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Pinot Celebration and a question of cru

Pinot Celebration 2012 (Queenstown 26-28 Feb 2012)
“This is like going to a rock concert when you used to be able to get up close to the band…you get to drink with and hang out with the rock stars” Doug Frost MW MS speaking at The Grand Dinner
This is what makes the Pinot Celebration special and it is why some people have been to all nine events.
There is some amazing Pinot Noir in Central, great winemakers and outstanding chefs. The Celebration brings together people from many backgrounds and professions and the common thread is a desire to learn. Everybody has a thirst for knowledge to better understand Pinot Noir, the different climates and sub-regions and the people making the wine. You can talk to anybody you want to – this makes it special.
As a winegrower, Grasshopper Rock feels like a rock star. (I like Doug’s analogy –Grasshopper “Rock”). Rock stars need to keep performing for their loyal fans and growing their fan base, and so it is for Grasshopper Rock. “Grasshopper Rock is a relatively new band from Alexandra and has quickly gained a reputation for producing a style of music which is catching the attention of fans and promoters around the world.”
2012 was another great event and they just keep getting better every year. You really need to be there to feel what it is like.
We even scheduled a summer snow fall (26th January) just to add some interest for our visitors.
A question of cru
The Burgundy tasting was another great exploration of terroir and winemaking from the world’s most famous Pinot Noir region. All six wines tasted were premier cru and all 2006 vintage. The different wines highlight that the less than ideal 2006 vintage weather affected each vineyard in different ways depending exactly where they are located in the region. And different winemakers handled the grapes in different ways.
The theme of the tasting was “a question of cru”. The vineyards we looked at were all premier cru. Vineyards which some would argue should be grand cru. The cru question can’t be answered by looking at one vintage. A vintage like 2006 highlights that the highest status vineyards (grand cru) need to consistently produce outstanding Pinot Noir. All the wines were very interesting and good on the day but of the 2006 vintage I wouldn’t say they were all outstanding wines and therefore promotion to grand cru status may be too generous for some. On the other side there are some grand cru which under deliver in difficult years for whatever reason. It should be the difficult years which really set the grand cru vineyards apart and show them as superior. It is a complex issue and after each tasting we are left with more questions than answers.
The ranking of vineyards, climat and sub-regions is very premature if not irrelevant in Central Otago. There is so much yet to learn about where the best vineyard sites are and what viticulture practices best suit the site and then harvesting and winemaking decisions.

Central Otago Pinot Noir can and has set itself apart from the other world class Pinot Noir regions. Burgundy is Burgundy and Oregon is Oregon and the few places in the world which produce outstanding Pinot Noir are all different.

Central Otago is blessed with a consistently cool dry climate and very free draining soils. We have much to thank the Southern Ocean and NZ’s isolation from other land masses for. In Central we don’t get hit by heat waves, rain and hail storms and wet soils. All of these have a negative impact on fruit quality.

In Central Otago we can more consistently produce high quality fruit, year after year, than both Burgundy and Oregon, simply due to the climate and soils. This allows the wine to show the character of the vineyard and the season rather than the hand of the winemaker.

Great Pinot Noir should be the purest expression of site man can achieve and this requires the highest quality grapes.