Joelle Thomson

Writer, author, journalist

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Felton Road's long history with Calvert Vineyard

Wine of the week... 2021 Felton Calvert

Climate change is alive and well in Bannockburn, Central Otago, where vintages are warmer and harvest can be earlier and faster, all of which is resulting in wines that are, says winemaker Blair Walter, "undoubtedly better".

The Felton Road winemaker has a longer history than anyone with the Calvert Vineyard, except for land owner Owen Calvert, of course, but Blair Walter remains the winemaker who has had the longest history of making wines from this exceptional vineyard site, producing his first Felton Road Calvert Pinot Noir in 2006, along with winemakers from Craggy Range and Pyramid Valley, who each took a portion of grapes from the same site to produce their expression of Pinot Noir from this place. The three winemakers continued to produce exciting, enticing and very different takes of Pinot Noir from this particular vineyard for about six years but Walter has made wine from here ever since. There is now a Calvert Vineyard Pinot Noir made separately from a different portion of this vineyard - watch this space for more on that wine.

Calvert is a place I have been getting to know up close from staying there and the Calvert Vineyard is home to the grapes that went into this week's top wine.  

Wine of the week

2021 Felton Road Calvert Pinot Noir $75.99 / $65.99 direct from Felton Road

Silky smooth, firm and beautifully textural, this wine is wild with red and dark fruit flavours, a hint of spice and juicy succulence that lingers long after the last sip. Vibrant acidity is Pinot Noir's hallmark and it's alive and well, shining in every gorgeous taste of this outstanding Bannockburn Pinot Noir.

Whole bunch fermentation is a hallmark of Felton Road Pinot Noirs and one that winemaker Blair Walter has remained pretty consistent on, in terms of the percentage he uses with 20 to 25 per cent, typically, rather than playing around with varying levels in different vintages. Occasionally, he says he has pushed the percentage up to 27 or 28 per cent and he prefers the taste and texture that 20 to 25 per cent whole bunch fermentation adds to the wine.