(2022) Around 65% Able clone in this vintage, more than in other years, as one block - Block F - suffered in the cool summer and did not produce the quality of fruit required. Aromatic like the A2, more cinammon and clove notes here perhaps, but a similar bowl of exotic spices, flowers and bold and succulent red fruits. There is maybe an extra layer of depth here - not exactly depth but a dark compote character, creamy and almost like a spiced plum pudding. Once again, there is a base of espresso and that hessian quality that is savoury. Very firm fruit on the palate, edged by liquorice and a depth of dark plum skins giving grip that the charming A2 doesn't quite possess. This is a structured Pinot, built for ageing I'd say, with a more rugged overall character, but the balance of taut tannins, acid and that brooding depth of fruit all in place. Price quoted below is per bottle equivalent when buying a case of 6 or 12.
(2022) Whole bunches were upped from 25% to 35% for this vintage, with around 7% or 8% new oak. Beautiful pale and transluscent garnet to crimson in colour, and what a fantastically aromatic wine this is, pomegranate and a whole pot-pourri of spices and wild flowers, touches of rhubarb and beetroot earthiness. A core of succulent red fruit comes through, while the oak adds just a little coffee edge. The palate has weight and succulence to spare, a stripe of lean tannin and dry, pithy grapefruit acidity give this energy and length. Lots of spice, lots of espresso flitting around the edges, a hessian dryness to finish in a delicious and fascinating Pinot with a truly intriguing perfume, possibly enhanced by those whole bunches in the ferment. Price and stockist is for the previous vintage at time of review.
(2021) This wine has gone really well for Akitu, the volume increasing again this year. It's a very young wine, but is dominated by cold ferment pear-drop and raspberry and cherry sweet notes. There is blossom and soft summer fruit there. In the mouth there does seem to be a considerable sweetness, but then orange and ripe red fruit surges through. There's a little tannin and chewiness at the core of this, with very good lemon zest acidity adding another thread to the finish. It's a fascinating wine of Ying and Yang qualities, substance and delicacy, sweetness and grown-up sourness, and interesting mix of light and heavier textures from front to back of palate. Interestingly, Andrew says "It is a white wine," when pressed, and PJ agrees, even though you will find its colour deeper than many a Provence rosé.
(2021) From Central Otago, a little more subdued than the Escarpment version, a little more honeyed, still good spiciness. Again there is a significant level of residual sugar here, the mouth-coating texture of the wine making it quite heady, extremely luscious and off-dry. A full-blown Alsace style this (winemaker Paul Pujol once worked there), but gorgeous acidity sears through giving it great balance too. Delightful.
(2021) From a producer of Central Otago dedicated to Pinot Noir, this is rather beautiful: delicate in colour and fragrance, there's so much floral, raspberry and redcurrant elegance, a fine orange and bright, tart cherry skin tang of acidity shimmering on the palate against some subtle cream and exotic, smoky spice. Imported by Mentzendorff & Co., it's another refined and delightful Pinot from the schist soils of Akitu's higher altitude vineyards.
(2021) From a vineyard in Lowburn, originally the Lowburn Ferry estate which Smith & Sheth have also purchased. Vineyards planted over the past 20 years, this is 10% whole bunch pressed, fermented in a combination of oak and stainless steel and matured in barrel for 10 months (around 25% new oak). Not a densely-coloured wine, but with a darker hue aromatically than the North Canterbury Pinot, plum and chocolate, but very elegantly done again, red liquorice and a touch of vanilla suggest fruit sweetness. More red fruit-driven on the palate, and again a keen axis of souring acid and tannin to give it an edge, the sweet mid-palate fruit becomes quite grippy and earthy in the finish.
(2021) Fruit was run over a sorting table straight to the tank, without crushing, and fermentation commenced on its own yeast. Approximately 50% of this wine was aged in oak. Medium-pale garnet colour, not giving a lot on the nose, some plummy fruit comes through, a little briar, quite earthy, maybe just a hint of rose perfume. On the palate quite full, dark-fruited and a touch meaty, the tannin and acid profile here combine to give this a fresh edge, but sweet fruit and fleshy density persist. Medium finish.
(2021) A blend of fruit from Gibbston Valley and Lowburn, this is a darker, more dense crimson with a fairly subdued nose, again a little meatiness, charriness and deep-set fruit, hints of more lifted fruit and florals way in the background, but they are there. On teh palate really juicy and vibrant fruit, a real twist of endive bittersweetness that sits very nicely against the fleshy cherry and red plum fruit. Tannins are fine, that acid is keen and elongates the finish very nicely. Well balanced and long.
(2020) Pale pink in colour, this is fine and aromatic, quite a punchy red fruit nose, and yet there is a light earthiness and yeastiness, something a little ozoney too, In the mouth crisp and crunchy, a bracing green apple twang of acidity against cool, tart raspberry and peach or apricot skins, that little hint of phenolics, and a long, very focused finish. Winemaker PJ Charteris was at pains to say he was not going for a 'pink' wine, more a 'light bronze'. I am guessing that's partly to do with the price: a £30+ New Zealand rosé would require a huge leap of faith from the purchaser. Fact is, athough an excellent wine, that price does seem steep compared to the A1, or indeed, A2.
(2020) The family resemblance to the big brother A1 is umissable here, that same wild and delightful perfume running the gamut from pot-pourri spice to summer berries to hints of truffle. In the mouth deliciously sweet and giving; a generous wine with ripe and supple red fruits filling the mid-palate, and the tannins a little softer and more creamy than the A1 at this stage, absolutely pin-sharp acidity though, and those subtle, gentle spices and vanilla rounding the finish. Drink now while waiting for the A1. It's irresistable. No retail stockists listed at time of review, so price and stockist is for the previous vintage.