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2013 release of Millton Clos de Ste Anne - rave reviews, tiny allocations

30 March 2015|Cellar Journal

"Before a wine can be great, it must first be true." So says Nicolas Joly, the legendary French biodynamic winemaker that James Millton regards as a mentor and friend.

Everything James and Annie Millton do in the vineyard is designed to produce wine that's "grown, not made." Happy vineyards make happy wines, and Millton use no herbicides, insecticides, fungicides or soluble fertilisers on their vineyards. Instead they use herbal, mineral and animal preparations and teas in accordance with biodynamic techniques. Lunar cycles are observed and guide everything from pruning to picking, from winemaking to wine drinking.

Whether you subscribe to the truth of biodynamics or not, it's hard to argue with the breath-taking results. Millton has made incredible wines for nearly 30 years, selling out every year they release their top Clos de Ste Anne labels. In 2013, arguably the greatest vintage Gisborne has ever seen, demand has hit fever pitch. Allocations are tight - and there won't be a bottle going spare.

James Millton hardly requires a great year like 2013 to make great wines. Long term fans will know that his winemaking is incredibly intuitive and unique. Most wine experts would say you shouldn't grow Pinot Noir in Gisborne…not only does Millton grow it, the wine is compelling.
That said - what the Milltons have released this year is nothing short of spectacular. These are wines for the long haul, for collecting and enjoying with special food and special people.


Clos de Ste. Anne 'Naboth's Vineyard' Chardonnay 2013

Millton Clos de Ste. Anne Naboth's Vineyard Chardonnay 2013

2002 Clos de Ste. Anne Chardonnay ranks as one of the greatest ever NZ Chardonnays… this 2013 from arguably Gisborne's finest ever vintage, is tipped to surpass that - it will reward cellaring for 10 years+!

95/100 - Bob Campbell
19/20 - Raymond Chan
96/100 - Fine Wine Delivery Co

Taken from a single vineyard planted on steep, northeast facing slopes, the 2013 Clos de Ste Anne Chardonnay is primarily sourced from the oldest vines in the original Naboth's Vineyard. Planted at 4,000 vines per hectare, the vineyard is dry grown and 100% tended by hand. As James Millton says, the 2013 Chardonnay is an "energetic and luminous wine" and "smells like yellow".

SMELLS: Gorgeous pure biscuity lees notes are a sign of a happy vineyard, with almond brioche aromas mingling with pineapple, peach and vanilla.

TASTES: Rounded and rich with toasty, bready flavours, the textbook minerality we expect from this vineyard underpins luscious flavours of shortbread, caramel and white peach. Gorgeously silken and rich with length to burn, this is a classic Clos de Ste Anne that Chardonnay lovers should treat themselves to on their next special occasion. Enjoy between now and 2025.

"Delicious Chardonnay with Macon-like peach and melon fruit flavours together with a seasoning of winemaker artefact including roasted nut, bran biscuit and brioche. Weighty wine with a seamless texture. Perfectly balanced with integrated fruity acidity giving structure without being too obvious. A lingering finish reveals the wine's subtle power." Bob Campbell MW

Clos de Ste. Anne'La Bas' Chenin Blanc 2013

Millton Clos de Ste. Anne La Bas Chenin Blanc 2013

NZ's finest example of Chenin Blanc, there's more than a hint of Nicolas Joly about this La Bas! Tremendous age-ability (possibly up to 20-years in quality storage)

97/100 - Bob Campbell
19/20 - Raymond Chan
95/100 - Fine Wine Delivery Co


From a section of the Clos de Ste Anne vineyard known as 'La Bas,' that loosely translates to 'over there.' The winemaking takes place in 600-litre demi muids barrels, where very little is done to the wine, except for discouraging malolactic fermentation to retain the famous chipped stone, slatey minerality that Chenin Blanc does so well. Unfined.

SMELLS: A waxy, floral nose showing honeycomb, pears, quince paste and lanolin.

