Felton Road, Cornish Point, Pinot Noir, Central Otago, Wine of New Zealand, New Zealand, 2015
On Central Otago [see references at end]
The region of Central Otago possesses a high alpine glaciated landscape, with deep u-shaped valleys scoured by ancient glacier activity, whilst glacial erosion continues today at higher altitude. The climate is close-continental, with cold to very cold winters and hot dry summers. It is an area sheltered from the prevailing damp westerly winds by the lofty Southern Alps to the west, so that areas to the east, in their rain shadow, receive as little as 400mm of rain a year.
The area comprises six sub-regions – Alexandra, Bannockburn, Bendigo, Cromwell/Lowburn/Pisa, Gibbston and Wanaka, each with its own climatic and hence wine characteristics. Stony well-drained soils are de rigeur, as is the diurnal temperature range between the hot summer days and clear nighttime skies.
Pinot noir represents about 70% of all plantings. The suitability of this tricky variety to Central Otago, is explained by:
- the latitude of 44-45 degrees south, which is ideal for pinot noir, in terms of air temperature and length of growing season, technically this is growing degree days (GDD).
- a large diurnal temperature range, without excessive heat, not rising much above 30C.
- overall low humidity, so low disease pressure.
- a long, cool, dry autumn.
- free draining soils, of low fertility and high mineral content.
- irrigation is permitted.
Other planted varieties ideally suiting this climate include chardonnay, gewurztraminer, pinot gris, riesling and sauvignon blanc. Methode traditionelle sparkling wines from chardonnay and pinot noir are also highly successful eg Arcadia, Gibbston Valley and Quartz Reef.
This wine: lot no. 3116110, biodynamic, varietal pinot noir; 25% whole clusters in open top fermenters, traditional fermentation with moderately long maceration, then aged for 13 months in French oak barrels coopered in Burgundy, bottled unfined and unfiltered, screw cap closure, 14% abv, BBR, £38 (12/17)
Consumer tasting note: ruby hued, very complex, with aromas of red and black cherry, red currant jelly, spice and low-key vanilla, tea rose, black liquorice and beeswax; medium-full bodied, with flavours of red cherry and spicy red currant, black berry jam, black liquorice and a hint of clove on the end. Finishes medium-long. Decant for an hour.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, medium intensity ruby, showing tears [no sediment].
Nose: clean, medium (+) intensity, developing, with aromas as they come, of ripe red cherry with a slight vegetal edge of green pepper, cranberry juice, spicy red currant jelly, and after a vigorous swirl with a hand over the glass – sweet vanilla along with tea rose, then black berry, hints of black liquorice and black cherry, leaf humus and beeswax, the merest suggestion of toast.
Palate: dry, medium acidity, ripe medium tannins, medium (+) alcohol, medium (+) body, medium (+) intensity, a smooth texture, with flavours of ripe red cherry, spicy red currant jelly, black berry jam, quite savoury, black liquorice, black cherry boiled sweets, hints of beeswax and leaf humus, hint of clove. A medium (+) length with a clean lightly spicy red and black berry/cherry finish.
Quality: very good, finely balanced acidity (for absolute perfection, it could really do with just a touch more) and tannins with alcohol; sound intensity throughout, with similar concentration; showing a moderate to high level of complexity, with evidence of time in very well-integrated wood, with spice, vanilla and clove notes, and in bottle with a savoury note along with bees-wax and leaf humus, following into a sound medium-long length.
Drinking readiness/ageing potential: can drink now, but has potential for further ageing over say 3-4 years (with higher acidity I feel this would have gone further) – nevertheless a sound structure now, with lots of intensity, concentration, and fruit to work with, follows into a sound length, and is already showing signs of developing a tertiary dimension.