Perfect score for Valli Pinot Noir
If you are a New Zealand Pinot Noir fan, you would have heard of Valli Wines, founded by Grant Taylor in 1998 and produced for 25 years under the label, focusing on sub-regional Pinot Noir expressions but also Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. The very talented winemaker Jen Parr joined the team in 2015 and made an incredible team complementing Grant's skills. They continue producing regional-specific expressions of wines that win wine lovers all over the globe.
Since I've been in Queenstown since 2009, working in fine hospitality venues, I have had the privilege to taste all the Valli sub-regional Pinot Noirs side by side every year. First, Gibbston vineyard, Waitaki vineyard and Bannockburn vineyard, then Bendigo vineyard followed in the 2010 vintage, benchmarking sub-regional Pinot Noir expressions.
I'm mostly biased towards Gibbston Vineyard because I have been a small part of the harvest team for over ten years. The experience gave me great insight into the vintage condition over the growing season, vineyard management, and sorting leads to yielding and the final fruit quality. But, Gibbston 2021 isn't the 20/20 points. Which one is it?
Valli Waitaki Vineyard Pinot Noir 2021 took my breath away! This Pinot Noir's fruit came from Grant's Road in Waitaki, on a plateau 200m above sea level, with limestone-based soil spread through river gravels. I could smell this wine from afar, with its typical hauntingly beautiful notes of floral, red fruit, earthy and herb details. The concentration and length strike a perfect harmony and a moment of immense enjoyment and admiration that I had to give it 20 out of 20 points.
Gibbston Vineyard is harmonious and complex; the low yielded crop of just 2.5 tonnes/ hectare showings its concentration and delicate aromas, and this wine will age very well. Only 667 dozen produced compared to 1,149 dozen in the previous vintage, a 42% drop. Bannockburn and Bendigo possess their typicity of enticing bouquet, structure, complexity and persistence. An exceptional vintage overall.
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Valli Waitaki Vineyard Pinot Noir 2021, North OtagoPinot Noir from New Zealand - Central Otago & WaitakiReview Date : 15-Dec-2022Moderately deep ruby-red with a garnet reflection, slightly lighter on the rim. The nose is enticing and complex, enveloping fresh and dried floral from afar. In the glass, hibiscus, rose and herbs interweaved with Bing cherry, plum, strawberry, shiitake, sous bois and spice. Medium-bodied, expressive and concentrated palate layered Bing cherry, plum and strawberry, unveiling hibiscus, rose petal, wild thyme, sous bois, shiitake, cedar and black pepper. Velvety tannin lightly coated with palate with texture, penetrating undergrowth, liquorice and savoury elements. Seamless, lacy acidity carries spice to linearity. This Pinot Noir is immensely pleasurable, with a complex, concentrated core, fine tannin structure and seamless integration, showing excellent cellaring potential. Match with game and truffle over the next 12+ years. Fruit from Grant's Road, 100% destemmed fruit, fermented to 14% alc, aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 29% new. 592 dozen produced. 20/20 pts (100 pts) Dec 2022 RRP $85
Valli Gibbston Vineyard Pinot Noir 2021, Central OtagoPinot Noir from New Zealand - Central Otago & WaitakiReview Date : 15-Dec-2022Deep ruby-red, moderate transparency, slightly lighter on edge. The nose is softly full and enticing with complex aromas of forest floor, crushed herbs, dried hibiscus enveloping delicate spice, cherry and plum. Medium-bodied, silky on the entry with concentration, scents of cherry and young plum entwined with crushed herbs, hibiscus, liquorice, forest floor and spice. The mouthfeel is supple and silky with fine powdery tannin, lightly veiling the palate; lacy, captivating acidity carries a very long, exquisite finish. The wine is harmonious, shows depth and complexity of delicate aromas, capturing the scent of Gibbston. Match with pigeon and truffle over the next 12+ years. Fruit from Gibbston Highway, fermented with 20% whole bunches, 13% alc, aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 30% new oak. 667 dozen produced. 19.5/20 pts (98 pts) Dec 2022 RRP $75
Valli Bannockburn Vineyard Pinot Noir 2021, Central OtagoPinot Noir from New Zealand - Central Otago & WaitakiReview Date : 15-Dec-2022Moderate ruby-red colour, even colour throughout. This has a lifted, savoury bouquet, aromas of forest floor and mushroom melded with thyme, spice, violet, cherry and loganberry. Medium-full bodied, aromas of dark cherry, loganberry and violet entwined with black pepper, liquorice, cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme and forest floor. Fine-grained, smooth tannins brace a structured palate, unfolding savoury details; integrated acidity persists to a lasting, spiced finish. This Pinot Noir is well-structured with texture, grip, and savour qualities; integrated acidity persists in length and spice details. Match with lamb and duck over the next 15 years. Fruit from Hall Road, fermented with 30% whole bunches to 13.5% alc, aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 28% new oak. 1,060 dozen produced. 19/20 pts (95 pts) Dec 2022 RRP $75
Valli Bendigo Vineyard Pinot Noir 2021, Central OtagoPinot Noir from New Zealand - Central Otago & WaitakiReview Date : 15-Dec-2022Deep ruby-black, slightly lighter on edge. This has a rich, powerful bouquet, enveloping dark cherry, blackberry, an amalgam of spice, smoky herbs, earth and cedar. Medium-full bodied, bright on the palate, aromas of dark cherry, blackberry enfolding nutmeg, black pepper, cinnamon, wild thyme, earth and cedar. Lively acidity lifts the dark-toned aromatics and drives a fresh length. Mouth-filling palate structured by fine-grained, velvety tannin and a hint of earth broadens the palate. This rich Pinot Noir possesses Bendigo's signature of dark fruit and power, enriched by a fine tannin structure and fresh acidity lends a satisfying, long finish. Match with lamb shoulder and venison over the next 10+ years. Fruit from Chinaman's Terrace, fermented with 65% whole bunches, 14% alc, aged 11.5 months in French oak barrels, 31% new oak. 1,475 dozen produced. 19+/20 pts (96 pts) Dec 2022 RRP $75
Valli Waitaki Vineyard Pinot Gris 2022, North OtagoPinot Gris from New Zealand - Central Otago & WaitakiReview Date : 15-Dec-2022Bright, pale yellow, even colour throughout. The nose is softly vibrant with penetrating aromas of spiced pear, Granny Smith, cardamom and blossom. Medium-bodied, dry to taste, Grany Smith and spiced pear aromas show depth, enveloping ginger, cardamom, apple blossom and crunchy minerals. The fruit has concentration, lifted and vibrant with excellent tension and line; subtle dusty minerals textured the mouthfeel and lingered to a long, spicy, fragranced, dry, minerally finish. The dry, minerally Pinot Gris possesses a fine line, crunchy fruit and acidity, and a refined floral finish. Match with whitebait and calamari over the next 5+ years. Small bunches (average 75g), handpicked, whole bunch pressed, 61% racked into neutral white barrel, 39% into stainless steel tank, partial MLF, 4.5 months on lees. 13.5% alc, <1g/l RS. 19/20 pts (95 pts) Dec 2022 RRP $34.50