PJ Charteris New Releases 2019

Charteris’ Winter Vineyard Pinot Noir has had an incredibly consistent run of high quality releases. CAMPBELL MATTINSON, The Wine Front

PJ is running a consultancy ‘sans frontières’ (without limits) on either side of the Tasman. But the real story is how a Hunter Valley Shiraz winemaker can return to his nest in Central Otago and make a Pinot Noir with finesse its surname, denying the bombastic notes that afflict many Central Otago Pinots.

He’s like that dog, digging up its prize bone, smelling its essence but then burying it again until he thinks it’s at its best. In fact, there are two bones: the ’17 Central Otago Pinot Noir and the ’14 The Winter Vineyard Pinot Noir. The ’14 came after the best vintage in Central, and the question was whether it was released too early. Both wines now released come 100% from small vineyard sites in Bannockburn, the one released young (’17) labelled Central Otago, the other (’14) released years later entitled The Winter Vineyard. And no, it wasn’t released too soon!  JAMES HALLIDAY

PJ Charteris would have to be one of Australia’s most gifted and well loved winemakers. It’s a deadly combo and well earned. For those not familiar with the story a large part of it isn’t that uncommon, Kiwi born, he graduated from Roseworthy, travelled the world and did vintages everywhere he could, he returned and settled in the Hunter, which is where the story diverges from most others. PJ was the senior winemaker at the legendary estate Brokenwood  for more than a decade. Today he runs a consultancy business helping other producers fine tune their craft and runs his tiny, remarkably high quality, project in Central Otago with his missus (and absolute legend) Christina called… wait for it…. Charteris wines.

What sets him apart from a large number of producers in Otago is his ability to be able to craft wines of finesse and energy while not trying to hide from the fruit weight and power naturally found in the wines of the region, as James puts it “denying the bombastic notes that afflict many Central Otago Pinots.” These days I think he is producing some of the finest Pinot in NZ and I am most certainly not alone.

He has just released the two new wines, his 2017 Central Otago Pinot and the Winter Vineyard which has been held at the winery until now waiting for the right moment to be released. Both wines look terrific with the 2017 having the classic Otago violets and perfume but also a dollop of what Michael referred to as garrigue. The Winter Vineyard really doesn’t look like a five year old Otago Pinot, it is still youthfully fruitful and rather enticing I have to say, but could probably use a few more years in a cold, dark cellar.

I know we say this a bit, and it’s usually true, these wines have a huge following these days and tend to sell out very quickly so please get in early if you would like to secure some. If you haven’t had his wines before I urge you to get on board and give them a try, they are definitely worth your attention.