Posts Tagged ‘pinot noir’

Unplugged Wine Interview With @Garyvee and @TheWineVault

April 12, 2010
I saw this the other day and enjoyed seeing a mellowed out Gary Vaynerchuk. Maybe the Southern Hemisphere suits Gary.
It was refreshing to listen to Gary and Jayson talk about wine with no pretense – just sharing what they feel is important to them. 
This video reminded me of the summer of 1993 I moved back to the USA from New Zealand and Eric Clapton’s unplugged album was released. Great music in a very laid back feel to it. Something we all need from time to time.
Thanks to Gary and Jayson for sharing their thoughts.
Vodpod videos no longer available.



New Benchmarks for New Zealand Wines

December 4, 2009


A new benchmark was reached by Craggy Range Winery in Hawkes Bay recently and shows New Zealand wines can run with the best in the world. At least Craggy Range wines, as they had both the courage and confidence to put their wines side by side with some of the best investment class wines from around the world.

Eric Arnold from Forbes magazine was invited (Google will take you to the article) where Craggy Range wines were tasted blind by highly regarded  panels in New York and San Francisco. Pinot noir and a Bordeaux style Merlot both received top praise. A tasting in London had a similar outcome, wines from Craggy Range are on par with the best in the world.

I think this now completes the loop for New Zealand as they are able to produce wines for all categories. All great wine countries and regions  produce wine to meet the needs of the following consumer categories.

  • Investment class wines that are on par with the best in the world
  • A diverse group of artisan wineries producing stunning boutique wines
  • A wide selection of everyday wines found in all  grocery stores and large wine stores
  • Bulk wines found in boxes and other alternative eco-friendly packaging

While some will quarrel with my list and suggest New Zealand is all “quality” I prefer to say wines from New Zealand are leaders in quality in all the above categories. I do acknowledge investment class  is a stretch descriptor.

Wines and Vines of Central Otago in New Zealand

May 21, 2009

Allan Johnston and Chris Cozens have done an outstanding job of sharing the magic of Central Otago. To enjoy this video pour a glass of wine,  sit back and connect with Central. And then share with your friends.

New Growing Season at Torlesse Wines

December 9, 2008
61447 Torlesse 08 Sets PRF

Now Available in USA

I just received this new vintage update from Kym Rayner winemaker at Torlesse Wines in the Waipara Valley.

Torlesse Wines is typical of many artisan handcrafted wineries in New Zealand. If you visit the winery you will be hosted by Kym, his wife Maggie or Paul Hewitt the assistant wine maker. This is pretty cool.

One of the special characteristics of Kym’s wine is the ability to improve over time in the bottle. New Zealand has yet to achieve this recognition and Kym will be one of the many winemakers who is able to show the extra effort in the vineyard pays rewards for us consumers down the road.

Kym Rayner’s Comments  on the 2009  Growing  Season

“The winter of 2008 was normal to bordering on cold with a snow fall in June that settled on the ground at the winery

Late winter rains were very heavy in July and about 3 weeks later in August resulting in flooding around the winery.

Since August, rainfall has been slight torlesse-mapand while we are happy with low rainfall, the farming community around Waipara and in fact much of the East coast of NZ is very dry. We planted some Pinot Gris in late October and have been watering since then

The other significant fact is Waipara had no frost events or no visible damage on our vineyards at least. This coupled with warm dry conditions has meant early flowering and pretty good set.

The only negative is these conditions are also ideal for powdery mildew so there are plenty of sulphur sprays going on. This is an acceptable spray from an organic/sustainable approach.

Our vineyard has been quite untidy this year as we are spraying less herbicide and leaving a wider range of ground cover to bring in more insect diversity, hopefully beneficially,  like lady birds, spiders and bees and the predator wasps.

Things are shaping up for an excellent vintage.”

Thanks Kym, for sharing and letting us know there are some good things to look forward to.








Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration

December 9, 2008

Press Release from Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration

10 December 2008 

Exemplary 2001 Grand Cru Burgundy Pinot Noirs Land on NZ Soil 

Wines from some of the world’s most elite wine estates have arrived in New Zealand. 

The five 2001 Grand Cru Burgundies, including wines from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Domaine Comtes Georges de Vogüé – are the highlight of the 2009 Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration Formal Tasting.  The Celebration will be held in Queenstown, New Zealand on 30th and 31st January 2009. 

A stimulation presentation on the Burgundian Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system will be lead by world-renowned wine experts Jasper Morris MW, Neal Martin and Jancis Robinson MW.  A formal tasting of the five wines will follow:  Domaine Trapet Père & Fils, Domaine Dujac, Domaine Comtes Georges de Vogüé, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Bouchard Père et Fils.  

This will be a special opportunity to examine the social and political environment at the time of the AOC’s creation and the AOC’s contemporary applications to present-day Pinot Noir producers.   

In addition to the Formal Tasting and the excellent line-up of world-renowned wine experts, the Celebration also includes a Grand Tasting of over 40 Central Otago Pinot Noirs.  The tasting will be divided alphabetically by winery into morning and afternoon sessions and each company will present their current vintage as well as one previous vintage.  

World-class wines demand world-class cuisine, and Queenstown’s top chefs will deliver just that over two gourmet-filled days.  We are privileged to have celebrated chef Martin Bosley from Martin Bosley’s Yacht Club Restaurant, Wellington (Supreme Winner – Restaurant of the Year, Cuisine magazine 2007) will prepare the Grand Dinner in one of the most stunning dining locations you are ever likely to experience.   

Two hundred delegates from around the world descent on Queenstown for the event, in its 7th year.  Past media and VIP attendees have included premier Burgundy critic, Allen Meadows; acclaimed wine author, judge and founder of Coldstream Hills winery in Victoria, James Halliday; Singapore-based publisher, lawyer, writer and tasting panel judge, CH’NG Poh Tiong; and Executive Director of the San Francisco International Wine Competition, Anthony Dias Blue.   

For registration information, please visit or contact:  

Catherine Badrak

Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration committee – Marketing & Media


Phone: +64 (0)21 752 434

Central Otago Pinot Noir

December 5, 2008

A very special place for Pinot noir

Here is some information that was prepared by Central Otago Pinot Noir Limited.

Central Otago is the southern-most grape-growing where-is-new-zealandregion in the world located at latitude 45º south (similar to both Oregon’s Willamette Valley, U.S.A., and Bordeaux in France). The first wine-grapes were planted in Central Otago in 1864. Despite the district’s potential as a wine growing area being recognised by French and Australian viticulturists from the 1860’s onwards, wine-grapes were not commercially grown again in Central Otago for more than a century. Modern day wine growing began in 1972 and shortly followed in 1975 with experimental plantings at Rippon Vineyard, Lake Wanaka. The first commercial release of a Pinot Noir from Central Otago, the regions flagship variety, was the 1987 vintage from pioneer Alan Brady at the Gibbston Valley winery.


This could be a pretty long debate, but it seems to us that there are a small number of key requirements for keeping Pinot Noir happy:

A narrow range of heat summation 

GDD’s (Growing Degree Days) are bannock-brae-estate-mapmeasured in a few different ways so numbers are hard to compare, but the way we do it, 850 – 1100 in the growing season seems to be the sweet spot for Pinot Noir. In latitude, that generally means being at about 45-47º North or 44-45º South, (the Antarctic mass makes the Southern Hemisphere a touch cooler, so the band is a little farther North there).

Large diurnal shifts

A significant variation between maximum and minimum temperatures each day. Hot days, (but not too far above 30ºC), and cool nights, develop flavour complexity. That means being a continental rather than a maritime climate, but not so far from the sea that the frosts become untenable.

