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Central Otago 2002 Pinot Noir Challenge – 24th August 2011


Following my early mention of this tasting on WordPress  last year here is a summary of the wines tasted.

The team of Appellation Central Queenstown wine guides got together for a much anticipated tasting of the 2002 Pinot Noirs. We were delighted to share the occasion with pioneering winemaker, Alan Brady, and founder of Gibbston Valley Wines, Mt Edward Wines and now Wild Irishman.

2002 was a great Central Otago vintage with many of the wines on release showed great structure, deep colour and full tannins, all good signs for aging. In the subsequent years questions were raised about the longevity of the vintage and expectations that some of the wines would peak early.

There has also been plenty of discussion on aging potential of Central Otago Pinot Noirs. Many local cellar door staff will talk in terms of 5 to 8 years, few will boldly talk 10 years plus. The reality is the jury is still out whether Central Otago Pinot Noirs can improve with age beyond a decade.

Nine years on from 2002 we lined six of the best wines of the 2002 vintage for a super challenge. In selecting the wines we also tried to have representations from several of

The great 2002 Pinot Noir Challenge

the different sub-regions of Central Otago – specifically Alexandra, East and West Bannockburn and Gibbston.

The wines in the order we tasted them blind with our average scores –

  • Akarua – Air NZ Trophy winner – 18/20
  • Olssens Slapjack Creek – Multi golds – faulty
  • Gibbston Valley Reserve – Multi golds – 17.5/20
  • Felton Road Block 5 – 17.5/20
  • Black Ridge (Oldest vines in line up) 16/20 (slightly oxidized)
  • Valli (Gibbston) – 18.5/20
  • Mt Edward – 18/20

The verdict:

Two of the wines (both under cork) were faulty reducing actual lineup to Akarua, Gibbston Valley, Felton Road and Valli. These four wine all impressed the panel and it was noted how alive they all were. Not only did the wines have good tannin and acid structure but they had that key ingredients for age worthiness.

First up the Akarua set a very high standard. The wine was a very dark garnet colour with a faded reddish rim, the nose leaped out of the glass with opulent brambly, earthy characters and underlying warm spices. The palate had a gorgeous, rich creamy texture with beautiful fruit sweetness still evident and a finished that lingered on and on. Drinking superbly and will keep developing for another 5 years at this rate!

Gibbston Valley Reserve was another dark coloured wine with a much more brick coloured rim showing more signs of its age, however the nose had a wonderful alluring spiciness and was evidently still quite lively and fresh. A beautifully balanced wine, lean and elegant.

The Felton Road Block 5 lived up to its cult reputation – initial impression was a lively, fresh nose of red berries, on revisiting the wine revealed violets and an underlying forest floor character. The palate was mouth filling and velvety with complex flavours of red fruits, warm spices and dark chocolate.

The Black Ridge was slightly oxidized but still hinted at its potential with sweet spices and a leathery nose and quite a forward palate of red fruits and spices.

Valli was the star of the line up edging out the others as the team favourite. The wine had a developed, pronounced nose of wild thyme, prunes, spices and smoky tar. Very rich and up front the palate was lively with rich dark plums and black cherries still evident, and some gorgeous developed leather, liquorice characters. A well balanced wine with great length and potential to continue developing with further age.

PS. Mt Edward 2002 Pinot Noir came in as a late edition courtesy of our guest for the night,  Alan Brady. The Mt Edward was a remarkably refined wine and showed a beautiful level of elegance  that made me look forward to the few older Mt Edwards still in the cellar.


Philip Green,

UK WSET and founder of Appellation Central Wine Tours, Queenstown

Wine trends in 2011 look good for New Zealand & Pinot Noir


Berry Bros latest review of their wine sale trends for 2011 show good signs for premium Pinot Noir producing regions like Central Otago.

New Zealand is also rated the 4th most popular country for wine sales after France, Italy and Spain, with sales of Pinot Noir one of the fast growing grape varieties in popoularity with sales up a whopping 50%.

