(2023) Once again there's some sugar here, with 5.9g/l, on soils of schist, gravel and clay. The vineyard is 17 years old, and sits at some altitude - 288 to 313 metres. Moderately aromatic, the typical Gewurz aromatics there but restrained and subtle. In the mouth this tastes pretty dry, with some phenolics picked up from skins and some time in older barrels. 50% was also wild yeast fermented which adds some textural and aromatic complexity, but perhaps at the expense of Gewurz exuberance. The touch of sweetness in the finish offsets a slightly bitter citric element nicely, and the subtle perfume of lychee does translate into a little juiciness. No UK retail stockists at time of review.
(2023) With 11g/l of residual sugar this off-dry wine comes from vineyards around 20 years old planted at 225 - 400 mtres. There is schist soil here with some quartz, over clay. Creamy and buttery here, lots of ripe, peach pie character with a cut of apple zestiness. In the mouth it is rich rather than out and out sweet, with a full texture and so much peach and apricot succulence and sweet fruit. Lovely acidity, a light spice, and such a lovely full-bodied off-dry white.
(2023) Cab Franc from Central Otago is a new one on me, this made in extremely small quantities, in older oak barrels, and without added sulphur. Extremely vibrant purple in colour, the nose has Indian ink and blueberry, a very deeply hewn interpretation of Cabernet Franc, coal dust and emerging floral notes adding to the intrigue. The palate is racy, dry, and very, very pure, the bittersweet black fruit and tart fruit skins running into a rasp of tannin and fresh acidity. It's a fascinating wine, showing Otago's cool climate purity but real substance. No UK retail listing at time of review.
(2023) As always, A2 is that bit more approachable in its youth, and indeed this is 100% approachable - and delicious. The melange of cherry, spicy tobacco and undertow of game and truffle is inviting. The palate opens with sweet, juicy fruit, but that hint of olive and briar sappiness adds an edge of clarity. The tannins and acids combine effortlessly for a supple, crisp finish.
(2023) From a Pinot Noir focused (obsessed?) estate I have followed for several vintages, this is a concentrated and powerful, yet balanced expression. The nose has balsamic-drizzled cherry and even strawberry notes, just lovely fragrance with florals, herbs and spices all in the mix. The palate shows delightfully ripe and sweet red and black berry fruits, nicely etched by its acidity and a herbal edge, and the support of some oak and firm but ripe tannins underpinning the finish. A very good vintage of this wine, and undoubtedly a wine with 10 years cellaring potential.
(2022) From a parcel of vines grown on their own roots, and planted in 1994. The wine is organically certified and fermented using wild yeast, with nine months ageing in French oak barrels, 20% new. A nice transparency on the rim of this ruby wine, and once again as we have moved south, meatiness and savoury depth here, but once again, there's that floral and herbal Pinot lift again. In the mouth it is another smooth devil, chocolate and spice, but such a lovely core of sweet, ripe, plush fruit. Terrific smoothness to the tannins and lovely balance to the acids. A terrific drinking wine this.
(2022) Certified organic, from biodynamically farmed vineyards that are inland - 130 kilometeres from the coast - and at an altitude of 240 - 310 metres. A variety of clones, the wine was feremented with wild yeasts, only 5% whole bunches. It matured 11 months in French oak, 21% new. A 2019 retaining a clear garnet colour. A lovely subtlety but harmony to this. There is a little sous bois, a little truffle, with fleshy red plum. The palate follows through on that promise, with a harmonious pillow of red fruit supported by earthier notes, a hint of toast, and very nicly pitched tannins and acidity.
(2022) Part of the fruit is from the Lowburn Ferry property purchased by Smith & Sheth. It was planted in 2000 on loess over deep silts, with lime deposits, and is in organic conversion. The second comes from an organic vineyard in the Bannockburn sub region. Fermented with natural vineyard yeasts in open-top fermenters with 15% whole bunch and aged 12 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. The wine is suffused with gentle earthy notes, a little herb or hessian character adding nuance and savouriness. The palate is sweet and svelte, but given great clarity by refined, taut structure.
(2022) One of the best-known biodynamic certified estates in New Zealand, Felton Road's Calvert vineyard bottling comes from heavy silt soils. 25% of the blend was whole-bunch fermented, and the wine spent 16 months in barrel (30% new French oak). There is a certain wild, untamed nature to this wine, the nose lifted with wild berries and garrigue, but a sense of woodland and mushroom too. There's something firm in the aromatic picture - something vegetal perhaps, in the beetroot spectrum. On the palate much more straighforward in a way, with plenty of red and black berry fruits, firm at the core, with sweet and ripe tannins and acidity to balance. Oak is discreet, in a wine that has some genuine plushness, but always a bit of wiry but polished gravitas too.
(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.