Featured Reviews

Valli 2018 Waitaki Riesling, 2017 Pinot Gris and 2017 Regional Pinot Noirs

18 September,2018

Grant Taylor’s Valli Vineyards wines have always figured high in my estimation. The regionally expressive Pinot Noirs in particular have demonstrated Grant’s intimate knowledge of the Pinot Noir variety, its performance in different sites and sub-regions of Otago, and the nature of the soils and climate in these sub-regions, as well as his understanding of Otago built up from nearly a quarter of a century of experience. Grant has serious, regionally-expressive Pinot Noir bottlings from his home site in Gibbston, and from Bannockburn in Central Otago. supplemented by a Waitaki Valley wine from the limestone-influenced soils of the Waitaki Valley in North Otago, and most recently a wine from Bendigo. These wines are superlative and consistent expressions of sub-regionality, and this earned Valli Vineyards my ‘Winery of the Year’ award in 2016 (click here to see my article).

However, Grant has great skills with all the varieties he touches, and wonderful Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay wines gave appeared under the Valli Vineyards label. However, the most exciting addition Grant Taylor has is the coming on board of talented and detailed winemaker Jen Parr at Valli at the beginning of 2015. She is a fantastic foil to Grant, and between the two of them, they make one of the most formidable winemaking teams in Otago. The wines I’ve seen since Jen has joined Valli Vineyards have actually taken a step in in quality, character and definition. Grant has an undefinable innate knowledge of the fruit, and Jen has the wonderful sense to know what to do to bring out the best in the resulting wine.

Here, I review the latest releases, a 2018 Waitaki Valley Riesling, a 2017 Gibbston Pinot Gris, and 2017 Pinot Noirs from Gibbston, Bannockburn, Waitaki Valley and Bendigo. The cooler sub-region of Gibbston has benefited from recent favourable growing seasons, and the wines have been stunning. 2017 in Gibbston had a cooler spring with reduced crops and small bunches which lent great concentration. The Waitaki Valley has also benefited from good and 2017 was a ‘normal’ cool growing season. With Grant, and Jen’s interest in the Waitaki Valley sub-region, some very interesting wines have been made, and the Pinot Noir is deemed to show plenty of savoury complexity. www.valliwine.com


Valli Waitaki North Otago Riesling 2018

Riesling from New Zealand – Otago


Bright, even, pale straw-yellow colour with green hues. The nose is refined with a taut and concentrated core of white florals and wet stone minerals along with subtle notes of citrus fruit and stonefruit. This has delicacy, intensity and penetration, and the aromatics are thirst-quenching. Medium-dryish to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has a delicate but vibrant array of fragrant fruits and florals, showing limes and tangerines and a range of citrus fruits, along with acacia florals, unveiling delicate, mouthwatering mineral notes. The palate has racy acidity and excellent linearity, the wine flowing along a fine-textured line leading to a delicate aromatic finish. This is a beautifully delicate medium-dryish Riesling with an array of citrus fruit and florals, with thirst-quenching minerals of a brisk palate with outstanding linearity. Serve as an aperitif and with Asian cuisine over the next 5 years. Fruit from the company’s ‘Grant’s Road vineyard in the Waitaki Valley, vines planted 2005, fermented in stainless-steel to 12.0% alc. and 14.4% g/L RS, TA 9.0 g/L and pH 2.94. 3.792 bottles produced. 19.0/20 Sep 2018 RRP $30.00

Valli ‘Gibbston Vineyard’ Central Otago Pinot Gris 2017

Pinot Gris from New Zealand – Otago


Bright, light straw-yellow colour with slight green hues. The nose has an elegantly concentrated and packed heart with very good aromatic presence showing intense white and yellow stonefruits entwined with an amalgam of savoury herbs, minerals and suggestions of nutty elements. This is softly mouthwatering. Dry to taste and medium-full bodied, the palate has mouthfilling ethereal flavours of white and yellow stonefruits along with notes of stonefruit kernels, herbs and nutty hints, with mineral nuances. The mouthfeel grows in richness to show a little unctuousness, with fresh, lacy acidity lending liveliness. The wine carries to a soft, lingering finish. This is a gently ethereal and mouthfilling dry Pinot Gris with stonefruit, kernel, herb and mineral notes on a palate that grows in presence. Serve with Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese fare over the next 3 years. Mission clone fruit from the company’s vineyard, vines planted 2001, fermented to 13.5% alc. and 3.4 g/L RS. 8,100 bottles produced. 18.0+/20 Sep 2018 RRP $30.00

Valli ‘Gibbston Vineyard’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Otago


