Awarded 95 points and Gold status at the 2019 IWC (International Wine Challenge) in May 2019 (see blue link below for review and their tasting note).
The Skeggs family were among the first people to buy and plant vineyard land in Central Otago in the mid 1990s, so were lucky enough to acquire a superb north facing site in Bannockburn. Planted in 1996, this 50 hectare site has since provided the backbone of the Akarua wines. Due to the short growing season in Central Otago, site selection is one of the key elements in making a great wine, and Akarua have a site that is among the very best. Akarua was re-introduced after many years to Liberty Wines by Tony Jordan, who makes their sparkling wines. Tony built Domaine Chandon in Australia, and is one of the world's leading experts in sparkling wine production. He has been enamoured with the potential for Central Otago to make top quality fizz for quite a while, and is now doing so with Akarua.
All the Pinot Noir grapes were harvested from Akarua's 50 hectare site on Cairnmuir Road in Bannockburn, which lies at 270 metres above sea level. The soil here is young alluvial schist based sand/silt and sandy loams overlaying schist rock. The vines are 16 years old.
The grapes were hand picked and 90% were destemmed. Pre-fermentation maceration took place over five days, with temperatures peaking at 31°C. Punch downs took place twice daily and post fermentation maceration lasted six days. The wine spent 10 months in French barriques, 30% of which were new.
Deep bright ruby in colour. The nose displays intense black fruit flavours and the complexity that Bannockburn Pinot Noir is renowned for, with haunting aromatics of bramble fruits and spice. The palate is elegantly balanced with red fruits and finely textured tannins. A wine with great poise and longevity.
The Skeggs family were among the first people to buy and plant vineyard land in Central Otago in the mid 1990s, so were lucky enough to acquire a superb north facing site in Bannockburn. Planted in 1996, this 50 hectare site has since provided the backbone of the Akarua wines. Due to the short growing season in Central Otago, site selection is one of the key elements in making a great wine, and Akarua have a site that is among the very best. Akarua was re-introduced after many years to Liberty Wines by Tony Jordan, who makes their sparkling wines. Tony built Domaine Chandon in Australia, and is one of the world's leading experts in sparkling wine production. He has been convinced of the potential for Central Otago to make top quality fizz for quite a while, and is now doing so with Akarua.
All fruit was sourced from the Akarua Estate vineyards in Central Otago. The vines are 21 years old and grow at an average of 270 metres above sea level with a north-western aspect. Soils are young alluvial, schist based sandy/silt and sandy loams overlaying schist rock.
Grapes for the 'Rua' were cold-soaked for five days before fermentation commenced and the cap was punched down twice daily. The wine was given another six days on the skins post fermentation to provide the tannic backbone it requires. It then spent six months ageing in 100% French oak barriques, of which 10% was new. The result is a remarkably attractive - and great value - Pinot Noir from Central Otago.
This Pinot Noir has a bright cherry-red colour in the glass and lifted cherry aromas with floral violet notes. On the palate, this well-defined Central Otago Pinot Noir exhibits juicy red fruits and a touch of spice. Supple tannins complement savoury highlights, with a long finish.
The 2015 vintage was awarded a Gold Medal and 95 points at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).
Set against the backdrop of the majestic Pisa mountain range, Amisfield is one of the largest single estate vineyard in Central Otago. Spurred on by fond memories of childhood holidays in Central Otago, Amisfield founder John Darby was determined to master this breathtaking yet often unforgiving high country, convinced that this dramatic landscape presented the perfect environment for cool-climate viticulture. They are currently in the process of conversion to organic certification, implementing a host of advanced initiatives in organic wine production. Their simple philosophy is to nurture nature at every step and a hands-off approach means that the process takes time, with their wines yielding exceptional purity, intensity and vibrancy.
For a full description and tasting note of/for this wine, we would direct you to the data sheet/fiche technique from Amisfield themselves (click blue link below).
2016 started well with a gentle spring that encouraged even flowering and fruit set across the vineyards. Early summer was calm, without the winds that plagued 2015 and the vines were in great shape to deal with a hotter than average February. March saw a return to cooler conditions, a perfect finish to the season.
Ata Rangi is owned and run by Clive Paton and his wife Phyll, together with Clive's sister Alison and winemaker Helen Masters. Clive planted the bare, stony five hectare home paddock at the edge of Martinborough in 1980 and, in doing so, was one of a handful of people who pioneered grape growing in the area. Renowned for their Pinot Noir, which is consistently ranked as one of New Zealand's best, Ata Rangi also produces a range of white wines including Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Crimson is a wine which was inspired by a love of New Zealand's native 'Christmas Trees', the rata and pohutukawa trees. Sales of this wine support Project Crimson, a charitable conservation trust which plants and protects these trees. The Pinot Noir grapes for Crimson are produced from 10-20 year old Martinborough vines in Lismore, Waiora and Walnut Ridge blocks.
