Hot off the press… new Eon of Bendigo Pinot Noir
“It’s a WTF lunch because that’s how I feel when I taste great Pinot and it’s how I want others to feel when they drink it,” said winemaker Ben Glover at the launch of a new Central Otago Pinot Noir this week.
This week’s biggest New Zealand wine launch was the latest Central Otago Pinot Noir, called Eon and launched in a way that was different, to say the least – it was at a WTF lunch.
“It’s a WTF lunch because that’s how I feel when I taste great Pinot and it’s how I want others to feel when they drink it,” says Glover, who is the group winemaker for Accolade Wines – one of the biggest wine companies in New Zealand.
Glover’s first WTF Pinot Noir moment led to two life long love affairs.
First, the wine; he bought a bottle of 1992 Rippon Vineyard Pinot Noir, which was made by Rudi Bauer; that Austrian winemaking Pinot pioneer who married a Kiwi, survived a near death random hit-and-run car accident and is now one of New Zealand’s most respected Pinot Noir producers.
“That 1992 Rippon Pinot Noir was the initial discovery for me that I could just sit and swirl and sniff a glass of something for up to 15 minutes, even longer, before I even had to offer it up to my other sensory receptacle. It was simply `stunning, the room stopped…” says Glover, who shared the wine with his girlfriend at the time (now his wife – the second positive outcome of that evening).
Skip forward 20 years to the launch of Eon and the ‘us’ in question is a group of New Zealand wine writers, buyers, retailers and other wine professionals. Prior to the tasting, Glover asked us to describe a moment when Pinot Noir had stopped us in our tracks. Most interpreted this as an opportunity to talk about New Zealand Pinot and came up with a bunch of wines from from far and wide; from Central Hawke’s Bay to Central Otago, and other regions in between.
Three of us shamelessly named premier and grand cru Burgundies.
I can’t speak for the others but when asked to name my most WTF Pinot Noir ever, I instantly thought of a friend’s 40th birthday. It was a big night. It began with Champagne, continued with Huet Vouvray and finished with a Gevrey-Chambertin that blew my mind.
One of the great things about wine is sharing it. And Glover shared our stories of WTF Pinot Noir moments and also bought the wines we each described. It was another WTF moment to taste them all at the Eon launch.
Mine – the 2005 Domaine Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St Jaques Premier Cru – was every bit as stunning as always.
Eon Pinot Noir made its debut in Auckland this week (8 March) and will be officially on shop shelves and restaurant wine lists from the start of April.
Glover’s next task is to organise Pinot Noir 2017 on the Wellington waterfront in late January next year. Will it have any WTF moments?
He replied that memories are constantly being updated. I know what he means.
Does wine taste better when shared with certain people?
I already knew the answer, but was reminded when I arrived home and my boyfriend said; “Your best WTF Pinot Noir moment was that Pinot Noir we drank together last week.”
The new Eon of Bendigo Pinot Noir
Eon of Bendigo is a new Pinot Noir brand made from a single vineyard on an 80 hectare block of Pinot Noir grapes planted on three terraces, 300 metres above sea level, in Bendigo, Central Otago.
The first three Eon wines come from three very different vintages; 2012 (a pretty cool year, weather-wise) and the significantly warmer years of 2013 and 2014.
“The challenge with Bendigo is that it is the first of the Central Otago sub-regions to ripen grapes and can show a lot of grunt, and structural tannin, especially in young vines,” says Glover.
His aim is to de-grunt the wines via a range of brave variables – he has increased the amount of clone 777 Pinot Noir grapes in the 2014 Eon to 100%; he has increased the amount of whole bunches of Pinot Noir grapes that are fermented to 44% (many winemakers use no whole bunches, if the stems are green because this can add an astringent character to the wine) and he has reduced the amount of new oak used to an all-time low of 15%; “I’m not a fan of new oak and prefer to provide structure to wine in other ways, such as the grapes’ natural tannin – whole bunches help here – and the search for acidity, which provides structure,” Glover says.
The new Eon of Bendigo Pinot Noirs
2012 Eon of Bendigo Pinot Noir
This bright young Pinot Noir has intense red and dried fruit flavours, such as cherries and cranberies; its juicy acidity is well matched to its medium body and big grippy tannins carry the flavours to a lingering finish.
2013 Eon of Bendigo
This is the second Eon ever made and has big but smooth tannins with intense red fruit characters and a fuller body, thanks to a bigger component of whole bunches in the ferment (safe to do in a riper vintage). That same tight refreshing acidity keeps the wine in check, stretching it to a long finish.
2014 Eon of Bendigo
This robust wine is made entirely from the Pinot Noir clone 777 (unusual, given that Pinot Noir mutates naturally when growing so that it throws all sorts of interesting variations on the same theme) and it has a pretty massive proportion of whole bunches in the ferment (44%) as well as significantly less new oak than most Pinot Noir could ever wish for – just 15% new oak (and some old oak). All of these interesting and different variables have created the most structured of the trio of new Eon Bendigo Pinot Noirs – a wine with big but balanced and smooth tannins supporting intense red fruit and spice flavours – it’s so tasty, it makes me think… WTF.
These wines are made 100% from grapes grown 100% in Bendigo – the same place that winemaker Rudi Bauer now makes his Quartz Reef Pinot Noir from.
2007 Lime Rock White Knuckle Hill Pinot Noir, Hawke’s Bay
2007 Craggy Range Aroha Pinot Noir, Martinborough
2006 Pegasus Bay Prima Donna Pinot Noir, North Canterbury
2004 Rippon Pinot Noir from Wanaka, Central Otago
1994 Fromm La Strada Pinot Noir, Marlborough
2005 Domaine Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St Jaques Premier Cru
1988 Domaine Georges Mugneret Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru
2005 Jacques-Frederic Mugnier Musigny Grand Cru