Robert Parker 92P
The early promise shown by Cloudy Bay's incursion into Central Otago is finally being fulfilled, as the 2016 Te Wahi Pinot Noir is the best example yet to emerge from the company's Northburn vineyard. It shows delicate floral and herbal aromas, hints of tea and roses on the nose. It's big and expansive on the palate, delivering mouth-filling cherry fruit before finishing with crisp acids, silky tannins and a hint of mocha.
There is absolutely no reason why Cloudy Bay shouldn't be at the absolute top of the Marlborough quality hierarchy. With the enormous resources of LVMH behind it and a legacy of past success, perhaps expectations are too high? There's no doubt the winery went through a phase when quality wasn't all it could've been, yet today, the wines looks just as good—and sometimes better—than ever. The 2018 Sauvignon Blanc is a reassuring return to form, despite a challenging vintage. "We had really ripe fruit, it just got tricky at the end," said Technical Director Jim White during my January visit. New developments include the release of a non-vintage Pelorus Rosé sparkling wine (I prefer the slightly drier, crisper regular bottling) and the coming of age of the company's Central Otago project. With the release of the 2016 vintage, the Te Wahi Pinot Noir shows something close to its true potential.