The irrepressible Rudi Bauer started Quartz Reef 18 years ago, after having been the winemaker for Rippon. It is always very educational to have a talk to him, but I missed him this time. Maybe he does not need it anymore, after he is enshrined in history by playing a part in designing the Riedel Central Otago Pinot Noir glass. A special glass for a region just 35 years old - some record.
Quartz Reef has been biodynamic for a number of years now and apparently it has lead to deeper roots and grapes with thicker skin - not quite sure why. The cellar door, still in the industrial complex of Cromwell, is still the ugliest in the world. The 2014 Quartz Reef Pinot Noir is typical for the vintage: dark cherry, quite intense and lush, with soft tannins (91 points). The 2013 Ensemble Pinot Noir, from a special block, is dense, black cherry driven. Strong tannins engulf the palate. This is one for the cellar (92 points).
Amisfield is the anthithesis. The bistro is flashy and actually excellent. It outshines the cellar door and wines. The 2013 Amisfield Pinot Noir is quite peppery, with a good structure and firm tannins (92 points). The 2012 Pinot Noir, from a warmer vintage, is also dark, but a bit juicy (90 points). The 2012 Pinot Noir Reserve has 35% whole bunches included and is a lot earthier. It is round in its shape and lacks a strong finish (91 points).
The clear winner on day 1 is Chard Farm.