Saturday, February 13, 2016

Two Days in Central Otago: First Stop Chard Farm

There are two big trends happening in Central Otago: a move to biodynamics and earlier picking. In a way, Central Otago is starting to suffer from a similar issue to the Barossa and McLaren Vale. Those areas are accused of producing Shiraz which is too big and alcoholic. Central Otago Pinot Noir is sometimes described as a Shiraz drinker's Pinot Noir. It tends to be big and often in your face as well.

How things have changed at Chard Farm . I talked with Rob Hay, proprietor and winemaker. He does not talk about flavour, but a lot about structure and texture. The first wine I tried was the 2014 Chard Farm Sauvignon Blanc. The interesting thing was that the acids had a much rounder profile and were not as astringent and sharp as those of Marlborough wines. Why isn't there more Central Otago Sauvignon Blanc?

The first of the four Pinots was the 2013 River Run. It is a blend of all vineyards, which share schist based soils with loam on top. This wine is quite light, tasting of red fruit, and with grainy tannins, a reflection of the 2013 vintage (90 points).

The 2014 Finla Mor, a blend of the four Cromwell vineyards, is more agreeable. It is a more generous wine, quite lush, tending towards black rather than red cherry, with a soft finish. Much of this may be due to the 2014 vintage, which produced much gentler wines (92 points).

My favorite of the tasting was the 2014 Mata-Au. This comes from the two best Lowburn vineyards, at relatively high altitude. The vines are now 17 to 18 years old and yield a low 4.5 to 5t/ha. This is quite a perfumed wine, with intense fruit and silky tannins on the finish (94 points).

The 2013 Viper Vineyard Pinot Noir suffers from the tougher vintage. It is supposed to be the super premium wine, but the vintage makes the tannins quite robust. The fruit flavours are interesting, with blueberry dominating, a bit unusual for Pinot Noir (93 points).

Coming back to my comment about how things have changed. The Pinots have become much more delicate. There is more minerality in the wines. Power has been replaced by silky textures in agreeable vintages (2014).

No comments: