Vintage tales of old Pinots from Otago…

How well does Central Otago Pinot Noir age after 15 years?

 It’s a question that many Pinot Noir drinkers been asking themselves and here’s our chance to find out – how does Central Otago Pinot Noir taste after 10 to 15 years in a wine cellar?

Tomorrow night, I will host a tasting with the Regional Wines & Spirits team in Wellington, in which we will look at 6 vintages of Central Otago Pinot Noir from one wine producer, which eliminates many of the variables we could encounter, if we were tasting wines from a number of different wineries.

The vintages we will taste

The vintages are: 2002, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2014 – the 2014 is available for purchase at the end of the tasting.


The brand 

Crawford and Catherine Brown started the Bannock Brae wine brand in 2001.

In his previous working life, Crawford was a brewer with Lion Nathan and also worked for other brewing companies around the world. He ended up as brewery manager at Speight’s in Dunedin (his home city) and when he got promoted out of his job into a desk job, which he didn’t like, the writing was on the wall – he left. He and his partner in life and in wine, Catherine, bought eight hectares of land in Central Otago, which they planted with Pinot Noir, Riesling and, later on, with Gruner Veltliner grapes. The majority was Pinot Noir.

“I happily tell people that the view from the office now is much better.”

The Browns have subsequently sold 6 of their 8.5 hectares and they now buy fruit from their surrounding neighbours, with the proviso that 100% of it comes from the Upper Clutha Basin – Cromwell and Bendigo – says Crawford.

Their Pinots are not fined or filtered and can form a deposit on the bottom of the bottles as a result. For the past couple of years there has been a coarse filtration on the Goldfields Pinot Noir. 

Label change

The label change came in 2014 in response to increasing feeling that the label was a bit too artisanal and didn’t reflect the wine quality. “We were blown away by the different concept, which is fresher and simple and straightforward.”


The winemakers have also changed over the years and are as follows:

2001 & 2002 Matt Dicey

2003 & 2004 Peter Bartle

2005 to 2009 Matt Connell

2010 to the present day Jen Parr


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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