A very rare opportunity to experience a slice of New Zealand's wine history captured in a bottle of wine
The fruit for this wine was from a small single vineyard site about a half mile from the Brancepeth (Brans-peth) homestead (see pics below) in a place called Wainuioru (why-knew-e-oar-ew) which is part of the Wairarapa District in the lower North Island of New Zealand.
The homestead is called Brancepeth and is named after the original Brancepeth Castle near Durham in England.
It is understood that Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Syrah were all planted as a field blend and this constitutes the wines made at that time including the 1903 tasted on February 10th 2016. Some white wine was made though the varieties are not known though likely Pinot Gris.
When prohibition hit New Zealand the vineyard was disestablished with no cuttings or seeds retained.
All subsequent fruit for the Landsdowne label were sourced from the Mission Estate winery land holdings in Hawke's Bay.
Remnants of red colour with hues of mainly orange, apricot and onion skin.
On the nose - old and delicate, but very much alive, a heart beat within. A delicate old girl with echoes of old roses and macerated red fruits (No signs of vinegar or excessive oxidation).The ribbons of flavour are fine and I expect come mostly from the Pinots Noir and Meunier with the acidity that remains from the Syrah.
On the palate - fantastic for a wine that had its 100th birthday 13 years ago - there is acidity still giving a noticeable yet delicate grip and very mild tension; the tannins though fully integrated and in the soul of the wine now have a very fine, dusty and powdery texture. The flavours are echoes of the past and faint - yet tasted of old rose, silty clay, mushroom, old loose leaf tea (like the cup you might have shared with your grand-mother all those years ago) and a whisper of rose-hip. Whatever oak was used at that time has no contribution to make anymore. There was a delicate silken softness to the texture overall.
It is hoped that another opportunity to taste the wine may come along in either 2021 or 2026. The great great grandson of William Beetham is considering when this might be.
Thank you to all those involved and making the event a great success.