The grapes were hand picked and 100% destemmed, keeping as much whole berry fruit as possible. Pre-fermentation maceration lasted between two and six days. The must was inoculated with indigenous yeasts and hand plunged during fermentation that lasted two to three weeks. The wine was racked into barrel, of which 20% was new oak, where it remained for a further nine months after malolactic fermentation until bottling in February 2017.
The 2016 very much shows a turning point from vibrant youth to tension and complexity that more mature vines bring. Aromatically this wine offers layers of flavours: violets, dark cherry and plum, notes of bitter chocolate and tobacco with a hint of game. There is a fresh vibrancy on the palate of acid and smooth tannins pulling the wine through to a long, salivating finish.
Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their July 2019 tasting/review of carbonic maceration reds (see blue link below).
Matt Thomson has worked over forty vintages in numerous wine regions around the world. "Blank Canvas represents my story as a winemaker. It is an endeavour that is entirely my own expression of winemaking, is from my own funding, and is exclusively my risk". The 'Blank Canvas' is the vineyard and the variety, the winery the brush and palette (no pun intended) at the winemaker's disposal, all the while defined by the scientific grounding Matt laid at university and has built upon over the past 23 years. With partner Sophie Parker-Thomson, the aim is to break some rules with the Blank Canvas wines, but they feel in order to break the rules, you need to know them. This is what sets the Blank Canvas wines apart.
A parcel of special Syrah fruit was sourced from a single vineyard run by a good friend in Hawkes Bay’s famous Gimblett Gravels sub-region. The vineyard is over 15 years old with very low-yielding vines. The freedraining nature of the Gimblett Gravel soils with vineyards being situated on an historic riverbed facilitate this. The vines are VSP trained and cane-pruned on a single fruiting wire with high density planting.
In an unprecedented approach, Matt has co-fermented a select parcel of Syrah fruit with 7.5% Gruner Veltliner skins. This is a similar technique to what is done in Northern Rhone but with Austria’s hallmark white variety instead of France’s Viognier. Matt specifically chose Gruner so the finished wine would benefit from its white pepper note. 60% whole bunches were fermentated. The wine was hand-plunged and fermented by cultured and wild yeasts. Maturation of 10 months in new and seasoned French oak was carried out before the wine was blended and bottled unfiltered in March 2015.
100% Syrah (the Gruner skins above aside!).
Rich, powerful and brooding, the Blank Canvas Syrah is a world first for its inclusion of a unique co-fermentation partner, Gruner Veltliner. Black and red plum and boysenberry perufmes sit alongside savoury notes, particularly bacon. The black pepper and juniper of Syrah complement the white pepper notes of Gruner Veltliner. It has a velvet-like texture, fine tannins and acidity that only a cool-climate can deliver. It is incredibly dense and dark, yet hauntingly perfumed and elegant.
Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article: The Most Exciting Wines of 2018 (see blue link below).
"What a fabulous showing for all of the wines in the Blank Canvas range I must say. From a single vineyard in the Waihopai Valley of Marlborough, a large proportion of this was fermented as whole bunches of grapes, with wild yeasts, before ageing in French oak barriques. What an aromatic Pinot Noir, floral and herbal, bright cherry melts into a subtle earthy and nutty note, then the wine powers onto the palate: it as its seductive side for sure, with juicy, dense fruit, but there is light and air in this picture too, an edge to the firm tannins and the acidity, spice and subtle truffle character, and then a pristine finish almost like a white wine with its cool focus and length. Seriously good Pinot Noir this, multi-faceted and delicious". 94 points. Tom Cannavan's wine-pages.com - see here for a fuller review from Tom of Blank Canvas's work
Matt Thomson is a busy winemaker. He has worked over forty vintages in numerous wine regions around the world and has worked with David Gleave MW since 1994. He is involved with many wines, primarily as a consultant. “Now is the time to launch my own wines,” he says. “Blank Canvas represents my story as a winemaker. It is an endeavour that is entirely my own expression of winemaking, is from my own funding, and is exclusively my risk.” The ‘Blank Canvas’ is the vineyard and the variety, the winery the brush and palette (no pun intended) at the winemaker’s disposal, all the while defined by the scientific grounding Matt laid at university and has built upon over the past 23 years. His aim is to break some rules with the Blank Canvas wines, but in order to break the rules, he feels, you need to know them. This is what sets the Blank Canvas wines apart.
This Pinot Noir is sourced from a single vineyard that Matt oversaw the planting of in 2001. It is situated in the old clay soils of the Waihopai Valley in Marlborough. The soil naturally gives low yields, but they also crop thinned during the ripening of the fruit. As a result the berries were small and concentrated with flavour. It is made exclusively from Clone 115, a Dijon clone which is selected for its tannins and impressive savoury fruit characters.
