My Top 10 NZ Reds of the Year
2013 has been the year for Central Otago to shine, showing off the excellent 2010 vintage in the early part of the year followed by a showing of the 2012 new release Pinots.
Many red wine producers are currently selling the 2011 vintage, which is certainly not going to go down as vintage of the century. The cooler summer means they’re looking rather austere at the moment and if money was no issue, I wouldn’t be releasing my wines right now.
Here’s what I think are the best wines on the shelves…
2010 First Paddock by Two Paddocks, Central Otago
Bloody hell New Zealand really can make make restrained and taut Pinot. Hooray. This is a triumph – pure and fragrant, tight and elegant. Restrained and taut – perhaps due to 50 percent whole bunch fermentation providing linearity and drive. Like your best knickers for a special occasion, it is both silky and delicate. The damson and especially black cherry aromas are quintessentially Central Otago. And it’s only 13% which means you can potentially drink more than two glasses – but no more, or you may lose your knickers. 19/20 or 95/100
2010 Rippon Estate Tinker’s Field, Central Otago
Fine and driven, or ‘compacted without the volume’ says producer Nick Mills. It has linearity, focus and admirable purity. Texturally interesting with a fine chalk-like grained tannin – it’s like I’m licking stones. Brilliant. 19/20 or 95/100
2010 Felton Block 5 Pinot Noir, Central Otago
Okay it might seem a bit predictable but Felton Road really does know how to make Pinot. This is still relatively closed on the nose but there’s plenty of good stuff going on in the mouth. It is particularly elegant and delicate for Central Otago. 25% whole bunch provides a linear focused structure and more than 3 weeks on skins gives abundant,velvety, mouth-coating tannins, this has a long life ahead. 19/20 or 95/100
2007 Prophet’s Rock Pinot Noir, Central Otago
Spring snow chopped crops in half for the 06/07 vintage but this means there’s incredible intensity of fruit in this wine. For a 6-year-old NZ pinot noir this is looking incredibly young. It’s still showing primary plum and cherry fruit combined with spicy, nutty oak flavors. While there’s intense concentration, this manages to retain a lightness on the mid palate. With fine acidity and fine mouthcoating tannins this has another 10 year plus in it. 19/20 or 95/100
2012 Valli Bannockburn Pinot Noir, Central Otago
I love the smell of an unrefined and unfiltered wine: Slightly dirty yet unadulterated. This is a very elegant wine; if it were a dance it would be the American smooth. Pure fruit. Still closed at the moment but showing total harmony. Great depth; it manages complexity and density with a lightness and delicacy. Fresh acidity provides dart-like precision. The region’s wine of the vintage.19/20 or 94 points
2011 Sacred Hill The Helmsman, Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay
Part of the 2011 Gimblett Gravels Selection this 50% cab sauv, 25% cab franc, and 25% merlot blend is a very attractive and alluring wine. Perfumed: pure black cherry fruit, plus spice and florals. It’s certainly no blockbuster with medium body but this wine shows its class in the density of fruit, which carries the new oak well. Its class is backed up by mouthcoating, structured tannins, fine line and long length.
2010 Mount Edward Stevens Vineyard, Central Otago
If you can get your hands on one of the 42 cases produced, consider yourself darned lucky. At the risk of sounding sexist, this is a classy, feminine pinot noir, showing elegance and delicacy. The aromas are pure and focused, reminiscent of black cherry and damson with an attractive herbal lift. The tannins are fine and the oak provides an appealing spice but fades into the background – like it should always do. 18.5+/20 or 93/100
2011 Pyramid Valley Pinot Noir, Waipara
Wow this wine shows incredible purity. It’s slightly hazy in appearance and slightly feral on the nose in an unadulterated unfiltered kind of way. Expect smoky bacon fat and plum fruit flavors. Supple and harmonious, it has great depth on the mid palate followed by mouthwatering acidity and long length. Structured drawn out tannin to boot. 18.5/20 or 93/100
2010 Misha’s Vineyard The High Note Pinot Noir, Central Otago
Closed but with plenty of unexplored depths. There’s plenty of aromatic intensity yet to open up and this intensity is confirmed on the palate which shows plenty of concentration, harmony and depth. Great concentration and focus on the mid-palate that’s still tightly wound. Linear acidity. Floral-like nuances on the long length. 18.5/20 or 92.5/100
2010 Burn Cottage Pinot Noir, Central Otago
Another elegant little number. It is highly aromatic with red fruits and lifted florals on the nose. Relatively light bodied for a Central Otago wine which is a nice change. But it’s the texture that really gets me: it is slightly chalky and has very fine, mouthcoating tannins. There’s plenty of tannin too which will give this vino longevity. Great drive across the palate and fresh acidity on the finish. 18.5/20 or 92/100