Pinot Central

Pinot Central

Posted 14 June 2015

This column was first published in Living magazine in The Herald on Sunday, Auckland, New Zealand, 14 June 2015.

If it feels chilly up here in Godszone’s tropical north, spare a thought for those in the deep south, where temperatures dropped to below comfort levels for humans and grapevines over a month ago now. This makes it vital to grow grape varieties that ripen early and avoid frost at the end of the season. Enter pinot noir. Enter Alexandra.

The words ‘dry red’ take on a whole new meaning in the arid rocky landscape of this easternmost Otago wine region. Its rainfall is ridiculously low each year, its winters are frequently the coldest in New Zealand and its summers are often the hottest. It is also home to Grasshopper Rock winery; a tin shed where the new 2013 Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir was made.

The grapes are grown on the nearby Earnscleugh Vineyard; planted in 2003. Ten years on, it is growing a reputation for hot pinot noirs, minus the high price tags of some deep southern drops; $32 will buy a bottle from Caro’s in Parnell, Auckland, or direct: email
Speaking of tasty southern affordables; check out the outstanding 2013 Ballasalla Pinot Noir from Folding Hill; $29.95, new on the shelves and great drinking from It will age too; given half a chance.