Kusuda Pinot Noir 2018 (Martinborough, New Zealand) "...cherry, fresh herbs, spice..."
Ranked: #1 Pinot Noir 2018 from Martinborough
Tokyo-born Hiroyuki (Hiro) Kusuda is a man of many talents. He trained as a lawyer at Ivy-league Keio University in Japan and worked for Fujitsu, then as the Consulate General of Japan in Sydney before pursuing his lifelong dream of winemaking. He inquired at the Roseworthy College in Australia but wasn't impressed at the rates the college charges international students, so instead found himself at Geisenheim in Germany, where he learned the language in order to study. He submitted his thesis, had a 2nd child then emigrated to Martinborough on New Zealand's north island with the goal of producing his very own world class Pinot Noir. In addition to Pinot Noir, tiny amounts of Riesling and Syrah are produced.
The wines have developed a cult following, and calls for a volunteer labour force of around 50 Japanese pickers each harvest. 'Hand-crafted' almost doesn't go far enough in explaining the extreme process undergone each vintage. The now famous vintage regime involves picking each individual berry when it is at perfect ripeness, which calls for several fastidious passes through the vines. The sorting process is just as labour intensive, with each berry inspected for any flaw, and removed if not perfect.
The exacting standards of Hiro Kusuda mean than only minute amounts of each variety is made, but it does explain the exceptional quality and amazing precision of his wines. His wines standout at local and international competitions, and generally sell out very quickly in part due to the tiny allocations, but mostly due to ther incredible quality.
"The relatively pale colour of this pinot noir might trick you into thinking it’s a light wine but don’t be deceived, it has extraordinary power and length. A wine that’s all about purity and subtlety. Cherry, fresh herbs and subtle spices. Reserve judgement until it has at least a few year’s bottle age." - 96 Points, Bob Campbell MW