One sub-region of Central Otago I’ve not had the pleasure of visiting (as opposed to driving through) is Alexandra. This wine, purchased from the Central Otago Wine Company’s cellar door, was recommended as fairly typical of the sub-region. As an aside, I can highly recommend the drive South from Alexandra, as there’s a stretch of the most spectacular scenery, dotted with schist and scarred by dramatic slits as the Clutha river cuts through the landscape. Quite lovely.
Bang, we’re back in Central Otago. The nose is fragrant, meaty, with a big dose of pepper and dark spice. There’s also a bit of vanilla, a sprig of fresh thyme and rather savoury fruit. Though I’ve listed a lot of descriptors, this isn’t an overwhelmingly complex wine, or perhaps I should write that it’s not an overtly complex wine. There is a fair bit going on here, but its aroma profile has a coherence and integrity that suggests itself more than a collection of independent notes. It’s also quite similar to some cool climate Shirazes I’ve tasted.
In the mouth, more straightforward than suggested by the nose, with a clean shot of fruit dipped in fresh thyme. There’s a bit more sweetness to the fruit, although its core remains savoury. The oak here stands out more, pleasantly so, as its character meshes well with the fruit. Slippery mouthfeel of some elegance, this wine is light to medium bodied at most. Tannins, while adding some grip to the finish, are subdued and gentle.
As a whole, the wine exists mostly in the middle to high registers. By way of comparison, I poured myself a glass of the 2006 Hoddles Creek Pinot while tasting this one. Side by side, the Hoddles Creek was almost all bass notes, lacking presence and detail in the upper registers. Of course, they are completely different wines, both showing integrity in terms of their particular expressions of Pinot. Perhaps less crowd-pleasing, this wine strikes me as a Pinot for enthusiasts who don’t mind a thinner, funkier expression of the grape. I must taste more wines from Alexandra.