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Featured Reviews

Grasshopper Rock Earnscleugh Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016

23 April,2018

It took me a couple of proper tastings before I realised the quality of the Grasshopper Rock ‘Earnscleigh Vineyard’ Pinot Noir from Alexandra in Central Otago. I fell into the ‘trap for young players’ by not appreciating balance and harmony. But it did not take long for me to see the consistency of delicious approachability that the wine offered. Being a wine from Alexandra, the fruitiness and punchiness that we see in other sub-regional Pinot Noirs is more toned-down. But there is no lack of richness. The vineyard, established in a contiguous block in 2003 lends this rich, but restrained expression, consistently vintage after vintage. The wine also properly reflects each of the unique growing conditions for the different years, but the wine evolves to a classical expression that appears quite positively homogeneous. Maybe that’s terroir coming to the fore? The wine ages comfortably for up to a decade, as a recent vertical tasting in November last year of vintages from the inaugural 2006 to the then yet-unreleased 2016 showed (click here to see my notes).

Phil Handford heads the syndicate of owners of Grasshopper Rock, and Mike Moffit is the man on the ground tending to the viticulture. The wine is made by Pete Bartle at VinPro. Clearly he has a handle on what the fruit gives, and how best he can allow the character of the fruit and site be expressed. Here, I review the new release 2016 Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir. The growing season was initially cool, but a very hot February brought the fruit to ripeness. Persistent winds, very low rainfall and a high number of frosts were also features. The quality of the fruit and the final volume are deemed excellent.


Grasshopper Rock ‘Earnscleugh Vineyard’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Otago


Dark, deep ruby-red colour with youthful purple hues, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is full and softly voluminous with bright and vibrant primary aromas of dark-red cherry and dark plum fruit entwined with violet florals and subtle notes of dark herbs. This combines youthful richness, ripeness and fragrance. Medium-bodied, the palate is bright, juicy, sweetly rich with vibrant and lively aromatic fruit flavours of dark-red berry fruit, with nuances of black fruits and dark-red plums, layered with subtle notes of violet florals and hints of thyme herb. The palate has mouthfilling fruit supported by supple tannin extraction, lending a rounded structure, with soft, balanced acidity. This has a fine core with excellent linearity, and the wine carries to long and sweet-fruited finish unveiling liquorice elements. This is a rich, plush, juicy and vibrant Pinot Noir with succulent dark berry and plum flavours with violet florals on a supple palate with a fine heart. Match with duck and pork, and beef and lamb dishes over the next 6 years. Clones 5, 777, 114, 115, Abel and 667, the fruit fully destemmed and fermented to 13.3% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 29% new French oak barriques. 19.0/20 Apr 2018 RRP $40.00

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