Bannock Brae Gruner Veltliner and Pinot Noir
The Bannock Brae Pinot Noir wines are arguably the most successful of Central Otago, amassing around two dozen gold medals in under 15 years. It’s a testament to the vineyard site and to the aspirations of owners Crawford and Catherine Brown who moved from Dunedin to Central Otago after Crawford finished his role as Master Brewer with Lion-Nathan. Their vineyard, situated on Cairnmuir Road in Bannockburn has Akarua and Carrick as neighbours, and clearly the soils and area is especially favourable for viticulture. With the advice of Robin Dicey, around 8 ha of Pinot Noir, with a few rows of Riesling were planted in 1998 giving them the Browns their first commercial vintage in 2001.
The vineyard area is now about 2ha, as they sold 6 ha to neighbouring Akarua in 2010, this including the Riesling, thus necessitating contract fruit being brought in to meet their requirements. The Riesling now comes from other neighbours at the Remarkables Wines vineyard. Gruner Veltliner was planted in 2008 and first yielded a crop in 2011. While Crawford and Catherine are fully hands-on, they have viticultural input from James Dicey of Grape Vision. The winemaking has been carried out by Sarah-Kate Dineen at Maude since 2012, with Jen Parr and her predecessors Matt Connell and Pete Bartle before that at what was Olssen’s. The initial winemaking was at Mt Difficulty with Matt Dicey. The quality and style of the fruit and wines seems to be consistent through the changes in winemaking.
The Riesling is a different take on most and is barrel-fermented, and a rosé is produced ever second year. Here I review the 2013 ‘Marlene’s’ Gruner Veltliner, and 2012 ‘Goldfields’ and 2009 ‘Barrel Selection’ Pinot Noirs which are currently available. www.bannockbrae.co.nz
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Bannock Brae ‘Marlene’s’ Central Otago Gruner Veltliner 2013Gruner Veltliner from New Zealand - OtagoReview Date : 22-Sep-2014Bright, very pale straw colour with slight green hues, near colourless on edge. The nose is elegant in expression with a delicate and soft core of white florals, white pepper and herbs, showing good depth and lift. Off-dry to taste and light-bodied, gentle, up-front fruit flavours of white stonefruits, florals, herbs and white pepper show with some richness. The mouthfeel is softly textured and rounded, the palate following a finely textured and delicate phenolic line with soft background acidity enhancing the richness. This has good palate drive, and the flavours grow, carrying through to a mellow, lingering finish with white peppery notes. This is an off-dry, soft-textured Gruner Veltliner with gentle white pepper flavours. Match with antipasto and poultry dishes over the next 2-3 years. Third crop fruit, hand-picked and stainless-steel fermented with pressings fermented in seasoned French oak barriques to 11.47% alc. and 6.3 g/L RS, the press portion undergoing batonnage. 16.5+/20 Sep 2014 RRP $25.00
Bannock Brae ‘Goldfields’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012Pinot Noir from New Zealand - OtagoReview Date : 22-Sep-2014Moderately dark, even ruby-red colour, lighter on rim. The nose is restrained with a tightly bound core of dark red cherry and berry fruit entwined with herb and minerally notes, in an amalgam with lifted floral fragrances and spicy oak cedar. The aromatics are harmonious, building in volume with aeration. Medium-full bodied, soft and restrained flavours of red fruits and aromatic florals unfold spices, earth and cedary oak. The palate is supported by a fine-grained tannin line with good drive and energy. The mouthfeel is lively and fresh with soft acidity providing energy, carrying the wine to a fine-textured, dry finish with some grip and firm length. This is a soft, lively red-fruited Pinot Noir with some oak spice and a dry, textured finish. Serve with poultry and pork over the next 4-5 years. Fruit fermented to 14.0% alc., the wine spending approx. 1 month on skins and aged 10 months in 15% new French oak. 17.5/20 Sep 2014 RRP $34.00
Bannock Brae ‘Barrel Selection’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009Pinot Noir from New Zealand - OtagoReview Date : 22-Sep-2014Clones 5, 6 and 115 fermented to 14.3% alc., the wine spending 3-4 weeks on skins and aged 11 months in 35% new French oak. Full, dark, deep ruby-red colour with some garnet hues on edge. The bouquet is solid and deeply packed with ripe dark berry fruit and complex, secondary, savoury dried herb and earthy notes with lifted cedary oak and nuances of game. Fullish-bodied, rich and harmoniously plush flavours of ripe dark red berry fruits intermingle with savoury spices, earth and dried herbs. The flavours are entering the secondary phase, becoming complex and detailed, unfolding gently in harmonious layers. The mouthfeel is lively and vibrant with plenty of energy and drive, the supple tannin extraction growing in presence. The wine flows with vitality and presence, leading to an integrated and balanced, lingering finish with secondary dried herb and rich red and brown fruit notes. This is a fulsome, vibrant and rich Pinot Noir developing secondary complexities, showing plenty of structure and the ability to age another 5-6 years. Serve with coq au vin and slow-cooled game meat. 18.5/20 Sep 2014 RRP $60.00