Very dark, deep, black-hued ruby-red colour with slight garnet hues, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is full and well-packed with interwoven aromas of dark-red and black cherry and berry fruit entwined with dark herbs and come complexing whole bunch stalk perfumes. This is quite complete on the nose with great density and presence. Medium-full bodied, the palate has full and richly packed, deep flavours of dark-red berry fruit harmoniously entwined with dark herbs and whole bunch stalk elements. The flavours are mouthfilling and underlined by fine, grainy tannin extraction and structure providing plenty of body, texture and grip. The acidity is fresh and lending energy to the wine, which shows completeness as it carries to a full finish. This is a rich and fulsome, complete and balanced Pinot Noir with dark-red berry fruit entwined with dark herbs and complexing whole bunch notes on a well-structured, fresh palate. Match with herb-marinated lamb, beef and venison dishes over the next 7-9 years. Clones 5, 6, 115, 113, 114 and 777 from the company’s vineyard, vines planted 2000, fermented to 13.5% alc. with 20% whole bunches, the wine on skins 24 days and aged 11 months in 32% new French oak. 8,581 bottles produced. 19.0/20 Sep 2018 RRP $69.00

Valli ‘Bannockburn Vineyard’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Nelson


Even, dark ruby-red colour, a little lighter on the rim with slight garnet hues. The nose is gently full and voluminous with ripe fruit aromas of dark-red berry fruit along with dark plums entwined with subtle notes of dried and dark herbs and some earthiness, unfolding red floral perfumes. This is elegant in expression with gentleness and harmony, unfolding whole bunch stalk elements with aeration. Medium-full bodied, the palate is openly accessible and sweetly rich and mouthfilling with flavours of ripe red berry fruit along with herbs and earth. This has whole bunch stalk and red floral perfumes that add aromatic lift. The mouthfeel is soft with a gently concentrated heart with layers of fruit, herbs and earth all underlined by fine-grained, supple tannin structure with subtle acidity and freshness adding to the vitality. The flavours carry to a lingering finish. This is a gently mouthfilling, accessible Pinot Noir with dark-red berry fruit, herbs and earth with floral lift on a supple, structured palate. Match with wild duck and pork over the next 6+ years. Clones 115,777, 113,5, 10/5 and 13 from a single vineyard an Hall Road, vines planted 2000, fermented with 25% whole bunches to 13.5% alc., the wine spending 27 days on skins and aged 11 months in 27% new oak. 7,741 bottles made. 18.5+/20 Sep 2018 RRP $69.00

Valli ‘Waitaki Vineyard’ North Otago Pinot Noir 2017

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Otago


Even, light garnet-red colour, a little paler on the rim. The nose is elegant in proportion with a fine, tightly bound core with good depth and intensity of dark-red cherry and berry fruit melded with fresh and dark herbs, a little floral lift and some whole bunch stalk nuances. This is slender but detailed. Medium-bodied, the palate has an elegantly concentrated heart with intense and penetrating flavours of dark-red berry fruit melded with fresh and dark herbs. Whole bunch stalk notes and lifted florals add interest. The palate forms an elegant core and is enlivened by fresh acidity, and supported by fine-grained tannin extraction. This has good energy and linearity and carries to a long, sustained finish. This is an elegant, intense and penetrating Pinot Noir with flavours of dark cherries and berries with fresh and dark herbs on a lively palate wine fine tannins and excellent linearity. Match with tuna and salmon, poultry and pork over the next 6+ years. Clones 5, 115, Abel and 777, from the company’s ‘Grants Road’ and the ‘River T’ vineyards, vines planted 2001, fermented with 10% whole bunches to 13.0% alc., the wine spending 20 days on skins and aged 11 months in 27% new oak. 5,800 bottles produced. 18.5-/20 Sep 2018 RRP $69.00

Valli ‘Bendigo Vineyard’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Otago


Full, even, dark ruby-red colour with slight purple hues, youthful in appearance. The nose is elegantly proportioned and poised with excellent concentration and depth showing ripe black cherried and berried fruit with black plums, unfolding spices and liquorice with subtle notes of dark herbs and whole bunch stalk complexities. Medium-full bodied, the palate is packed and concentrated with a deep and driven core of ripe black cherry and berry fruit along with plums and liquorice, plus herbs and spices. The fruit has very good concentration and density and is underlined by plenty of fine-grained tannin extraction with balanced acidity. This has excellent linearity and carries with drive to a concentrated and sustained finish of black fruits, herbs and spices. This is a very concentrated and tightly bound black-fruited Pinot Noir with cherry, berry, plum and liquorice flavours and a firm, structured line. Match with lamb, beef, venison and semi-hard cheeses over the next 8-10 years. Clones 667, 777, 115, Abel and 5, from the ‘Zebra’ vineyard on Chinaman’s Terrace, vines planted 2006, fermented with 35% whole bunches to 14.0% alc., the wine spending 27 days on skins and 11.5 months in 31% new French oak. 8,696 bottles made. 19.0-/20 Sep 2018 RRP $69.00

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