Pinot highs in Wellington today

It’s day three and it’s fair to say that winemakers, writers and everyone else at the Pinot Noir conference are feeling… well, let’s just say we’re all feeling slightly worse for wear. But the highs of tasting the good, the great and the interesting wines continue. Here’s a style departure – in a good way – from many Central Pinots. It’s made on the elevated shores of the breathtakingly beautiful Lake Wanaka and it’s called…


The word Akitu means the summit and it’s an apt description of one of the highest altitude vineyards anywhere in Central Otago.

Andrew Donaldson planted 12 hectares of Pinot Noir vines on a north facing hillside, 380 metres above sea level in 2002. He made wine from the grapes over the next 10 years but the first time he labelled commercial bottlings of the Pinot Noir was in 2012, which means this brand is still finding its feet.

There are two wines and they are easy to spot: one has a white label and one has a black label. Both are boldly branded Akitu.

The white label 2014 Akitu is a soft, fresh, fruity driven style while the black label 2014 Akitu is firmer, more structured and has an intensely savoury aroma, which comes from its time in oak barrels (22% new) and the inclusion of 24% of whole bunches during fermentation. This helps to elevate the firm structure of the wine and adds weight and length to the palate. Tasty.

Author: Joelle Thomson

I am a wine writer, author and educator... first bitten by a big buttery Chardonnay on a dark and stormy night in the 1980s and there was no turning back... Follow my tastings and join some too on this new site.

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