Pinot Noir wine is a highly regarded wine around the world, but it can be incredibly hard to grow the grapes in an unsuitable environment. Here in New Zealand, Central Otago is known around the world for being the premium producer of Pinot Noir.
Climate can play a bit part in wine producing, and the climate of New Zealand is unique. Being a small island nation in the South Pacific, and full of diverse landscapes New Zealand has a maritime climate with four seasons, and the mountains play a big part in our weather. Central Otago however stands alone with having a “continental” climate. Protected by the mountain ranges from the influences that the oceans surrounding New Zealand have on the weather, Central Otago can be predominantly more settled than other parts of the country and has large variations between all seasons – this provides the almost perfect grape growing environment – even the notoriously hard Pinot Noir Grape.
Wine in Central Otago has been grown and produced in the region since the Gold Rush of the 1860’s A French goldminer Jean Feraud purchased land near Clyde and built a stone building, it was there that the first Central Otago wines were made. It wasn’t until later in the nineteenth century when Italian Romeo Bragto a viticulturist hired by the New Zealand government surveyed the land for wine producing and saw the potential that was there. Despite that potential, stone fruit dominated Central Otago until the 1970’s when the commitment of the Central Otago winemaking pioneers saw this same potential, and the first modern production of Pinot Noir began in 1987.
In the 1990’s the industry continued to expand, and therefore Central Otago has become a significant producer of this wine. Central Otago gets enough sunshine throughout the season to produce rich Pinot Noir, which is similar in style of California, but it is unique with some comments saying it has a stronger spice and loads of fruity aromas. Pinot Noir has proven itself in this challenging setting and takes up nearly three-quarters of the region’s vineyard areas. A typical Central Otago Pinot Noir is intense in colour and has flavors of Doris plum, sweet spice, and bramble. There are three different regions in Central Otago which produce this wine – Gibbston Valley, Bannockburn, Lowburn, and Alexandra.
Pinot Noir is an easy to please wine to pair with food. It is light enough for salmon or chicken but also has complex aromas which complement rich red meats. You can also pair it with game birds such as quail, turkey, or duck. For your next meal why not try a Central Otago Pinot Noir, this will no doubt bring smiles to everyone’s face.
Not only will Central Otago simply stun you with its amazing landscapes and scenery, but Central Otago will also charm you with its star of the show – The Pinot Noir grape! And this charmer of a grape has found a home away from home.