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The end of January will see winemakers, viticulturists and marketers, restaurateurs, importers, media and wine enthusiasts from around the world heading to Queenstown for the 2020 Pinot Noir Celebration.
Now well established as one of the world’s great pinot noir events, the three-day event, running from Thursday, January 30, to Saturday, February 1, is crammed full of tastings, masterclasses, lunches, dinners and excursions around Central Otago, showcasing the more than 40 attending wineries and allowing ample time to mingle with local winemakers, owners and staff.
The organising committee is ushering in some changes this year to keep the event fresh for the many, many return attendees and to delight first-time visitors.
For more information or to book, visit pinotcelebration.co.nz
New local cellar doors
With domestic and international visitors embracing wine tourism, the opening of two more cellar doors in Central Otago will further extend local choices.
Cox’s Vineyard, in the Gibbston valley, has a new cellar door/gallery space in a repurposed classroom shifted from Takitimu Primary School in Nightcaps. Open by appointment.
Alexandra Basin’s Three Miners has opened a cellar door in the Queenstown Hilton Hotel & Resort. Open seven days with tastings of their own wines alongside a ‘‘postcard of NZ’’ selection of boutique producers from other regions. For more info, visit their respective websites.
Recent Otago gold medal successes
At the London International Wine and Spirit Challenge, 2013 Bristol Farm Pinot Noir, 2018 Crown Range Cellar Moon Rock Waitaki Valley Pinot Gris, 2016 Peregrine Pinot Noir and 2011 Two Sisters Riesling all scored gold.
The NZ Wine of the Year Awards gave golds to 2018 Peregrine Riesling, 2019 Wooing Tree Rose, and in the pinot noir category, 2018 Saddleback. 2018 Thornbury, 2018 Anthem, 2018 Putangi, 2018 Eight Ranges, 2018 Two Degrees, 2017 Peregrine and 2017 Grasshopper Rock.
Beeswax, barley sugar, butterscotch, musk, bush honey: a nose to luxuriate in. Intensely luscious palate, amazing richness and intensity, lovely balance heightened by underlying savoury elements. Orange, mandarin, citrus, honey, apricot, sweet and sour interplay and musky botrytis coursing through the wine to the long, almond-like bittersweet note on the close.
Rating: Very good to excellent
A little wildness, grapefruit, burnt toffee, honey and spice. Quietly attractive. Interesting and slightly different with that burnt toffee note running though the wine, adding struck match, bramble, honey and citrus pith.
Rich and full of flavour: the bittersweet counterpoint neatly balances the richness, avoiding this straying into over-sweetness.
Rating: Excellent to outstanding
Subtle at first, giving an impression that it might be drier. That guess is immediately dispelled by the rush of sweetness and unctuousness on the palate, whipped into line by a shaft of vibrant acidity giving this real piquancy.
Dripping with honey and citrus yet deliciously vibrant, flowing to a long, racy, lip- smacking close.