Central Otago Mini Expo Sydney 2017

Central Otago in the south of New Zealand’s South Island has almost too much going for it: great scenery, great lifestyle, and now almost freakishly good, if not (yet?) great, Pinot Noir. JANCIS ROBINSON

Central Otago has exploded onto the world pinot scene in recent years, and promising producers are emerging with every new crop of grapes. It’s here, in New Zealand’s most continental growing region, that you’ll find comparatively powerful, intense pinots with deep colors, rich dark fruit flavors, and enticing floral and mineral lift. The best of these wines offer fruit aromas and flavors as close to those of the Côte de Nuits as any non-Burgundies get. STEPHEN TANZER

I cannot recall a new winegrowing region, let alone one committed to a variety as demanding as Pinot Noir, that has vaulted to such a level of accomplishment in so short a time. Central Otago Pinot Noirs are dramatic – they taste like no others….. Theirs is real terroir, namely a fidelity to the peculiarities of a place rather than a mimicry of something else. MATT KRAMER, Wine Spectator

Central Otago is the Southern-most grape-growing region in the world located at latitude 45º south (similar to both Oregon’s Willamette Valley, U.S.A., and the Northern Rhone Valley in France). The region’s vineyards are located east of the resort town of Queenstown and include the small towns of Wanaka, Cromwell and Alexandra. Central Otago is well known as the foremost producer of New Zealand’s stonefruit, primarily cherries and apricots.
The first wine-grapes were planted in Central Otago in 1864. Despite the district’s potential as a wine growing area being recognised by French and Australian viticulturists from the 1860’s onwards, wine-grapes were not commercially grown again in Central Otago for more than a century.
Modern day wine growing began with a trial wine-grape vineyard that was planted at the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) orchard near Alexandra in 1972 and shortly followed in 1975 with experimental plantings at Rippon Vineyard, Lake Wanaka. The first commercial release of a Pinot Noir from Central Otago was the 1987 vintage from pioneer Alan Brady at Gibbston Valley winery. Other early pioneering wineries include Taramea, Blackridge, William Hill and Chard Farm. www.centralotagopinot.co.nz

The most southerly sub region, Alexandra would be in the middle of the heat range of Central Otago microclimates. Spreading from gentle hills to wild rocky escarpments, it is probably the most varied as well. This was one of the earlier sub regions to be explored and planted.

The first location to be planted in Pinot Noir, Gibbston is a north facing valley slope of The Kawarau Gorge, as it falls from Queenstown to Cromwell. The coolest of the sub regions, and visually very dramatic, it produces a distinctive intensity from the later harvest grapes produced here.

The most northerly and one of the most beautiful sub regions. Wanaka is cooler than some, but often has a good frost record because of the influence of the stunning lake. At 290 to 320 metres above sea level, with an average rainfall of around 600mm, the vineyards have a similar but slightly warmer climate than those in Gibbston.

Cromwell (and sub regions)
Cromwell is a large basin surrounded on three sides by mountains – it is effectively in the middle, located between the other 3 sub regions. It is around 250M above sea level and receives around 400mm rain annually. It is the warmest on average of all the sub-regions with the harvest typically beginning the week after Easter and extending to the end of April. The largest of all the sub regions, it contains around 70% of all plantings and has already started to be divided in smaller areas – these being:
This area stretches from the township of Lowburn up the Greater Cromwell valley for some 25 kilometres. It has the largest areas of potential grape land, but very few northerly slopes for such a large area. As it is one of the warmer regions, Pinot Noir seems to ripen here without the need of slopes.
Bendigo is possibly the warmest sub region, though only recently planted. Bendigo consists of a North facing ridge at the junction of the Cromwell and Lindis valleys, with more gentle Northerly slopes below it. Many wineries based elsewhere in Central Otago are growing fruit here.
Currently the most intensively planted of the microclimates, Bannockburn is a North facing crescent bordering the Kawarau River as it flows across the base of the Cromwell valley to its meeting with the Clutha River. A warm site, which like Alexandra has a long fruit growing tradition. Famous for its gold mining.