Kiwi wine drinkers owe a huge debt of gratitude to James Healy and Ivan Sutherland. Our industry would look considerably different without them.
Both were integral to the wine that put NZ on the international map: Cloudy Bay. James was Kevin Judd's right-hand man in the winemaking department while Ivan's vineyards he owned and managed were the backbone of Cloudy's quality. And of course if James and Ivan had never set up Dog Point, Kevin Judd would most likely have not set up Greywacke - together they are revolutionising the Marlborough industry to be about more than just a vast lake of homogenous Sauvignon Blanc!
Eventually though James and Ivan did decide to go it alone with Dog Point, taking most of their precious old 1970s Sauvignon vines with them as well as their colossal expertise. There's been huge buzz from the word go, but now 11 years on…we're really seeing some wines to challenge not only the best from NZ but the world.
The vines are predominantly on free-draining silty clay loams and close-planted hillsides. Everything is 100% handpicked and the majority is certified organic now too, and that which isn't is organic in all but name. The name comes from the physical location of the winery and some vineyards, an area called Dog Point. It gets its name from the days of early sheep farming in the mid-1800s, when dogs would patrol the boundaries in lieu of fences. Many of the dogs wandered off or became lost, eventually breeding to form a pack that ended up attacking the sheep they were meant to be protecting.
Before they were eventually culled, the dogs lived on what is now Dog Point vineyards, a landscape dominated by the Ti Kouka or cabbage tree, which now appears on their label.
These Dog Point wines come with our very strongest recommendations - all 3 will benefit massively with cellar time, but are perfectly approachable now with some time in a nice decanter.
It's our distinct feeling looking at the best of the old Fromm Pinot Noirs coming out of Jeff's cellar, that investment in the very best of Marlborough's barrel fermented wines will repay buyers massively!
"Very distinctive wine that has justifiably earned something of a cult following" Bob Campbell MW
'Section 94' - Michael Cooper Classic Wine
5 Stars - Michael Cooper
95/100 - Bob Campbell MW
18.5/20 - Raymond Chan
5 Stars - Winestate
94/100 - Fine Wine Delivery Co
A dramatic step forward for the Section 94 brand in the 2012 vintage. Section 94 is made in a very hands off fashion - whole bunch pressed straight barrel for a wild ferment…and that's about it really. All the work has been done in the vineyard by handpicking, low cropping, old vines and Ivan Sutherland's vast experience. The result in the bottle is always interesting and its ageability is beyond question, with James mentioning when he last visited us that a big Section 94 vertical tasting could be on the cards soon. We look forward to it immensely!
SMELLS: Lovely smoky nuances on the nose with greengage plum, gunflint and nutty lees notes with some delicate floral nuances.
TASTES: Exotic, textured and spicy on the palate with a lively acid spine forming a backbone around which the complex mealy, smoky, nutty flavours evolve. The finish is long and harmonious and will only get better through to 2022.
Any tasting seeking to find NZ's top Chardonnays would lack legitimacy without Dog Point - a phenomenal wine that ages beautifully!
5 Stars - Michael Cooper
19/20 - Raymond Chan
93/100 - Bob Campbell MW
95/100 - Fine Wine Delivery Co.
This wine has become one of NZ's most collectible Chardonnays, fresh off topping Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW's Chardonnay rankings alongside Kumeu River in last year's Wine Advocate tastings. Bob Campbell recently made a list of his Top 12 NZ Chardonnays and Dog Point was among them, no surprise really, given he has only once scored it below 93/100 in 7 vintages tasted! The winemaking process always puts primacy on Ivan's famous vineyards, but the winemaking process sees it spend 18 months in oak, though very little is new, allowing the vineyard to speak to its fullest degree.
SMELLS: The classic Dog Point notes of flint, toast and mineral elements are there along with zesty grapefruit, white peach and toasted nuts.
TASTES: Creamy, layered, mineral and rich, with a freshness and energy that all great wines possess, Dog Point Chardonnay 2012 is quite clearly just getting started - look for it to be at its best around 2018 and hold from there.
Arguably Marlborough's finest Pinot - a must for all serious collectors of NZ Pinot Noir
5 Stars - Michael Cooper
18.5+/20 - Raymond Chan
94/100 - Fine Wine Delivery Co.
Ivan and James Healy were at the forefront of the new wave of Marlborough Pinot Noir - correct clones, hillside clay plantings at appropriate Grand Cru cropping rates and of course intensely hand managed and handpicked. The results have been something special, channelling Marlborough's intensely floral and red fruit characters into what has become arguably Marlborough's finest Pinot Noir.
SMELLS: A heady perfume of roses, violets, spice, cherry and spicy oak. Still youthful at this stage, but showing exciting potential.
TASTES: Silky, supple and long, with complexity-plus from an array smoky spices and juicy red fruits and subtle, savoury herbal aromas. Concentrated yet beautifully light on its feet, this wine will develop beautifully in bottle to be at its best around 2017 and hold from there.