LUNA ESTATE / Martinborough, NZ
Over the moon - a rising star of New Zealand wine
A relatively new label, the foundations of Luna Estate are two excellent vineyard sites – Eclipse, on the famed Martinborough Terraces, and Blue Rock, on Dry River Road, south of the Martinborough village. Martinborough is a region which excites us as New Zealand’s best for complex and varietal Pinot Noir, also raising excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. Luna’s ethos is sustainable vineyard practices, and as minimal handling in the winery as possible, under the guidance of chief winemaker Joel Watson, whose previous work has included several vintages with the highly esteemed Curly Flat in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges.
Presently with 25 hectares producing, a significant replanting program to bring 80% of production to Pinot Noir will eventually see the estate sitting around 44 hectares between the two sites. The single vineyard wines show the sites' contrasts, with the entry point Estate wines rock solid examples.
Hand picked fruit from both vineyards comprises the Estate Pinot Noir. Most fruit is destemmed, and 10% new French oak rounds out the blend. With a RRP well under $30, it's a rarity for this provenance and quality, An array of Pinot fruit flavours with complexing spice sits over earth and undergrowth, a lovely introduction to Pinot from this amazing part of the world.
"Raspberry and red cherry, a little cinnamon and sweet spice, subtle earth and dried herb. Medium bodied, juicy red fruits and sap, light chalky tannin, finish is a not the longest, but a lovely drink all up. Approachable and very tasty." 91 points, Gary Walsh, www.winefront.com.au
From fruit grown in the Blue Rock vineyard, hand picked and fermented in stainless steel, with 30% aged in seasoned oak building texture. Shows a generosity and the typical of Kiwi Pinot Gris with a fuller, more unctuous mouthfeel and impression of fruit sweetness and generosity, though only 1.5g/L of residual sugar.
"Nice tint to the colour, then into brown skinned pear, a little musk and spice. Medium weight, good freshness and acidity, just the right amount of flavour, a bit of skinsy grip and texture, finish of solid length. Very nicely done. Refreshing style, with interest." 91 points, Gary Walsh, www.winefront.com.au
I do my best not to parallel things to Burgundy, but the first words blurted on tasting this were 'Meursault-like." There you go. A Chardonnay drinker's Chardonnay, picked from mature vines and barrel fermented, then aged 11 months in 40% new barriques and puncheons. Batonnage was not employed, and 50% of the wine goes through malolactic fermentation.
A dense package of everything great about this grape. A medium to full style, there's plenty of peach, nectarine and citrus fruit, with some toast/oak and cashews, driving through the long finish which brings in flint and struck match. Luna are justifiably proud of this wine - pure and convincing in every way.
"Stone fruit, grapefruit, ginger, a bit of struck match, brine and brioche. Medium bodied, good flavour, some toast in with the curl of juicy grapefruit and white peach, intense acidity keeps it trim and match-fit, and the finish is very long, pulling savoury with an incense-like perfume. Terrific." 94 points, Gary Walsh, www.winefront.com.au
The Eclipse vines sit on a silty clay/loam top soil, above deep alluvial gravels. The grapes are mostly destemmed, and the wine sees 30% new French oak. A classical style of Pinot with its lines well sketched and defined, it certainly calls for food - think stews and protein based dishes.
"Cherry and red berries, rose oil, orange peel and spice, a lick of cedar oak in support. Medium bodied, sappy and tangy, the orange peel flavours coming through in a pleasing gustatory way, some grip from dusty skinsy tannin, earth and dried herb run on a long finish. There’s a fair amount of Italianate bitterness in this wine, which I like, though others may not. Personality, it does not lack." 92 points, Gary Walsh, www.winefront.com.au
The Blue Rock vineyard was planted in 1986; a north facing undulating vineyard of rare geology, an ancient marine seabed of layers of clay loam, limestone, greywacke and, you guessed it, blue rock.
As with Eclipse, this sees 30% new oak for 12 months. A fine grained and amazingly long wine, this is a style of succulence and lusicousness, maintaining a beautiful balance of fruit generosity, tannin ripeness and elegance throughout.
"Cherry pip, plenty of spice, even a dusting of pepper, rosy perfume. Juicy natural feel, lively and sappy, red cherry layered with dried herb, dustiness to the tannin, and a long perfumed, sappy finish. Has personality and energy. It’s very good and feels unforced and, well, just a bit lovely." 94+ points, Gary Walsh, www.winefront.com.au
Shiraz made with Pinot sensibilities. An under-rated grape from New Zealand which does amazing things in the right sites and hands. As with both Pinots, this sees 30% new oak, for 12 months.
Comparisons to Northern Rhône are inevitable - no bad thing. Built over tightly knitted tannins, this is a savoury wine of grace and power, launching with earth, pepper, charcuterie/smoked meats, topped by blackberry and black fruits and florals. Amazing length runs through the finish, this is a concentrated style with its fine tannins and a rocky mineral element rounding out this detailed wine. Simply, a gorgeous cool climate Syrah.