Eight Ranges 2017 (Central Otago)
MAKING GREAT pinot noir is not a linear exercise. The journey often has many twists and turns, peaks and valleys, that are traversed over a winemaker’s career. For new entrants to the wine world, even the concept of making pinot noir can be daunting. There is no guarantee of success and to even attempt the pursuit requires nerves of steel, a great vineyard, a team of expertise, some money and a bit of luck.
Enter Brian and Rebecca Biggs. Busy tech and medical professionals with two small children, they yearned to find a place to connect with the land and make some special wine along the way. They purchased the three-hectare Eight Ranges Alexandra vineyard in 2016. Planted fifteen years earlier, the mature vine roots are now deep into stony, free-draining soils high in friable minerals that produce small crops of intensely flavoured grapes. In 2017 Central Otago had a relatively cool summer, so cool in fact that two weeks before harvest they were concerned that the grapes would not fully ripen before the vines shut down or the weather packed in. However, the site proved its worth ripening the fruit to perfection. Like many great pinot noirs, volumes are small with 150 cases produced. This plush and concentrated wine displays layers of ripe cherry, dried thyme, a whiff of toast and a sweet silkiness elegantly draped over a chalky tannin structure. The wine needs time, yet it is certainly beautifully set up to age with dignity.