Wild Irishman 2011 Pinot Noirs

No doubt the moniker ‘Wild Irishman’ is what many people who are close to Alan Brady feel is appropriate, especially considering the tumultuous time he has had in pioneering the modern Central Otago wine scene. Alan has chronicled his three decade story in his book ‘Pinot Central’ (click here to see my review), but I see him as erudite and experienced with a strong sense of drive and class rather than a ‘wild Irishman’. In any case, ‘Wild Irishman’ refers to ‘Matagauri’ (discaria taumatou), the prickly shrub that grows wild in the Central Otago hills. It’s known as such because of its fighting spirit that has enabled it to survive in the harsh climate, as also epitomised by the goldminers and settlers in the region. So, maybe the title is truly appropriate then, when one thinks of Alan Brady…

The ‘Wild Irishman’ wine label is Alan and his family’s third beginnings in making wine, Alan starting Gibbston Valley Wines and then Mount Edward with Duncan Forsyth and John Buchanan. Upon leaving the latter in 2005, retiring, Alan couldn’t deny the winemaking spirit in his blood, but wanted to return to a small, hands-on venture, as he started out with in the 1980s, thus establishing Wild Irishman in 2006 with his daughter Susan and son-in-law Terence. There are two wines made, both single vineyard expressions, one from a block in the ‘Desert Heart’ vineyard in Bannockburn, the other, named ‘Three Colleens’ from Brian and Maureen Dennis’ vineyard in Gibbston. Both blocks are micro-managed and low-yielding, around 1.5 tonnes/ha, producing 5-6 barrels of each wine annually. The winemaking is low intervention and by hand, the fruit destemmed, indigenous yeast fermented with a low sulphur regime, manual punch down, gentle pressing and aging in 30% new oak for 10 months. Thus the two wines are explorations of site and sub region, just as the model of Burgundy.

At the Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration at the start of this month, Alan provided a bottle of each of his wines from the 2011 vintage to taste. The vintage for Alan was an early one with a warm spring, early flowering but a cooler January with some rain events in January and February. Harvest was earlier than average at both sites. Here are my reviews of the two wines. www.wildirishmanwines.co.nz


  • Wild Irishman Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011
  • Wild Irishman ‘Three Colleens’ Gibbston Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011

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