Seresin ‘Leah’ Pinot Noir Vertical.
For this flight we tasted six Seresin ‘Leah’ Pinot Noirs from the 2005 – 2010 vintages. The purpose of the flight was to examine seasonal variation and ageing characteristics of wine. All the wines were made almost identically by winemaker Clive Dougall, who believes that wines should be an expression of time and place, and achieves this through minimalist intervention winemaking
Seresin Leah Pinot Noir – 2005
This wine had lots of tertiary aroma character as could be expected of a wine that has aged elegantly. The nose was a little closed, indicative of a loss of aroma over time but brie, coffee and earthen notes with a hint of bret were all pleasant and well rounded. The acids and alcohol stood out on this wine, perhaps indicating that fruit flavours had diminished and the balance was thrown off a little, but may have been a result of a cool ripening season leading to grapes being slightly overripe but with high acid at harvest.
Seresin Leah Pinot Noir – 2006
This wine seemed to have fared worse than the 2005 during ageing, with a less lifted nose and flatter palate. Fruit character was evident as cherry syrup and jam, making this more of a ‘plonk’, reminiscent of warm climate reds. The warm summer in 2006 may have over ripened the fruit flavours while leaving less structured phenolics. This meant that the wine was very drinkable, but hadn’t aged elegantly like the 05.
Seresin Leah Pinot Noir – 2007
The 2007 was my clear favourite of the flight having aged wonderfully with beautiful primary and tertiary characters balanced with acids and alcohol. The poor fruit-set was natural yield limiting influence and the calm summer allowed phenolics to ripen in-sync with sugars, creating wonderfully balanced fruit. It was the intensity of flavour that won me over with this wine, primary fruit flavours had carried through ageing beautifully and tertiary flavours gave complexity and intrigue to this long lasting and sumptuous wine.
Seresin Leah Pinot Noir – 2008
High yields from warm weather at fruit-set, and a warm summer likely led to these grapes lacking concentration and the resultant wine proved this. Primary fruit character was lost almost entirely behind hot alcohol and an acidic finish. The wine was linear and dilute, which leads me to believe that these grapes were picked after the rains in early April.
Seresin Leah Pinot Noir – 2009
The vintage for this year was tricky, high yields required fruit thinning to ripen grapes in the cool summer – but from the rather disjointed flavours I’m of the impression that fruit ripened unevenly, leaving some fruit stemmy and phenolically unripe. Caramel and dusty aromas, along with barnyard and mushroom flavours indicate that tertiary characters have developed a little prematurely in this wine.
Seresin Leah Pinot Noir – 2010
This wine was a difficult one, good concentration of flavour was let down by poor integration and lack of phenolic structure. Fruit characters were lacking but I believe that this wine would open up with time, allowing primary aromas to balance a complex array of flavours just waiting to burst forth. Proclaimed as one of Marlborough’s exceptional vintages I would have expected more from this wine, although it is still very young and perhaps need time to settle into itself.
Comparing the vintage reports from Marlborough with my tasting notes provided great insight into these wines. While aging characters are somewhat predictable, knowing about the phonological development of grapes throughout the growing season helped me understand why certain characters were more or less dominant in each year and helped identify what was due to the season and what was due to ageing. While subtle winemaking differences are likely, the fruit expression as determined by the growing season was clearly the main factor influencing the quality of each wine.
From a winemaking perspective also, this flight has demonstrated the importance of understanding the effect that weather and climate has on grape development, such that winemaking decisions can be targeted at producing the highest quality wine possible each vintage.
The wines in this flight also highlight the importance of balancing phenolic ripeness with physiological ripeness, which stresses the importance of choosing when to harvest and demonstrates how weather events at harvest time can hugely impact on final wine quality.