Felton Road newbies

Felton Road (Photo: Bob Campbell MW)

It’s always a treat to taste Felton Road’s latest releases, which are spread in two or three deliveries in each year. They are best known for pinot noir but also produce outstanding riesling and chardonnay as well as a pretty decent Vin Gris (Pinot Noir juice fermented off the skins to make a pale, copper-coloured dry wine).

The latest pack included three wines from the very good 2015 vintage and a 2016 Block 1 Riesling, which I plan to taste in a reasonably comprehensive tasting of New Zealand Rieslings (one of my favourite annual varietal reviews).

2015 Felton Road Block 2 Chardonnay (Central Otago – NZD $48) is a favourite label of mine. I had the pleasure of tasting an eight-vintage vertical which convinced me that these wines need at least 3-4 years bottle age, preferably more, to reveal their full splendour. In youth, they are taut, mineral-laced wines but with age toasty bottle development and a richer texture make them even more appealing.

2015 Felton Road Block 6 Chardonnay (Central Otago – NZD $48) is a rare treat. This is only the third year this wine has been released, the previous vintages were 2004 and 2006 (I’ve only tasted the 2006), although it has been “under review” for some time and promises to be a regular feature in future. Block 6 is at a higher elevation than Block 2 on a north-facing slope of schist gravel soils interspersed with calcium carbonate. The vines are now 23 years old. I found it to be more accessible and, possibly for that reason, even more appealing than Block 2. It will be interesting to see how both develop.

The 2015 Calvert Pinot Noir (Central Otago – NZD $63) is a bright, high energy wine that has now been produced every year since 2006. Originally the fruit was divided equally between Felton Road, Craggy Range and Pyramid Valley, but in recent years it’s all been made by Felton Road. It’s a classic example of an iron fist in a velvet glove.

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