Tasting Reviews




Central Otago ‘Discovery’ Tasting


24-Nov-2017
As a prelude to the Central Otago Pinot Noir Spring Release Tasting, where 70 Pinot Noirs from the 2016, 2015 and 2014 vintages were served (click here to see my report), guest attendees were offered a selection of wines as a ‘Discovery’ tasting, exploring facets of the region from different vintages, and to introduce us to the forthcoming main event (click here to see my report). Winemakers Paul Pujol of Prophet’s Rock, Lucie Lawrence of Aurum Wines and Francis Hutt of Carrick presented the tasting, comprising three flights. Flight One was made up of five 2017 Rieslings, designed to show the Riesling variety from the latest vintage. Flight Two was labelled ‘Influences’, with four whites made with innovative approaches, plus three 2016 Pinot Noirs demonstrating alternative aims. Flight Three was of three each of top Pinot Noirs from the 2016 and 2015 vintages, selected to show examples of upper-level, high aspiration styles. They were fascinating wines. My notes on the wines tasted (identity known) follow.

Central Otago Pinot Noir Ltd Panel Presenters
Paul Pujol - Prophet's Rock, Lucie Lawrence - Aurum, Francis Hutt - Carrick (L-R) 

Flight One: Introduction
A flight of beautiful wines, quite pristine, through the scale of very dry to sweet. This variety, a late one, came through very successfully in the 2017 vintage, with good ripeness, a sense of delicacy and with no botrytis influence.

Maude ‘Mt Maude Vineyard’ Central Otago ‘Reserve’ Dry Riesling 2017
Very pale straw colour. The nose is very elegant ant tightly bound, showing delicate lime fruit, white florals and minerals. Very dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is crisp, taut and tightly bound, the mouthfeel elegant in proportion and the flavours delicate and detailed. The wine flows along a fine line with fresh acidity. Very good length. Fruit from the ‘Mt Maude’ vineyard, Wanaka. 11.5% alc. and 6.2 g/L RS 18.5+/20 Nov 2017 RRP $32.00

Mount Edward Central Otago Riesling 2017
Paler straw-yellow colour, The nose is softly full with gentle aromas of yellow florals and nuances of ripe, tropical and citrus fruits, unfolding exotic elements. Dryish to taste and medium-bodied, the palate features an array of florals and citrus fruits, and exotic elements. The mouthfeel is broad and accessible with lighter concentration, but bright acidity. Fruit from the ‘Morrison’ vineyard, Lowburn. 12.5% alc. and 8 g/L RS. 18.0+/20 Nov 2017 RRP $27.00

Gibbston Valley Central Otago Riesling 2017
Light straw colour. The nose is soft and effusive, quite gentle in expression, with moderate depth and intensity of exotic florals. Off-dry to taste, the palate features exotic florals and tangerine fruit, the palate possessing breadth and richness. A little phenolic texture emerges, with good, balancing acid cut. Bendigo fruit. 12.5% alc. and 8.5 g/L RS. 18.0/20 Nov 2017 RRP $28.00

Chard Farm ‘Vipers Vineyard’ Central Otago Riesling 2017
Light straw colour. The nose is soft and densely packed with yellow floral and citrus aromas and hints of minerals and a little reduction. Medium to medium-dry, the palate is luscious and plush in presentation. The fruit richness is the feature, showing good ripeness. The mouthfeel is soft, but balanced by acid bite. Fruit from Parkburn, 10% alc. and 29 g/L RS 18.5/20 Nov 2017 RRP $35.00

Felton Road Bannockburn Central Otago Riesling 2017
Bright straw-yellow colour. The nose has a softly concentrated core with delicate and poise, cool-edged fruit aromas of lifted white florals and hints of herbs. Medium in sweetness (to taste) and light-bodied, the palate has luscious white florals, notes of lime fruit and exotic elements with honey. The palate has succulence, and is piquant with beautiful poise. The textures are refine and the acid provides excellent cut. 8.5% alc. and 65 g/L RS. 19.0/20 Nov 2017RRP $30.00

Flight Two: Influences
A flight of two parts, the whites showing experimentation with lees inputs, or no sulphur, or skin contact, then three Pinot Noirs demonstrating variations on the normal Pinot Noir winemaking approach. This flight prompted the most discussion among the presenters and tasters.

