Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their January 2020 edition article, Most Exciting Wines of 2019 (see blue link below).
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 2017 growing season was uniquely cool, leading to small bunches and low yields. Luckily, this cool weather reduced disease pressure so fruit remained healthy right up until harvest which started in mid-April.
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.
100% Pinot Noir.
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.
ABV = 14.0%.
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.
The 2018 harvest followed an exceptionally warm, dry spring and an early summer which gave unusually high early season growth. The extraordinary summer temperatures brought the growing season forward for the earliest harvest to date. Late summer brought record high rainfall and welcome cooler daytime temperatures. The fruit was harvested in excellent condition.
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% were new. The result is a remarkably attractive - and great value - Pinot Noir from Central Otago.
100% Pinot Noir.
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.
ABV = 14.0%.
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).
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 2017 growing season was uniquely cool, leading to small bunches and low yields. Luckily, this cool weather reduced disease pressure so fruit remained healthy right up until harvest.
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 in stainless-steel tanks. 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.
100% Pinot Noir.
The 2017 vintage was cooler than average, delivering wines of complexity and vibrant acid structure. This Pinot Noir has an enticing nose of mulberry and bramble fruits complemented by spicy notes of tamarind paste and crushed sumac berry. The palate is long and textural with a thread of fine tannins.
ABV = 13.0%.
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.
The 2015 vintage in Hawkes Bay enabled a good fruit set in the Gimblett Gravels sub-region with a dry summer. The few rain events during early autumn were followed by cool windy periods which dried out the canopies and allowed the red varieties to continue to ripen. The 2015 was one of the earliest and driest in recent years.
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.
ABV = 13.0%.
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.
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.
ABV = 13.5%.
** FOR THOSE SEEKING THE 2017 VERSION OF THIS WINE (THAT FARED WELL IN THE FEBRUARY EDITION OF DECANTER), WE HAVE LEARNED THAT CRAGGY RANGE ARE NOW NOT RELEASING THIS WINE IN THE UK UNTIL LATE 2020. LIKE YOU, WE'RE PRETTY DISAPPOINTED.
The forthcoming (not on release in the UK yet) 2017 vintage was awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their February 2020 edition panel tasting of New World, single-vineyard Pinot Noir (see blue link below).
THAT SAID, THIS, THE 2016, AS ATTESTED TO HERE - AND FULLY AVAILABLE - IS RATHER FINE. **
Awarded a Gold medal and 95 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).
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 "a dark and brooding Pinot Noir, grown at our secret place in Martinborough, with a wonderful depth and beauty."
100% Pinot Noir.
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!
ABV = 13.9%.
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.
A mild, frost-free spring with warm conditions through to early summer provided ideal growing conditions. November will be remembered more for the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that shook the upper South Island than the unseasonably high rainfall in Marlborough. December and January were very dry, cooler than normal and often very windy. Greywacke were 'thrilled with the results from the shortest and most challenging harvest to date'.
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 (30% new). All individual clones were aged in barrel separately for 18 months prior to blending in September.
For the winemaker's own notes, click the link below.
100% Pinot Noir.
This wine is deep ruby red in colour with vibrant aromas of blackberries, blueberries and sweet black plums. An opulent style of Marlborough Pinot layered with notes of roasted chestnuts, clove and tobacco and hints of rose and lavender. On the palate, it has fine tannins and a smoky and lively finish.
ABV = 13.5%.
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.
Vintage 2016 began with a settled and dry Spring resulting in great flowering and a corresponding excellent fruit set. The settled weather continued up to the New Year when wet weather patterns became prevalent which continued into the harvest months. Careful attention to detail in the vineyard paid off with an astonishing quality of fruit across all varieties in what was undoubtedly a most challenging year.
The Dreadnought Syrah comes from steep hillside vineyards and is carefully hand-harvested before delivery to the winery. The fruit is put across a sorting table before being de stemmed and delivered to open vats for fermentation and in select cases whole clusters where included in the ferment. The Syrah is allowed to ferment with wild yeasts, with plunging or pump-overs being carried out twice daily. Following an extended time on skins (average 35 days in vat), the wines are gently pressed and taken straight to barrel for natural malolactic fermentation in the spring. These are larger puncheons, 32% being of new French oak, the remainder being of seasoned French oak. The wines are racked once to a blend after 18 months before further maturing in tank for 3 months prior to bottling.
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. Dreadnought 2016 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 aging potential.
ABV = 14.0%.
James Millton is a living legend in the New Zealand wine scene. A pioneer of organic and biodynamic winemaking, he has ploughed his own furrow for three decades, quietly convinced that his sustainable approach to viticulture and winemaking was the only way to progress.
The Millton winery's own tasting notes for this wine are excellent, so please click the blue link below to see all this wine's details.
100% Pinot Noir.
ABV = 13.0%.
The 2014 vintage was 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).
Peregrine Wines is named in honour of New Zealand’s endemic falcon, a bird without rival or fear. A bird that combines both power and finesse, the essence of Peregrine’s range of wines. The McLachlan family, headed by Lindsay, were one of the first to establish plantings in the Bendigo sub-region of Central Otago in 1999, and are now the largest organic vineyard holder in Central Otago. Farming operation plays an integral role in the organic management of the vineyards. Cattle assist with compost, goats and sheep are used for weed control in the winter, and chickens are rotated around the vineyard courtesy of a mobile chicken house, naturally dealing to a range of bugs.
The winery roof is modelled to replicate the exact rotation of the Peregrine falcon’s wing in flight. In London in 2004 the architect won the UK based AR+D Emerging Architecture awards for the Peregrine Winery building, and in 2005 received the “Supreme New Zealand Architecture” award from the NZ Institute of Architects.
Bursting with floral aromas and redcurrant perfume, this Pinot Noir is rich and juicy with delicious raspberry, hints of strawberry and spice flavours. If you want to match this with food we would suggest that lamb or duck would be good choices as well as any dish including salami or other cold meats.