Felton’s finest

Vintage at Felton Road (Photo: Felton Road Wines)

An eagerly awaited parcel of four Felton Road pinot noirs arrived on my doorstep and now (in part at least) are resting at the bottom of my spittoon.

Three wines from 2016 (Bannockburn, Cornish Point and Block 3 Pinot Noir) plus 2015 Block 5 Pinot Noir caused slight confusion as did the prices of Block 3 (NZD $105.40) and Block 5 (NZD $98.20) – when for some time now both have been priced the same.

A quick call to the winery cleared up both minor mysteries.

Block 5 has a delayed release because it enjoys the lengthiest period of barrel maturation – 18 months, compared to 15 months for Block 3. The 2016 Block 5 will be bottled at the end of August I was told, and will be released on 1 November.

The reason for their different prices is simply a vintage thing. Blocks 3 and 5 from the 2015 vintage are both priced at NZD $98.20 and will have the identical reassuringly expensive price of NZD $105.40 for the following vintage.

It’s interesting to see Felton Road crack through the NZD $100 barrier. Last month, I wrote an article on New Zealand wines over NZD $100. A few faces were absent from that rarefied atmosphere including Felton Road, Ata Rangi and Te Mata Coleraine. I contacted all three wineries to ask them why they hadn’t crossed the NZD $100 threshold. The reason, as I recall, was a simple matter of supply and demand. Each winery representative expressed various levels of concern that the high demand for their wines might dampen if they moved to a three-figure price.

It’s interesting to note that Te Mata Coleraine and the Felton Road ‘Block’ Pinot Noirs have now taken the plunge while Ata Rangi has yet to cross the line.

The 2016 Felton Road Bannockburn Pinot Noir is a blend from Felton’s four organic/biodynamic pinot noir vineyards. The wine is fermented with 25% whole clusters and spends 13 months in oak. This wine achieves a very high standard for an entry-level pinot noir. It’s a complex and quite savoury red with good cellaring potential. (NZD $66.80)

2016 Felton Road Cornish Point Pinot Noir is from a scenic vineyard by Lake Dunstan, which creates a distinctive meso-climate and ultimately a rather unique wine style with bright floral and fresh herb flavours. It’s a pinot with energy and power. (NZD $78.30)

The 2016 Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir is from a north-facing slope in the heart of the Elms Vineyard on glacial soil interspersed with calcareous seams. 25% whole clusters were used to add structure and complexity. The wine was fermented with indigenous yeasts and was neither fined or filtered. It’s a rich and spicy wine, with a suggestion of violet and coffee. (NZD $105.40)

Felton Road’s 2015 Block 5 Pinot Noir was my favourite wine of the group. It has impressive density and richness with a structure that promises to support the wine and provide good cellaring potential. (NZD $98.20)

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