Interestingly the ABC’s (Anything But Chardonnay drinkers) have diminished with good positive growth in sales up 18.7%.

Philip Green

Appellation Central Wine Tours, Queenstown



Christchurch Wine and Food Festival 3rd December 2011


What a great celebration of Christchurch/South Island’s status as one of nine Great Wine Capitals of the world by hosting this fantastic event.

The day started off with a brunch where Sue Wells, Christchurch City Councillor,  presented the Best of Wine Tourism awards from the Great Wine Capitals world network to:

Christchurch then turned on a perfect summer day with many highlights including a great line up of live music – Hollie Smith, Paul Ubana Jones, The Phoenix Foundation and  The Tahuna Breaks.  The Chef’s Kitchen held a series of fantastic cooking demonstrations with top local chef’s.

In the Riedel seminar lounge there were wine masterclasses and tutored tastings including Bob Campbell’s Pinot Noir masterclass, Yvonne Lorkin from Dish magazine hosting a wine and chocolate matching and Garth Gallaway taking us through Non Sauvignon Blanc 101.

And of course the the 50 leading South Island wineries that came along to present their wines alongside a range of great food producers including the acclaimed Jonny Schwass.

Trail-blazing Tour Company wins International Wine Tourism award


A trail-blazing New Zealand Wine Tour company has won a prestigious International Best of Wine Tourism Award for its work showcasing Central

Tasting in the Garden at Olssens of Bannockburn vineyard

Otago wines.

Appellation Central Wine Tours, which was set up in 1999 when wine making in Central Otago was still in its infancy, has won the award for Wine Tourism Services in the Great Wine Capitals Global Network awards.

It is the second year in a row that Appellation Central Wine Tours has won the regional Christchurch/South Island Wine Tourism Service award but the first time they have been successful in being awarded the international award in their category.

The company specialises in taking small groups and individuals on customised tours around Central Otago’s wineries.

Dr Fountain says the standard of entries in this year’s awards was extremely high. This is the second year that the Christchurch|South Island region has had an international winner, with Yealands taking out the sustainability award last year.

Some 46% (295) of New Zealand wineries are located in the Christchurch | South Island wine region, which includes the Waipara Valley, Canterbury, Marlborough, Nelson and Central Otago.

The region has been a member of the Great Wine Capitals Network since 2009. Other members of the network include Bordeaux, Cape Town, Florence, and the San Francisco-Napa Valley. Only one wine region from each country can become a member of the global network.

The coveted Great Wine Capitals Network awards are run annually and honour outstanding wineries and other tourism-related businesses in the Network’s member cities and regions.

The Christchurch | South Island Best of Wine Tourism Awards and the Global Network International Wine Tourism Services trophy will be presented to the international winner and regional winners during the New World Wine and Food Festival taking place in Christchurch on Saturday, December 3.

Northburn Station, Central Otago – Best of Wine Tourism National Winner


The 2012 winners of the Great Wine Capitals wine tourism awards have just been announced.

This year Northburn Station, a high country sheep station in Central Otago with its own 23ha winery, was judged the best Innovative Wine Tourism Experience in the Christchurch | South Island wine region.

Northburn Platter Lunch

The judge were full of praise for the experience on offer at the 13,500ha station where cellar door visitors can taste a selection of wines alongside a delicious selection of canapés made from the best local produce, much of it sourced from Northburn’s own organic gardens, orchards and farm.

“The setting of Northburn Station’s cellar door, overlooking a trout pond and with stunning views towards Lake Dunstan and the Pisa Ranges, and the hospitable welcome received cap off what is a wonderful winery experience where the best of Central Otago food, wine and landscape is on display,” Dr Fountain says.

