- Tasting Notes & Technical Details
Vegan, Vegetarian, Practising Biodynamic, Certified Organic
Burn Cottage refers to the name of the road on which this 28 hectare property sits in Lowburn, Central Otago. The estate was once a sheep paddock until it was purchased by Marquis Sauvage in 2002. Marquis enlisted Ted Lemon of Sonoma Coast’s famous Littorai as their winemaker and together they decided to plant Pinot Noir in 2003.
Six years later, they released their first wine. In order to select the best sites for their Pinot Noir, they dug 60 soil pits and subsequently selected ten clones to plant on five different rootstocks tailored to the different soil profiles. Burn Cottage is distinguished in Central Otago as the first and only estate in the region to have practised biodynamics since day one. This was Ted Lemon’s one stipulation for his involvement. The winemaking at Burn Cottage is best described as ‘minimal intervention’. There is no addition of yeasts or bacteria for fermentations, with minimal sulphur use and no filtration before bottling.
The ‘Moonlight Race’ Pinot Noir is named after a water pathway or ‘race’ that passes through the property. The grapes come from Burn Cottage’s two estate vineyards. Aged in French oak barrels for 12 months before release, this is a wine meant for earlier drinking. ‘Burn Cottage Vineyard’ Pinot Noir, comes from carefully selected blocks and clones on the eponymous site and will develop beautifully with age. In 2018, Burn Cottage purchased the ‘Sauvage Vineyard’; 5.8 hectares of Pinot Noir located in Bannockburn on the north-east side of Felton Road. The soils at the Sauvage site are Bannockburn series, which are classified as “deep silt loams” containing quartz sands, along with quartz and schist gravels. 2018 was the first release of this new single vineyard. All three Pinot Noirs contain a skilful use of whole-bunch fermentation giving them a lifted fragrance that makes them so enchanting.
Ted and Marquis found the aspect of one particular plot did not suit Pinot Noir so they planted just over one hectare of Riesling and Grüner Veltliner, harvesting the first crop in 2014. Grapes for the ‘Burn Cottage Vineyard’ Riesling/Grüner Veltliner were vinified separately and aged for 11 months in old oak barriques before bottling. With attractive aromas of white peach, jasmine and zesty lime blossom, this wine is rich on the palate with well-balanced, bright acidity.
Fruit for the 2019 Moonlight Race is sourced from two unique estate vineyards: Burn Cottage Vineyard in Lowburn (46%), and Sauvage Vineyard in Bannockburn (54%). The combination of these two sites produces a vibrant expression of classic Central Otago Pinot Noir, with the vines aged between 16-20 years old. Hot summers and cold winters, combined with a large diurnal shift in temperatures during the growing season, help to retain bright acidity while ensuring even ripening of the grapes. Low rainfall and free draining soils contribute to intensity and concentration of fruit flavours. The vineyards are located between 240-310 metres above sea level and are farmed using biodynamic principles. Along with viticulture, Burn Cottage farm highland cattle, sheep, chickens and bees on the estate.
2019 was a very good season for growth, with both the vineyards and farm experiencing regular periods of rain throughout autumn and winter. Some drier, more classic Central Otago spells returned in January and February. There was some frost to navigate in early April, but experienced vineyard management resulted in a slow, extended ripening and healthy fruit at harvest, which took place between 4th - 13th April. Overall, temperatures were moderate, which preserved balance and acidity.
The grapes were sorted twice in the winery to ensure only the highest quality were used. Fermentation with native ‘wild’ yeasts lasted 22 days with manual punch downs performed up to four times per day. Post fermentation, the wine was racked to oak barrels (a mixture of Damy, Mercurey and Sylvain), of which 21% was new. After an 11-month maturation, the wine was racked and bottled.
A bouquet of bright florals, red cherry and plum is followed with savoury black tea, spice and earth notes. There is a lovely vibrant core to this wine, completed by silky texture and elegant structure persisting in the palate.