Grasshopper Rock 2014 Earnscleugh and Block 6 Central Otago Pinot Noirs

Grasshopper Rock is an Alexandra, Central Otago based Pinot Noir producer. A consortium led by Phil Handford purchased 10.8 ha of land in Earnscleugh in 2002 and planted 7.8 ha in 2003 to clones 115, 667, 777, Abel, 5 and 114. The vineyard is a contiguous unit with blocks and soils matched to rootstock and clones. The first release was the 2006 vintage, with Carol Bunn of VinPro making the wine until 2009, when Pete Bartle took over the VinPro winemaking. The wine is a true single vineyard wine, representative of the whole, and thus very vintage expressive. Around 50 tonnes of fruit are harvested annually. Mike Moffitt tends to the viticulture. To date, the Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noirs have been extremely well-received, the 2010 vintage awarded Champion Wine of the Show at the 2012 New Zealand Wine Awards. The wine can be counted as one of the best Alexandra and Central Otago labels.

During a visit in January 2014, I discussed with Phil and Mike the possibility of a ‘reserve’ or ‘single block’ Pinot Noir, but this was not part of the plan. However, the Grasshopper Rock team had over 10 years of growing in the vineyard identified parcels which offered distinctive characteristics. I won’t say our discussion was the cause, but with the 2014 vintage, they decided to bottle a limited amount of wine made solely from ‘Block 6’ to capture the special personality of this block. The soils here are the lightest in the vineyard, being sandy silty loams over sandy gravels with pedogenic lime in parts. The wines are at a density of 6,000 vines per ha, and the block is among the last to be picked each season. 2014 was a cool, but kind season, probably ideal to allow terroir manifest rather than fruit character. Here I review the ‘Earnscleugh’ Pinot Noir, already released but deemed to have improved since, and the ‘Block 6’ Pinot Noir to be released next year.


  • Grasshopper Rock ‘Earnscleugh Vineyard’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014
  • Grasshopper Rock ‘Block 6’ ‘Earnscleugh Vineyard’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014

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