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Pinot Noir 2017 – Day Two Road Trip – Central Otago

By February 1, 2017No Comments

The second day of Pinot Noir 2017 was the strongest in terms of tasting wine. The first session in the morning was devoted to the International Tasting of eight wines chosen by the guest panellists to demonstrate their approach to ‘quality’. It was also Day Two of the Road Trip, where delegates attended the exhibition-styled tastings of one of three regions, these being the North Island (including North Canterbury, or Marlborough/Nelson, or Central Otago/Waitaki Valley. On Day One, I attended the North Island/North Canterbury tasting, and my notes on the wines I tasted can be seen by clicking here.

For Day Two, I was assigned to Central Otago/Waitaki Valley. The sub-title for the day was ‘Explore’, and was an exploration of the ‘best wines’. The 2014 vintage is seen as a successful one, though 2015 was rain-affected in parts of Central Otago. It is worth reiterating my approach to tasting the wines offered, as there were too many wines available for tasting to do justice to them all within the three hours allotted. I tasted generally only one wine from each exhibitor, that wine generally the youngest available. My notes are brief and made on immediate impressions, so the more delicate styles may have been overlooked to some degree. My notes may also be somewhat repetitive or similar for different wines, as I did not have the opportunity of looking at detail. However, I trust that the notes will be useful. The wines I particularly liked are identified by their names being italicised. I present the notes alphabetically by producer. The notes have not been added to my database due to the lack of time for a proper assessment. www.pinotnoir.co.nz

To see my tasting notes of 38 Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, Wairaapa and North Canterbury wines, from the Day One Road Trip, click here.  To see my tasting notes of 42 Marlborough and Nelson wines from the Day Three Road Trip, click here.  To see my report on the International Tasting, click here.

Central Otago/Waitaki Valley

Akarua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Bannockburn fruit, no whole bunch. Deepish ruby-red with some garnet. Concentrated dark cherry aroma with some plum and herb, quite densely packed and good ripeness. Rich, luscious and vibrant with spicy black cherry and plum fruit, underlined by very fine tannin extraction. Fresh acidity lends vitality. Grows in refinement in the glass.

Akitu ‘A1’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Wanaka fruit. Lighter colour with some garnet. The nose is soft and light with red cherry fruit along with nuances of herbs and spicy oak. Quite elegant on palate with good proportion. Somewhat cooler spectrum, but attractive. Reportedly popular in Australia and U.K. where elegance is prized over size, which is very understandable.

Stephanie Lambert – Amisfield

Amisfield ‘RKV’ ‘Reserve’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013
Lighter red with pale edge. This is tightly bound and well-concentrated, but refined with black and red cherry and distinctive spicy oak. Beautifully rich and vibrant fruit expression, with spicy oaking to match. Very fine extraction, and this has the potential to develop further. Superb wine. From selected blocks but named after the ‘Rocky Knoll Vineyard’.

Bald Hills ‘Single Vineyard’ Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Pale red with some garnet. Softly full and gentle nose in the cooler spectrum, some herbal notes. But plenty of body with deep and good intensity of strawberry and cherry fruit. Fine tannin grip and structure, the acidity somewhat elevated.

Sean Brennan – Brennan Wines

Brennan Gibbston Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014
Ruby-red colour with slight garnet hues. This is very fine and tight on nose, showing good perfume intensity. Red fruits with a touch of reductive funkiness today. Very elegant on palate, but lovely fruit richness, sweet, and balanced by fine tannins and bright acidity. Long on the finish. A more refined expression than earlier vintages, which is positive.

Burn Cottage ‘Burn Cottage Vineyard’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Ruby-red with slight garnet hues. Lovely volume of soft red fruits, with some savoury complexities, a little whole bunch stalk interest. Rich and seamless red fruit flavours, quite accessible already, with gorgeous balance of fine structure and gentle, lacy acidity. Essence of red fruit finesse.

Francis Hutt – Carrick

Carrick Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Light ruby-red. Firm and intense strawberry and red cherry fruit form a good core with piquant fragrance. Rich with real vibrancy, a core of bright cherry and strawberry fruit. The tannin extraction very fine and powdery, with balanced, soft acidity. Classical Bannockburn wine with fine style, and a degree of understatement, but it delivers all expected.

