Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Wines of the week... Valli Pinot Noirs break new ground

Are the new 2020 Valli Pinot Noirs the best yet released?

The 2020 vintage was an exceptionally good one, following on from a couple of tricky years and it might be early days and all that jazz for these wines but I predict they will age superbly. They do also taste significantly more intense in flavour, more full bodied and better balanced than the previous vintage. For a change, I decided to respond to one of those really tricky FAQs and have given my views on recommended length of ageing time underneath each wine. 

The four Valli Pinot Noirs represent the diversity of sub regions in Central Otago and each wine has broken new ground since they were first released as single vineyard wines, progressively, from 2006 onwards. 

Valli began in 1998 and the single vineyard wines were a work in progress over the next 12 years, starting with the release of Gibbston Pinot Noir, then Bannockburn was added in 2001 with Waitaki in 2004 and Bendigo in 2010.

Winemakers Grant Taylor and Jen Parr aim as much as possible to minimise differences in winemaking styles between regions in order to highlight the structure of the grapes and place rather than imprint their stamp onto these excellent wines. 

Valli is the only producer to create four sub regional expressions of Central Otago Pinot Noir every year and in my view, these wines show the broader region's incredible diversity in an outstanding way, even in the tough years. 

2020 Valli Waitaki Vineyard Pinot Noir RRP $85

Valli Waitaki Pinot Noir is the lightest in colour and style this year and is made from grapes grown on Grant's Road in the Waitaki Valley, a maritime influenced vineyard in terms of climate which results in a delicate, pretty and silky textured wine. Small volumes are made and the style here is medium bodied with red fruit freshness supported by moderate tannins adding a firm structure to the wine and a medium length on the finish. 

Released and on the market now. Ageing time: potentially 7 to 8 years. 

2020 Valli Gibbston Vineyard Pinot Noir RRP $75

Savoury dried herbs and earthy notes lead into this impressively structured Pinot Noir from the Gibbston Valley, one of the smallest and coolest areas in Central Otago, which expresses itself in this edgy wine with its high acidity and green flavour notes. Those flavours are of fresh and dried herbs which add depth and complexity to the weighty red plum notes and lovely full body. An impressive wine now from a very good vintage and likely to shine in 10 years' time, if it lasts that long. 

Released and on the market now. Ageing time: potentially 10 to 11 years+.

2020 Valli Bannockburn Vineyard Pinot Noir RRP $75

Bannockburn is my favourite all the Valli Pinot Noirs this year with its impressive broad shoulders and full body balanced beautifully by rich depth of intense red fruit concentration. The depth of flavour in this wine is deliciously powerful and balanced by lively acidity that creates a feeling of length in every sip. A stunning wine now and will become better with time but the urge to continue enjoying it now will be strong. Once tasted, it has to be enjoyed. Simply delish. 

Released and on the market now. Ageing time: potentially 10 to 11 years+.

2020 Valli Bendigo Vineyard Pinot Noir RRP $75

An impressive wine from one of the warmest and first regions to harvest grapes in Central Otago each year. This wine is dense, dark and full bodied with powerful fruit flavours of ripe plums, black cherries and spice. It is still incredibly youthful and tight, qualities that will open up with time. 

To be released later this year. Ageing time: potentially 10 to 11 years+.