Saturday, February 11, 2017

On Central Otago Reserve Wines

Following tastings at ten of the best wineries, I'm not (yet) convinced that the relatively young vines in Central Otago (virtually all less than 25 years old), small selection of pinot clones, combined with a climate that has significant annual variations in warmth and sunshine (the high UV is essential to ripening) can reliably produce the fruit from specific vineyards year in year out that merit higher percentages of new oak, more extraction, more whole bunch fermentation and more alcohol i.e. reserve wine style. At present many of the reserve wines seem to be the product of an assemblage of the best fruit from different parcels. But this emasculates the impact of terroir and without heavy handed wine-making will result in big changes from year to year. I hope the wine regulators give their blessing to the seven sub-regions (Gibbston, Bannockburn, Bendigo, etc) so wine-makers can develop a premier cru and grand cru mentality based on geographic criteria not fruit quality from multiple districts. Given the amazing results so far, seven "appellations" would further elevate the quality and appeal of this stunning region. I believe this would benefit all producers in the region far more than a "super tuscan" approach where big brands would benefit without supporting the wine region as a whole. It's great to see single district reserve wines being produced and winning prizes in pinot competitions. This experimentation will help put the individual districts on the map

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