A long, cool, dry autumn

Hang time seems to really improve Pinot Noir. A micro climate that gets the fruit nearly ripe, then cools off and lets it hang for a while seems to add depth to the wine. But Pinot Noir is very susceptible to Botrytis, so low humidity and low rainfall in the autumn is a big plus. 

A heavy but draining soil 

In Burgundy, the combinations of Clay and Limestone achieve this. We have heavy Loess soils interspersed with gravels. Either way, the roots have heavy soil with good minerality and low organic matter, but don’t get waterlogged.

It might seem surprising that given such a short list, there aren’t a lot more places which fit this recipe for Pinot Noir viticulture. But a quick look at the world map shows why.

To get the diurnal shifts you need to be inland from the coast, (though the Californians get them through coastal fogs) but if you are too far in from the windward coast, the shifts get too great and frosts in Spring and Autumn get too dangerous. In the Northern Hemisphere there are only 2 continental masses: go inland on each, following the prevailing winds, from 45-47 degrees, moving eastward until the climate gets continental and you arrive at The Williamette Valley in the USA and Burgundy in Europe.

Try the same exercise in the Southern hemisphere and there are similarly only 2 land masses, one is Patagonia, where it is too windy to grow grapes. The other is Central Otago.


“If I were a grape, this is where I’d want to grow up”

photo credit ©Allan Johnston 2008

photo credit ©Allan Johnston 2008

45 North and 45 South are very different worlds. In the temperate zones, global winds flow West to East round the planet. In the North that journey takes them through heavily populated and industrialised regions. In the South, there is only Central Otago and Patagonia. While well over 100 million people live between 44º and 46º North, there are less than 400,000 living in the Southern strip. This reflects in a lack of pollution and disease pressure – there is no vineyard in Central Otago within 200 kms of a traffic light!

We believe the natural health of our vines is a reflection of our isolation. It may be a bit quiet in the evening, but the grapes don’t mind that!

My Thoughts

The word is out and many now know the one word to describe wines from Central Otago is “Stunning”. In the not distant future, followers of Central Otago will come to know a wine from Bannock Burn is different from Lowburn is different from Gibbston Valley is different from Bendigo. Just as other great wine regions of the world, Central Otago is small but the wines from the sub-appellations all carry their own story. This is also true for the wines crafted from single vineyard sites to those that show the winemakers blending skills.

Finding these wines can be a treasure hunt. When you do  you can rest assured that you have a great bottle of wine in your hand. Just take a few bottles home and share some with friends. Stash a few for future enjoyment. You will be delighted for many years. How long is still to be discovered, only by putting a few away now, will you be able to participate in the future of this great region.

Read the back label – see who the importer is  – they will mostly likely have other gems from New Zealand’s diverse wine regions. The wine shops and restaurants that have these wines available should be high on your list for enjoying wines from around the world. They are gems too.

There is a great book called Vineyards on the Edge the story of Central Otago Wine. Google it and share it with a friend. Dave Cull the author will appreciate it.

PS: Don’t forget to check out the white wines too. Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc are all equally impressive.

New Zealand Pinot Noir Tasting

November 17, 2008

Interesting Pinot Noir tasting in New Zealand last week. This tasting had a different twist in that both consumers and wine professionals were given the chance to taste and ackowledge their favorites.

They did agree that New Zealand is crafting some very lovely Pinot’s right now and much pleasure for those who seek them out.

Torlesse Wines, winemaker Kym Rayner has a special project called Omihi Road that was a consumer favorite.

Video summary of the event is located at New Zealand’s TV 3

Welcome to Bannock Brae Estate and Central Otago

October 14, 2008

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Heres an exciting find for fans of Pinot noir! New Zealands southerly Central Otago region has rapidly developed a reputation for expressing a special “terroir”, one that is unique throughout the world. Though this region shares a similar latitude with Burgundy, Central Otagos warmer, drier climate allows this persnickety grape to ripen more fully. The resulting wines exhibit distinctively deep, fruity attributes that are much-loved by Pinot noir enthusiasts.