"The 2006 Block 3 Pinot Noir vanquished all opposition at a comprehensive blind comparison of Central Otago Pinot Noirs. A bewitching nose of red cherry, raspberry, lavender and honey, the palate is blessed with a natural sense of balance and elegance, building towards a crescendo of vibrant red-berried fruits on the finish that has great delineation and poise. A bottle should be delivered on every doorstep in the Cote d'Or!" - Wine Advocate
Felton Road Winery
Felton Road Wines Ltd, in Bannockburn, Central Otago, New Zealand, has planted some of the world's southernmost vineyards. The expression, "growing on the edge," has real meaning in Central Otago, with the lowest rainfall and lowest temperatures of any agricultural region in New Zealand.
Central Otago is located on the southern end of New Zealand's South Island (latitude 45º south) and shares with Oregon (45º north) similar viticultural challenges: late frosts in Spring, early frost in Autumn, a growing season that may be curtailed overnight. Yet the climates of both are surprisingly similar to Burgundy's Côte d'Or: hot in summer, cold in winter. Central Otago is New Zealand's only wine region with a continental - rather than maritime - climate, which results in greater diurnal and seasonal shifts in temperature.
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The southernmost vineyards of the world lie here in Central Otago. Unlike most other New Zealand appellations, Central Otago is inland - nestled right in the middle of the southern island. Its lack of proximity to water creates weather more continental than maritime, leading to big temperature shifts – hot during the day, significantly cooler at night.
The region's continental climate, paired with the variety of soils found in the area, make Central Otago perfect for growing the finicky Pinot Noir grape. Covering almost 80% of the area planted with vines, Pinot Noir is the dominant grape variety, and the wine it creates from the region is receiving rave reviews for its balanced purity and intensity. Some Chardonnay is grown here, but Pinot is king.
The country of New Zealand is about 1000 miles from the coast of Australia. It consists of two long islands, end to end, that are approximately the same length as California. Most of the country's climate is maritime due to the abundant coastline. The northern island is warmer and wetter, while the southern island is cooler and dryer. The most popular grapes of New Zealand are Sauvignon Blanc (made most famous by the bright, crisp wines coming out of Marlborough), Chardonnay and the ever-growing Pinot Noir.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.