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Wine of the Week for week ending 15 May 2011
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Valli Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2008
Central Otago , New Zealand

The quality of the vintage can hype up a region's wines. Just listen to the comments around:

"2010 a super season, there is no excuse for making bad wine"
"2009 back to form after a disappointing 2008"
"2008 all that rain, the wines are watery and dilute"
"2007 a stellar year for reds"

And so the generic comments go. But there will be poor wines in 2010, and there are definitely stars from the 2008. It wasn't wet everywhere!

In Central Otago, in 2008, in general, the wines were indeed lighter than the richer, riper 2007s, and then 2009 came along. Now some critics are saying that the 2008s are sandwiched in between two rich, ripe, generous years and the 2008s, in comparison, are a little tougher. But I think we will see some very long-lived wines pinot noirs from that so-called 'tough year'.

The wine show results, on my wine show results page, tell the real story. In the 2009-2010 season, 22 Central Otago pinot noirs from the 2008 vintage were awarded gold medals and in the 2010-2011 season, there were a further 9 so that's 30 gold medals winners, no mean feat for a so-called 'tough year'. In comparison, there were 29 gold medals awarded in the 2010-2011 season from Central Otago's 2009 vintage year. However the 2007 vintage wines are currently up to 48 gold medals from three wine show seasons.

This week's Wine of the Week is from that so-called 'tough year' but there is nothing all tough about this wine - it is juicy and flavoursome through and through. Valli Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2008 comes from fruit grown in one of the warmer Central Otago subregions. Dijon clones 115 and 117, planted in 1996, were harvested on the 16th April 2008, a few days before the rain arrived that flooded Queenstown. After the ferments were finished, the wine matured for 11 months in oak - 30% new, 40% 1 year old and 30% 2 years old a mix of Mercurey, Sylvain, Francois Freres.

The wine is ruby bright in colour and the sweet-fruited aroma is infused with subtle florals and musk and promises much. There are layers of flavour in this silky-textured wine - black cherries, spicy oak, silky tannins, forest floor, mushrooms and a chocolatey richness and some lovely characters seem to be developing in the bottle. It's soft, subtle and very clean as it lingers, with the juiciness well balanced to the underlying acidity. An outstanding expression from the season.

Made by veteran Central Otago winemaker, Grant Taylor, this is his own label. The wine has 14% alcohol and a screwcap closure. The Valli website lists the price at $55 although freight charges may apply. Click on the website link to find out more.

© Sue Courtney
10 May 2011

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