The Marlborough Pinot Safari is a collaboration event by 10 wineries in Marlborough whose focus is Pinot Noir. These winemakers and wineries all have very similar ethos and winemaking practices, whilst producing an array of differing styles of Pinot Noir. Marlborough is so well known for the Sauvignon Blanc produced in the area, and while all these wineries produce Sauvignon Blanc, their primary focus and for lack of a better word, passion, is Pinot Noir. The wineries involved in this event were Auntsfield, Churton, Dog Point Vineyard, Fromm Winery, Greywacke, Terravin, Nautilus Estate, Seresin, Spy Valley and Villa Maria Wines. The aim of the game is to show a different side of Marlborough Pinot Noir and how the sub regions can produce such different wines stylistically. Glengarry Wines‘ Hannah Beaumont writes about her experience.
Our day started at 9am with a glass of Seresin Moana Zero Dosage Methode at the top of Calrossie Vineyard which houses the vines for Terravin Pinot Noir. From here we all piled into the convoy of 4 wheel drive utes, and started our off road journey. Travelling first towards the Awatere Valley, through the back of vineyards, travelling down to the Nautilus Awatere River vineyard. This was stop number two for a wine tasting:
- Terravin Pinot Noir 2012
- Terravin Pinot Noir 2015
- Villa Maria Taylors Pass Pinot Noir 2015
- Nautilus Awatere Pinot Noir 2015
After this we headed down to the Awatere River to have a good look at the riverbank, this put a great image to the words the winemakers were saying when talking about the soil type in the Awatere, the layers of loess (silty sediment) and deep free draining gravel.
After this pit stop it was onwards towards the Wairau Valley, via the windy roads of Taylors Pass (you would not want to come across a logging truck on this road!) travelling through Fairhall to Auntsfield. Here we stopped again, greeted by Sammy the vineyard dog, ready for another wine tasting. Set up in the Auntsfield barn we were here to try another 3 wines:
- Auntsfield SV Southern Valleys Pinot Noir 2015
- Auntsfield Hawk Hill Pinot Noir 2015
- Villa Maria SV ‘The Attorney’ Pinot Noir
Carrying on from here, we travelled through Brancott Valley, passing through the Greywacke vineyards, and a quick pit stop at Clayvin vineyard. Clayvin vineyard was Marlborough’s first significant hillside vineyard, organically run, clay soils and 24 year old vines produce fruit with high concentration, structure and tannin. Now owned by Giesen wines and used by Te Whare Ra and Fromm also. Pressing on, we then went back roads through vineyards and ended up at the Dog Point property. Beautifully laid out and abundant with fruit trees and exotic foliage, vineyards littered around the property and well spaced out, they are all about the look and feel of the property, they’re not trying to cram in as much as possible. Here we stopped in at the Bell Tower for another tasting and lunch (shout out to The Burleigh and your incredible pies!) Wines were:
- Greywacke Pinot Noir 2015
- Greywacke Pinot Noir 2012
- Dog Point Pinot Noir 2015
- Dog Point Pinot Noir 2012
- Fromm Pinot Noir Fromm Vineyard 2016
After leaving Dog Point we headed off in the direction of Spy Valley’s Outpost Vineyard. Making a quick stop at the famous Seresin vineyard site of Sun and Moon (I was massively fangirling by now) Rapou, Leah and Rachael, then on to Spy Valley to try some more wines:
- Seresin Rapou Creek Pinot Noir 2013
- Seresin Sun and Moon Pinot Noir 2013
- Spy Valley ‘Envoy’ Pinot Noir 2015
- Spy Valley Southern Valleys Pinot Noir 2015
- Nautilus ‘Clay Hills Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2014
What a treat.
We rounded off the day by with the final leg of the journey, heading west, over the Omaka river and finishing off at Churton in the Waihopai Valley for our last tasting. Perched atop a slope overlooking a majority of the Churton vineyards (cleverly named after cuts of a cow), certified organic wines and biodynamically farmed.
Wines we tried here:
- Fromm Clayvin Pinot Noir 2012
- Fromm Clayvin Pinot Noir 2015
- Churton Pinot Noir 2015
- Churton Pinot Noir 2013
The day was incredibly well thought out, educational and well integrated. It was like having a backstage pass to the Marlborough Pinot Noir scene. It was such an eye opener for me, and being someone who has always had a soft spot for Marlborough Pinot Noir, it was like a wine nerd’s dream day out. Go on, try some Marlborough Pinot!