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A Whole Bunch of Deliciousness

Family-owned Nautilus Estate, established in 1985, has been at the vanguard of Pinot Noir winemaking in Marlborough for over twenty years, since crafting its first Pinot Noir in 1997. Early plantings of Dijon clones and experimenting with single clone / single site trials led to a rapid appreciation of the potential for this variety in the region.

From vintage 2000, we have processed our Pinot Noir fruit through our dedicated, gravity flow, Pinot Noir cellar – the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. This total commitment to the variety has paid off, with recognition and awards for our Pinot Noirs both at home and in our very important export markets.

Latterly, just like us, our customers have developed a strong curiosity about the Marlborough sub-regions, which are delivering Pinot Noirs of the highest quality. The exploration of sub-regions is a developing theme at local and international Pinot Noir events and at personalised tastings at the winery, for visiting Trade, Media, and discerning consumers.

Nautilus Estate’s Pinot Noir development programme has resulted in us trialling various clones over several years in all three sub-regions of Marlborough. After monitoring style and quality carefully, we are now resolved to focus on the Southern Valleys, home of our prestige Nautilus Clay Hills Vineyard.

The Southern Valleys (and associated hillsides) - Pinot Noir from these wind-blown clay soils shows a darker fruit character, more mid-palate weight and fleshiness and a dense tannin structure, giving weight and gravitas.

Over the last 10 years, we have trialled the use of a whole bunch component in our fermentations. We feel this technique works particularly well with our Clay Hills vineyard and adds a layer of complexity to the wines – adding to the aroma and tannin profiles. The use of a whole bunch component has now become an integral part of our wine style and helped shape the future direction of our Pinot Noir program.


Nautilus Clay Hills Vineyard is located on the ridge that divides the Brancott and Omaka Valleys within the Southern Valleys sub-region of Marlborough. The vineyard is divided into 6 discrete blocks with different aspects and slopes and an elevation between 100 and 130 metres.

Normally picked midway through the Pinot Noir harvest window this vineyard has rapidly become the cornerstone block for Nautilus Pinot Noir where the clay-based soils contribute a silken texture and fine-grained tannins. The vines are trained to a VSP trellis system with a mixture of cane and spur pruning, with a target yield of 1.5 - 2.0 kg per vine.

Vineyard: Clay Hills Vineyard

Elevation: 100 - 130 m

Vine age: 15 - 20 years (2019)

Clones: 5, 115, 777

Planting Density: 2.0m x 1.5m

Soils: Wind-blown loess over clay


The 2019 season started with no significant frost issues and reasonable spring rains to keep canopies healthy. Some cool weather during flowering affected the bunch size of some varieties – particularly Pinot Noir and as a result, very little thinning was required. Pinot Noir this year is spectacular, with the grapes in excellent condition and the young wines showing great colour, fruit concentration and structure. This vintage will certainly be a contender for ‘best yet’ for this variety.


To make this wine, fruit from Pinot Noir clones 114, 115, 5, 667 and 777 were hand harvested and

de-stemmed without crushing to allow a portion of whole berries in the ferment. A small

amount of whole bunch fruit was also included in some ferments (average 20% whole

bunch). The grapes were fermented with indigenous yeast in open-top fermenters after a

7-12 day ‘cold soak’. Careful cap management, using our pneumatic punch-down device,

has resulted in the extraction of only the soft ripe tannins. After pressing the wine was racked

directly to a mixture of new and older French oak Barriques (25% new), where it remained

undisturbed until filtration and bottling in February 2020.

Varietal composition: 100% Pinot Noir

Region: Marlborough

Harvest: 10th to 15th March 2019

Winemaker: Clive Jones

Alc/Vol: 13.0%

Res Sugar: Dry

Total Acid: 5.3 g/L

pH: 3.63


The fruit was hand-picked and chilled overnight before de-stemming to a small tank

incorporating a 25% whole bunch component. After a 9-day cold soak, the wine

completed a spontaneous fermentation. Extraction and cap management were achieved by hard plunging and the wine remained on the skins for a total of 14 days before pressing. After 24 hours of settling, the wine was racked to 228 L French Oak barriques (30% new) and matured for 11 months before clarification and bottling in February 2020.

Varietal composition: 100% Pinot Noir

Region: Marlborough

Harvest: 15th March 2019

Winemaker: Clive Jones

Alc/Vol: 13.0%

Res Sugar: Dry

Total Acid: 5.3 g/L

pH: 3.75


The fruit was hand-picked from block 3 on our Clay Hills Vineyard and chilled overnight. It was then tipped directly into a small fermenter without destemming (100% whole bunch). The fruit was occasionally foot stomped over the next 7 days to gradually release the juice. Slow spontaneous fermentation then occurred over the next 8 days and the wine was pressed off the skins after a total of 18 days. The wine was then racked to barrel (25% new) where it remained undisturbed until bottling in February 2020.

Varietal composition: 100% Pinot Noir

Region: Marlborough

Harvest: 10th March 2019

Winemaker: Clive Jones

Alc/Vol: 12.5%

Res Sugar: Dry

Total Acid: 5.4 g/L

pH: 3.63

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