The Wairarapa wine community has shown its support of the Hospice Wairarapa Community Trust similar to what has happened in many of the wine growing regions of the world. The most famous event occurs at the Hospices de Beaune in Burgundy where the proceeds of an annual auction of barrel lots go towards its upkeep and palliative work. In the Wairarapa, wine producers have donated wine to create 100 limited-edition sets of 'Hospice Magnums' to raise funds to pay off the mortgage and purchase medical equipment for Te Kowhai House, the administrative base for the Hospice Wairarapa in Masterton.
2011 vintage Pinot Noir wine was donated by a number of producers, blended and elevaged to make unique sub-regional representations. The 1.5 Litre magnums are a Martinborough Pinot Noir made by Larry McKenna of Escarpment Vineyard, a Gladstone Pinot Noir by Christine Kernohan of Gladstone Vineyard, and a Masterton Pinot Noir by Jane Cooper of Matahiwi. The set is completed by a 2011 Martinborough Chardonnay, tended by Paul Mason at Martinborough Vineyard. Each of the winemakers used techniques to express their interpretation of regionality.
Each of the Pinot Noir wines is comprised of finished wine originating from each sub-region, maturing in barrel. (The contributing wineries are noted in my reviews of the wines following.) The crafting winemaker took stewardship of the donated wines and blended them together, and giving them further barrel-aging to allow the components to integrate and harmonise. The total time in oak for each Pinot Noir was approx. 12 months, the portion of new oak used varied to suit the style of the wine. The blended Chardonnay includes fruit from some of the oldest Chardonnay vines in Martinborough. This wine was aged 8-11 months in French oak, depending on the parcel, with the wines generally going through full MLF.
The premier set Number 1 of 'Hospice Magnums' was offered for auction at the end of October last year in a 'bespoke vessel' designed by Carterton sculptor Sean Crawford and made of French oak barrel staves by furniture-maker Jeremy Bicknell. Long-time Hospice supporter Craig Oldfield was the successful bidder obtaining this work of art for $11,000.00. Set Number 2 was purchased for $1,200.00. The finished wines were launched at an event at the start of July this year. 15 of the 100 sets have already been sold.
The sets of Hospice Magnums will allow wine lovers and anybody with a connection with the Wairarapa to taste the differences of fruit grown in each sub-region. The magnum format will enable owners to be able to share the experience among a sizeable party, as there will be the equivalent of eight bottles available. The 1.5 L magnum format will also be favourable for cellaring the wines longer than the standard 750 ml bottle. Anybody who purchases a set of the 'Hospice Wairarapa Magnums' will know they will be supporting a most deserving and noble cause.
The remaining sets of four Hospice Magnums are now available at $495.00 (including delivery). To purchase the wine or for more information about the Hospice Wairarapa, visit: www.hospicewairarapa.co.nz
I offered my services to the Hospice Wairarapa in reviewing the four wines to help interested parties understand the wines and get an impression of what they may taste like, as well as providing an indication of how and when they might be enjoyed. For the purposes of my reviews, I tasted wines bottles in 750 ml format. The wines will not show any appreciable difference to those bottled in 1.5 L magnum at this early stage of their life. Here are my reviews:
Hospice Wairarapa Martinborough Chardonnay 2011 4 stars
Wine from Ata Rangi, Croft, Margrain, Martinborough Vineyard, Nga Waka, Palliser Estate and Te Kairanga. 13.5% alc. Winemaker: Paul Mason. Bright, light straw-yellow colour, light on rim. The bouquet is full in volume and presence, with subtle, brooding aromas of stonefruits and steely minerals that are complexed by buttery MLF nuances and underlying nutty, biscuit oak. Dry and full-bodied, stonefruit and citrus flavours are allied to mealy, nutty oak notes, the flavours framed in a robust and full structure, the solid mouthfeel underlined by brisk, racy acidity. This is fresh and lively, with an underlying power and drive, the palate showing a little alcohol warmth on the finish. This is a full-bodied, powerful Chardonnay with plenty of crisp acidity that needs some time to come together. Match with grilled, pan-fried or roasted seafood, poultry or pork dishes over the next 5-6+ years. (1.5 L) 18.0/20 Jul 2012 RRP $495.00, part of a set of 4 magnums
Hospice Wairarapa Masterton Pinot Noir 2011 4 stars
Wine from Alexia, Matahiwi and Wycroft. 13.5% alc. Winemaker: Jane Cooper. Even ruby-red colour with light purple hues, youthful in appearance. Elegantly tight and very intense aromas of dark cherry and berry fruits infused with aromas of dark herbs, mint and fennel are complexed by oak spices and resinous notes on the nose. Medium bodied, lush red cherry and berry flavours show with oaks spices and minty elements and are enlivened by racy acidity. The tannins are fine-grained and build to provide a grainy firmness to the texture, carrying raspberry and fresh herb notes on a long finish. This is an elegantly proportioned Pinot Noir with intense red cherry fruitiness, and a firm, but racy mouthfeel. Match with tuna, or spicy duck dishes over the next 5-6+ years. (1.5 L) 17.5/20 Jul 2012 RRP $495.00, part of a set of 4 magnums
Hospice Wairarapa Gladstone Pinot Noir 2011 4 stars
Wine from Borthwick Vineyard, Fairmont Estate, Gladstone Vineyard and Urlar. 13.5% alc. Winemaker: Christine Kernohan. Light ruby-red colour with purple hues, pale on rim. This has a softly open and accessible nose, the aromas of red berry and plums intermingle with lifted red florals showing some detail and attractive nuances. Medium-bodied, the palate is open and up-front with subtly mouthfilling flavours of dark red berry fruits and red plums. There is sweetness and attractive floral aromatic characters that provide bright interest and a quiet energy. Discreet acidity and supple tannin extraction combine with excellent balance, and the wine flows seamlessly and harmoniously to a moderately sustained finish. This accessible and harmonious Pinot Noir is attractively balanced for drinking over the next 5-7 years. Match with Asian and Mediterranean fare. (1.5 L) 17.5+/20 Jul 2012 RRP $495.00, part of a set of 4 magnums
Hospice Wairarapa Te Muna Martinborough Pinot Noir 2011 4 stars
Wine from Big Sky, Cobblestone, Escarpment, Julicher, Te Hera and Redbank. 13.5% alc. Winemaker: Larry McKenna. Full, light ruby-red colour with some purple hues. This is full, solid and densely packed on the nose with aromas of dark red plum and berry fruit, unfolding layers of dark herbs, earth, liquorice and violetty florals. Medium-full bodied, the palate is robustly structured with grainy tannin extraction and full of dark berry, spice and plum flavours. The acidity is in balance, providing good tension and adds to the fruit sweetness. A chunky wine with good presence, more flavour detail and nuances emerge in the glass and linger on the firm, dry finish. This is a rich, full and solidly textured Pinot Noir with plenty of interest. Serve with roasted lamb and beef, or with hard cheeses over the next 6-8+ years. (1.5 L) 18.0+/20 Jul 2012 RRP $495.00, part of a set of 4 magnums