Wild Irishman is one of Central Otago's most exciting new projects, bringing together the father of Central Otago Pinot Noir, Alan Brady, and winemaker Brian Shaw. The wines are already some of the best we have tasted from the region.
Both Alan and Brian are originally from Northern Ireland. Alan was the first to plant Pinot Noir in Central Otago, all the way back in 1982, and was the founder of Gibbston Valley Vineyard. He was an early shareholder in Felton Road, a mentor to its owner Nigel Greening and the original pioneer of the region’s wines.
In 1990, Farr Vintners’ Chairman Stephen Browett was possibly the first British wine merchant to visit the fledgling region and taste one of Alan’s early vintages of Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir. Stephen brought a bottle back home with him and served it to Jancis Robinson. She wrote about it enthusiastically and the rest is history with Central Otago now regarded as one of the world’s greatest sources of Pinot Noir outside Burgundy.
Alan was lured out of semi-retirement to help Brian establish Wild Irishman, with Francois Millet, former wine-maker of Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue, offering further advice. The project is based in the extreme south of the island's vineyard area in Alexandra. From here, pure and characterful Pinot Noirs are crafted in tiny quantities. There are three labels, with total production across all wines less than 1,000 cases. The wines transparently convey Central Otago's unique signatures across three sub regions, and they do so brilliantly.
Some 32 years after Stephen Browett’s first visit to New Zealand’s South Island, Farr Vintners is now – exclusively – bringing Wild Irishman to the UK for the first time.
Macushla hails from the Gibbston Valley, the site of Alan's original plantings. Here, the expression is succulent, with an effortless ripeness yet fine balance. Doctor's Flat is in the heart of Bannockburn, neighbouring Felton Road's vineyards in what is now widely considered to be some of the best possible terroir for Pinot Noir. This is the Goldilocks of Wild Irishman's cuvées, matching fresh acids and pure fruit. Tuturi lies at the extremes of viable viticulture in Alexandra, and is one of both New Zealand and the World's southernmost vineyard sites. The resulting wine is razor sharp and very fine, leaning on fresh fruit and bright acids in equal measure.
All three wines have impressed us greatly in multiple tastings. They offer pure but different expressions of Pinot and each one shows just why Central Otago is one of the most exciting young regions for Pinot Noir in the world.