I have been extraordinarily lucky with the weather!
Throughout my five weeks here in New Zealand, the weather overall has been excellent.
A bit windy from time to time, the odd spot of rain and oodles of sunshine when it mattered.
Today, the final day of tour 3 was the same. Warm and sunny with the odd billowing cloud.
First stop was with the inimitable Grant Taylor of Valli Vineyards. Grant is a pioneer of Central Otago, made the first vintage for Mount Difficulty in 1998 and is still as excited about the potential for Pinot Noir as he was when he arrived in 1993.
We tasted two delicious but contrasting Rieslings. A bone dry example from Gibbston Valley and a 33 gms/l residual sugar and 10 gms total acidity example from Waitaki Valley. Both brilliant, but chalk and cheese.
Then we were onto the Gibbston Valley, Bannockburn, Bendigo and Waitaki 2013 Pinot Noir contrasts. Four wines that eloquently explain the differences of the Otago terroir.
Carrying onto Mount Difficulty for a tasting and lunch we were struck by the extraordinary beauty of the Bannockburn area. Quite desolate in places but with incredible views of lakes, mountains and vineyards.
Greg took us through a really concise history of the estate and how it has become a very significant player – representing about 10% of the region’s output.
Lunch was the famous Mount Difficulty platter – a wonderful diverse mix of meats, pates, breads, dips, cheese and nuts.
Our final visit was to the lovely Aurum winery. Small, organic and with the wines made by French born Lucie, we experienced an array of Pinot Gris that was quite unexpected.
Methode Traditionelle, off dry, rosé.. (yes rosé – Pinot Gris grapes are pinkish when ripe) and a Port style. Add in the obligatory Pinot Noir and the experience is wonderfully diverse.
Our final dinner tonight is at Pier 19 – on the waterfront in Queenstown overlooking Lake Wakatipu.
We will reflect, ponder and no doubt drink some more wine…..