1994 and 2011, with some at low (1841 vines/ha) and some at high (6172 vines/ha) density, on sedimentary clay soils. Whole bunch pressed and vineyard-derived yeast. Complex and intense with keen acidity underpinning the bold peach, pear and citrus fruit. Nice weight and structure with really well integrated spicy oak character and some notes of bread and toast, but the lovely pure fruit is the driving force here. 94/100

Black Estate Home Pinot Noir 2016 North Canterbury, New Zealand
12.5% alcohol. From 1994 plantings, 4 hectares, 1841 vines/ha, wild ferment, 28 days on skins. A beautifully assured, complex, textural Pinot with warm, sweet cherry and plum fruit, with some nice savoury detail. There’s a subtle green sappiness underneath the smooth, fine-grained fruit. It’s fully ripe but also fresh and with nice integrated greenness. I really love the non-fruit complexity to this wine, and on the second day it’s even more compelling. 95/100

Black Estate Damsteep Pinot Noir 2016 North Canterbury, New Zealand
This has a real density to it. It’s firm and structured with black cherry and blackberry fruit, together with hints of spice and earth. It’s quite firm and structural with a bit of crunch to the fruit. Currently quite backward and dense, this has a distinctive personality. It needs a bit of time to resolve, and has a drying finish. I think this will turn out well, but don’t drink it now, because it’s at quite an awkward stage, in a reductive sulk. 93/100 (but potentially more with time)

Black Estate Damsteep Riesling 2017 North Canterbury, New Zealand
12% alcohol. From two hectares of Riesling, planted 1999, 4830 vines/ha, dense clay soils with some limestone. Wild ferment, extended lees contact in stainless steel and some old barrels. This is really nuanced and delicate, with lemon, tangerine and herb notes. Fine and expressive with nice texture and mouthfeel. Dry but not at all harsh: there’s a lovely weight to this wine. So fine and expressive. 93/100

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