Valli Gibbston Vineyard Pinot Noir, Central Otago
The topsoil (schist derived alluvial loess) in Valli’s estate vineyard in Gibbston sits on top of free-draining gravel. The vines, close-planted (4050 vines/ha) are cropped and harvested to just 1kg per vine. These demanding conditions force the roots to search the well-drained soils for a source of water then the restricted output is concentrated in the berries that are permitted to thrive. The challenge in getting this balance right is required for an area like Gibbston, one of the coolest subregions of Otago.
Otago Winemaker Grant Taylor planted this vineyard in a north-to-south direction, the first in the region to do so, to maximise the long days of sunlight. Gibbston has one of the slowest ripening periods in Otago and the time on the vine is essential to developing character in the grape and complexity in the wine.
Grant Taylor has been making wines in the region since 1993. When he started out, there were few vineyards. Today, the region is renowned for making some of the most desirable ‘New World’ Pinot Noirs. Along the way, he has built a reputation as a pioneering winemaker who has won the Best Pinot Noir Trophy at the International Wine Competition four times, more than any other winemaker.
Very dark, very deep, black-hued ruby-red colour with youthful purple tints, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is firmly concentrated with deep and intensely packed, fresh and vibrant aromas of dark-red berry and black cherry fruits melded with complexing layers of dark herbs and whole bunch stalk notes. The intensity and depth build in the glass. Medium-full bodied, the fruit flavours of dark-red berry and black cherry fruits are rich, ripe, lusciously sweet and vibrant and form an elegantly proportioned and deep core. Subtle dark herb and whole bunch stalk detail adds interest and complexity. The rich fruit is supported by very fine-grained tannin structure, with balancing fresh, lacy acidity. The palate is complete and flows with good energy to a long finish of black and dark red fruits entwined with herb elements. This is a rich and concentrated, vibrant and complete Pinot Noir with dark-red and black fruits, complexing detail and fine structure.
19.5 points, Raymond Chan (April 2016)
Elegant pinot noir with red cherry, raspberry, violet, savoury and herb flavours. A high-toned wine with a hint of sweetness balancing reasonably gentle tannins. Good now but promises to offer more complexity with bottle age.
94 points, Bob Campbell MW (August 2016)
(from a very cool area picked two to three weeks later than the other Valli Pinots, with lower grape sugars): Bright, dark red. Explosive aromas of black raspberry, black cherry, flowers, minerals, espresso and smoky reduction. Wonderfully sappy and precise, with a tangy blood orange topnote lifting the pungent dark berry, floral and loamy earth flavors. Really explosive inner-mouth aromatics here. Finishes quite tight and long, with terrific energy and grip. This is Grant Taylor's own vineyard, planted in 2000. Finishes tight and very long.
92 points, Stephen Tanzer (May 2016)
Medium ruby-purple in color, the 2014 Gibbston Vineyard Pinot Noir is just a little reduced on first sniff, giving way to a lovely core of red and black cherries, violets and underbrush plus nuances of truffles, Provence herbs and tree bark. Light to medium-bodied and wonderfully elegant yet intense in the mouth, it has a very serious backbone of firm, ripe tannins and lively acid supporting the taut fruit, finishing with complex earthy layers. This could use another year or two in bottle.
91+ points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown (April 2016)
This has elegant, bright raspberry flavors at the core, accented by green tea, fresh earth, white pepper and red licorice notes. Harmonious, aromatic and persistent on the finish, where the tannins firm up.
91 points, MaryAnn Woobiec, Wine Spectator (2016)
Central Otago, located at the southern end of the South Island of New Zealand, is the world’s most southerly wine region. In a short amount of time, the area has established itself as a world-class region for Pinot Noir. The picturesque region is surrounded by mountains ensuring a cool semi-continental climate that experiences a large diurnal range contributing to the creation of intensely concentrated wines with perfume, and complexity. Central Otago’s vineyard area is divided into six distinct sub regions each with their own climate and wine style. Best known for producing intensely Fruity medium to full bodied Pinot Noir, Central Otago’s cool climate also produces outstanding Riesling as well as superb bottle-fermented Sparkling wines.