Felton Road is one of New Zealand’s most respected wineries. Located in Central Otago, winemaker Blair Walter produces a range of pinot noirs from several vineyards (I'm particularly partial to Calvert Road which was not in this tasting) and some very limited batches of other varieties.
In 2011, Blair and I spent a week together in New Zealand, conducting tastings for an audience aboard the Silversea Silver Spirit. Here are our top picks from the then-current vintage with my notes and a numerical rating:
Felton Road 2009 Bannockburn Chardonnay (Central Otago)
Pale straw color with a bright bouquet of herbal and citrus notes. The wine has a bit of flinty character on the nose that perfectly introduces the sublime minerality on the palate, along with soft citrus and herbal qualities. The wine has a long, crisp and racy finish - it is a very elegant, well balanced chardonnay. 94
Felton Road 2009 Bannockburn Pinot Noir (Central Otago)
The Bannockburn wines are a blend of grapes from Felton Road’s three main vineyards, the Elms Vineyard, Calvert Vineyard and Cornish Point. This wine is made up of equal parts from all three and spent 11 months in French oak barrels.
Medium ruby color with a beautiful aroma of heather, forest floor and appealing smoke and black cherry. On the palate, the wine has great balance thanks to abundant crisp red fruit and ripe, round tannins. Very long and elegant with a crisp, clean finish. 94
Felton Road 2009 Pinot Noir, Cornish Point (Central Otago)
Brooding, rather deep ruby color with a dense nose of concentrated cherry aromas with smoky accents. It needs time to open in the glass before revealing the sweetness of the cherry fruit on the nose and palate. Very crisp in the mouth with firm, ripe tannins underscoring powerful black fruit. Quite elegant on the long finish with great varietal character. 95
Felton Road 2009 Pinot Noir, Block 5 (Central Otago)
Made from a consistently superior block of grapes within the Elms Vineyard, this wine has a deep ruby color and forward cherry and black fruit on the nose. On the palate, the wine starts out soft, then develops lovely mineral and red floral notes. Deep, intense forest floor flavors emerge and while the wine will certainly develop even more complexity with time in bottle, it is a stunning drink now. 96
Felton Road 2010 Riesling
Beautiful pale straw color with green highlights. Excellent citrus and mineral notes on the nose, and a beguiling sweetness on the palate. Thanks to the wine’s exceptional balance and crisp acidity, it’s not readily apparent that the residual sugar reaches 58 grams. The palate offers a cascade of white flowers, mineral notes, citrus and green apple. An absolutely stunning wine with a long, exceedingly well balanced finish. 96