seduced by central otago pinot

March 1, 2011  |  wine review

Firstly, an apology to those who like to follow my wine blogs. Like many others, I had an alcohol free February. By mid-month I could hear my liver softly whispering, “I love you”. So I felt so good by the end of the month that I wonder whether I am allergic to alcohol! Perish the thought – at least as far as wine tasting is concerned.

Anyway, back in the saddle and the first temptation seemed too good to be true! A 2006 Central Otago Pinot for $15.99 featured in the Dan Murphy’s catalogue. Central Otago is the new world Pinot Noir mecca, with some wines seeling upwards of $100. We couldn’t wait to try this entry and arrived at Dan’s where the fine wine manager suggested we buy the Anahera East rather than the Anahera West – both at $15.99, both 2006, and both 14% alcohol.

On March 1 we fought our way through an annoying plastic closure over the screwcap and poured a glass. In the glass the wine looked enticing, bright cherry red in fine condition. I was prepared to give the sharpness on the nose (which continued through on the front palate), the benefit of the doubt, hoping that the wine would breathe nicely and settle down.

The wine was fairly light bodied but there were certainly overtones of ripe plummy berry fruit and even a promise of those mellow, savoury characteristics that I love about Central Otago. Alas, despite a reasonably long finish, the wine never seemed to be in balance. The acidity, sharpness and hot alcohol remained to the last drop. I was disappointed.

I then started to question why a Central Otago pinot noir five years old could sell so cheaply. The answer was there in the glass. The wine has never and will never rise to great heights. I decided to include this in the write ups to provide a balance – they can’t all get 93/100; and also to suggest that you don’t rush to Murphy’s for bargain Central Otago pinots.

This wine is pointed at 85/100, although on the second night it had opened up a little and might sneak 87/100. A lot of the sharpness had disappeared. If you were seduced like me, open it 24 hours ahead!


  1. You had me hanging as I was expecting an epic wine would signal your jump off the wagon. Certainly the lure of a $16 Otago pinot sounded good.

  2. Was worth every cent of 15.99. The west was far more fruit forward (dark berry and chocolate), and the east being more classical pinot (wild strawberry, plus classy oak). These two pinots are actually Akarua, but with different labels. The son has now taken over, and needed to shift old stock. Your ratings of 85 and 87 seem to be in balance but the comments don’t. The only pinot that comes close to this quality at this price is Pencarrow a Palliser sub label.

    And of course not all Otago pinots are worth 93pts…?

  3. you are right fastpoose! Although I suspect you are from Dan Murphy organisation with a slightly vested interest in this conversation, I did enjoy the wine more tonight and found it to be much more balanced and rich. I pointed it 90 tonight which makes it very good value. Seductive Central Otago it almost is! The man fault is a little sharpness that does diminish with time. You got any other CO secrets?

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