Browse Tag

central otago

The Felton teen rabbit

Felton Road 2001 Pinot Noir (Central Otago) – This was a somewhat mistaken ager, in that I thought I was hanging on to one of the Block bottlings. Time has done nothing but weakened it, and while the fruit’s matured a bit, mostly the wine’s just softer and more muted. A bit plummy, some of the old blood orange rind that I used to think marked the region (I now believe it to be a clonal issue, since I’ve tasted it from the Waipara and Martinborough as well), some muscular earthiness, all at about volume 5 rather than the former 8 ½. Drink up, if you’ve got any. (7/12)

I Felton itch

Felton Road 2007 Pinot Noir (Central Otago) – I don’t know if the expanding range of single-site pinots being produced at Felton Road are changing the nature of the basic wine or not, but it seems a little simpler than I remember. Simpler, but fuller, so there’s a tradeoff in both good and less good ways. Here is the more familiar plum, beet, orange peel of the Central Otago, without the poise that the entire range used to show, but with more generosity. It’s quite tasty, whatever the circumstances of its birth. (8/11)

Rabbit-proof wine

Rabbit Ranch 2007 Pinot Noir (Central Otago) – Powerfully-concentrated neutron fruit, jammy and over-polished. Just too much. Those who insist that “wine is all about fruit, because grapes are fruit” will find all the mindless onanism here that they could ever want. (7/11)


Rippon 2001 Pinot Noir (Central Otago) – Still fruity (figs, mostly, which is an interesting place for a pinot noir to go), though there’s some concentrated plum hanging about as well. Tastes warm in the way New World versions of this grape often do, and about as mature as I think one would want it; tannins have fully softened but acids are not yet exposed. The finish, which hints at licorice but never quite gets there, is surprisingly long. This was a wine I underestimated when I tasted it at release, thinking it more simple-minded than it turned out to be. (9/10)

Harriet & Nels

Olssens 2002 Pinot Noir Slapjack Creek (Central Otago) – 14%, and showing every bit of that plus some more as a bonus. Unquestionably on the downslope, and though it’s not too far along it in terms of fruit development (there’s the usual leathering of the berries, plus some tarry hints of autumn), a rapid separation from the alcoholic power inside the wine has rendered it more than a little Scotch-y. This was never a great wine, but it was certainly more appealing at release. Drink up. (7/10)


Mt. Difficulty “Roaring Meg” 2008 Pinot Noir (Central Otago) – Second-label and cheaper Otago pinots are either surprisingly good or flawed in a regionally-representative way: too much weight and alcohol. Here, while there is some alcohol on display, it’s not because the wine is too weighty. On the contrary, it’s wan, tired, and uninteresting. It reminds me of one of those Eastern European pinots that used to show up in educational blind tastings a few decades ago, just to wrench the works (“betcha can’t guess that this is from Bulgaria, tee hee”) in that I while I understand how it got made, I don’t understand how it got purchased, shipped to foreign markets, and given valuable shelf space. (5/10)


Black Ridge 2003 Pinot Noir (Central Otago) – Sweet red beet and blood orange concentrate. Stemmy. Walnut skins and dirt suffused with ash. The sensation of excess acidity this wine had in its youth is only a memory at this point. Pretty good – certainly better than it was at release – but I don’t know if I’d hold this any longer. (6/10)

Leaning stove

Pisa Range 2003 Pinot Noir Black Poplar (Central Otago) – Dark beet and blood orange. Still powerfully youthful, and in fact it might be hardening a bit. I keep reading Kiwi wine cognoscenti suggesting that many of the early-00s pinots are on the downslope. So I’ve opened a handful. So far, the only conclusion I can reach is that they’re out of their minds. If anything, these wines haven’t even hit their midlife crisis yet. (5/10)

Mohua the lawn

Mohua 2008 Pinot Noir (Central Otago) – Starts off with the bitter beet, dusty blackberry, and blood orange rind so common to New Zealand pinots (is this a clonal issue? it sure seems ubiquitous), but then goes absolutely nowhere. Half of a good wine. Where’s the second act? (5/10)

Earth, wild, and fire

[vineyard]Wild Earth “Blind Trail” 2007 Pinot Noir (Central Otago) – Such a pleasant, direct wine…sappy fruit (mostly berries), a bit of sweet earth, round-textured but with acidity, and finishing surprisingly strong. Nice. (6/09)