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What are the best wineries to visit in the Central Otago wine region?


Zealand’s Central Otago wine region is the southern-most commercial wine growing region in the world and is also home to the country’s highest vineyards.

Settled between Queenstown and neighbouring Wanaka, the steady high sunshine and short, hot summers make it an ideal area for our most sensitive grape varietal: Pinot Noir.

Not only does Central Otago produce some of the world’s finest Pinot Noirs (and rather brilliant vivid white wines), it is also ridiculously stunning.

The Wine Pig didn’t hesitate to meander around the Gibbston Valley area to get its trotters on some beautiful wines while taking in the equally beautiful snowcapped-mountain backdrop.

Here were our highlights.

CHARD FARM Hidden back from the main road down a windy cliff-edged track (which we later found out used to be the main road into Queenstown) The Wine Pig was welcomed by the very wonderful and very beautiful Chard Farm.

Having spent some of the early years of its life as a stonefruit orchard, the property was then bought in 1987 and turned into a vineyard which today produces an excellent range of zesty whites – Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris – and a selection of the region’s signature, Pinot Noir.

Chard Farm’s winemaking philosophy is clear: to make complex and interesting wines which really showcase the area while also being a conversation piece.

They nailed it.

The dedication and attention to detail comes through in every one of Chard Farm’s wines in the balance of fruit, acidity and the length of flavour which make every sip an absolute pleasure and extremely difficult not to love.

The Wine Pig highlights:

2013 Judge & Jury Chardonnay: The majority of Chard Farm’s premium Chardonnay is aged in stainless steel, with around 20 per cent aged in French oak barrels for 6-7 months, which means that on one hand it has a wonderfully smooth, but not over zealous, oaky and spicy finish but also has an element of crisp minerality which allowed the fruit to dominate. Absolutely delicious.

2013 the Tiger Pinot Noir: Picking just one Pinot Noir from a range of six was exceptionally difficult because they’re all so god damn wonderful. But one which stood just ahead of the pack for The Wine Pig was another from its icon range, the Tiger. Aptly named, this Pinot Noir is wonderfully intense, packed full of complex black cherry and violet notes while also maintaining an amazing soft, silky texture. It was very easy to fall in love with this wine! PEREGRINE A little further down the highway, the boutique, artisan producer of premium wines – focusing on Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay – Peregrine Winery has something for everyone. The very modern underground cellar door is very smart and minimalist with a glass wall looking out over a huge collection of wine barrels.

Named after New Zealand’s falcon bird, the wines excellently represent both the bird’s power and finesse.

The Wine Pig highlights:

2015 Peregrine Sauvignon Blanc: Fresh and zesty and packed full of refreshing citrus notes, Peregrine’s version of this iconic wine has the added punch of the commonly New Zealand-grown feijoa, from the guava family, giving it something just a little bit different.

2011 Peregrine Pinot Noir: There is tons of ripe berry fruit, particularly cherry, alongside spicy and floral notes packed into this perfectly stylish wine, giving it the complexity which makes it stand out from Peregrine’s great range. BRENNAN WINES Brennan Wines was established back in 2006 with the intention of producing limited quantities of iconic wines, and it has remained true to its word, producing some exceptional wines which represent the potential of the Central Otago Region.

The vineyard and cellar door also has an on-site small batch vinification which allows intimate control in the winemaking process and aids the layered complexity of its fantastic range.

Warm and inviting, the cellar door (also dubbed ‘The Tasting Room’) is a converted vineyard shed which maintains Brennan’s rustic vintage charm, which I’m sure would make anyone feel right at home.

The Wine Pig highlights:

2014 Brennan B2 Tempranillo: This wine, untypical of the region, fantastically showcases Brennan’s commitment of its innovative winemaking style. Dark and spicy with a wonderful range of dark berry notes and with a hint of leather makes this one a winner.

2010 Brennan Gibbston Pinot Noir: The beautifully elegant 2010 version of Brennan’s Gibbston Pinot Noir is rich and smoky with lots of dark chocolate and black cherry notes wrapped up with delicate silky tannins. MT ROSA WINES The long-established Mt Rosa Wines has one goal in mind – to limit the pretentiousness of wine and winemaking and instead create an approachable atmosphere with consistent wines which “encourage consumption of not just a glass, but the whole bottle”.

And they did just that.

Incredibly welcoming and inviting, Mt Rosa’s cellar door, sits on the edge of the vineyard and is also home to two friendly, fluffy canines. Walking up to the cellar door feels more like you’re returning home from a long trip, with not a hint to pompousness in sight, The range of wines stretches from an aromatic Sauvignon Blanc to a fruity Rose and a trio of Pinot Noirs, each one a delight.

The Wine Pig highlights:

2010 Pinot Gris: Aromatic and silky with wonderfully fresh peach and citrus notes, this sophisticated wine is prefect for pretty much any occasion I could think of. The low residual sugar makes it easy on the waistline too, double win!

2014 Pinot Noir: Rich, succulent and smooth, the blackcurrant and bramble in this Pinot Noir are pushed to the forefront from the first taste. A fantastic representation of the region in all its glory! AMISFIELD WINE COMPANY The rustic winery and cellar door is famous not only for its wonderful wine and food but also for having been graced with a visit from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as part of their official New Zealand tour in 2014.

Amisfield takes a hands-off approach to its winemaking in order to retain the maximum amount of fruit integrity and quality, which is showcased in the wine it has produced.

The Wine Pig highlights:

Amisfield Pinot Noir 2013: From the five wines we picked for tasting, the 2013 Pinot Noir was a very clear stand out. The new release has an astoundingly fantastic bright red fruit and hints of spiced Christmas cake with chic and refined delicate silky tannins.

Simply fantastic!

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