A pair of 2018 vintage Pinot Noirs from Rapaura Springs offer the opportunity to compare two wines from distinct sub-regions of Marlborough. Site is proving to be a key element as the region sharpens its pencil in defining its wines moving forward. Terroir and clone plays a part, but I do advise anyone with an interest in the development of New Zealand wine to take the chance to get hold of a range such as this ‘Rohe’ series and take a deeper dive into the potential of our biggest wine producing region.
Rapaura Springs Rohe Southern Valleys Pinot Noir 2018
From vineyards in the Southern Valley sub-region, south of the Wairau Valley in Marlborough. A lighter ruby colour in the glass, deeper purple-tinged at the edges. The colour disguises a nose of intense vibrancy. Redcurrant, cherry, nutmeg, plum and raspberry with notable floral aromas. Showing more delicacy and poise into the palate, with notes of ripe plum and cranberry that then take a turn into savoury flavours of mocha, tapenade and cinnamon spice. There’s the warmth of toasty oak, but this just sits neatly in the background framing the spine of supple tannins and appetising acidity. On a tightrope between tension, succulence and generosity, this is a rounded wine with great varietal charm. 94pts.
Rapaura Springs Rohe Awatere Valley Pinot Noir 2018
From the cooler, drier sub-region of the Awatere Valley, in Marlborough. Again, a light garnet red colour, and perfumed with damson, blood orange, red cherry, cranberry, rosehip with bright spring florals. Tight and precise, with an elegance and finesse as the palate opens up with some air. Spices and toasty oak start to show, and develop into a sweet-fruited robustness, depth and concentration that confounds the initial impressions. Silkenly textured and with structure built on the careful balance of fine tannins and acidity. Building still towards the powerful and far-reaching finish. 94pts.
Two quite different expressions of Pinot – both lighter and more delicate than many New Zealand Pinots in the past have appeared. The Awatere Valley starting tight and building into a bigger wine through the palate – a testament to the soils and climate? The Southern Valleys variation with a touch more ‘pinosity’ and savoury edge. Differing styles, but both excellent wines and a tie on points. I look forward to the re-match.