Tuesday, July 6, 2010

2008 Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir (Central Otago, Sample)

Grasshopper Rock focuses on Pinot Noir and nothing else. The winery has an 8 hectare Pinot Noir vineyard located in the sub-region of Alexandra in Central Otago. Alexandra was actually the first area to have grapes planted in Central Otago in the 1860s. However, as areas like Gibbston and Bannockburn gained popularity and attention in the past couple of decades, it became something of a forgotten sub-region.

Alexandra is arguably the Southernmost wine region in the world, and as such could be considered a marginal wine growing area. However, it is evident that some very good wine can be made from this area, provided the winery has given some consideration to its site selection. Talking to one of the co-owners, Phil Hanford, finding the right location was the first and most crucial step for Grasshopper Rock. The single site that was selected (vines planted in 2003) has a north facing aspect on a gentle slope that receives suitable sunshine and has a warmer microclimate compared to surrounding areas. This careful site selection is already paying dividends. RedtoBrown have tried the first two vintages of the Grasshopper Rock Pinot, from 06 and 07, and have been suitably impressed. The 08 continues this good form.

The nose was initially quite meaty with hints of forest floor, though quickly opened up with aromas of cherry, some sweet oak, and musk. In the mouth the wine has a nice sweet-savoury balance, with cherry, herbs, and a touch of spice. It is medium-bodied (in Pinot terms), has a nice yet unobtrusive acidity, and finishes long and dry. There is a tiny touch of alcohol heat on the finish, though this is a minor quibble. It still needs a couple of years before it starts drinking at its best. A very nice wine that compares favourably with some of its more expensive New Zealand brethren.


RRP: $35-$40 AUD
ABV: 14.0%
Website: www.grasshopperrock.co.nz

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