2019 Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration

More than 150 delegates from all over the world including Burgundy converged on Queenstown, New Zealand for 3 days to celebrate Pinot Noir. 40 local wineries participated in a series of tastings, lunches and dinners.


Discovery tasting

Held in the ballroom at the Millennium Hotel six wines each from 6 sub regions of Central Otago were selected from vineyards established between 1998=2007. During this period there was huge growth with the introduction of new clonal material, rootstock, planting density, and new sub regions.

Unfortunatly the air conditioning was on full blast for the tasting and the wines, served at below optimum temperature took time to open out and show their best  However when warmed it was an interesting exersice  Wines specially selected were:

2010 Felton Road Cornish Point Pinot Noir – Bannockburn
Elegant mushroom and spice overtones, great intensity balance and length, powerful and still youthful  $85. 93/100

2015 Mondillo Pinot Noir Bendigo
Powerful fragrant nose, nicely balanced with red fruits, vibrant, nice acidity and tannins  Drink now. Great value. $45. 94/100

2015 Aurum Mathilda Pinot Noir– Lowburn
Silky overtones of chocolate, red fruit, balanced with good acidity. Organic. $55. 94/100

2015 Judge Rock Pinot Noir – Alexandra

Red berries, mushroom, spice. vibrant fine grains, very silky. Wonderful. Excellent value. $45. 96/100

2016 Two Degrees Pinot Noir- Queensbury
NZ Championship trophy. Bouquet rose petals, plum and cherries. Silky, long, complex, long lingering finish. Beautifully intergrated.  Outstanding. $40. 98/100

2015  Valli Vineyard Pinot Noir – Gibbston

Spice and red fruits, high acidity, rich, lusciously delicious blend of plums. $70. 96/100.

Six Great examples showing delegates consistency across the 6 sub regions of Central Otago. Look out these wines and you will be rewarded.

In the evening a “garden gnome “ meet and greet was held at the Skyline restaurant, a 25 minute trip up a gondola which greeted visitors with sweeping views of Queenstown.  Plenty of discussion here as everyone got to know each other. Plenty of local back vintages to sample and access. Naturally I paced myself knowing the programme for the next two days.



40 local wineries hosted and showed two wines from different vintages in a stand up and walk around format at Amisfield winery in Cromwell starting at 9.am. Yes I know an early start so it was all about pacing ones self. Too many wines to review but the show case provided the best the region has to offer. Everyone left for lunch in a good mood!

At 12.30 everyone was allocated a local winery for lunch and along with 30 others I was  allocated Cloudy Bay. They took over Northburn Station, a sheep and cattle station snce the 1840’s in 2014. The new owners have transformed the former sheep station to a gourmet restaurant called the Shed and now concentrate on formal functions.

Over a 3 course lunch the wines presented were:
Prophets Rock Pinot Gris 2014
Nice aromas of pear, peaches and delicate spice. A fresh long finish. $32. 94/100 +3 yr

Rippon Riesling 2011
Grapefruit, limes and orange peel and buttery similar to a Mornington Peninsular style with a nice citrus finish. Developing well  A pleasure to drink. Sold out 95/100

Cloudy Bay Te Wahi Pinot Noir 2016
I found the nose green with vegetable overtones on the palate. Sweet and with no where to go. Not my bag. The lunch though was superb. $85. 85/100

Gibbston Reserve Pinot Noir 2013
Pity this has sold out as it is a must for any cellar. Lifted floral nose full of cherries and herbal maintaining long ligering finish. Sold out. 97/100.

Aurum Mathilda Pinot Noir 2006
Still maintaining dark deep colour and softing plum and cherry length. At peak and going slightly pruney. A former beauty. Not sure if it is still available. 92/100

Providore Rose 2018
Not sure what to make of this. Bright colour but in the candy floss league and far too sweet. Quite perfumed to boot. Not my bag. $25. 82/100.

