Larry McKenna


Raymond Chan Wine Reviews

Escarpment 2016 Rosé, 2015 Pinot Blanc, and 2014 Pinot Gris and Rosé de Noir

Even though Larry McKenna has been making wine in Martinborough for over 30 years, he never stops thinking about improving the breed and indeed innovating.  The process continues at his venture Escarpment Vineyard in Te Muna Road with the assistance of winemaker Huw Kinch.  While for Larry, Pinot Noir is the variety of focus, he has strong interest in the periphery of this grape.  Larry has great respect for Chardonnay, the variety planted next to Pinot Noir in Burgundy.  And no doubt his work with Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris is because of the family genetics, all essentially sharing identical DNA.  With the 2015 vintage, Larry introduced Escarpment’s first rosé, named ‘Nina’, after his daughter, made from Pinot Noir of course.  And a special project of a Pinot Noir sparkling wine has come to light.  Clearly Larry and Huw are exploring the different facets of the Pinot Noir grape in Martinborough.  Here, I review the 2016 ‘Nina’ Rosé, 2015 Pinot Blanc, and 2014 Pinot Gris and Rosé de Noir Methode Champenoise.

Escarpment ‘Nina’ Martinborough Rosé 2016

Pale candy-floss pink with some depth, lighter on the rim.  The nose is initially tightly bound but finely presented with well-concentrated aromas of strawberries entwined with cranberries, pomegranate, watermelon, and mouthwatering mineral notes.  The nose builds in volume with aeration unfolding lifted red florals.  Dry to taste and medium-full bodied, the palate is tightly bound with a concentrated core of gently aromatic strawberry, cranberry and watermelon fruit, along with red florals and nuances of minerals.  The mouthfeel is finely textured with refined, dry phenolics, and balanced acidity provides energy, freshness and tension.  The palate features tight, thirst-quenching linearity, carrying to a dry, fine-textured finish of strawberries and florals.  This is a finely concentrated and tight, dry rosé with flavours of strawberries, watermelon and red florals on a dry, fine-textures, thirst-quenching palate.  Serve as an aperitif, with canapes and antipasto over the next 2 years.  100% Pinot Noir from Te Muna Road, given 6 hours skin contact and fermented in seasoned oak to 13.4% alc. and 2.8 g/L RS.  Named after Larry’s daughter Nina Rose.  18.0-/20  Nov 2016  RRP $24.00

Escarpment Martinborough Pinot Blanc 2015

Bright, even straw-yellow colour with light golden hues at the heart, paler edged.  The nose is tightly bound with intense and concentrated, piquant aromas of yellow plums melded with yellow stonefruits and savoury nutty elements, unfolding floral and mineral notes.  Dry to taste and medium-full bodied, the palate possesses sweet and plush flavours of yellow plums entwined with savoury yellow stonefruits and nutty notes.  The fruit richness is enlivened by fresh, lacy acidity, and balanced by fine, dry, grainy phenolic textures that provide structure and line, carrying the wine to a positively weighted, thirst-quenching finish.  This is a rich, yellow plum and savoury stonefruited, nutty, dry Pinot Blanc with fresh acidity and positive thirst-quenching structure.  Match with seafood and most white meat dishes over the next 4+ years.  The sixth release of a Pinot Blanc from the Te Muna Road vineyard.  Fully barrel-fermented, partially on skins for 10 days to 13.8% alc. and 0.57 g/L RS.  18.0/20  Nov 2016  RRP $29.00

Escarpment Martinborough Pinot Gris 2014

Bright, even, light straw-yellow colour with suggestions of blush and gold at the heart, pale edged.  The bouquet is gently voluminous with lively and vibrant aromas of fresh white and yellow stonefruits harmoniously melded with delicate, savoury honeysuckle and yellow floral detail, secondary almond nutty nuances and hints of minerals.  Dry to taste and medium-full bodied, the palate is smooth and integrated with harmoniously presented flavours of yellow stonefruits, honeysuckle, florals and savoury, secondary nutty elements.  The mouthfeel is balanced, showing an elegant richness and refined phenolic structure, and soft acidity provides a smooth flow.  The wine carries to a gently rich finish of stonefruits, honeysuckle and nuts.  This is a harmoniously integrated, smooth flowing dry Pinot Gris with stonefruit and honeysuckle flavours and some secondary, savoury nutty detail.  Match with Asian and Middle Eastern fare over the next 3 years.  Fruit from the Martinborough Terrace, barrel-fermented to 14.0% alc. and 1.9 g/L RS, the wine seeing partial MLF and batonnage.  17.5/20  Nov 2016  RRP $29.00

Escarpment ‘Rosé de Noir’ Martinborough Methode Traditionnelle 2014

Bright peach-pink colour with some depth, lighter on the rim.  The bead is vigorous with moderately fine bubbles.  This has a soft and gently voluminous nose with an array of clear and pure, fragrant red florals, with underlying strawberry and red berry fruit, revealing a suggestion of nutty and bready autolysis at the core.  Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has a finely concentrated and well-bound heart showing subtle strawberry and red berry fruit flavours lifted by red florals, revealing suggestions of bready autolysis and a hint of nutty aldehyde nuance.  The mouthfeel is bright and refreshing with brisk mousse and effervescence, and light, dry textures providing structure and grip.  The acidity is balanced and the wine has plenty of presence and depth.  The wine carries with good linearity to a strong finish with red fruit and floral notes.  This is a delicate strawberry and floral flavoured rosé method with vigorous mouthfeel and presence.  Serve as an aperitif and with poultry dishes over the next 3+ years.  100% Pinot Noir from Te Muna Road, given 2 hours skin contact and barrel-fermented in seasoned oak on lees until March, then triaged.  The wine is 12.5% alc. and has 2.0 g/L dosage, the wine disgorged 8 July 2016.  This has a crown seal closure.  18.0+/20  Nov 2016  RRP $35.00


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