Felton Road 2019 New Releases
You might think that Central Otago winery Felton Road’s recognition as one of the greatest New World producers of Pinot Noir would allow owner Nigel Greening and long term winemaker Blair Walter to take their feet off the pedal. Yet their restless hunger and curiosity continues apace. JAMES HALLIDAY
Felton Road have been setting the pace in Central Otago for almost 30 years now. Since its inception, this benchmark estate has gone about making great wines from the roots up. Over time they have adopted organic and biodynamic viticulture in the pursuit of finding greater balance and vineyard expression. Winery practices are accordingly gentle, again seeking finesse amongst the regions natural exuberance.
These traits are highlighted in the superb 2019 Chardonnay which Master of Wine Bob Campbell noted whilst tasting from barrel combines ‘generosity with a pleasing tautness and wet slate minerality.’
But perhaps the best expressions of site are highlighted in their single block wines.
Long term winemaker Blair Walter has gone on record as saying that 2019 is potentially the wineries ‘best ever vintage’. For those who have been to our Felton Road tastings that Blair has hosted will know that he is not prone to hyperbolic talk. This has understandably got us just a little more excited than usual for these releases.
As a season 2019 was excellent. It began with a nerve-racking kiss of frost, that actually benefited the over-all quality by lowering the vines yield naturally, eschewing the need of a manual green harvest later on. A long, relatively even ripening followed and pushed the harvest date back later (a month more than the unseasonably warm year in 2018). Early barrel tastings have been extremely positive relaying the poise, density and persistence this vintage is expressing already. Laying down a compelling argument for cellaring and investment.
Those who regularly purchase Felton Road wines on release will understand that they are usually long gone by the time the validating critic reviews surface. 2019 looks to be a notch up on recent vintages, which it should be noted have been regularly raved about too.