NZ Pinots have always been problematic for me. There is, no matter what region they are grown in, always a pretty harsh, piercing aroma that I have trouble getting over - very few others seem to notice this, which makes me hesitant to post about it, but to me it is smells like cranberry juice. I don't like Ocean Spray(TM).
But whenever I have said this, it is to uncomprehending faces and them I'm told that I must try Felton Roads. Well, tonight I did. Two of them, side by side, with a rather unorthodox pairing of lamb couscous (which actually worked pretty well! - why is Pinot and lamb shunned?)
Felton Road Pinot Noir "Calvert Vineyard" 2010 - Central Otago; 14% abv; c.55€
Quite a rich aroma, sweeter and more ripe than the Block 5. I haven't yet googled the type of oak ageing this sees, but I do sense quite a bit of chocolatey oak - but this is a young wine and there is obvious Pinosity shining through, so the oak itself shouldn't be the reason I wasn't too keen on this. Rather it is that it still shows that Ocean Spray element, though to a lesser degree than most other NZ PNs I have had. It has lovely acidity however. And it is remarkably moreish for a pretty dense and heavy Pinot. Fresh finish. If those Ocean Spray and oak aromas calm down (or better, completely disappear) with age, this might become something to my taste. But for now, no.
Felton Road Pinot Noir "Block 5" 2010 - Central Otago, from the Elms Bannockburn -vineyard; c.75€; 14% abv
This seemed to have a brighter aroma than the Calvert: if the Calvert was a bit diffuse, this goes straight to the point. Concentrated, really quite pretty Pinosity in a big kind of way, some Ocean Spray but not as bad as in most NZ PNs. And once again, there is a pretty hefty dose of oak that I sense, but since this is so young and primary but the Pinosity still shines through, perhaps that can be forgiven (how much new oak do these see, does anyone know?). Rich, but tighter and more delineated than the Calvert, racy even despite its size. Yup, I can see why this has its fans.
To sum up, these were certainly better experiences with NZ PN than most I have had. But I still wasn't quite convinced. Less oak and less cranberry harshness is what I would like to see. The Block 5 is one that seems to transcend the Ocean Spray limitations to some degree - I can easily understand why it is held in such esteem. But it is still somewhat away from my preferences with the grape, so I wouldn't dare to buy these for my cellar without first trying an aged example to see how these mature. Fun to try, fun to drink a couple small glasses of each, but the fun I had was of the more educational kind: finally finding a NZ PN that transcends what I thought were its inherent limitations.
I don't drink wine because of religious reasons ... only for other reasons.
No longer ITB.