Mt Difficulty Bannockburn Central Otago Dry Riesling 2015
Brilliant straw-yellow colour. The nose is soft and refined with taut aromas of lime fruit with flint and mineral elements. Very dry to taste, this has piquant and intense fruit flavours of limes and white florals intermixed with minerals and flinty, wet-stone notes. The mouthfeel is poised with fine acid tension, and the wine flows along a very fine-textured line. Very dry on the finish, showing real finesse. Fermented on full solids with indigenous yeasts to 12.9% alc. and 3.5 g/L RS, the wine aged on gross lees for 10 months. 18.5/20 Nov 2017 RRP $27.00

Prophet’s Rock Central Otago Dry Riesling 2015
Bright straw-yellow colour. This has a soft ‘textural’ nose with broad and voluminous aromas of rich lime and mineral elements harmoniously melded with wet stones. The nose has very good presence. Dry to taste, the palate is weighty with body and presence, The flavours of limes and minerals are complexed and enlivened by savoury acidity, and some phenolic textures carry the wine to a very long finish. Inspired by Alsace, and tastes of it. Wild fermented in seasoned oak over 3-4 months to 13.0% alc. and 7 g/L RS, the wine aged on gross lees. 18.5/20 Nov 2017 RRP $39.99

Aurum Central Otago Organic Amber Wine 2014
Light orange colour with a slight pink blush. The nose is soft and gentle with aromas of peach and quince, with subtle ‘skinsy’ notes. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has peach and savoury quince flavours along with yellow florals. The palate is taut and firm, a touch pinched, with fine phenolic textures and good acidity. A little slender. An attractively flavored example of skin contact wine. 100% Pinot Gris spending 70 days on skins with no additions, fermented to 13.0% alc. and dryness, and aged in seasoned oak, the wine undergoing MLF. An exploration of the Pinot Gris skins. 18.0-/20 Nov 2017 RRP $45.00

Carrick ‘The Death of Von Tempsky’ Bannockburn Central Otago Riesling 2016
Opaque straw-yellow with slight golden hues. The nose is redolent of attractive lime and exotic floral aromas with fragrant citrus fruits and underlying minerals and yeasty lees notes. Dry to taste, the flavours and mouthfeel are taut and tightly bound with fine lime and floral fruit. This is very varietal with a firm core, the textures very fine. The leesy notes are relatively restrained. The fruit integrity is retained. Exploring the textural side of Riesling using certified BioGro organic fruit, with no additions, 100 days on skins and 100% whole clusters. 12.5% alc. 300 bottles made. 18.5-/20 Nov 2017 RRP $36.00

Aurum ‘Libera’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016
Very dark ruby-red colour. This has a fresh and bright nose with ripe dark raspberry and cherry fruit with fragrant red and violet florals, some whole berry fermentation characters and maybe a little reduction. On palate this is vibrant and rich, with dark raspberry fruit expressed with vibrancy and freshness. Lively acidity and fine-grained tannins enable accessibility and provide energy. Young vines, certified BioGro organic, with no sulphur additions. 12 months in seasoned oak. 18.0+/20 Nov 2017 RRP $38.00

Carrick ‘Billet-Doux’ Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016
Light red with slight purple hues. The nose is tightly bound, quite elegant, a tad lean and slender, but with fine concentration of red berry fruits with herb and earthy interest. On palate richer than the nose suggests, but still taut and slender in expression. The fruit is not shy, showing freshness and brightness. Lifted by herbal elements that carry to a light finish. 100% Abel clone, certified BioGro organic, destemmed and fermented to 12.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in neutral oak, total sulphur at < 10 ppm. 17.5-/20 Nov 2017 RRP $36.00

Maude ‘Mt Maude Vineyard’ Central Otago ‘Reserve’ ‘East Meets West’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016
Moderately deep ruby-red colour. The nose has fragrance and intensity with an amalgam of dark red berry fruit and complexing herb and whole bunch nuances. Layers of savoury interest unfolds in the glass. Rich and lusciously fruited with a herbal and whole bunch edge, the fruit is underlined by plenty of extract and structure from go to whoa. Layers of complexing interest and the grip to match. A blend of ‘East’ and ‘West’ block fruit, 100% carbonic fermentation and 100% whole cluster with no plunging (just minimal foot-stomping by little feet – guess whose?) and aged 10 months in seasoned oak. 5 barrels made. 19.0-/20 Nov 2017 RRP $45.00

Flight Three: 2016/2015 Pinot Noir
Three each of top 2016 and 2015 vintage Pinot Noirs. These are among the region’s best wines. I am lucky to have tasted four of these wines previously as ‘Feature Reviews’ or at a structured tasting, so how they showed here added to my experience of these wines. They were a good lead-in to the Spring Release Tasting in the afternoon.

