Reviewer:

Travis Schultz
18 June 2019

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Carrick, Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2016

As Burgundian wines cement themselves as the most sought after collectable wines around the globe, prices continue to climb for the iconic French pinot. The rapid rise in average sale price for the most popular Grand Cru Burgundy wines is a story in itself, with the Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru now selling at the equivalent of over $20,000 a bottle. No, that’s not a typo! White wines made in the famous region are made from the Chardonnay grape and for the reds, it’s 100% pinot noir. Given the astronomical ask for a bottle of the French favourite, we probably shouldn’t complain that a good bottle of pinot in Australia sets us back over $50.
 
The pinot noir grape can be a tricky one to grow and as a general rule, it prefers cooler climates with a slower ripening period over autumn. When you consider that the style presents challenges in the vineyard, is generally low yielding and also more labour intensive while the fruit is on the vine, it’s quite understandable that it hits the shelves at a price point well above higher yielding reds like shiraz and cabernet. I’ve said before that good pinot is never cheap but that cheap pinot is seldom good; but there is value to be found is places like Central Otago in New Zealand’s South Island.
 
The Central Otago District has a claim to fame as the world’s most southern commercial wine region. It sits at an elevation of around 300 - 400 metres above sea level and fortuitously is nestled in the middle of some high mountains so it enjoys a continental climate. Summer is hot and dry while winters are cold, with snow regularly falling in the vineyards. The wide range between daily minimums and maximum temperatures is a plus, and this wide diurnal temperature range and the ideal metamorphic schist soils are among the reasons why winemakers have flocked to the region in recent decades. Vineyards were first planted in the area in the 1990s and early success drove rapid expansion to the point that there are now over 80 wineries operating commercially.
 
Pinot from Otago is distinctive and easily identified in a blind tasting due to the intense ruby colour in the glass and the vibrance of the cherry and plum fruit and spicy bramblesque conclusion that typifies the local product. There are any number of good ones gracing the bottle shop shelves, but one which is worth searching for (and buying online if you need to) is the Carrick Bannockburn 2016.
 
Winemaker, Francis Hutt, has made a style that is perhaps slightly lighter than previous releases, but stylistically remains focused on fruit, structure and elegance. Typically bright in the Riedel, the 2016 edition of this sought after wine is currently showing ripe red cherries up front, some fragrant violet aromatics in the middle and a sweet but vegetal, sophisticated conclusion. While it will benefit from aging, in its youth, finely textured tannins, gentle acids and a spicy French oak edge make for a wine of exceptional grace and poise.  I love the way the Carrick pinot melts through the finish like a buttery French croissant, leaving a trail of dry, earthy, red currants and maraschino cherry.
 
You’ll find the Carrick selling at around $45 a bottle, so it doesn’t take Einstein to work out that it’s a much better value proposition than a Burgundian Grand Cru!
Price: $45
Wine Category: Pinot Noir
Winery Website: www.carrick.co.nz
Travis Schultz is a wine reviewer for the Sunshine Coast Daily and The Grape Hunter extend their thanks to the Sunshine Coast Daily for allowing re-publication of his reviews
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