Falling in love with Felton Road

Felton Road is most famous for pinot noir. (Photo: Felton Road Wines)

Felton Road is the winery that made Bannockburn famous. They ranked third in The Real Review Top Wineries of New Zealand 2021 list. That is quite an achievement. Even more of an achievement is that in the four years that we have been compiling the annual Top Wineries list, Felton Road has come third twice, fourth and sixth.

Perhaps the simplest way to fall in love with Central Otago’s hottest wine producer is simply to buy a bottle of their wine and savour the contents.

There are three easy ways to fall in love with Felton Road. For a start, you can visit their website and read Nigel Greening’s blog. Nigel Greening owns Felton Road—emotionally at least. His words of wisdom will help you understand the gentle philosophy that drives Felton Road. For example, Nigel believes that growth is by its own definition, unsustainable. In 2001, he decided that Felton Road would never grow beyond 400 barrels (150,000 bottles).

You could make an appointment to visit Felton Road for a tour of Felton Road’s Bannockburn vineyards and winery, an enlightening experience. Tours are restricted to weekdays and are only by prior appointment.

Perhaps the simplest way to fall in love with Central Otago’s hottest wine producer is simply to buy a bottle of their wine and savour the contents.

Felton Road is most famous for pinot noir. They offer four single vineyard or single block Pinot Noir labels plus a regional blend.

A few years ago I spoke to the man in charge of LMVH’s wine and spirit division, Jean-Guillaume Prats. Prats was introduced to Central Otago pinot noir by Farr Vintners founder Stephen Browett, who asked him to taste and identify a blind wine while they were dining at the London restaurant, Chez Bruce.

“I thought it was a top Burgundy, perhaps a Richbourg”, he confessed. The wine turned out to be the 2002 Felton Road Pinot Noir. “I had no idea that New Zealand produced Pinot Noir of such quality!”

Cloudy Bay now produces a Central Otago pinot noir.

I am a huge fan of Felton Road Riesling. They have three labels: Dry, Bannockburn (medium) and their remarkable flagship Block 1 Riesling that is technically sweet but tastes medium to me thanks to its magical acidity.

Finally, you must try the Felton Road Bannockburn Chardonnay, Block 2 Chardonnay or (my favourite) Block 6 Chardonnay, which will make you wonder why they devote the lion’s share of their vineyard to pinot noir. To find the answer, taste the Felton Road Block 5 Pinot Noir.


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