Vineyard tales… from Alexandra

It you have ever felt like throwing caution to the wind, you will understand the sentiments behind Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir, which is made from grapes grown on one of the edgiest vineyards in New Zealand.

The location is what makes it an edgy wine because it comes from Alexandra. It is the most eastern of Central Otago’s four main sub-regions. Alex’, as it is colloquially known, is also home to regular record temperatures for hottest, coldest and driest in New Zealand on an annual basis. This means it can be challenging in terms of grape growing. Grapes grown in and around Alexandra, as those at Grasshopper Rock Vineyard are, can frequently experience both spring and autumn frosts, putting them at high risk of decimation at both ends of an already relatively short growing season. Not that edginess is everything, even if it does make a damn good tale to tell.

This wine makes my short list of top Pinot Noirs in New Zealand because older vintages that I have tried have shown it has great ageing potential. Like most youthful Pinot Noir made in Otago, this wine is all bright fresh fruit, dry tannins and high acid when young, but give it five years (and then some) in the bottle, and it soften out, develops savoury, earthy, mushroom-like flavours, which I find incredibly attractive.

This is the latest…


2015 Grasshopper Rock Earnscleugh Pinot Noir RRP $34

Grasshopper Rock’s Earnscleugh vineyard was established in 2003 by a group of Pinot loving friends and has since produced wines that age beautifully for five years and longer.  It’s made with a mix of yeasts, some wild, following which it is aged for 10 months in oak; 28% new, so the wine’s deep black cherry flavours gain complexity from subtle oak, which adds a smoky aspect to the wine. It is a fresh, bright, juicy young red now, but will develop into a more savoury creative, with time (and willpower too).

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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