Without mentioning the distinguished film career of Michael Seresin, not even once, Geoffrey Dean explores a range of whites and Pinot Noirs from Seresin Estate in New Zealand. The biodynamic estate produces a range of quality, unfiltered and unfined Pinot Noir from everyday drinking to super-premium Sun & Moon, of which a 2007-2013 vertical is sampled.
World class Pinot Noir plus Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blancs tasted with Michael Seresin at a central London tasting dinner
Michael Seresin’s distinguished cinematographic career (collaborations with Alan Parker amongst many) always seems to get mentioned in any introduction to his outstanding wines from New Zealand.
This feature prefers to home in on the fact that Seresin Estate’s 110 hectares under vine in Marlborough’s Wairau Valley are all farmed biodynamically. It therefore makes the winery something of a rarity.
The wines, too, are uncommonly good, as we were all reminded at a late September tasting in London, where the engaging Seresin was present along with his no less charismatic daughter, Leah, who masterminds the company’s marketing.
The full range of Seresin’s wines were unfurled, including four white brands and the six different Pinot Noir labels. As a real bonus, a vertical of six vintages between 2007 and 2013 of the estate’s flagship, Sun & Moon, was presented. More on the Pinots later, but first the whites.
Seresin’s Pinot Gris 2015 showed especially well. Fermented and aged in old puncheons and barriques, it is rich, with an abv of 13.5% and residual sugar of 4.6 g/l. But a pH of 3.55 helps achieve a nice balance, complemented by some attractive fruit.
Both Sauvignon Blancs also came up trumps. The 2015, which contains 9% Semillon, is an appealing example of the varietal from the country’s heartland, while the barrel-fermented, much lower-yielding Marama (100% Sauvignon Blanc) was particularly good. Saline notes on the palate, vibrant acidity, excellent length and notable intensity of flavour combine to justify an asking price of £26-7. The Chardonnay Reserve 2013, which was 100% barrel-fermented and spent 11 months in 20% new oak, also showed well.
So onto those Pinot Noirs
It is Pinot Noir, though, for which Seresin is best known.
All bottled unfiltered and unfined, the range is an impressive one, from the everyday-drinking Leah to the super-premium Sun & Moon. The Leah 2014, whose yield is six tonnes per hectare, is blended from different vineyards and has no great complexity, but has juicy red fruit and approachable tannins.
All the other Pinots, bar the Rachel, are from single sites.
Beginning with the Noah 2013, produced from an alluvial, free-draining vineyard of the same name, this is a complex and intense wine (3 tonnes to the hectare). Possessing the highest total acidity of all Seresin’s Pinots (6.2 g/l), this has overt tannins and the capacity to age well. Aged in 15% new French oak for 15 months, it is also fabulously long.
Tha Raupo Creek 2013, from a low-yielding clay-rich site in the foothills of the Omaka Valley, sees 19% new oak and has gorgeous fruit, as well as a little bit more intensity, and maybe even more length, than the Noah. The tannins are not quite as overt. According to Leah Seresin, it has the best aspect of all the estate’s sites.
The Tatou 2013 is an outstanding wine, the most intense of the three single sites. Again, yielding three tonnes to the hectare, it was more full-bodied and complex. The vineyard’s alluvial shingle soils produce very concentrated aromatic wines with structured tannins. The slightly higher-yielding Rachel 2103 (named after Leah’s grandmother) is made from fruit from Raupo Creek (81%) and Tatou (19%). Generous fruit, overt but well-integrated tannins and some complexity make this another seductive Pinot Noir.
Moving on to the Sun & Moon vertical half-dozen, the fruit always comes from Raupo Creek, with a yield of only 2 tonnes per hectare. Whereas none of the other Pinots see more than 20% new oak, four of the six Sun & Moons enjoy 35%. For the 2010 and 2013, however, the percentage drops to 14%. Interestingly, although the pH gradually falls from 3.44 in 2007 and 2008 to 3.7 in 2013, winemaker, Clive Dougall (originally from Chiswick in west London) has decreased, rather than increased, total sulphur dioxide levels from 120ppm to 72ppm. That points to a minimum interference philosophy.
The wine with the lowest acidity level (TA 5.67), the 2012, was the most vegetal, with lovely strawberry and raspberry fruit. The long and concentrated 2007, whose TA of 6.4 g/l was comfortably the highest of the six, also contained the most alcohol (14.5%). Four of the sextet have an abv of 13.5%, possibly pointing to harvesting preference.
If the 2008 was the most tannic of the collection, the much-lauded 2010 had a lovely lightness of touch, oozing elegance and minerality. Savoury, yet refreshing, this also lingered for ages on the palate. The 2009 boasted marked intensity of flavour as well as being big and rich (14% alc).
Distributed in the UK by Louis Latour Agencies in London, the Seresin Pinot Noirs vary in price from £21 to £62. All the whites are available, including the untasted Rieslings and Viognier.