Top placing for Felton Road winery

Felton Road winery, Bannockburn.
Felton Road winery, Bannockburn.

The publication The Real Review has just released its list of Top Wineries of New Zealand 2024 and I’m delighted to report that Felton Road Wines in Bannockburn has been crowned the No 1 winery.

This is no overnight success as since the inception of The Real Review, Felton Road has consistently been in the Top 10 (I believe their lowest placing was 6th), a reminder of their consistently top-notch releases.

Founded by two highly regarded wine writers - Australian Huon Hooke and New Zealander Bob Campbell MW - their team of writers across Australasia has grown to more than 10, now also including Stephen Wong MW here in New Zealand. Bob and Stephen have reviewed roughly 3500 wines between them over the last year, so climbing to the top is quite an achievement.

The Real Review uses an algorithm which takes into account the previous two years of reviews, so as to offset the anomalies caused by climatic events/vintage variation along with other factors so that smaller wineries will not be disadvantaged by larger wineries submitting vastly more wines for review.

The results are also very positive for Central Otago as a whole with the region taking 36 of the 157 spots (just under 23%) and 11 of the top 50 (22%) which compares favourably with the roughly 5% of the national vineyard area planted in the region.

The top five for this year are 1. Felton Road, 2. Destiny Bay, 3. Church Road, 4. Ata Rangi and 5. Craggy Range.

2024 vintage finished

Very sadly, timings conspired against me this year so I was unable to get up to Central for my usual grape-picking stint.

The season was quite varied with a late frost, warmer weather before Christmas changing to cooler than average conditions through mid-January and February and even a hailstorm in early February.

It was also a year of wind and below-average rainfall with one recent comment from a winemaker "all about the dry!" being typical.

Too early to make prognostications on the vintage, but winemakers seem to be quietly buoyant about what they have in their cellars.

2022 Monte Christo Alexandra Pinot Noir

Price RRP $80
Rating Excellent to Outstanding
Tilled earth/forest 
floor-type notes, black 
tea, fascinating nose 
more about 
complexity than just 
the fruit. Sweet red 
fruits mix with wild 
herbs and a minerally 
quality on the palate, 
with deceptive tannic 
structure. Elegant 
rather than a bruiser, 
surprising power and 
depth. With air, 
fragrance, perfume 
 and  fruit grow on nose 
and palate, adding 
lovely sapidity to the close.

2021 Burn Cottage Burn Cottage Vineyard Pinot Noir

Price RRP $80
Rating Outstanding
Perfume and fragrance 
to the fore, spice  and 
herbs joined by 
savoury notes, fruit 
happily in support. Red 
fruits swell in the 
mouth, again savoury 
and wild herb qualities 
with refined, supple 
tannins lending 
attractive dryness to 
the long close. 
Delightful integration, 
elegant yet deceptive 
power, fabulous 
drinking now but clear 
potential, too. A 
complete wine.

2020 Doctors Flat Bannockburn Pinot Noir

Price RRP $59.99
Rating Outstanding
Florality/flower petal, 
more the darker fruit 
spectrum, savoury 
nuances, a touch of 
herb. A cool feel, 
crunchy, juicy 
mouthfeel, powerful 
almost grainy 
tannins, the fruit 
shifting from dark to 
red with a super-
long, engaging 
close. Powerful, dry, 
lip-smacking, lovely 
energy  and vibrancy, 
almost brooding. 
Wouldn’t be out of place in a burgundy 
lineup. Super stuff.