MARTINBOROUGH - NEW ZEALAND
Tokyo-born Hiroyuki (known as Hiro) Kusuda trained as a lawyer and worked for Fujitsu, then the Consulate General of Japan in Sydney before giving it all up to pursue his other love, wine and winemaking. He went to Germany, learned the language, enrolled at Geisenheim and then emigrated to New Zealand to pursue both the Riesling and Pinot grapes – to which a third challenge, Syrah, has now been added. The choice of New Zealand in general and Martinborough in particular apparently came about through tasting the 1992 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir.
Hiro is a driven individual, totally focussed on seeking purity of fruit character in his wines. A key feature to achieve quality is the extremely meticulous if not fanatical sorting of the fruit, at harvest and especially on the berries before vinification. The Claremont Motel in Martinborough has Kusuda as their most important client during vintage as hordes of pickers pay their own way from Japan to say they've been able to work with one of Japan's most highly regarded winemakers and contribute to the quality! Some stay for two days, others for a month or more. It takes 2-3 days for 10-15 people to sort through one tonne of Pinot Noir, depending on the health of the fruit. From around 10-15 tonnes of fruit, the annual output is less than 1,000 cases. 70% of the tiny Kusuda production goes to Japan, where it has a cult following. The remainder is sold evenly in NZ, Australia and the UK.
Kusuda Riesling ‘TBA’ 2015
99 points, Bob Campbell MW -“Only 840 half-bottles. Golden colour. Quite sweet without any suggestion of being at all cloying or syrupy, in fact, the wine has an incredibly pure and ethereal texture. Very complex with honeycomb, grapefruit marmalade, dried mango, apricot and exotic floral characters to name just a few of the more obvious flavours. An amazing wine with a strong Kusuda signature.”
Kusuda Pinot Noir 2015
97 points, Jamie Goode -“Everything Kusuda does is fabulous. Lovely freshness here. Very fine and expressive with cherries, plum and a fine mineral character. Pure with nice tannins and real detail. There's a haunting elegance with subtle bloody tones under the linear fruit. Spectacular.”
Kusuda Syrah 2014
96 points, Bob Campbell MW -“Quite an ethereal Syrah with typical Kusuda purity and refinement. Gentle raspberry, cherry, violet, rose petal and spicy French oak flavours. A delicate, graceful wine with impressive concealed power demonstrated in a lingering finish.”