Chard Farm ‘The Tiger’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014
Very pale red in colour. The bouquet is soft and harmonious with gentle red fruit expression. Even in presentation. Very refined, intense and penetrating red fruits, with freshness, fine acidity and flowery tannin extraction. It would be easy to overlook the beauty here.

Tim Heath – Cloudy Bay

Cloudy Bay ‘Te Wahi’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Fruit from the ‘Calvert’ and ‘Northburn’ vineyards. Ruby-red with some garnet. The nose is up-front and voluminous with ripe dark berry and plum fruit along with dried herb and earthy complexities, the nose building in density. On palate rich and plummy, with very good structure and power, with balancing acidity. This has a degree of opulence.

Jing Soon – Crown Range Cellar

Crown Range Cellar ‘Signature Selection – Grant Taylor’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Ruby-red colour with some garnet. The nose is softly full and densely packed with red fruits and classical Gibbston dried herb notes and complex whole cluster stalk elements. The fruit is rich and vibrant, quite succulent with dark red berry and cherry fruit. The luscious puts the tannin structure in the background. This has real energy and complex dried herb, whole cluster detail. Excellent.

Gillian & Graeme Crosbie – Domain Road

Domain Road Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015

Fruit from the home ‘Domain Road’ site. Lighter ruby-red colour. This has intensity of fragrance, with red florals and bright red cherry fruit. Elegant is style, youthfully tight and still to build in richness. Nevertheless lovely fragrance, with balanced tannin extraction and acidity.

Claudio Heye – Domaine Thomson

Domaine Thomson ‘Surveyor Thomson’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Pale red colour. The nose is tightly bound and shy, with complex and funky dried herb and slight reductive notes, unfolding spice and liquorice. On palate this has a subtle richness and vibrancy, showing soft red fruits and florals, soft extraction and balanced acidity. Already attractive.

Felton Road ‘Block 3’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Deepish ruby red with good heart. This is densely layered with real complexity of dark red berry fruits and dried herbs and subtle detail. Richness and ripeness feature. On palate truly mouthfilling flavours of dark-red fruits with layers of savoury complexities. Very fine-grained tannins and poised acidity. This has it all with richness, structure, balance, complexity and finesse.

Folding Hill Bendigo Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Deepish red colour. Full and solid on the nose with ripe, dark-red fruits, some liquorice interest. Rich and vibrant with sweet and luscious fruit expression. This has size and presence, the tannins balance and the acidity is fresh. This is typical Folding Hill solidness, but with greater freshness and a little more finesse. A step forward in style from my perspective.

Gibbston Valley ‘Le Maitre’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Old vines in Gibbston, no whole bunch. Dark-red colour with a slight garnet edge. Great intensity and penetration of savoury red berry fruit aromas with dried herbs, a touch of stalkiness, classical Gibbston. Rich and luscious on palate, with fruit sweetness, the Gibbston regionality very clear. Lighter extraction and balanced acidity. A little more time needed for it to grow into completeness?

Phil Handford – Grasshopper Rock

Grasshopper Rock Earnscleugh Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Deepish ruby-red. The nose is bright-fruited and vibrant with dark-red berries and thyme herbs. On palate, lovely up-front richness and flavour of red fruits and thyme herbs, and subtle spices. Layers of richness grow, and supported by very fine, powdery tannins, the acidity soft and poised. As good as Grasshopper Rock always is. A remarkable consistency.

Kalex Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
10% from estate Gibbston fruit, the remainder from Bendigo, Bannockburn, Pisa. Deepish ruby-red. This is elegant with cooler-spectrum red fruits and herbal notes, tightly bound with spicy oak background. Lighter and tightly bound, vibrant strawberry fruit, with herb nuances, fine-grained tannins the wine carried by the acidity.

Kim Crawford Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
44% Bendigo, 38% Trig Hill, remainder from Charcoal Gully. Deep red with some garnet. This has an amalgam of red fruits, dark cherry notes, herbs and toasty oak on the nose. Tightly bound dark berry fruit with fine tannins and high acidity. Quite a sinewy feel.

