A Few Days in Central Otago

Last week I spent in Central Otago attending their annual Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration in order to speak on the first day of the event but most of all to visit dear friends and check in on current release wines. It’s a favorite region of mine that more than anywhere else feels like going home. While there, I posted photos along the way to Instagram. Here’s the collection.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Feijoa Juice – oh yeah, that’s the stuff. #centralotago #newzealand @pinotcentral

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Mince pie. Super flaky crust, good texture, lots of flavor. Very good. #centralotago #newzealand @pinotcentral

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Most unbearably cute-cute ever on the planet. #centralotago #newzealand @aurumwineslucie @pinotcentral

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Steve Davies of Doctor’s Flat – somehow I have been lucky enough to taste every vintage of Doctor’s Flat Pinot ever made with a mix of vintage verticals and barrel tastings, revisiting again and again the evolution of Steve’s thinking and understanding of the site he farms and the way it responds to cellar choices. Wonderful afternoon to return again to see where Steve and his wines and the vineyard are now, tasting this time 2015 through 2019 (2016 is current release). The site sits on a high elevation terrace overlooking Bannockburn with a bit more wind exposure and a bit more mixed loam than the slopes below for which the region is often known. The 2019 wines feel like the best vintage of Doctor’s Flat he has made. So exciting to see the progression. #centralotago #newzealand #wine @pinotcentral

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Goats at The Last Chance – good morning to you from the family #centralotago #newzealand @twopaddocks @pinotcentral

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Gravely soils and organic farming at Felton Road – Central Otago has the highest proportion of organic and biodynamic farming in New Zealand. Its dry climate means greatly reduced disease pressure. Proper winter freeze helps reduce bug pressure as well. Though neither is absent here. The region has also been sorting soil retention and water retention through moderating how cultivation happens. No till in vine rows has become far more common as it helps prevent soil erosion but whether to till under vine rows varies site by site. By tilling under vine water competition is reduced and therefore the need to add water through irrigation is also reduced. However these are factors within a large complex of elements that change in demand and effect site to site and even block to block. Felton Road has helped lead on organic and biodynamic farming in the region and nationally. Here, a gravely section of Bannockburn in a sub-zone of Central Otago that has profoundly varied soils. #centralotago #newzealand #wine @feltonroad @pinotcentral

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Chickens at Peregrine in Bendigo – checking in on the girls at Peregrine estate in Bendigo. Peregrine keeps chickens in the vineyard to help with pest control as they scratch and eat bugs in the soils before they can become a problem for the vines. The birds’ eggs can then also be used for any fining of the wines keeping the process estate focused. After harvest until bud break sheep also hang out in the vines helping to break up the soil and chew back last year’s growth. Once the green-growth part of the growing season has started again the sheep rotate out to pasture land. In these ways organic viticulture can also build into a full farm model incorporating animals into not just the vineyard health but also even some of the cellar needs. #centralotago #newzealand #wine @peregrinewines @pinotcentral

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Peregrine wines – great tasting through current release Pinot and Central Otago Sauvignon Blanc with winemaker Nadine Cross. Sauvignon Blanc is such a different animal from Central Otago. There are only a few examples but they consistently offer bright acidity like a high watt lightbulb with a diffusing filter softening the edges – tons of luminosity. The flavors here are more mid-toned and mineral too. Nadine’s approach brings flesh to the wine to balance and house the brightness while avoiding ripeness or heaviness. Delicious range of Pinots from Bendigo and Pisa areas of Central with good respect for the fruit and plenty of presence. Always good to see Nadine. #centralotago #newzealand #wine @peregrinewines @pinotcentral

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Valli 2018 Waitaki Pinot Noir from North Otago – utterly ethereal, lifted, beautiful. #newzealand #wine @valliwine @pinotcentral

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Darling Thiefy. #centralotago #newzealand @valliwine @pinotcentral

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Schist in Central Otago – Central Otago is dominated by Schist with small pockets of Shale as well. There are differing forms of schist creating slightly different mineral compositions as they erode too. As Schist ages and erodes the parents materials become the soil of the area with varied architecture and texture depending on soil age and conditions and differing mineral compositions depending on the original parent material and how it has interacted with the weather and surrounding conditions over time. Looking at this Schist wall you can see iron pockets that have oxidized from exposure to air. You can also see pedogenic lime, or chalk, that has a similar effect on the vine as limestone but is formed on land rather than under water. As schist erodes it releases such chalk but in wet regions it is washed away by rain. The dryness of Central Otago means the pedogenic lime has a chance to accumulate in the soils forming chalk bands as seen here when you zoom in more closely. #centralotago #newzealand #wine @chardfarm @pinotcentral

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

François Millet, Paul Pujol, Brian Allen tasting Pinots from François, Paul and Occidental from Steve Kistler and his daughter Cate in Sonoma – it is hard to explain what this tasting means to me. Over the last several years I have been lucky enough to spend extensive time with François in both Central Otago and Burgundy, with Paul in Central Otago as well as Oregon and Burgundy, and with Steve and his daughter in Sonoma. Meeting with producers I am listening not just for the facts of what they do but also for how they think about the process, what they imagine their relationship to it, what it means for them, and how all these things line up or not in their literal choices. Over time and multiple visits I kept hearing reverberations in the thinking and approach between these three winemakers from three different countries – France, New Zealand, California – and finally timidly went to each of them to talk through the others’ work and see if they would be willing to do tastings of each others’ wines with me. In July of 2019 Steve, Cate, and I tasted wine from François and Paul alongside Occidental wine there in Sonoma with Paul joining by phone. This week we were able to do the reverse bringing Occidental Pinot to Central Otago to taste wines from François and Paul alongside Occidental while I shared all I could on the details of the work and perspective brought by Steve and Cate. We tasted over several hours talking through the vintages, site details, cellar choices, and what we could see in the wines. It is an enormous honor for me to be trusted to represent peoples’ wines in this sort of way and means a lot to have others recognize the linkages I am witnessing and help make connections across the world between people with such otherwise unique perspectives. Enormous thanks to Steve, Cate, François, and Paul for doing this with me and to dear Brian for hosting. #centralotago #sonomawine #newzealand #californiawine #pinotnoir #wine @occidentalwines @catekistler @paulpujol @pinotcentral

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Boating into distance. #centralotago #newzealand Thanks, Nick, for the photo! @ripponjo @pinotcentral

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Taste the rainbow at Mt Difficulty #centralotago #newzealand #wine @mtdifficulty @pinotcentral

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Final pie in Central Otago. Steak. Very good. #centralotago #newzealand @mme_hammond @pinotcentral

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

So very glad to see you, dear Alan. Life of legends. #centralotago #newzealand #wine @wild_irishman_wines @pinotcentral

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

The very happiest sort of accident. So good to see you! Curly Girl and Lipstick Club unite! #newzealand @emmajenkinsmw 💕

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

Copyright 2020 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com.

Leave a Reply