Raymond Chan's reviews

Karikari Estates 2014 ‘Calypso’ and 2015 Chardonnays, 2016 Viognier and 2015 Syrah and Pinotage

It has been nearly 6 years since I last reviewed any Karikari Estate wines from Northland.  Much has changed since then, but the brand is still seen as one of the most well-known and regarded in the district, due to the consistency of the wines.  It appears the fulsome style remains similar, and this is very popular in the market.  Karikari Estate is this country’s northern-most producer, and synonymous as Carrington Estate and is part of that luxury accommodation and visitor experience complex which includes a golf course and fine-dining restaurant.  It has been owned by Chinese real estate giant Shanghai Cred since 2013. 

Part of the Karikari Estate wine holdings accompanying the winery are 12.8 ha of vineyard, planted to 36% Chardonnay, 25% Merlot, 20% Pinotage, 12% Syrah and 7% Syrah on the Karikari Peninsula.  The company’s vineyards are supplemented by fruit from other sites.  Tending to the viticulture and winemaking is Alan Collinson, with the company for 6 years.  Here, I review the 2014 ‘Calypso’ Chardonnay, 2015 ‘Estate’ Chardonnay, 2016 Viognier, the fruit from nearby Paewhenua Island, and the 2015 Syrah and Pinotage.  www.karikariestate.co.nz

Karikari Estate ‘Calypso’ Karikari Peninsula Northland Chardonnay 2014  **** stars

Bright, light, golden-hued yellow colour with some depth, lighter on the edge.  The bouquet has a firm and taut core of ripe tropical fruit with savoury pineapple along with notes of nutty oak, a little smoke and hints of minerals.  The aromatics open softly with good volume to reveal some creamy barrel-ferment and subtle MLF butterscotch elements.  Medium-full bodied, the palate has a moderately concentrated core with flavours of ripe tropical and citrus fruits, entwined with pineapple detail.  The fruit has richness, depth and a degree of unctuousness from the creamy oak and MLF.  The flavours are mouthfilling with an underlying line of alcoholic drive.  The acidity is soft and the wine is quite accessible.  The flavours carry to a rounded, fruity finish.  This is a ripe Chardonnay with accessible flavours of tropical and citrus fruit with creamy barrel-ferment and buttery MLF layers, and good drive.  Match with roasted poultry and pork dishes over the next 3-4 years.  Hand-picked fruit fermented in stainless-steel with 10% in barrel by indigenous yeasts to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 18 months, with 95% MLF.  17.5-/20  Mar 2018  RRP $27.00

Karikari Estate Karikari Peninsula Northland Chardonnay 2015  **** stars

Bright, light golden-yellow colour with some depth, lighter on the rim.  The nose is full with softly packed aromas of ripe tropical fruit with lifted stonefruit and citrus fruit notes harmoniously melded with nutty oak and soft, creamy barrel-ferment and butterscotch MLF layers.  Slight volatile lift is present.  Medium-full bodied, the palate has a rich, concentrated, deep and flavoursome palate with flavours of ripe yellow stonefruits and tropical fruits along with citrus fruit elements.  The fruit is enriched by creamy barrel ferment and buttery MLF layers, the palate showing good integration along with weight and presence, underlined by fine phenolic textures.  The flavours carry to a rich, lifted finish.  This is a rich and concentrated, up-front, mouthfilling, traditional Chardonnay with ripe tropical fruit flavours and a harmonious amalgam of creamy oak and buttery MLF on a palate with plenty of presence.  Serve with roasted pork and veal dishes over the next 4-5 years.  Hand-picked fruit barrel-fermented to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 18 months in 40% new oak with minimal batonnage, and 70% MLF.  18.0/20  Mar 2018  RRP $45.00

Karikari Estate Paewhenua Island Northland Viognier 2016  ***stars

Bright golden-yellow colour with some depth, a little lighter on the rim.  The nose is full and up-front, with broad and deep aromas of ripe tropical fruits along with apricits and lifted confectionary elements, unveiling stonefruits, honey and exotic floral elements.  Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has moderately sweet and rich flavours of tropical fruits and apricots and volatile notes and confectionary.  Floral and honey elements add interest.  The fruit forms a deep and rounded core, and the palate flows along a smooth line with soft acidity enhancing the accessibility.  The palate has underlying linearity and carries to a smooth, dry, fine-textured finish of confectionary.  This is an up-front Viognier with lifted tropical and exotic fruits with lollyish notes on a smooth, rounded palate.  Match with Asian and Middle Eastern fare over the next 3 years.  Hand-picked fruit from leased vines on the ‘Butterfish Bay’ vineyard on Paewhenua Island, 40% tank-fermented and 60% new French oak fermented to 12.0% alc. and 3 g/L RS, the wine given 3 months batonnage, with 5% undergoing MLF.  16.5/20  Mar 2018  RRP $40.00

Karikari Estate Karikari Peninsula Northland Syrah 2015  ****stars

Full, even, dark ruby-red colour with light purple hues.  The nose is initially shy and restrained in expression with subtle aromas of blackberry and dark raspberry fruit along with white and black pepper elements.  Some dark herbs and violet florals provide fragrant and aromatic lift and detail, and the nose unveils spice and liquorice notes with aeration.  Medium-full bodied, the palate has intense and deep flavours of ripe blackberry fruit with bright raspberry notes, white and black pepper, red and black liquorice and spices.  Fennel herb detail adds to the interest.  The fruit has richness and vitality and is supported by fine-grained tannin structure and grip with fresh, lacy acidity adding to the energy.  The flavours are deep and carry along a driven line, leading to a finish of liquorice and spices.  This is an intensely flavoured Syrah with blackberry, raspberry, liquorice and peppery flavours on a grainy-structured palate with good vitality and drive.  Match with Mediterranean fare over the next 6-7+ years.  Hand-picked fruit, fully destemmed, and fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 18 months in 80% American and 20% French oak, 10% new American and French.  17.5+/20  Mar 2018  RRP $52.00

Karikari Estate Karikari Peninsula Northland Pinotage 2015  *****stars

Full, dark, deep, near impenetrable black-hued purple-red colour, very youthful in appearance.  The nose is softly full and voluminous with well-concentrated aromas of ripe blackberry fruit along with boysenberry and mulberry notes, melded with black plums, unfolding some floral and volatile lift, then earthy complexities.  This is powerful and packed.  Full-bodied, the palate has solid and deep flavours of ripe black berried fruits with boysenberry, mulberry and plum notes, along with earthy detail and some volatile lift.  The fruit is supported by fine, grainy tannin extraction and the palate is carried by some alcoholic power.  Earth and mineral elements emerge, and the structure guides the wine to a strong, textured, long and lingering finish.  This is a rich, ripe and powerful Pinotage with blackberry, boysenberry, mulberry and plum fruit with complex earth and lifted elements on a fine, grainy structured palate.  Match with roasted and grilled game meat dishes over the next 8-9+ years.  Hand-picked fruit fermented to 15.0% alc., the wine aged 18 months in equal portions of French and American oak, half in puncheons, with 25% new oak, that being French.  18.5/20  Mar 2018  RRP $42.00