|2018 Picnic Riesling||13.0% alcohol||$27.00|
|2018 Riesling||13.5% alcohol||$35.00|
|2018 Picnic Pinot Noir||13.0% alcohol||$34.00|
|2018 Pinot Noir||13.0% alcohol||$55.00|
|2017 The Fusilier Bannockburn Vineyard Pinot Noir||12.5% alcohol||$85.00|
|2017 The Last Chance Earnscleugh Vineyard Pinot Noir||12.5% alcohol||$85.00|
|2017 The First Paddock Gibbston Vineyard Pinot Noir||12.5% alcohol||$85.00|
(photo : Angelica the Pig)
The evolution of Central Otago pinot noir has been a fascinating journey to watch. The 2002s, arguably the first vintage to really attract attention, were highly acclaimed with critics and wine lovers admiring the deep colours, opulent, exotic fruit characters and rich dense palates. But with the passage of time maybe those styles gave the region a reputation for overly generous wines. Today’s best Central Otago pinots are a world away with the best showing true sense of place and restraint of character without loss of the region’s saturated fruit intensity.
Tasting these new releases from Two Paddocks there is a strong vibrant spirited nature to the fruit that ruins throughout, yet the single vineyard wines make a compelling argument for terroir with each showing its origin clearly. And if we are to make an argument for sense of place then we must make one for vintage too. 2017 isn’t regarded as particularly great and so these wines are not destined for the long haul. But sensitive winemaking has given pinots whose charm lies in their grace rather than in their power.
Anyone who has visited Two Paddocks’ home base at Red Bank Vineyard in Earnscleugh, Alexandra would have to agree it’s a pretty idyllic spot. Just a half-hectare of riesling is planted, the only white wine made by Two Paddocks, and it’s clear the variety is held in high regard. The 2018 Two Paddocks Picnic Riesling is a fragrant, inviting wine, with honeysuckle, orange blossom, red apple, citrus and a hint of beeswax leading to a tangy, bright palate with crunchy apple/sweet lime fruit. Moderately concentrated with a nicely balanced touch of residual sugar and plenty of juicy acidity for a clean, dry finish. The 2018 Two Paddocks Riesling is a drier, slightly steelier expression, though still with plenty of aromatic richness – green apple, limes, chamomile and a waxy/creamy depth (indeed, both wines have a pleasingly savoury element). Tightly wound with layers of ripe citrus and Granny Smith fruit, firm acidity and just enough residual sugar to add some generosity, this is youthful, balanced and attractive drinking now though better to drink the Picnic and save this for the next 5-8 years.
The entry level 2018 Two Paddocks Picnic Pinot Noir has a very pretty nose with plenty of red fruits and a little dried thyme and lavender. Brightly fruited with silky tannins and a surprisingly lengthy finish. Already delicious this doesn’t need ageing. The 2018 Two Paddocks Pinot Noir, a multi vineyard blend from Bannockburn, Earnscleugh, Gibbston is a step up in concentration with a lovely pale colour and aromas of strawberry, raspberry and soft summer fruits. A touch more oak than the Picnic gives more structure. Powdery tannins are subtle but then there’s a cinnamon spice grip right on the finish. Drinkable now though would continue to evolve over the next 2-3 years.
The Last Chance Vineyard
The three single vineyards are of comparable quality but quite different in style. The 2017 Two Paddocks The Fusilier Bannockburn Vineyard Pinot Noir has an arresting nose with hints of cinnamon spice and dried thyme. Feels quite whole bunchy. Definitely a more restrained wine that is just starting to show some bottle development with button mushroom and forest floor notes emerging. Not as immediately come hither but intensity builds across the palate to an almost a chewy finish. By contrast the 2017 Two Paddocks The Last Chance Earnscleugh Vineyard Pinot Nor has a marginally deeper colour with less of the cinnamon spice but more roasted damsons and red plums. Sweetly fruited with exotic notes of star anise and old leather. Dense with a real core of richness, this is a bigger framed wine with plenty of complexity and poise. The palate finishes with a combination of papery tannin and dense fruit. Finally, the Two Paddocks 2017 The First Paddock Pinot Noir. Perfumed yet delicate with aromas of rose petal, wild strawberry and red cherry showcasing Gibbston fruit at its best. Really lovely density to the palate with a core of ripe fruit, yet structured and poised. There is a tiny hint of coffee bean, dried cumin and sweet spice on the finish with powdery tannins acting as a support for the fruit.