Country: New Zealand Region: Central Otago Vintage: 2019
Category: Pinot Noir Color: Red
The Skeggs family were among the first people to buy and plant vineyard land in Central Otago in the mid 1990s, so were lucky enough to acquire a superb north-facing site in Bannockburn. Planted in 1996, this 50-hectare site has since provided the backbone of the Akarua wines. Due to the short growing season in Central Otago, site selection is one of the key elements in making a great wine, and Akarua have a site that is among the very best. We were introduced to Akarua through the late Tony Jordan, who was the first to make their sparkling wines. Tony built Domaine Chandon in Australia, and was one of the world's leading experts in sparkling wine production. He had always believed in the potential for Central Otago to make top quality fizz and finally realised his ambition to make premium sparkling wines here when the first Akarua sparkling wines were released in 2011.
The Pinot Noir grapes were harvested from two of Akarua's estate vineyards in Bannockburn. The 50 hectare site on Cairnmuir Road lies at 270 metres above sea level with weakly structured light alluvial soils overlaying schist rock. The 21 hectare site on Felton Road lies at 240 metres above sea level. The soil here is young alluvial schist based sandy silt and loams overlaying schist rock. The vines are all 23 years old, VSP trained and spur pruned.
2019 was characteristically unpredictable in Central Otago, with the growing season bookended by frost events. Overall, the vintage was cool with good rainfall that resulted in long, gentle development of flavour and physiological ripeness. Budburst, flowering and fruit set were all right on schedule this year.
The hand-harvested grapes underwent a pre-fermentation maceration that lasted five days, with temperatures peaking at 31°C. Punch downs took place twice daily and post-fermentation maceration lasted six days. The wine spent 11 months in French barriques, 27% of which were new.
Deep and bright ruby in colour, this wine has a complex nose of red plums, black cherries and vintage roses, with notes of wild thyme, brambles and crushed herbs. The palate structure is rich and concentrated, the acids are juicy yet fine, and the supple tannins enhance a long spice-laden finish of star anise, fennel seeds and Szechuan pepper.