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Folding Hill Flying Visit in Wellington

By August 28, 2014No Comments
Tim Kerruish, proprietor of the Bendigo vineyard ‘Folding Hill’ in Central Otago was in Wellington with his agent Fiona Macleod and managed pay a visit to discuss the recently completed 2014 vintage. The most salient point is that it will be a large vintage with approx. 50% more than the average. While the bunches were large, berry size was small. The fruit was harvested in excellent health with no incidence of disease, so the quality of the wines is expected to be very high.

Tim brought along to taste his current release 2011 Folding Hill Pinot Noir and limited bottling ‘Orchard Block’ Pinot Noir wine of the same vintage, just sold out now. I’ve reviewed both wines in the past, but never had the opportunity of comparing the wines side by side.

The Pinot Noir wines come from a 4 ha site planted in 2003 to clones 5, 6, Abel and a mix of Dijon clones and are made by Fred Reinds, assisted by Tim at the Black Ridge facility in Alexandra, just 40 minutes drive away. The site was established with consultation with Robin Dicey, and Robin’s son James now looks after the viticulture. The ‘Orchard Block’ wine is made from clone 5 fruit from the southern part of the vineyard sheltered by a stand of old English cider apple trees. It was first made in the 2009 vintage following a decision to bottle the wine from that fruit separately having noticed its particularly individual character. For 2011, there were 75 cases (or 3 barrels) made, the wine aged 20 months in one-third new oak. There are 300 cases (12 barrels) of the ‘regular’ wine, that spending 10 months in 25% new oak.

Apart from the oak regime, the vineyard practices are similar, as is the minimal intervention approach to the winemaking. While there is a significant difference in the character of the wines, Tim feels the separation of the ‘Orchard Block’ wine makes no discernible difference to the quality or the style of the ‘regular’ wine, while allowing the creation of something with a point of difference. Part of the maintenance of the high quality of the ‘regular’ label can be attributed to having a lower tier called ‘Ballasalla’ where fruit not to the required standard goes. Surprisingly the ‘Ballasalla’ wine does not take a bid dive in quality, reflecting the high quality of the fruit from the whole vineyard. www.foldinghill.co.nz

Tim Kerruish and his ‘big’ FoldingHill Bendigo Pinot Noirs

Tasting the Wines
Interestingly, I’ve not scored any of the Folding Hill wines into the 5-star level, though all of them are very close. It is clear they are ‘knocking on the door’ of being outstanding to me. It is notable that the wines have received gold medals or 5-star ratings at judgings and tastings, and from other reviewers. I have pondered if I’m scoring harder than others, or if the style of the wines is not to my personal preference. I put this to Tim, and one of the reasons could be that I tend to review the wines at a youthful stage, and that he considered they looked better with some time in bottle.

All of the wines from the vineyard from ‘Ballasalla’ to ‘Folding Hill’ and ‘Orchard Block’ are fulsome, solid and near robust, with darker fruit flavours and often a liquorice character. They are well-structured and have an iron-like tannic core which is indicative of the Pinot Noir wines of the Bendigo region to me. They need bottle-age to mellow and resolve to a properly accessible condition. Is this what I must get past to see them as 5-star wines?

The Folding Hill Bendigo Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011 (18.0/20) is deep ruby-red colour with a lighter rim. On nose, this has a soft density with well-ripened red berry fruits with savoury notes of dried herbs, plums and florals in an autumnal stage. Medium-full bodied and with a tight, savoury red and brown-fruited core, complex and intricate savoury dried herb, game meat feature, and some undergrowth secondary elements as well as spice notes. The tannins are fine, but somewhat sinewy and the palate line carried by lively, lacy acidity. This is a textural wine which is showing its structure. Time felt it would still come together with some more time over the next 4-5 years.

I’ve finally rated one of Tim’s wines at 5-stars! The Folding Hill ‘Orchard Block’ Bendigo Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011 (18.5/20) Deepish ruby-red with some garnet, this has a deeply-packed and complete nose with ripe black fruits, hints of liquorice and chocolate, nuanced with spice and some new oak shine. Medium-full bodied, the palate features sweet. Lush dark red and black fruits with a layering of spices earth and oak. The fruit is supported by supple tannin structure and a fine, underlying line of acidity. The mouthfeel is rounded, but with a solidness, depth and completeness, the richness mouthfilling with nuance and a suggestion of opulence. Cedar and chocolate, and some savoury, secondary earth and herb notes unfold on the long finish. This has developed well and shows lovely harmony with richness. 6-8 years.


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