The Last Vintage Ever Of A Fabulous Pinot

Friday, 2 October 2015 by Stephen Browett

A few years ago my old friend from Bordeaux, Jean-Guillaume Prats, got in touch with me to say that he was leaving Cos d’Estournel to go and work for the giant LVMH group (Louis Vuitton Moet-Hennessey) where he would be in charge of all their wine properties outside France. Soon afterwards, we met for lunch in London and I thought that it would be fun to serve him a couple of Pinot Noirs blind to see what he thought of them. One was a Premier Cru Morey Saint Denis from Domaine Dujac and the other was from the Calvert Vineyard in Central Otago New Zealand. Both were showing really well and Jean-Guillaume nailed them pretty confidently as top class Burgundy. When I revealed that one was, in fact, from the South Island of New Zealand - and worth about a fifth of the price of the other - he was very surprised and impressed. It was a fascinating tasting and a good lunch, but I hadn’t realised just how impressed he really was!

A couple of years later, imagine my surprise when I heard that Jean-Guillaume had been down to New Zealand (where LVMH own Cloudy Bay in Marlborough) and had done what many a wine lover dreams of doing when he tastes an exciting new wine – he had bought the vineyard! Until that time, the Calvert Vineyard had been privately owned with the vineyard management the responsibility of Felton Road and the fruit divided up between three wineries – Felton Road, Craggy Range and Pyramid Valley. The new ownership has resulted in a deal between Cloudy Bay and Felton Road. The result of this is that Felton Road will continue to produce a Calvert Vineyard Pinot Noir and a new special cuvée – as yet unnamed and unreleased – will be made by Cloudy Bay.

The sad news is that our friends at the brilliant Craggy Range winery have now lost their only source of Central Otago Pinot Noir. I hope that they don’t blame me for this! Consequently, 2012 was the last ever vintage of Craggy Range Calvert Pinot Noir. The good news is that we have bought all the remaining stock of this wonderful and very Burgundian-style wine that was left at the winery (pictured above) and it’s a real bargain. At just £210 per dozen this really does taste like a Premier Cru from the Côtes de Nuits that could easily set you back over £1000 a case.

When it’s gone, it’s gone and it will never be back. The final vintage, 2012, of Craggy Range Calvert Pinot Noir is now available to buy (due to arrive January 2016) but there is only a very limited quantity available. My tasting note:

The last vintage of Calvert Pinot Noir to be made by Craggy Range. The grapes were hand harvested by the Felton Road team and pressed 65% destemmed and 35% whole bunch. The wine was aged for 10 months in French barrels of which 27% were new. This fine Pinot has a lovely smoky nose with hints of spice and vanilla. The palate is sweet, complex, delicate and long. There is great Pinot Noir purity and intensity here despite the subtle and refined style. Long and lingering on the finish with hints of smoky bacon, cinnamon, cherries and nutmeg. Very Burgundian in style, but you'd never find a Burgundy of this quality at such a low price.”

16.5 points, Farr Vintners

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