Central Otago Pinto Noir Expo 2019

The success of Central Otago as a region with Pinot as its muse has been nothing short of spectacular. Think Otago – think Pinot Noir. From only 20 hectares planted in 1993 to over 2,000 today its wines are impossible to ignore – wonderfully perfumed, bold, vibrantly fruited and deliciously smooth.

Like many ’emerging’ regions before it, Otago has firmly found its feet and is drilling down into the nuance of soil and site. While all the main winegrowing sub-regions lie within close reach, the distinctive mountainous terrain provides each with a unique climate, aspect and altitude. Furthermore, the soil can vary considerably within each sub-region from windblown loess (silt), heavy deposits of rough-edged mica and other metamorphic schists in silt loams.

The warmer sub-regions, such as Bannockburn, Bendigo and the Cromwell Basin typically produce wines that are often described as ‘classically Central Otago – plush, forward, plummy and sweetly fruited. Gibbston and Wanaka tend to make cooler, tenser wines that are red cherry flecked with fresh herb, thyme, spice and often a pronounced mineral character and focused palate. Throw into that the various combinations of site, soil and aspect and the permutations are potentially endless.

Several producers who have led the charge in the pursuit of ‘terroir’. Felton road with its block series of wines jumps initially to mind. Rippon early on identified and established its single block wines early on in the piece. Valli has been exploring Otago’s unique regional influences with phenomenal success for some time now while Maudes latest releases and single vineyards are just another string to the bow. Newcomers to the game like Charteris have seized on the opportunity to explore site difference further and their success is no surprise.

This tasting embodies what we think is one of the great driving forces in Otago’s next chapter and given the relatively young age of this region what more is to come is an exciting prospect indeed