Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Four shades of Otago Pinot from Valli

Grant Taylor, founder and owner of Valli Vineyards, is one of the most interesting creators of Central Otago Pinot Noir. There are four different Pinot Noirs made every year but there are no tiers in the range, although no doubt there are plenty of tears in frosty years because Central is the most southern wine region in the world and can be rather chilly.

My wine of the week is arguably the edgiest of the four and that’s what I love about it. Reviews of the other three Pinots still to come. Oh, and yes, the edgiest of the four Valli Pinots ironically comes from North Otago’s Waitaki Valley, the spectacularly beautiful, chilly corridor that connects Oamaru to Omarama.

2019 Valli Waitaki Vineyard Pinot Noir $79.99
Instantly delicious and typically the lightest of the four Valli Pinot Noirs  each year, with the 2019 vintage being no exception, except for the fact that this wines tastes significantly weightier and has more depth of flavour, more body, a longer finish and is sensationally silky on the mid palate than its previous vintage (2018) was. This is all about red fruit flavours of cranberries, dried cherries and spicy notes which intermingle deliciously well.
It’s made from Pinot Noir grapes grown on Grant’s Road Vineyard in Waitaki Valley where limestone and river gravels, a maritime influenced climate and five different Pinot Noir clones (115, 777, Abel, UCD5 and 114) all contribute to this wine’s character and quality. Grant’s Road Vineyard was planted in 2004 and 2005, is trellised with vertical shoot positioning and also contains Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.