The 2015 vintage in Marlborough was one of the earliest and driest in recent years, with rainfall being just 40% of the long-term average while growing degree days were 10% more. For Pinot Noir, this resulted in lower yields, smaller bunch weights and more concentrated, impressive fruit.
The handpicked bunches were cold-soaked for five days before undergoing wild fermentation. Lots of hand-plunging took place and a large proportion of whole bunch fermentation (50%) made this particularly challenging. Coupled with a savoury low-toast oak regime of new and seasoned oak, and barrel maturation of 10 months, the winemaking has given this Pinot Noir finesse, elegance and power.
Aromas of bright raspberry, red cherry and delicate violet intertwine with seductive savoury characters. It possesses the silky Pinot Noir texture that is so often strived for, and has a structure that is likened to the Old World with big but elegant tannins set amongst a balanced backbone of acidity. It will become more complex with cellaring, with years of evolution ahead of it.
Cambridge Road Vineyard is a small family farmed estate established in 1986 with the intention of making world class Pinot Noir and Syrah. They focus both time and energy on perfecting and beautifying their land and cultivating it according to natural biodynamic and eco-farming principles. They believe in minimal intervention winemaking, low yields, and healthy living wines.
This is the latest wine in the history of Syrah production from their home vineyard. 2015 was a low cropping year with beautiful ripeness. Harvested in late April the fruit was handled simply.
It spent 27 with days' skin contact & 12 months in neutral oak casks. It was wild fermented and bottled after one year with no fining or filtration.
This wine is 100% Syrah.
Dark spiced plum characters are apparent in the silken structured wine. Bold in weight and generous body.
Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their November 2018 regional profile of NZ's Central Otago (see blue link below).
Carrick has always been about place. The name derives from the gold mining town and the mountain range to which Carrick looks. The wines are of Central Otago and its subregion, Bannockburn. Carrick's own vineyards are nestled around the winery and every effort is made to allow the wines to express their place and their providence.
Vibrant fruit with fragrant aromatics are the hallmarks of this wine. The vintage was a little light with red fruits to the fore. The wine shows texture and a lingering finish.
To see the winemaker's notes for this wine please click on the blue link below.
Established in 1985, Cloudy Bay was one of the first five wine makers to venture into Marlborough. At the time, it was almost an unimaginable place to set-up a vineyard but Cloudy Bay’s founder, David Hohnen, was convinced of its potential to produce great wine and invested in the best land of the region. The winery was named after Cloudy Bay, a body of water explorer Captain James Cook found during his voyage to New Zealand in 1770. His discovery coincided with flooding in the region, which washed large amounts of sediment into the sea. Noticing the water’s opaque appearance, Cook christened the area Cloudy Bay.
The 2015 harvest of Pinot Noir took place amidst excellent ripening conditions. The harvest started on March 20th and was concluded by April 4th. The final yield was 20% below average, manifesting in a density and complexity of flavour.
100% Pinot Noir.
The Pinot Noir fruit was entirely handpicked and de-stemmed before being gravity fed into the fermentation vessels. 13% of the fermentation was comprised of whole bunches. The fermentations utilised natural occuring yeast populations under carefully monitored conditions. The grape skins were gently plunged with an average of 18 days skin contact. After fermentation the wines were matured in French oak for 12 months, of which 35% was new.
Layered with all the intrigue of bright red fruit, heady spice and silky structure, the Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2015 is as concentrated as it is refreshing. Taut in structure with supple tannin and crunchy acidity. The complexity builds upon tasting with earthen notes of graphite, smoke and toasty oak characters.
Craggy Range produces a collection of iconic wines from multiple regions in New Zealand. Owner Terry Peabody and his family pursued the single vineyard approach to winemaking, planting on green fields and bare land ensuring a focus on quality from the very beginning. New Zealand, with its diversity of soils types offered the perfect location to plant the vines. From the stony, warm soils of the Gimblett Gravels in Hawke's Bay to the volcanic, clay soils of Te Muna Road in Martinborough these exceptional vineyards produce wines with amazing aromatics, purity and complexity.
of French oak cuves and open-top stainless steel tanks. The wine is then left to mature in French oak barriques (7% are new) for 9 months.
To see Craggy Range's information sheet for this wine please click on the blue link below.
Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2016 edition review of New Zealand Pinot Noir (see blue link below).
See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Craggy Range.
The grapes for this wine are picked by hand. The wine is fermented in a combination of stainless steel vats and oak, then is matured for 10 months prior to bottling.
Matt Stafford, the chief winemaker at Craggy range describes the Te Muna Road Vineyard Pinot Noir as follows: "A dark and brooding Pinot Noir, grown at our secret place in Martinborough, with a wonderful depth and beauty."
