I was supposed to be at Trenz this week to help supervise the Queenstown Resort College students who are helping to run this amazing event. It turns out they were so organised they didn’t need me but I still got my chance to do my bit.
I was asked to present a ‘Best of Central Otago Wine’ tasting at Novotel hotel for the Accor group, matched with canapés created by chef Mark Glover.
Best of Central Otago? Not that easy when you have only six wines to use. It’s important to showcase as many varieties as possible, always with the main focus on pinot noir, a range of vintages if possible and also a varied look at the sub-regions.
My theme was past, present and future and since these were businesspeople, I wanted to throw a few figures at them, just to try and impress and make it look like I actually do my research.
The past section focused on the conditions that set on course the beginnings of the wine industry in Central Otago. Vineyards in the South Island had already begun to emerge, ending the belief that it was too cold. A handful of innovative and single-minded characters happened to start growing grapes at roughly the same time. The stars aligned. Bill Grant, Sue and Verdun, Alan Brady and Rolf and Lois Mills.
As for the present I concentrated on Central’s current export markets. Seventy-five per cent of our pinot noir goes in almost equal levels to the US, UK and Australia. China and Japan hardly show on the radar. Exports have tripled and plantings have doubles since 2005.
As for the future I predict more diversity in wine styles while the focus on pinot noir will remain, passionate and business minded producers will survive and grow, wine prices will remain premium with a focus on high quality and the region will start to create more awareness of the sub-regions of Central Otago.
As for the wines, I showcased Quartz Reef Vintage 2006 Methode Traditionelle, Valli Old Vine Riesling 2010, Gibbston Valley La Dulcinee Pinot Gris 2009, Valli Row 36 Pinot Noir 2008, Felton Road Pinot Noir 2009 and Gibbston Valley Reserve Pinot Noir 2008.
The best of Central Otago? In my opinion, a good representation and though there are a few missing you can’t please everybody.