By Jamie Drummond
In the last of my New Zealand diary entries I look at the entire range of wines made by Blair Walter at Felton Road in Central Otago. It’s been a superb trip, with many a surprise… and many the eye-opening experience. I’ll put together a “State of The Nation” round-up tomorrow.
And now to Felton Road… Good juice… seriously good juice.
2008 Felton Road Pinot Noir Central Otago
It’s funny… after tasting so many New Zealand Pinot Noirs it it quite astounding I find myself using many of the same descriptiors… bloody repeating myself like a rank amateur… especially when it comes to “Central” Pinots… Dark berries and a herbal note (there I go again!) Substantial weight on the palate… this surprised me actually, especially at this price point… Nice supple tannins. Blair spoke of the French philosophy (read: Burgundian) of over-performing on your “Village” level wines… and I can see where he is coming from when he tells me of Felton Road believing wholeheartedly in this. Shows amazing finesse. Although it is hardly inexpensive, this is a killer wine for the price. Buy it if you can find it!
2008 Felton Road Pinot Noir “Calvert Vineyard” Central Otago
Not being one to hide my occasional failings as a taster, here’s a repeat post my blind evaluation of the wine in question (from a few days before), followed by my notes upon this particular day…
A very polished wine. Again with quite a serious herbal quality that is most intriguing. Thyme in particular. Beautifully balanced on the palate with a sustained finish.
And then today, knowing the wine (and yes, I am being honest here):
Sweeeeeeeet fruit on the attack. Elegantly austere… not austere in a bad way. Fruit is accompanied by some seriously zingy acid in the house. Fine dusty tannins. Smells like an old bookstore curated by a mysterious dark-haired woman with unforgiving eyebrows, which I happen to appreciate. We are structure. Structure to the extreme. Hehe…
2008 Felton Road Pinot Noir “Cornish Point Vineyard” Central Otago
Certainly a fleshier style. Good chubby mid-palate with very supple tannins… sometimes I become a mid-plate “Chubby-Chaser” actually. Approachable and fun… and yet very complex. Satisfyingly long on finish.
2008 Felton Road Pinot Noir “Block 3” Central Otago
Impressively concentrated and complex on nose. Liquorice… old school liquorice… like one of those wee liquorice pipes with the tiny red balls on the end… And I ADORE that… not so much the red balls… more the liquorice. Soft and broad on the palate. Fruit is so much brighter than the Block 5. So much more approachable for the regular consumer. Structured but not as wound up in its tannin issues as the very, very best of Central Otago.
2008 Felton Road Pinot Noir “Block 5” Central Otago
Now this is lovely. Just as good as that damn Ata Rangi Pinot Noir I was wetting myself over a few days ago, and yet so very different. Again we are looking at the adorable dark fruit spectrum that Central Otago can do so well. And YET AGAIN we get that herbal characteristic… not herbaceous… just “herby” (is that a word?) Densely packed and tight, alongside the beautifully silky tannins. Pleasantly challenging astringencies. *swoons*
As the most traditional of Burgundian tastings dictate, we moved onto some whites…
2008 Felton Road Chardonnay Central Otago
Quite reserved on oak regime. Bright, very bright. Shows some early picking… yes… that’s just been confirmed. Quite fat on the palate but with an exuberant and endless acidic poke.
2008 Felton Road Chardonnay “Block 2” Central Otago
This was the one for me. I wish that I had picked up some of this at the winery as it’s one of the Chardonnay styles I truly enjoy. Coming on like the kind of Macon that the Maconnaise can only achieve with the oldest and best of vineyards, and the integration of some bloody careful fruit selection, this wine blew me away (I guess I will not be invited to Macon anytime soon after saying that?) Minerals to the fore – As damn flinty as Our Man Flint. I’d never use the generic term “fruity”, but here I will… and it works. Oak the way it should be in my mind: balancing itself with the fruit and adding to the structure. One of my favourite wines of my trip.
2009 Felton Road Riesling “Dry” Central Otago
Pear. Pear. Pear. Perhaps I am just craving pears? It happens… No… there is certainly pear here… and citrus. Bone-dry. A little simple methinks. Minerality, but with no real depth.
2009 Felton Road Riesling Central Otago
Ahhhhhh… a we bit of residual sugar… Yesssssss… Honey and tropical fruits. Abundant in fruit. Balanced. Delightful.
2009 Felton Road Riesling “Block 1” Central Otago
“Jacksie!”… this hits the jackpot/bullseye. Reserved. Minerals. Tight. Blossoms. Mandarin. Clean. Good… good… yes… good.
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… and he has eventually caught up with all of his tasting notes.