Loveblock Bendigo Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
First vintage was 2011. Even ruby-red. Tight dark-red fruits with herbs, some liquorice and a touch reduced. Rich on palate, with good intensity, and elegantly concentrated. Acidity lends lusciousness, and the fruit underlined by fine-grained tannins.

Matua ‘Single Vineyard’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014
Fruit from the Black Quail vineyard. Medium-deep ruby-red. This is well-ripened, with black fruits, still fresh with herbal lift, florals and liquorice. An amalgam of black cherries, herbs and florals. Youthful feel, tight and fine extract with acid drive. A little shy on the finish.

Myran Hagenfeldt & Sarah-Kate Dineed – Maude Wines

Maude ‘Mt Maude’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
65% whole bunch. Very pale red colour. The nose is elegant and refined with strawberry and cherry perfumes and plenty of whole cluster herb and stalky complexities. On palate again elegant, but with penetrating flavours of red fruits and distinctive whole bunch complexity. Fine-grained tannins and elevated acidity. A product of the vintage with bold whole cluster inputs. Edgy stuff!

Misha Wikinson & Olly Masters – Misha’s Vineyard

Misha’s Vineyard ‘High Note’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014
Still 2 years from release and around 5% whole bunch. Deepish red with slight garnet. Elegant proportions, but deep and intense aromatics of lovely, ripe dark fruit. A purity and clarity. Little herb/whole bunch at all. Bright and sweetly vibrant, the fruit still tightly bound. This has a very firm tannin core with balanced acidity. Real potential, still to reveal much.

Mount Edward Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014
Darkish ruby-red colour. Refined and tight with a densely packed core of ripe dark red fruits. Rich, luscious, succulent and quite bold in expression, but retaining a sense of style. The fruit is juicy, vibrant and backed by fine-grained tannins and balanced acidity. Everything is in place, and a classical Central Otago Pinot Noir example with just enough excesses, perfectly judged.

Mt Difficulty Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Light ruby-red colour. The nose shows fragrant strawberry fruit and red floral lift with excellent volume. Lovely aromatic clarity and purity. This is all elegance and finesse of red fruits and red florals. The fine-grained textures grow to prevail over the fruit, and the acidity is crisp. Youthful now, the fruit will no doubt return. Give it time.

Mud House ‘Claim 431’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Bendigo fruit, 20% whole cluster and increasing each successive vintage. Even ruby-red with garnet hues. Good intensity of red cherry fruit with savoury dried herbs, some stalk nuances. Rich and sweet, a broader style with cherry and strawberry fruit. Fine extraction and the acidity enhancing the aromatics.

Nanny Goat ‘Supper Nanny’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
50% each Pisa and Bannockburn fruit. Light purple-hued ruby-red. Elegantly concentrated with a tight core of dark berry fruit with spicy oak notes. Very fine-structured with rich dark-red berry fruits along with spicy oak to match. Fine-grained tannin structure and balanced acidity. A sense of exotics here.

Nevis Bluff Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Lowburn fruit. Ruby-red colour with garnet hues. Light red fruits and delicate herbal nuances, well-proportioned. Sweet and juicy fruited, an elegant middle weight wine with balanced tannin extraction and freshness. Shows with balanced and thought-out componentry.

Anne Sinnott-Jerram & Jim Jerram – Ostler Wine

Ostler ‘Caroline’s’ Waitaki Valley Pinot Noir 2015
Light red with garnet and some depth. Very fresh and cooler-spectrum with red fruits, fresh herbs and whole cluster forming a tight core. Very elegant and tightly bound, showing cherries, herbs and minerals. Fresh acid cut and fine-grained flowery tannins. Elegance personified, attributable to limestone?

Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
10% Gibbston fruit and 45% each of Pisa and Bendigo. Light ruby red colour. Elegant and subtle with cherryish fruit, and subtle and gentle fresh herbs alongside. A little shy, but elegant and refined, the cherry and strawberry fruit somewhat restrained. Fine tannin backbone and the acidity is to the fore.

