Central Otago ‘good place’ to make wine
As long as 120 years ago, a New Zealand Government appointed wine consultant, Romeo Bragato, concluded that Central Otago was a particularly good place to make wine.
With its continental climate and easy draining soils, it is markedly different from other New Zealand regions, a fact illustrated by its grape harvest occurring as much as two months later than the North Island.
Prophet’s Rock wines (prohetsrock.co.nz) , from Bendigo Loop in Central Otago, are made by winemaker and General Manager, Paul Pujol. Paul spent his formative years in Hamilton, before embarking on a lifestyle that would see him spend many years making wine in Alsace.
Paul’s French heritage and immersion in the ways of one of the great French wine regions have clearly rubbed off, as his wonderful wines have a distinctly continental feel.
Rocky Point (a sister label to Prophet’s Rock) Pinot Noir 2015 is a silky, ruby-hued, medium weighted pinot with typically rich fruit. Minimal intervention, wild yeasts and oak maturation have given it real character.
Prophet’s Rock ‘‘Infusion’’ Pinot Noir 2016 is a beautiful New Zealand version of a good Beaujolais, a fresh, zingy, drink young style that is best served lightly chilled. The lack of contact with the skins has removed the majority of tannins from this wine, making it a vibrant yet elegant wine – a real crowd pleaser.
My general antipathy towards Pinot Gris is quite well known, I find the vast majority of them dull, uninteresting and simple. Prophet’s Rock 2015 Pinot Gris has made me completely rethink my prejudice.
A truly remarkable example, it is rich and robust with incredible depth of flavour, and wonderful length. It is easily the finest Pinot Gris I have ever had, and I would imagine it will cellar for a number of years yet, with its old school real cork allowing it to develop and age naturally.
Completely dry Riesling is a relatively rare beast in New Zealand – our wine makers tend to leave varying levels of residual sugar in them.
Paul, in true Alsace style, has produced the 2014 Prophet’s Rock Dry Riesling. A slightly austere, elegant, pure and clean Riesling, it is showing the beginnings of maturity with some beautiful aged notes creeping in.
A top example of a New Zealand Riesling.
Prophet’s Rock Home Vineyard 2013 Pinot Noir is Paul’s flagship wine – a majestic, muscular pinot noir of considerable weight and intensity.
From a low yield site, this intensely varietal wine is a wonderful expression of the unique Central Otago terroir. It is drinking wonderfully well now, but will continue to develop over time.
As the weather cools, I tend to head for the darker beers. I recently tried three examples of Stout, two good commercial New Zealand examples, and a borderline insane Swedish one.
Monteith’s Velvet Stout ($7/500ml) is a smooth milk stout style. Generous and easy drinking, it has slight chocolate notes and is a fine ‘‘session’’ beer. Monteith’s continue to surprise with their brewer’s series beers, which are all well worth looking out for as a gateway into the world of real beer.
Moa Brewing Co. Imperial Stout ($8/500ml) is surprisingly easy drinking considering its massive 10.2 per cent alcohol content. Aged in French oak, it is a big friendly giant of a beer with some lovely savoury notes.
The best Moa beer I have ever tried.
-Waikato wine and beer writer Simon Wood grew up in Hamilton and now loves in Te Aroha, email firstname.lastname@example.org