The wines were well matched by chefs from Wanaka. It was a top show. It was on the bus now for a 45 min trip back to Queenstown and an hours rest before dinner beckoned. Don’t worry folks I am still on me feet thanks to vast quantities of water!

For dinner once again the delegates were divided into groups and I was allocated Tatsumi, a new Quennstown Japanese restaurant born 6 months ago. Humm, pinot noir matched with Japanese food had me wondering about the food match. The food was western inspired which helped and I must say Yoko Kigami and her team did an admirable job. This restaurant hidden up a narrow staircase is well worth dining should you be in town.

Lets. get down to the wines specially selected.

Chard Farm Judge & Jury Chardonnay 2013
Nice citrus, hints of lemon and creamy, finished long, light oak, at peak. $40. 92/100.

 Mount Michael Bessie Block Pinot Noir 2013
Deep colour, with aromas of rich berries and chocolate, decant. $80. 96/100.

Two Degrees Pinot Noir 2014
Another NZ Championship trophy wine. Bright even hues, fresh and savoury fruit explosion, spicy, long lingering finish. Outstanding. Sold out. 98/100

Tarras The Canyon Pinot Noir 2007
Beautiful smooth,  fruit just fading on the palate but spice lingers. Sold out. 97/100.

Amisfield Pinot Noir 2012
Black cherries and luscious fruit combo, big and fights the palate. +5 yrs. $45. 95/100


It was an early 8.30 am start back at the Millennium for a formal tasting of wines which were a result over 12 years of an annual exchange between Central Otago and Burgundy wine makers. Fortunately the ballroom as more comfortable and gave the wines every chance. Up front to speak to the wines was wine writer John Saker, Jasper Morris MW and Louis Meunière from Domains Jean – Jacques. The room was full of expectation.

The line up for the formal tasting

Quartz Reef Bendigo Single Ferment, Ginger, 2016
Quite toasty with sour cherries but rich undertones. Plenty of oak power which needs to soften over the next 5 years to make this wine more approachable. + 8 years. $95. 89/100

Domaine R & P Bouley, Volney 1st Cru, Champans 2016
Brilliant ruby, rich and very clean. Died quickly on the front palate. For all that it is well structured. Great potential. $95. 94/100

Domaine Anne  Cros, Bourgogne Hautes- Cotes, de Nuits,2015
Needed time to open. Very delicate soft fruit with hints of black pepper. Great texture and long finish. Bargain buy here, Drink now. $55. 98/100.

Domaine Decelle- Villa, Beaune 1st Cru, Les Teurons, 2014
Enjoyed this, nice tannins, a little lightweight, but soft intergreated fruit, good structure and finished long. $65. 96/100.

Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron, Romanee-Saint-Vivant Grand  Cru 2014
Bright ruby colour. Plenty of blackberry and chocolate. A little sweet but finished very dry with a sour front palate. Not worth the price. $380. 89/100.

Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux, Vosne-Romanee, Les Hautes Maizieres, 2013
Very light with overtones of raspberries but a hit of oak dominated for me. Slightly sour and finished dry. Pity. $80. 90/100.

Well we are not done yet. All aboard a couple of coaches for the 25 min trip out to Jacks Point set amongst an estate that has had a chequered development past. It is better known as one of the finest golf courses in NZ and we gathered at the cafe/ restaurant run by Amisfield catering. Another line up of local old and new vintages was there so help yourself.

After 2 .hours of tasting back to town for a 3 hour rest and then all aboard again for the grand finale dinner held up the mountain at the top of Coronet Peak, NZ’s internationally known ski resort.

More speeches but some of the speakers were not at their best due to the heavy 3 day work load. Those attending were encouraged to bring a special bottle and as usual I did the circuit and can report there were some great old back vintages from all over the world. After a charity auction which raised $40,000 it was mid night I said good night too.

This internationally expression of Pinot Noir is held every year alternating between the nations capital Wellington and Queenstown.

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