Few wines have the presence of greatness from the start. But there are such wines. These are usually from carefully chosen sites, from well-set vines, by a person with experience, forethought and vision. For me, one such wine is the Escarpment ‘Kupe’ Martinborough Pinot Noir. The site on Te Muna Road, where the soils structure is a continuation of the famed and proven Martinborough Terrace. Abel clone vines, purportedly propagated from cuttings from Romanee-Conti itself. High density planting, and low, low, low to the ground. And the dream of Larry McKenna, in the Martinborough vignoble since 1986. The plants in the ground in 2000, the first crop was 2003, which SWMBO, the Young One and I participated in its harvesting. Super wine that 2003.
The 2006 Escarpment ‘Kupe’ Martinborough Pinot Noir is the result of an outstanding year. Everything was perfect, and the region has produced some very special wines in this vintage. This wine was one of them. From its birth it had all the predetermining factors of site and clone, then combined with the growing conditions. Then the stamp of winemaker input. This wine had size and structure, with significant whole cluster. On release, it looked great and it was easy to see it was going to be a keeper. Ten plus years on, the 2006 ‘Kupe’ has proven this so. Still very dark, black-red with garnet hues. Full and rounded on nose and palate. Loads of sweet black and dark-red fruits. Obvious stalky perfumes of whole bunches, and the beginnings of savoury secondary development. The tannins beginning to resolve and soften, but there is plenty of structure. Though 10 years old, it could go another 10. It’s only just beginning to drink on its plateau. And boy, there’s some similarly outstanding releases after. The 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015. These ‘Kupe’ wines will be keepers too.