Other National winners included:

  • Canterbury’s Melton Estate won the award for the Best Wine Tourism Restaurant.
  • For the second year in a row Yealands Winery has been named as the winner of the regional award for Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices.
  • Also for the second year in a row Appellation Central Wine Tours has won the regional Christchurch/South Island Wine Tourism Service award but the first time they have been successful in being awarded the international award in their category.

Congratulations to all the 2012 winners.


Queenstown No.8 – Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel: top 10 regions for 2012


Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel: top 10 regions for 2012

Queenstown and Southern Lakes is ranked eighth in the book’s list of Top 10 Regions for its year-round activities and spectacular scenery.

An excerpt from the book reads,

“There isn’t a bad time to turn up in the world’s top adventure playground. There’re nonstop outdoor activities year-round in the resort towns of Queenstown, Wanaka and Te Anau, as well as the surrounding mountains, lakes and parks… Where else can you ski in the morning and golf or water ski in the afternoon? Add excellent wineries and superb restaurants and what more is there to say?”

The Southern Lakes region is renowned as one of the most diverse and spectacular regions in the world, encompassing the tranquil beauty of Lake Wanaka, the international four-season resort of Queenstown and Fiordland’s dramatic landscapes, all surrounded by the breathtaking scenery of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area.

Lonely Planet New Zealand spokesperson Sarah Bennett said, “This news is hardly the shock of the century. Anyone who lives in or has visited the Queenstown region will back up this accolade.  Words like breathtaking, jaw-dropping, exhilarating and stunning are grossly overused in the tourism industry but the Southern Lakes region has a right to them all.”

Philip Green

Appellation Central – Queenstown Wine Tour specialist

Tasting Central Otago 2002 Pinot Noirs – August 2011


The team of Appellation Central Queenstown wine guides got together for a much anticipated tasting of the 2002 Pinot Noirs. We were delighted to share this occasion with Central Pioneer Alan Brady, founder of Gibbston Valley Wines, Mt Edward Wines and now Wild Irishman.

Wines Tasted:

  • Akarua – Air NZ Trophy winner
  • Olssens Slapjack Creek – Multi golds
  • Gibbston Valley Reserve – Multi golds
  • Felton Road Block 5
  • Black Ridge (Oldest vines in line up)
  • Valli (Gibbston)
  • Mt Edward

There was no question back in 2002 that it was a great vintage. Many of the wines back then showed great structure, deep colour and full tannins, all good signs for aging. In the subsequent years there was discussion that maybe some of the wines would peak early and questions were raised about the status of the vintage as our greatest.

– One corked wine
– One wine passed its best and mildly oxidised
– The five remaining wines were outstanding and were only just starting to peak!

Conclusion: A great tasting that showed the best of Central Otago’s Pinot Noirs from good vintages will easily mature and improve for 10 years or more.

Detailed report and tasting notes to follow on Appellation Central’s Queenstown Wine Tour website.

Tasting Team


Appellation Central – Small Group Guided Queenstown Wine Tours


Appellation Central Wine Tours

Discover Central Otago’s fine wines on one of Appellation Central’s small group wine tours.  Central Otago wine country spreads from the outskirts of Queenstown’s picturesque valleys and dramatic gorges to the vine-clad foothills of Bannockburn and beyond.  Central Otago is becoming renown for the world-class quality of its Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnays.

Departing daily from Queenstown our tours are designed to offer a balanced mix of wine tasting, fine food, sightseeing and culture.  Each tour group is kept to an absolute maximum of 11 adults to ensure you get the most of your day out with time to relax and enjoy the tranquility of the world’s southern-most wine region.

Boutique Wine Tour: 12noon-5.00pm – NZ$165 per person

An afternoon amongst some of our favourite boutique vineyards in Central Otago.

Gourmet Wine Tour: 12noon-4.30pm – NZ$215 per person

Our premier full day wine tour includes additional highlights like tasting local cheeses at Olssens garden vineyard, tasting wine in the cave at Gibbston Valley and a delightful lunch at Northburn vineyard and high country sheep station.

Appellation Central – Queenstown Wine Tours