the Central Otago story
Central Otago is being touted as having the greatest potential of all the new world producing areas for the production of premium Pinot Noir. The whites are also now starting to show huge interest.
Central Otago is a unique grape growing region in New Zealand.
Three important factors all interrelate to produce the Central Otago terroir.
- The southerly Latitude at latitude 45 south, helps to give a long slow cooler ripening period.
- The high altitude at between 220 and 300 metres above sea level, helps to cool the temperatures down slightly and thereby lengthening the ripening and ever critical hang time.
- The continental climate is also critical.
Central Otago is the only grape growing region in New Zealand with a truly mild continental type climate, with a large diurnal temperature range, which is known to be beneficial for colour development and stability in Pinot Noir. Also the resulting low relative humidity and rainfall results in low fungal disease incidence and therefore minimal spraying - no problems with harvest pressure due to botrytis incidence.
Central Otago, the countrys only continental-influenced region, produces this countrys most distinctive Pinot Noir style, particularly if you restrict the scope to the Cromwell Basin districts, Bendigo and Bannockburn. There is something about the plump, ripe fruit character of these wines that makes them stand out in a crowd. Add to that the occasional signature of wild thyme character and they couldnt be from anywhere else in the world. If one of these wines finds its way into a Master of Wine examination it would be a Godsend to any Kiwi student.
The cooler Gibbston Valley tends to produce wines on the edgier end of the style spectrum. These can often be more interesting and complex than the more sensual, easy-to-love fruit-bomb styles of other districts, particularly when the wines have enjoyed a little bottle age. The wines of Wanaka enjoy a similar cooler profile.
Alexandra offers possibly a more diverse range of Pinot Noir styles than any other Central Otago district although I find that they tend to share a sleek and elegant frame upon which is built a multiplicity of flavour profiles."
Feature Story by Bob Campbell M.W
Wine NZ Magazine, July 2012