Two Paddocks New Releases

Two Paddocks is owned by Sam Neill. Yes, that Sam Neill, the actor. But before we go on we need to dispel any similarity his involvement with wine has with the now countless celebs spruiking their booze to the masses with little or no connection to the process other than an occasional royalty cheque they receive in the mail. 

Neill was one of the pioneers of the Central Otago region (in fact he's a native of the South Island and his Dad had a wine business out of Dunedin) and his involvement pre-dates the Pinot Noir juggernaut that has subsequently drawn so many to plant the naked hills of this startlingly beautiful region in the last couple of decades. Indeed, I can still recall attending the inaugural Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration Gala Dinner - in a drafty tent as I recall it. It was a pretty small crowd back then but the world was starting to notice Central and one of the topics for panel discussion on the night was about how the region should market their wines - pricing, image etc. To my surprise, Neill rose and spoke knowledgeably and eloquently on the subject using an anecdote about the founder of the Morgan Motor Company's to illustrate that Central could be stay small and artisinal and maintain accessible pricing to Pinot Noir devotees. 

Since then, I've been an interested spectator of Two Paddocks, watching the maturation of the style of the main estate wine and their careful evolution into single site bottlings. The estate is also cleverly using the sub-regions - they have four organically farmed vineyards in Gibbston, Bannockburn, Alexandra sub-zones -  to both maintain consistent quality but also develop light and shade via blending. 

Stylistically, winemaker Dean Shaw walks the fine line with stem work adding buffering structure and wood spice to the exuberant Central Pinot fruit. The wines are not big opaque fruit bombs but there are variations on theme provided via the single site wines. A case in point being the 2017 Fusiliers where richer more supple Bannockkburn fruit plays a stronger hand, especially in texture. 

Just looking at the wines on offer here they tend to fall out like this. The Picnic is full of typical Central Pinot aromatics of vibrant red berry fruit alongside lavender, and wild herbs. The palate is uncomplicated - joyously so - showing spice tinged fruit and mellow tannins. Perfect drinking without so much thinking wine.

The main Pinot is a blend of vineyards from across the regions and is altogether more serious. In depth and complexity of the aromatic profile - more woodsy spice and darker fruit - and then the palate is lithe and slippery, bright as a button but with tannins that demand food. 

The final wine here is the 2017 Fusiliers - the proprietor's reserve - from Bannockburn. This is a different animal as the fruit profile turns a little more to the blue end of the spectrum and the aromatics add in violets into the floral mix. Texturally too, it's richer and more powerful. There's a fair bit going on here but the balance of elements is beautifully handled. Lovely wine.