2012 Tongue in Groove Clayvin Vineyard Pinot Noir

$45 - Southern Valleys, Marlborough

Tongue in Groove are a new wine company that are based in Canterbury. Fronted by Angela Clifford (whom I interviewed for this article) with winemaker Lynette Hudson at the helm, creatively. Lynnete is ex-Pegasus Bay and highly regarded wine consultant who works in New Zealand and internationally. They make Waipara Riesling and Pinot but I was also overjoyed to see this wine, from one of Marlborough's best regarded Pinot vineyards in the box of samples I received from them recently.

Clayvin was originally planted by Mike Eaton; a pioneer of serious, traditonally grown and handmade Marlborough wine, Pinot in particular. Among Mikes many achievements was establishing Terravin Estate. The Pyramid Valley 'Eaton Vineyard' Pinot and the Terravin 'Hillside Selection' (also made by PV winemaker Mike Weersing) are two of the finest examples of Marlborough Pinot I have ever tasted.


The Clayvin Vineyard has an amazing pedigree of producing truly fine, seriously long lived wines: Chardonnay, Pinot (of course) and even Syrah; with some of the finest examples of all three made by the team at Fromm. It was established in 1991 and is managed organically; it was one of the first high-density planted (5500 vines / ha) vineyards in Marlborough, the first hillside vineyard in the region and regarded as one of the first vineyards to show the wider industry just how serious Marlborough wine can be. I have only ever been delighted and surprised by wines from this vineyard and especially by their ability to age gracefully over a very long period. Last year it was leased to Geisen who use it for their organic range (they have sourced some fruit from it for the past few years) and will hopefully do excellent things with it. While they are a commercial producer, they are also making some serious wine and Marcel is also known for some of the country's best, most site specific Pinot and Chardonnay at Bell Hill in North Canterbury. Clayvin is named such as it's soil composition is heavy in clay and, like many clay dominant vineyards has a reputation for producing very savoury, structural wine.  


This is all important background information as hopefully it demonstrates how excited I was when I saw this bottle of wine: despite being from a new label it has impeccable pedigree which the fun, 'designery' part Python, part Art Nouveau label of Tongue in Groove belies. I'm not just trying to out-wank you all. I've just poured my second glass and I haven't even got onto tasting notes yet so lets do that.


The integration of aromas on the nose indicate this wines youth and its potential to become a truly fine wine. It hints at ripe red berry fruit, rhubarb with a hint of oak giving definition. Over time it releases a subtle floral finish which follows through to what is on the palate. 


The palate is silky smooth, even slippery. It has gorgeous, textural weight and is while not overwhelming is definitely in the realm of masculine Pinot (it is apt that this is the only, so far, of Tongue in Groove's labels which feature a male figure). At the core of this wine is some truly beautiful sweet red fruit and it has clean focused acid and slippery tannin. The palate echos the fact that this wine is a baby and its drinking, infanticide. I want to see this wine again in five years, and again in another five. Over time the palate opens up and hints at licorice and a hint of floral aromatics on the long, refined finish. The wine conveys a real sense of place with intensely savoury earth defined by the pure but suppressed fruit that is characteristic of clay soils. It is a truly stunning wine.


In two words: Brooding, sensual. 


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