June 30, 2021

The aging of Waitaki Valley wines

Many red Burgundies (Pinot Noir of course) are unapproachable for 5 to 10 years from vintage. New World Pinots however, are often from more temperate climates and put together to be ready within a year or two of bottling. Which fits in with the New Zealand wine experience where most wine is consumed within 1 ½ hours of purchase!

The wine structure that comes from Ostler’s Waitaki wines reflects the terroir – certainly the differing limestone and alluvial greywacke geologies – but particularly the cool climate with resultant long ‘hang time’ for our grapes until properly ripe. This provides a strong backbone of acidity with the soft tannins providing the now celebrated long finishes on tasting. Generally, the Ostler wines need some time in bottle to really strut their stuff.
The 2018 Caroline’s is a case in point. At bottling in July 2019, the aromatics were powerful, the wine fine but balanced. ‘Bottle shock’ then suppressed the aromatics and structure of the wine which appeared relatively closed until this year. It now is really starting to show its full potential, with a predicted period ahead of excellent drinking of 10+ years.
The 2018 vintage was a ‘big berry’ year in the Waitaki, with the wines deceptively lighter in colour – like many Burgundies. But the power is there, driving the finesse and lingering finish that has become a celebrated character of Caroline’s. This is not the big, almost Syrah-like, style that resulted from the ‘small berry’ 2016 year, but a fine, complex, elegant and thought-provoking wine.
Like for the cheesemaker, the finishing of our Pinots cannot be hurried. Depending on the vintage, some will be ready sooner than others.
After three years the Caroline’s 2018 is beautiful now, and will only improve further in coming years. So you can imagine how great the 2016 vintage is drinking and the 2009... well, that one is a must for any Pinot Noir / Burgundy Connoisseur.