And so we meet again, Kathryn – A 2009 Mountford Vineyard report.


Mail in. Michael tells me Kathryn will be in town next week. Will you join us to taste the 2009’s and check status on some older vintages? Response sent nanoseconds after receiving the invitation. Too keen you think? I know; I’m not good at acting as a wine critique. Hmm, when is it? Where? OK, let’s see if I can make it…heck! Of course I’m coming.

Last time we met it was hysterically cold. Fifty minus or so. Well, at least close to -15 C. Kathryn Ryan and Kees Zeestraten, the owners of Mountford Vineyard, both showed up in a winter dark Stockholm preparing for Christmas. Roughly six months later the charming Kathryn is back. She loves what she’s doing. It takes an idiot not to see that. And I can understand her. Who wouldn’t be excited to be able to work with wines of such quality?

Time to get a bit objective and check out the 2009 vintage. 2007 and 2008 are also, in some cases served to see how their doing. Interesting things has definitely happened with the wines from the latter two vintages mentioned, but focus will be on the 2009’s. I feel no need to rewrite this piece and my ratings remain more or less unchanged. Two things has to be said though;

  • The 2007 Mountford Estate has started developing those, for Pinot, delish secondary aromas. It is still an amazing wine.
  • The 2008 Pinot wines has tossed away the sage brush scents and slightly green notes. Much more drinking pleasure today.

Although some kiwi Pinot and Chardonnay shows Burgundy resemblance it is still worth mentioning they’re not trying to be like the original source. Waipara is Waipara and you should approach it like that. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Here’s my 2009 report:

2009 Mountford Estate Chardonnay, 91-92 p

14 months on partly new French oak. Bright yellow color. Lots of mineral feel on the nose. Green apples and a coolness surrounding the bouquet. A hint of tropical fruits; pineapple and mango. A herbal note reminding me of mint. Impeccable oak treatment. On the palate it basically confirms the fine bouquet with Granny Smith’s, wet rocks, lime and pineapple. Some toasted scents. Good acidity grip. Not as generous as the 2007, more similarities with the 2008. Long, clean finish. Give it two or three years to settle.

2009 Mountford Village Pinot Noir, 87-88 p

Instant drinking pleasure. Floral, red crushed berries, wild strawberries, toasted scents and a hint of compost. A bit aggressive acidity but it will likely calm down. Sour cherries, compost and leather. Slightly bitter finish. Good length. For an entry level this one certainly delivers.

2009 Mountford Liaison Pinot Noir, 88-89 p

From contracted growers in Waipara. A step up in quality. Ripe cherries, bitter-almond oil, sweet pipe tobacco and wet rocks. Dry taste but also the feeling of ripe sweet berries, licorice, leather, wet earth and mineral feel. Impressive intensity, balancing acidity and long finish.

2009 Mountford Estate Pinot Noir, 92-93+ p

So this is what all the fuzz is about! If this wine is an indication what to expect from the vintage I can’t wait to taste the single vineyard
site of The Gradient. Intense bouquet of toasted oak, smoke, licorice, mint and freshly crushed strawberries. A floral touch as well; dried rose leafs. It. is. beautiful. On the palate the show continues. What intensity! There’s a gentle tannin structure in the wine, enormous amounts of fruit and mouth-gripping acidity. Sweet ripe red berries, a herbal touch, skillfully used oak. Long, long finish. This, I think, will surpass the great 2007.

2009 The Gradient Pinot Noir, 94-95 p

Holy sweet jesus! I shouldn’t get surprised but I can’t believe how good the single vineyard wine is. Lavender. It smells of lavender. Lots of mineral feel, cool restrained ripe red berries and impeccable oak treatment. Young yes, but highly promising. On the palate the oak is a bit more evident. Still never intrusive, although it’s a young wine. Lavender, strawberries and dark cherries in a fine mix. Plum skin, wet clay and again that cooler feeling. This is pure class. Precision and delineation. One of the best kiwi Pinot’s I’ve ever had. Ask me again in two or three years time and it might be top three. It’s that good.

Finishing with a 2010. For those of you in search of oddities; don’t miss the estate’s Hommage à l’Alsace. Few cases produced. Winemaker C.P. Lin’s tribute to a region he treasures a lot. A blend of five grapes; the four noble ones in Alsace. Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Riesling. Guess which the fifth grape is!

There’s no question about winemaker C.P. Lin’s talent. Combined with the enthusiastic owners, Kathryn and Kees, you get results. And well-deserved it is. Until we meet again Kathryn; thanks for delivering and expressing true passion for what you do.

PS. Yup, you thought right. I am no wine critique. I’m a wine lover. Passion leads the way…

PS.2. Last visit can be read about here.

Invited by the Swedish importer of Mountford Vineyard.