It wasn’t too long ago that Central Otago Pinot invariably came with an elevated price tag. One of the surprises, then, of our visit to the region a year or so ago was the range of reasonably priced wines on offer. Indeed, from an accessibility perspective the region seemed to have come of age, with plenty of wines available at all price points.
The sensation, then, this wine might have caused at $28 three or four years ago is considerably harder fought today. Its aroma is exceptionally promising, a smothery blanket of thoroughly regional smells, with sweet and sour plums, cinnamon, a light sappiness and some toasty caramel. If it’s slightly blurry around the edges, and lacks a bit of depth, its volume and exuberance provide adequate compensation.
The palate is more troublesome to me, as it pushes the boundaries of fruit sweetness. I’ve heard a criticism in the past that Central Otago Pinots have suffered from coarse acidification, a fault from which this wine doesn’t suffer. Indeed, its mouthfeel is voluptuous and slippery, lacking a bit of texture for my taste, though it does present some grainy tannins through the finish. Intensity is moderate, and I’d like to see greater substance to fill out what is a substantial physical presence in the mouth. Flavour-wise, the impression is of pumped up, silicone-breast-implant fruit, along with a fresh sappiness and caramel chews. It’s certainly not confected as a fruit profile; it’s just, well, so pretty. Too pretty, like an overly airbrushed teen model who looks slightly unreal and, hence, rather unsatisfying (not to mention illegal; but I digress). Interesting, quite savoury finish that surges back up after a dip through the after palate.
It’s a good wine, certainly, with plenty of flavour and real regionality. And I admit, it’s no doubt very well judged for broad appeal. For me, though, a bit more savoury complexity would really lift it to the next level.