Wines of the week, Central Pinot and Champagne Bolly

Two wineries feature this week.

The first is Wet Jacket Wines from Central Otago. This wine brand was launched with a 2014 Pinot Noir called Wet Jacket, which is only available at the cellar door, just outside Lake Hayes; a hop, skip and jump from busy Queenstown but a world away in its idyllic quiet location. It’s a top notch Pinot but only available in the region, so here’s a welcome addition to the range; an affordable little sister, brand new Pinot Noir launched this week called Putangi. The name is Maori for paradise duck.

The second is Bolly, whose makers have finally relented from  being sticklers for the official Bollinger name and now agreed to Patsy and Eddie’s fabulous name, Bolly.

Guy de Rivoire is the commercial director of Bolly and he visited New Zealand this week to co-host two dinners with importers, Negociants New Zealand, which has been imported Bolly to this country since 1986. The dinners were in Auckland where over 80 people attended one in Mantel’s and Wellington, which yours truly attended, along with 23 lucky others at The Bresolin.

We tasted four wines; two of them served twice, firstly from standard 750 ml bottle and the second time from magnums. Talk about a massive difference . They could have been totally different wines. Most people had a clear preference. Mine was for bubbles from the bigger bottles which tasted better, more complex, bigger in flavour and had overall more wow factor. Here they are.

Bargain buy


2018 Putangi Central Otago Pinot Noir $29 to $30

Putangi Pinot Noir is new this week from Wet Jacket Wines in Central Otago). Its name is the Maori name for paradise duck and was inspired by RIchard Henry, a passionate conservationist in the 1800s who trapped rats, stoats and other introduced pests on Resolution Island in Dusky Sound. He was a passionate conservationist and bird lover and while his pest eradication efforts didn’t fully succeed, his legacy lives on. 

The grapes in this new wine are a blend from vineyards on the Gibbston Back Road, Bannockburn and Lowburn. The exact blend may change from one year to the next but the aim is to produce a drink-me-now, bold, bright, fresh and spicy Pinot Noir with upfront ripe fruit forward flavours and freshness to burn. 

Treat of the week


Champagne Bollinger La Grande Année Rosé 2005

Bolly’s rosé is a blend of 72% Pinot Noir, 28% Chardonnay and 5% still red Pinot Noir (Champagne is the only region in Europe where it is legally allowed to blend red and white wine together, an irony, given the high quality of the wines made this way, albeit with tiny quantities used in this method).

This is a old and complex but fresh, full bodied, dry champagne with a long, fresh and refreshing finish.

Treat of the week

Reaching for the stars


2008 Champagne Bollinger La Grande Année 2008

This wine is now 11 years old and fresh as a daisy, thanks to great concentration of flavour and long aging in bottle. It’s a blend of 71% Pinot Noir (Bolly is a Pinot Noir-focussed Champagne producer) and 29% Chardonnay, both of which were fermented in oak and aged for 8 months in barrel prior to being blended and bottled, then aged for extended time on lees to keep it fresh.

“As soon as any grapes are fermented in wood, the wine is automatically destined to be a vintage champagne, for us,” says Guy de Rivoire, of Champagne Bollinger.

If only wines like these were available every day of the week but that’s what makes it so worth waiting for.

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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