Marlborough Pinot Safari 2023

An off-road adventure to the back-blocks of Marlborough

What a privilege it was to participate in Marlborough’s biennial “Pinot Safari”.

This exclusive event comprises trade customers and media experiencing a four-wheel drive through some of the region’s most exciting Pinot Noir vineyards, hosted by a handful of the region’s artisan Pinot Noir producers.

 Visitors head off the beaten track and up into the hills to taste single-vineyard wines in the secluded sites where the grapes were grown. They swirl, sniff and sip along with the grape-growers and winemakers, debating sites and seasons, and analysing flavours, fragrances and food-pairings.

It's heaven for Pinot Lovers and really shows just how great Marlborough Pinot Noirs can be!

The day began with breakfast and bubbles in the Ben Morven Valley at Auntsfield Estate before launching into a tasting of Pinot Noir made from this historic site as well as the adjacent Villa Maria block. Guests then formed up for a four-wheel drive convoy and trekked over to the Brancott Valley and Greywacke’s Yarrum vineyard for another tasting, buoyed by flat whites (it’s important to keep one’s concentration on point when tasting so many fabulous wines)!

Then it was Jules’ turn at the beautiful Wrekin Vineyard, also located in the back-blocks of the Brancott Valley.

Jules and Jeremy in the Wrekin vineyard, eating apples grown on the property

Jules and “the maestro” Jeremy Hyland described the organic and biodynamic farming practices in use at this site, and guests tasted the Wrekin component of the Jules Taylor 2022 Pinot Noir.

This site is the backbone of the Jules Taylor classic Pinot Noir, and in the best years, provides intensely flavoured bunches for the single-vineyard OTQ (On The Quiet) Pinot Noir. Jules has been harvesting grapes from here since 2007 and it was a privilege to share the delights of this site with guests. Even longstanding customers were impressed with the dedication to quality and biodynamic practices in the vineyard as well as the intensity and elegance of the wines produced there.

Glass of Pinot Noir
People tasting Pinot Noir in vineyard
Trucks traversing vineyard ridge
Pouring and tasting Pinot Noir in vineyard

The tour then popped through the Pinoli Pine Nut plantation, and over the ridge to the Omaka Valley, barrelling down through the Nautilus Estate Clay Hills vineyard, before stopping for a more formal comparative tasting and lunch.

Jules was up again at this stop, where a more formal tasting paired wines by valley. Greywacke and Jules both produce their Pinots from the Brancott Valley and so were tasted side by side. Long-time friends Jules and Richelle (Tyney, winemaker for Greywacke winery) compared current 2021 releases of the Greywacke Pinot Noir and the Jules Taylor OTQ Pinot Noir and discussed the terroir, the vintage and the wines. 2021 was a fantastic year for Marlborough Pinot Noir – the dry conditions and small crops produced tiny, concentrated, intensely flavoured berries and some rich, complex wines. The pair of wines looked fantastic!

Jules Taylor and Richelle Tyney

After this break, it was back into the trucks and off to Spy Valley and Seresin before finishing at the picturesque Clos Henri vineyard and cellar door with beers and local Cranky Goat cheese to round off the final wine tasting.

What a day!

Local food, great guests, and a cruise out in the spectacular Marlborough Sounds topped off a very special experience.

If you’d like to experience the wines, check out our Pinot Safari Mixed Six pack, comprising three bottles of the Jules Taylor Pinot Noir 2020 and three bottles of the Single Vineyard OTQ Pinot Noir 2020.

6 Bottles of Pinot Noir