TASTES: Dry on the palate, the texture is utterly thrilling, filled with complex mineral nuances, creamy notes from aging 'sur lie' and a beautifully fruited finish with a subtle nutty, honeyed richness. A superb example of Chenin Blanc with a style that's all its own. Enjoy between now and 2027 if well cellared.
"Impressive Chenin Blanc with seductively ripe flavours, good weight and an undercurrent of "electric" acidity that will, according to James Millton, make you salivate 10 seconds after tasting it. I think he's right. It has the smooth texture of linen with apricot, ripe apple and gently nutty yeast lees characters. Delicious now but will age very well." Bob Campbell MW


Clos de Ste. Anne'Les Arbres' Viognier 2013

Millton Clos de Ste. Anne Les Arbres Viognier 2013

"One of the best local examples of Viognier yet tasted"Bob Campbell MW

97/100 - Bob Campbell
19-/20 - Raymond Chan
95/100 - Fine Wine Delivery Co


Taken from a section of the vineyard in the lie of the forest that the Milltons call 'Les Arbres' (the trees). James Millton compares the complex saline texture of this wine to the Japanese rice wine, sake, and he uses a technique called 'crunching' to enhance the mouthfeel, pressing whole bunches including stems over an extended period before a warm fermentation in 600-litre demi muids. 


SMELLS: Beautifully lifted and floral nose showing tangerine, apricot, peach and quince, with eastern spices such as cardamom making an appearance too. 


TASTES: Rich and viscous in the mouth, but bone dry, the gossamer texture and 'sur lie' nutty flavours complement the exotic fruits, before the saline quality so prized by the Milltons cleans everything up, leading to a mouth-watering finish. Nothing short of excellence, this wine will continue to improve through to 2020 if well stored.
"Rich, ripe and fleshy wine with (rare in this country) ripe flavours including apricot, wild flowers and root ginger. James Millton describes it as having "the joyous flavours of Spring and Summer". He assures me that it goes brilliantly with Japanese food. Bring on the pufferfish! Complex, creamy textured wine with impressive power and length. This is one of the best local example of Viognier yet tasted." Bob Campbell MW


Clos de Ste. Anne'Naboth's Vineyard' Pinot Noir 2013

Millton Clos de Ste. Anne Naboth's Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013
A very textural Pinot Noir with classic Burgundian savoury traits and superlative balance - more European than New World in style.

18+/20 - Raymond Chan

From the old plantings in the Naboth's Vineyard and a selection of the more modern clones from a slope they call 'La Pouche'. James Millton's inspiration for this wine is the old world, and like the wines of Fromm in Marlborough, the texture is the thing, rather than the overt fruit flavours. James likes to avoid "blocky oak tannins," letting the wine sit on skins for 1 lunar cycle before maturation in special 3-year air-dried barriques. 


SMELLS: Brambly nose showing subtle aromas of red and black cherries, warm earth, freshly mown hay and dried herbs. 


TASTES: Soft plummy fruit with cherries, the tannin structure is striking for its chalky, mineral feel and its harmonious interaction with the dark fruit flavours and rose florals. A wine of understated beauty made in a very European style, this will be a superb match with duck and pork between now and 2020.

Clos de Ste. Anne'The Crucible' Syrah 2013

Millton Clos de Ste. Anne The Crucible Syrah 2013


The Clos de Ste Anne 'The Crucible' Vineyard is the smallest Clos of them all, is located at the highest point and yields a Syrah that rivals the leading Rhone Hermitage in quality at a fraction of the price. It's an exceptional cellar Syrah!

19-/20 - Raymond Chan
94/100 - Fine Wine Delivery Co

Grown in a protected bowl high up on the Clos de Ste Anne vineyard, the The Crucible Syrah is co-fermented with 5% whole-cluster Viognier to produce a particularly elegant release in 2013. After hand picking, the grapes were chilled down and then allowed to warm, with a natural fermentation ensuing. Hand plunged every 8 hours to extract the gloriously fine tannins and flavours. 


SMELLS: A heady perfume of white pepper, cured meat violet florals, dark chocolate and boysenberry. 


TASTES: Supple and sweetly fruited in the mouth, with racy acidity and the fine powdery tannins that characterise Millton's very finest releases. James describes the wines as "black as thunder and sweet as a teenage kiss", which is a poetic way of saying the wine is very dramatic and complex, with great rewards to come for those who cellar it through to 2020.

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