The wine has a bright red cherry colour with a crimson hue. Seductive aromas of dark cherry, dried rose petals, thyme and damp earth. Beautifully varietal, elegant and long on the palate. Medium weight red fruit richness and fine-grained tannins are drawn out long across the palate by acidity to create a finish which is savoury and dry.
This wine matches perfectly with duck dishes. It can be cellared for 5-7 years from vintage but only if you can resist opening it before then!
Felton Road's story is one of refusal to compromise. The estate is fully organic and uses biodynamic viticulture (Demeter certified) ensuring that fruit arrives at the winery as pure as it can be. The entire estate comes as close to true sustainability as is possible. There is a commitment to hands off winemaking: gravity flow, wild yeasts, wild malolactic, an avoidance of fining and filtration all help preserve the wine's expression of its terroir. The result is wine that express the authenticity and complexity of their unique vineyards.
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir.
Please click the blue link below to see Felton Road's excellent information and tasting note for this wine.
Greywacke was created in 2009 by Kevin Judd, chief winemaker at Cloudy Bay from its inception for 25 years and instrumental in the international recognition which Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc enjoys now. The name 'Greywacke' was adopted by Kevin for his first Marlborough vineyard located in Rapaura in recognition of the high prevalence of rounded greywacke river stones in the soils of the vineyard, a sedimentary rock which is widely found in Marlborough. Kevin Judd is also New Zealand's finest wine photographer and has recently published a book 'The Landscape of New Zealand Wine'.
All fruit was grown in Marlborough's Southern Valleys and principally sourced from the Yarrum Vineyard situated on the Brancott / Ben Morven ridge. Typical of this subregion, the wind-blown loess soils are comprised of clay-loams with varying degrees of gravel content. The vineyards are all hillside plantings trained to two-cane VSP (vertical shoot positioning) with a vine density of 3,800 plants per hectare.
The grapes were hand harvested and chilled overnight prior to hand sorting. Most of the fruit was then de-stemmed into open-top fermenters, the majority of fermentations with partial whole bunch inclusion. The fruit was allowed to soak on skins prior to the onset of indigenous yeast fermentation, then plunged daily by hand. After fermentation the wine was pressed, racked and filled to French oak barriques (40% new). All individual clones were aged in barrel separately for 18 months prior to blending in December. Once in tank the wine was egg white fined for clarity and then bottled in March 2017.
For the winemaker's own notes, click the link below.
A deliciously fragrant Marlborough Pinot – juicy blackberries, blueberries and the sweet aroma of homemade strawberry jam, intermingled with more savoury suggestions of black olives, cedar and a hint of lavender. The ethereal but finely structured palate has concentrated varietal character that combines red and black fruit with earthy, smoky nuances.
The Man O’ War story begins with a special piece of land which has a rich history. Located at the eastern end of Waiheke Island, Man O’ War is a stunning array of coastal hillsides with high cliffs and pristine beaches forming a ruggedly beautiful coastline. It was along this coastline that Captain James Cook came to anchor during his first voyage around the islands of New Zealand in 1769. Upon sighting the ancient stands of magnificent kauri trees ashore, Cook noted in his journals that they would make ideal masts for the Man O' War battleships of the Royal Navy. Thus, the name Man O’ War was bestowed upon this unique land.
With a desire to protect this treasured land’s natural beauty and sense of history for future generations, the owners purchased the four contiguous farms that now form the 4,500 acres of Man O’ War in the early 1980s.
This wine is made using Syrah 96%, Grape Viognier 4%.
See the attached link for the producer's excellent techical note on this wine ...
The Man O’ War story begins with a special piece of land which has a rich history. Located at the eastern end of Waiheke Island, Man O’ War is a stunning array of coastal hillsides with high cliffs and pristine beaches forming a ruggedly beautiful coastline. It was along this coastline that Captain James Cook came to anchor during his first voyage around the islands of New Zealand in 1769. Upon sighting the ancient stands of magnificent kauri trees ashore, Cook noted in his journals that they would make ideal masts for the Man O' War battleships of the Royal Navy. Thus, the name Man O’ War was bestowed upon this unique land. With a desire to protect this treasured land’s natural beauty and sense of history for future generations, the owners purchased the four contiguous farms that now form the 4,500 acres of Man O’ War in the early 1980s.
Typical aromas for Dreadnought Syrah include a smoky peat character that provides a savoury edge to the overt blueberry and pepper aromas, that mix of savoury and sweet that is reminiscent of the Northern Rhone is style. This wine has excellent fruit accessibility with a richly textured palate restrained with a streak of acidity and a mineral edge derived from a small portion of stem inclusion all supported by a classic Dreadnought tannin structure creating a complex and harmonious wine with plenty of ageing potential.
To see a comprehensive information sheet for this wine from the winemakers at Man O' War, please click on the blue link below.