Quartz Reef strikes gold

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Quartz Reef is hard, austere country. The land is poor, gold-bearing and rocky, with scrubby vegetation: one-rabbit-to-the-acre country. You don’t expect it to make light, soft, easy-quaffing pinot noir. And it doesn’t.

If ever the adage ‘struggling vines make the best wine’ is true, it’s here. Newcomers to wine assume fertile soil is good vineyard soil. Wrong. Rudi Bauer came all the way from Austria to make wine in the Bendigo sub-region of Central Otago, near Queenstown in the south of New Zealand’s south island, and you might say he struck gold.

The latest crop from Quartz Reef’s biodynamic vineyard, which Bauer recently showed the Sydney wine trade, are excellent.

The 2012 Pinot Gris ($33) is a serious, dry, food style which has gained extra weight and texture from extended lees aging.

The 2011 Pinot Noir ($54) has aniseed, black-cherry and dried-herb characters, and the trademark tannin structure of Bendigo pinot.

This is even more pronounced in the 2011 Bendigo Estate Pinot Noir ($96), which has more concentration, richness, weight, structure and oak than its little brother. The tannin structure is more like top-level Burgundy than most New World pinots. They’re wines to serve with hearty foods, and wines worth cellaring.

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