Kusuda might be one of the most well-known and Burgundy-like wines from New Zealand. The owner Hiro Kusuda started out as a lawyer, and later became a diplomat which granted him opportunities to travel around the globe and opened his eyes to wine. After years of travelling, he decided he wanted to set up his own vineyard in Martinborough, New Zealand. He first went to school in Germany to learn all about winemaking before he took on various jobs at vineyards in New Zealand, Australia as well as in Burgundy to get more hands-on experience. It was in 2006 that he started to make his own wines with very limited quantity produced and mainly supplied to the Japanese market.
Nowadays, Kusuda's Pinot Noir is one of the most difficult-to-find Pinot Noir's in the world. Only about 6,000 bottles are made every year and due to strong demand in Hiro’s home country Japan - it is not even found on Wine-Searcher! As far as we know, some Kusuda Pinot Noir is served inflight JAL airlines' first-class cabins, so if you have any chance to take their flight, do not forget to have a look at their wine list and order a glass or two!
We have tasted a bottle of Kusuda Pinot Noir 2014 and was absolutely impressed by the dynamic aromas throughout the 4 hours of my meal until the last sip. This is a tremendously serious Pinot that every Pinot lover should try. Hiro Kusuda’s dedication, attention to detail and passion is definitely reflected in his creations.
Master of Wine, Bob Campbell quoted to Janis Robinson why Kusuda is made to become a top Pinot in New Zealand and even the world -
'I visited him over vintage and was witness to the most rigorous grape selection process I have ever seen. A group of Japanese people had flown down at their own expense to pick and sort grapes for Hiro. They were variously introduced as a poet, a wine school head, an owner of many restaurants, a top sommelier etc. Each berry was inspected for any flaw and removed if not perfect. The process seemed to take several minutes per bunch. Hiro invited me to compare the taste of a grape with a tiny scar against a perfect berry. I could detect no difference and suggested he make wine from the reject berries and compare it with the mother wine. He explained "even if there is only 5% difference, it is enough". ‘
We are lucky to be able to source a few from 2015 and 2016, with very limited quantity -
Kusuda Pinot Noir 2015
HK$1,100 per bottle, 6 bottles available
18 out of 20 pts Jancis Robinson
From Hiro’s Martinus block, very densely planted. He leased this vineyard for the last 3 vintages but now owns it. The former owner used herbicide – winter 2014 was the last application. Some plants shut down in wind and weeds, hence a low crop. Quantity-wise a disaster. 91% destemmed, matured in 29% new French oak for 15 months. 2135 bottles produced. Lifted and juicy. Confident. Shows the way for the future.
97pts Jamie Goode
Kusuda Pinot Noir 2016
HK$1,050 per bottle, 18 bottles available
17 out of 20 pts Jancis Robinson
Very pale garnet. Bright and floral strawberry and raspberry. Subtle cinnamon oak. Integrated and attractive. Some flint mineral, delicate strawberry, crisp acidity and floral tones. Quite firm tannins need a couple of years. Long and elegant
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Photo: Wine Bar Musee ワインバーミュゼ