Through the Cellar Door

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Through the Cellar Door.
Wine education through passion, learn about the places & people that make wine possible.
 

Alana Estate - Martinborough, Wairarapa, New Zealand

April 2014

One last hurrah for the time being.

Approaching the Alana Estate building in it's last hour, as the sun set in Martinborough.

Approaching the Alana Estate building in it's last hour, as the sun set in Martinborough.

It had been my plan to visit the well regarded Alana Estate during my second day in Martinborough.
This was before I was told by the fine folks at Schubert Wines a day earlier that it would not be there tomorrow as Alana Estate's Cellar Door was closing down for good that very evening.
This is due to Alana Estate's purchase by Murdoch James Estate, in which the Cellar Door for Alana Estate and indeed the name 'Alana Estate' will be dissolving.
I made sure I managed to get there before they closed at 5pm and I now believe I could possibly have been the final customer to visit the Cellar Door as it was, before it shut it's doors for good.
My host, Sue was gracious and kind, but on speaking to her about her feelings on the closure, it is clear that it was a sad day for the loyal staff at Alana.

Alana Estate's Cellar Door, operating for the last time in it's current form.

Alana Estate's Cellar Door, operating for the last time in it's current form.

Onto the tasting, Alana Estate is known as one of Martinborough's finest boutique producers, especially of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Grüner Veltliner 2013: Grüner is one of my favourite new varietals to hit New Zealand's shores in the last few years. These vines are young, and the wine style itself has a long way to go, but with an excellent hit of white peach and lime citrus flavours, finishing in a crisp, dry style, it could be that Martinborough should be experimenting with this Austrian variety much more often.

Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc 2013: Now this is what I like to see! This is outside the box New Zealand Sauv Blanc right here. 100% wild fermentation in seasoned puncheons (4 uses).
Some of that classic passionfruit on the nose with this well balanced mouthfeel and tons of texture. I'd like to see some more time in barrel and maybe some malolactic fermentation next time if the successors to Alana decide to continue the style. (Hint: they should.)

Chardonnay 2013:  Though young, this elegant style of chardonnay is both complex and nuanced, displaying an array of citrus and stonefruit characters (especially ripe apricot) across the palate and nose. 
Balanced acidity leads to an excellent, mouth-watering finish.

A lovely display in the cellar door of previous Alana Estate wines.

A lovely display in the cellar door of previous Alana Estate wines.

Next up, Sue had three Pinot Noirs for me to try.
Martinborough Pinot Noir are well known for their rustic red hue and fragrant, slightly spicy nose. Martinborough is also well know for it's use of the Abel clone of Pinot Noir. This clone is the offspring of vines that grew from a cutting, once allegedly stolen from Burgundy at Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in the 1970's that was confiscated by a part-time vineyard grower working as a customs officer at Auckland Airport.

Rapture Pinot Noir 2012: 13 year old vines were used to grow this young, approachable style of Pinot Noir. Brighter in hue than the others, aromatics offering a selection of raspberries and cherries delighting the nose. Drink in the first 5-6 years as this is all this style requires.

Estate Pinot Noir 2011: The estate Pinot Noirs are grown from the home-block from 21 year old vines, which having now reached a reasonable maturity are really starting to show what Martinborough Pinot Noir's are made of.
Pure and structured, this wine has the kind of texture, most wines only dream of and will surely become an absolute stunner in the years to come.

Estate Pinot Noir Limited Release 2011: This is the best Alana Estate has to offer. Made in only the best years, taking the best fruit from the vintage, this small batch wine take what the 21 year old vines have produced and converts it into the pure elegance, grace and that well measured power that a great Pinot Noir requires to step above the others.
Spicy and savoury, this Pinot Noir was complex and had a length that I swear was still dancing on my tongue long after I returned to my lodge for the night.
Buy now and age for 10+ years.

Autumn colours in the hillside vineyard.

Autumn colours in the hillside vineyard.

Tasting: A lovely line up, the Pinots were astounding and they also showed that Grüner Veltliner can be done well here in Martinborough too.
Experience: A picturesque place in a secluded dell, there was the Cellar Door, a restaurant and a few concerts a year to enjoy.

Final Verdict: Alana Estate was a lovely place to visit and I was pleased to have the honour of being one of the final visitors. I hope this estate will return one day in some shape or form as the wines were truly top notch.
For now, head to their website and snap up some of their wine while you can!