Akarua Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016
Dark, deep, purple-hued ruby-red colour. The nose is soft, fully voluminous and up-front with dark-red berry and black plum fruit aromas, This has very good ripeness. The palate features rich, ripe fruit flavours of black cherries and berries with subtle black plums. This is succulent and plush. The fruit is supported by ripe tannin extraction with good enlivening acidity. A classical and archetype example. Fruit from the ‘Cairnmuir’ and ‘Felton Road’ blocks, vines 20 y.o., fully destemmed and fermented to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 27% new French oak barriques. 18.5+/20 Nov 2017 RRP $43.00

Felton Road ‘Block 5’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016
Bright, light ruby-red colour. The aromatics are elegant and delicate with red cherry and berry fruit along with fragrant red florals and complexing herb and whole bunch nuances. The aromatics are refined and beautiful with a fresh, coolish edginess. On palate a wine of finesse and delicacy, with fragrant red fruits and florals, the mouthfeel possessing vitality from the poised acidity. A rich and tight core lends intensity and linearity. A wine of class. Indigenous yeast fermented with 25% whole bunches to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 17 months in 35% new oak. 19.0+/20 Nov 2017 RRP $N/A

Gibbston Valley ‘Le Maitre’ Gibbston Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016
Very dark, purple hued black-red colour. The nose is initially restrained, but clearly very concentrated, unfolding harmonious layers of very complex aromas of savoury dark-red fruits with herbal detail and whole bunch interest. On palate, this has power, depth and concentration, layers of multi-dimensional complexities and really quite sophisticated. Considerable structure and great vitality. Simply outstanding wine. Hand-picked 10/5 clone fruit, from the original ‘Home Block’, Gibbston, vines up to 33 y.o., fully destemmed and indigenous yeast fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in 30% new French oak. Certified BioGro organic. 12 barrels made. 19.5/20 Nov 2017 RRP $100.00

Mount Edward 'Muirkirk Vineyard' Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Dark, deep ruby-red colour with slight garnet hues. The nose is softly full and voluminous with rich, ripe lush dark-red fruit aromas and layers of savoury dark herbs, subtle notes of whole bunch and hints of game. Lovely complexities unfolding with interest and detail. On palate quite fulsome with breadth and layers of complex dark-red fruits melded with herb, stalk and savoury elements. An ethereal lifted aspect too. This is supported by considerable fine-grained grip and bright acidity for wonderful balance. Indigenous yeast fermented with 25% whole bunches, the wine aged 11 months in 15% new French oak. Certified BioGro organic. 19.0/20 Nov 2017 RRP $48.00

Mt Difficulty ‘Growers Series’ ‘Packspur Vineyard’ Lowburn Valley Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012
Deep, dark-red colour. The nose is immediately up-front with full and bold aromas of dark-red and black fruits with complementary savoury dark herb complexities, maybe whole bunch influence. Rich. lusciously succulent and layered with savoury interest, this has dark-red and black fruits with herbs and stalk detail. The mouthfeel is one of richness, power and vitality, the finish is very long. The best release under this label to date for me, Fruit indigenous yeast fermented with 10% whole clusters, the wine aged 16 months in oak. 19.0-/20 Nov 2017 RRP $75.00

Quartz Reef ‘Bendigo Estate – Single Ferment’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Very dark, deep, purple-hued ruby-red, with black tints. The nose is full and voluminous with great depth of rich and ripe black-berried fruits, dark herbs and whole bunch inputs, along with nutty oak and iron-earth minerals and liquorice suggestions. This has immense depth. Remarkably rich, fulsome and complex on palate, with sweet and opulent fruit with layers of savoury, balancing complexity, with matching structure. The wine has acid vitality and multi-dimensional in its presentation. A single ferment, named ‘Titi’, selected to best express the ‘Bendigo Estate’ vineyard. Hand-picked 115 clone fruit, from the mid-section of the vineyard, vines 16 y.o., indigenous yeast fermented with 20% whole bunches to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 15 months in 16% new oak. Certified Demeter biodynamic. 125 dozen made. 19.5/20 Nov 2017 RRP $85.00

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