Pinot noirs show great diversity

A return to an old love today as my tasting colleagues Messrs Collins, McLaren and I sampled a superb collection of Central Otago Pinot Noirs.

Our "take-home" from a succession of tastings is that while there is still a distinct Central quality to them, there is an ever greater diversity to the flavours and nuances that the winemakers are teasing out of the wines.

Sub-regionality, micro-climate, soil type, clonal variation, picking dates and winemaker and viticulturist experience will all be having an impact. It is a treat to follow the journey.

2020 Maude Central Otago Pinot Noir

Price RRP $39
Rating Excellent

Dusty, stony, earthy
touches, berry
compote and oak
scents build. Rich
and sweetly fruited,
yet the racy acidity
and grainy tannins
keep that nicely in
check. Flecks of wild
herb and savoury
elements begin to
appear as the wine
opens. Youthfully
vibrant and already
very approachable,
but I suspect that
time will let the inner
layers begin to unfurl.

2020 Felton Road Block 5 Pinot Noir

Price RRP $116
Rating Outstanding

Aromas leap from the
glass, raspberry, wild
herb, lead pencil,
savoury notes, a
funky touch with
aeration. Very
engaging. Fresh,
vibrant, great depth of
flavour yet light on its
feet. Super texture,
silky, velvety with
wonderful carry of
flavour. Everything in
place, good base
structure, drinking
superbly yet potential
too. Intensity without
weight. Delicious.

2021 Wild Irishman Tuturi Alexandra Pinot Noir

Price RRP $79
Rating Excellent

Youthful bright,
violetty perfume, red
fruits, spices, young
and zesty. The palate
is clearly youthful,
still melding and
coming together with
lots of lovely
elements that bode
well for the future.
Red fruits, spices,
herbs, perhaps a little
rhubarb, earthy
nuances and fine,
grainy tannins. The
underlying power in
this swells,  matching
the depth of flavour.

2019 Maude Kids Block Central Otago Pinot Noir

Price RRP $55
Rating Excellent to Outstanding

Fascinating nose with
spice, lead pencil,
licorice, wild herb,
smoke, growing
fragrance, the fruit
neatly in support. The
palate unfurls its
savoury side adding
plum, red fruits and
dried strawberry with
grainy tannins adding
an attractive drying
quality. Develops an
engaging juiciness, a
lightness and aerial
quality, with a long
lip-smacking finish.

2020 Domain Road Bannockburn Pinot Noir

Price RRP $40
Rating Excellent to Outstanding

Interesting nose of
wood smoke, toffee
apple, iron filings, tilled
earth, with fruit in the
wings. Real structural
backbone here,
powerful tannins and
bright acidity, built for
the future. Earth, tar,
savoury notes, pencil
shavings, red fruits;
for all its structure
there’s pinosity too.
Crying out for food,
yet drinkability too. If
tannins don’t outlast
the fruit, could be one
to watch.

2020 Felton Road Calvert Pinot Noir

Price RRP $88.50
Rating Excellent to Outstanding

Powerful nose with
wisps of dark cherry,
raspberry, bonfire
smoke and savoury
characters, shifting to
a darker, more
brooding quality. The
silky palate leads with
notes, spice, darker
fruits, herb and forest
floor; deceptive
power to this yet
terrific integration too.
Aeration sees super
freshness building
while the flavours
hang in the mouth.

2020 Maude East Meets West Central Otago Pinot Noir

Price RRP $55
Rating Very Good to Excellent

Fascinatingly curious
nose, coffee
grounds, oyster shell/
stoniness, wood
smoke, red fruits,
perfumed florality
growing. The palate
mixes coffee, char,
spice, red fruits, milk
chocolate, prune and
a wisp of
confectionery; there’s
a bittersweet element
too. A tanginess and
almost a Beaujolais-
like crunchiness. Hits
different buttons and
gets me thinking.

2020 Elephant Hill Central Otago Pinot Noir

Price RRP $36
Rating Very Good to Excellent

Char and bonfire
smoke, bramble,
fragrant hints as it
opens, fruit in
support. Sweeter
fruited, yet a little
bittersweet nuance
keeps it fresh, with
touches of herb and
spice as it opens up.
Nicely integrated
tannins and this is
drinking nicely off
the bat. Supple,
rounded, juicy
sweetness giving
this a real crowd-
pleasing feel.