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Thursday
Sep172015

Corofin: Small Batch, artisanal Pinot from the southern valleys of Marlborough (new to Australia)…

At last we have started to find some available New Zealand wines that are getting us excited. First there was Michael Glover’s Mammoth project. Then, finding ourselves in the right place at the right time, along came a pair of eye-opening wines from Mike and Anna Paterson, under their new Corofin label. The below are two beautiful, refined, single-vineyard Pinot Noirs sourced from the slopes along the southern Valleys of Marlborough. It’s an area that we are sure to be hearing a lot more about in the coming years. The wines below are made in tiny quantities. We started with under ten dozen of each and they are already selling quickly!  

Established in 2011, Corofin is the new home for ex-Jackson Estate winesmith Mike Paterson and his partner Anna, until recently GM at TerraVin. At this early juncture, while Mike is contracted to another project and Anna busy raising the couple’s two young daughters, Corofin craft two (soon to be three) single-vineyard Pinot Noirs, each in tiny 100-150-case lots. You can read about two of these “pretty special Marlborough sites” below (the third being the Weavers’ ‘Waihopi Slopes’ at Churton). Not too far down the line we’ll see a little Chardonnay as well. For the time being the wines are made out of temporary digs at Fromm.

Having spent the majority of their working years in and about Marlborough, Mike and Anna have no doubt regarding the potential of their adopted region, and were well placed to approach their first choice of vineyards. Indeed, Paterson’s selection of sites reflects both a winemaker’s enthusiasm for Marlborough’s Southern Valley hillside vineyards plus the dedication of certain grape growers whose vineyards he believes ‘act as a beacon of Marlborough individuality’. Not by accident do these growers focus on organic and/or biodynamic principles. In addition, Paterson’s artisanal approach in the winery does the necessary justice to each site; hand-harvesting and sorting, whole berry/cluster ferments, fermentation with indigenous yeast, no fining nor filtration and zero new wood, with the wines raised in 2-4 year old barrels.

The Settlement vineyard; Mike Paterson Dog Point viticulturalist Nigel Sowman

“We are setting out to make wines that tell a story about some pretty special Marlborough sites. These wines reflect the dedication of grape growers whose vineyards act as a beacon of individual terroir.” Mike Paterson, winemaker

In a region where for much of the time money talks and terroir walks, Corofin’s 2013s show that great, singular terroir is thriving in Marlborough (a cliché that has sometimes hit troubled waters in its journey across the ditch). Paterson goes one step further in demonstrating that precocious, ripe Marlborough Pinot can be made without confected fruit, nor winemaking artefact—Paterson’s are beautifully aromatic, detailed and sculpted Pinot Noir, which combine the best of all worlds: finesse, freshness, terroir transparency. We can already tell you he’s got a similar way with Chardonnay. The wines have the aromatic prowess and elegant texture that will appeal to Burgundy fanatics, but also youthful generosity and reasonable price tag; qualities all Pinot lovers can get behind. In short, we’re delighted to be working with this talented and classy young project.

2013    Corofin Marlborough Pinot Noir Settlement Vineyard         

Dog Point’s 10-years-old Settlement Vineyard is located in the Omaka Valley, to the south of Marlborough’s Wairau plains. This is site is managed by Dog Point’s gun viticulturalist Nigel Sowman. The fruit here hails from the vineyard’s East Slope, a clay-rich slope planted to 4,000 vines per hectare. It’s a wonderfully pure, silky and vibrant Pinot. Nothing heavy here! The finish is perfumed and lingering. Lovely classy stuff. We have five dozen only!

Winemaker’s note and winemaking details:

Lifted red fruit aromatics meld with black spice and rose floral notes. On the palate, the warmth and succulence of the East Slope’s clay-rich soils, which for us are hallmarks of this site, blend seamlessly with ripe red fruits. The balance and framework of the wine are woven together by a wonderful ripe and natural acidity, which lends the wine freshness and energy.

Approximately 70% of the fruit was de-stemmed (without crushing) with the balance included as whole bunches. The tank was sealed for 8 days at ambient temperature. It was then unsealed to employ pigeage and to encourage a vigorous natural fermentation, which was warm and rapid, lasting 6 days. The young wine remained on skins for 22 days before being gently pressed to barrel. There it underwent a natural malolactic fermentation and remained without racking until March 2014. The wine was then carefully racked to tank where it settled for 3 months before being bottled without fining or filtration in late June 2014.

2013    Corofin Marlborough Pinot Noir Cowley Family Vineyard
  
   
        
Auntsfield’s Cowley Family Vineyard is located in the Ben Morven foothills of Marlborough. It’s a magnificent, sweeping site, divided into 50 sub-plots and nurtured meticulously by Ben Cowley. Corofin’s fruit comes from the Main Slopes, planted at a density of 3,800 vines per hectare on clay-rich soils formed through the slow mixing and layering of glacial outwash and volcanic uplift. Outside of the Auntsfield Pinots, a few lucky punters may have encountered this vineyard’s Pinot Noir from 2010, when it made a superb cameo as part Pyramid Valley’s Growers Collection. This is darker and deeper and more structured than the Settlement Pinot. Bloody impressive stuff. Gevrey to Settlement’s Chambolle. Again we got only a few dozen and it’s already selling quickly!

Winemaker’s note and winemaking details:

For us, the Main Slopes Pinot clearly articulates its origins with wildly perfumed aromatics and a dense core of ripe black fruit. Lifted aromas of violets and crushed herbs lead to volume and saturated flavour on the palate, all framed by ripe meandering tannins.

Approximately 70% of the fruit was de-stemmed (without crushing) to a small opentop vat, with the balance included as whole bunches. The tank was sealed for 5 days at ambient temperature. It was then unsealed to employ pigeage and to encourage a vigorous natural fermentation, which was warm and rapid, lasting 5 days. The young wine remained on skins for 26 days before being gently pressed to barrel. There it underwent a natural malolactic fermentation and remained without racking until March 2014. The wine was then racked to tank where it settled for 3 months before being bottled without fining or filtration in late June 2014.

The Cowley family vineyard

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