On Sunday afternoon, I attended a tasting of Central Otago pinot noir held at Taxi Dining room in Melbourne. It was organised by Central Otago Pinot Noir Limited (COPNL) which is a promotional organisation that develops regional promotions to benefit Central Otago producers. It was established in 2003 by Central Otago Winegrowers as an independent vehicle marketing Central Otago wine and promoting the Central Otago wine brand.
Eleven of Central Otago’s winemakers were present and offered a range of wines so we could taste our way through this special region. The pinot noir mainly consisted of 2011 vintage wines so it was an excellent opportunity to see this vintage from a wine variety of good producers and to make an assessment of the potential of the wines from this vintage. Although it was a bit tricky, however, as there were a couple of wines from 2010 thrown in and this was a better year and has produced some outstanding wines. The differences between the 2010 and 2011 wines were evident.
The 2011 growing season was more difficult than usual and exposed vineyards sites common throughout this rugged region were hit by quickly changing weather systems and frequent overcast and windy conditions. More rain than usual causing swollen berries and disease pressure. The 2011 vintage started well enough, with hardly any frosts and good flowering conditions. However, overcast and wetter than usual conditions prevailed over the rest of the summer season creating real challenges for growers. Fortunately the season ended with the normal fine autumn days, which allowed the fruit to be harvested in generally good condition and meant that the inconsistent weather over the summer did not overly affect fruit quality. The season has proven to be one of the least spectacular in recent times.
In attendance and showing their wines were: Akaru, Carrick, Domain Road, Gibbston Valley Wines, Mt Difficulty, Quartz Reef, Rockburn, Rockferry, Surveyor Thomson, Valli Wines, Wild Earth Wines, Wooing Tree. It was one of those tastings which are crowded, allow little time to appreciate the wines but at the same time can also be fun: meeting interesting, passionate people and seeing a range of regional wines from similar vintages.
My more memorable wines were:
Wild earth 2010 – Very bright fruit, palate weight is delicate yet still packed with red fruit. An outstanding example of Central Otago pinot noir. Perhaps this wine stood out because it was an exception coming from the 2010 vintage!
Domaine Road 2010 – Really balanced, rich and velvety with some earthy complexity. Again a 2010 wine shone out.
Gibson School House 2011 – Good richness, herbal spice, but a tad short.
Mt.Difficulty Bannockburn 2011 – Well made, fully ripe elegant fruit and nice silky tannins. My pick of the 2011’s on tasting.
Valli Bendigo 2011 – Great nose – promise, palate linear, ok depth of fruit but not as complex as suggested by the nose.
Rock Ferry 2010 – Ripe fruit, richly flavoured with nicely textured tannins. A good wine from a relatively new producer to Central Otago (although with a longer history in Marlborough).
So my conclusions were that 2011 produced a consistent but average quality with few standouts and was overshadowed by some beautiful 2010 wines.