Paul Pujol – Prophet’s Rock

Prophet’s Rock ‘Aux Antipodes’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Made by Francois Millet of de Vogue. Fully destemmed, 17 months in 33% new oak. Fruit from one block, vinified in one tank. Hand-plunged once. Deep ruby-red colour. Bright, intense vibrant dark red fruits with spices and oak. Concentrated with density, and beautifully structural in focus, and a core of rich fruit. Wonderfully balanced and great length. This is unique and individual in character.

Rudi Bauer & Suellen Boag – Quartz Reef

Quartz Reef Bendigo Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
The ‘white label’ wine, not the ‘black label’ ‘Bendigo Estate’ super-premium bottling. Lighter ruby-red with some depth. This has tightly bound, fine and firm dark cherry aromas with mineral overtones. A touch of reduction, but fresh. Palate emphasises nose with tight dark cherry and mineral flavours, zesty acidity and fine tannin extraction. The acidity drives the wine at present.

Rippon ‘Mature Vines’ Lake Wanaka Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012
Pale red colour. The nose is very elegant and refined, but has penetrating savoury perfumes and secondary mushroom notes. Sweet fruited and enlivened by fresh acidity, this has red cherry flavours, somewhat shy and delicate, along with very fine-grained extraction. There is an understated concentration. This is still youthful and will develop.

Rock Ferry ‘Trig Hill’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014
Bendigo fruit, with 10-15% whole clusters. Dark, deep ruby-red with garnet hues. This is tight and firm on bouquet with dark fruits, showing thyme herbs and liquorice. Sweet and luscious fruit, rich and supported by firm tannin structure. Fine-grained, with good acid freshness.

Tarras ‘Canyon’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014
No whole bunch. Dark, deep, ruby-red. This has a firm and intense, deep nose of dark-red berry fruits with thyme herbs, and stalk suggestions. This has serious body and firm tannin structure encasing the sweet fruit. Lively acid energy is present. This is vigorous and fulsome, with grip.

Sarah Eliott – Terra Sancta

Terra Sancta ‘Slapjack Block’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
The vines planted in 1991. Dark ruby with slight purple hues. Full with densely packed aromas, black fruit with reduction showing. On palate, the firmness and acid drive give real linearity. Plenty of black and dark-red berry fruits along with minerality. The tannins carry the wine to a long finish. Lovely concentration.

Simon Fell – Thornbury

Thornbury Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Bannockburn fruit. Even ruby-red. The fruit aromatics are bright and vibrant, with up-front dark berry and cherry fruit. The palate has a tight core, and is slender, but with density of dark red fruits. The tannins are fine-grained and powdery, and the acidity softly integrated. Some potential here.

Two Paddocks ‘First Paddock’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Sam Neill’s first vineyard, established in Gibbston. 50% whole bunch. Pale red colour, lighter appearance. Very tight and elegant, quite slender red cherry fruits with a little youthful reduction. Dark cherry fruit, tightly bound and elegant, the reduction less obvious on palate. Fine tannin extraction with elevated acidity.

Valli ‘Gibbston Vineyard’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Though lighter than the 2014s, the Valli team see regionality showing in the 2015s. Dark, deep ruby-red, slight garnet. The nose is tightly bound with complex aromas, typical Gibbston with elegance, dark-red berry fruit, herbs and whole bunch stalk notes. Very fresh, sweet and juicy on palate, the fruit layered with herb and stalk whole bunch. This has plenty of extract and acidity to match and balance.
Waitiri Creek Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014
Near Amisfield, made by Peter Saunders. Previous winemaker Jen Parr. No whole bunch. Ruby-red with some depth and garnet hues. Already savoury and complex with dried herb and game. Quite solid and dense on the nose and palate. The savoury and complex fruit is presented with juiciness and liveliness and good richness. Underlying fine tannins and fresh acid keep it balanced.

Steve Farquharson & Ian Isaacs – Wooing Tree

Wooing Tree Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Still to be released. Lighter ruby-red with some purple hues. The nose has freshly firm and tightly bound aromas of dark cherry fruit, showing a sense of minerality. Youthfully bright on palate, the cherry fruit lively and vibrant, with fine tannin grip and firm acidity. This clearly needs time to round out and develop.

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