Mike Bennie, 2008

Charteris The Winter Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008

Mike Bennie

One of the most difficult things as a wine writer is assessing wines made by your mates. PJ Charteris, AKA Brokenwood’s ship steerer and main man of plunging, racking and soothsaying, is a close friend. That being said, assessment should always be neutral as possible, hence why I choose blind tastings as my medium for judging wines. I was presented this wine recently; his wife Chrissie, also a great friend, handed me the sample with baby Sienna in arms in a hurried fashion to finally get to me this rarely seen wine. But, as per all wines possible, and assessed at my home, it was masked, lost amongst a run of Pinots and served blind to myself, and for good measure, to a group of friends who are wine pros and enthusiasts alike. It was one of the standouts amongst the bracket.

Anyways, cross purposes alike, this wine warranted a comment here. The vineyard practice is judicious; PJ traipses across the Great Sheep Divide in regular intervals to ensure his carefully managed Bannockburn site is in good condition. The wine itself, well, it gives the classic Central Otago (nay Bannockburn) reek – ripe red cherry, earth clod, some savoury notes and a vibrant fruit pulse that serves the wine well. The palate plumps up – sure its ripe and full flavoured, like Otago has made its name, but the general feel is restraint, a more muted, pristine and finessed line that delivers more cherry, some vibrant/blocky black currant and an almost grainy tannin to bind the wine. I like its more tactile, slender line. I like its juicy yet delicate finish. I like the prettiness often missed in other Otago-for-Shiraz-drinkers Pinot veins; which this wine clearly is not. This is good Pinot Noir from a region that continues to show that small, judicious producers still hold court for lovers of wine.

Hard to score as a mate, but to be fair, in blind circumstances, this is an excellent, sessionable drink with finesse and guile so I put my number down.

Rated: 93+ Points | Tasted: March 2011 | Alcohol: 13.9% | Price: $60 | Closure: Screwcap | Drink: 2011 – 2019

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