NZ Organic Wine Awards: 'Sustainable Vineyard of the Year 2024' plus 2 Gold and 2 Silver Medals. Full details

The Critic and the Actor

Speaking of pinot, I’ll admit to being won over by Two Paddocks. Ever skeptical, when it premiered a few years back the best I could do was roll my eyes and yawn. Not at the wine, but at the media frenzy over the wine from actor Sam Neill’s vineyard. After all, it was nothing more than another competently made, young-vine Otogo pinot. The droolfest that slathered its way into many new broadcasts and talk shows in Auckland was enough to make any one reach for the calming sanity of a Jacobs Creek grenache/shiraz.

But Neill has proved to be a bloody good dirt farmer. Not to forget his hired hand, winemaker Dean Shaw. Frankly, Mr Shaw’s boss could easily have banked heavily on star-struck fans, many of whom can’t tell a smart pinot from a bag of fruit lollies. And yet he never over charged for what the wine was reasonably worth.

Mr Shaw is a bit of a wizard. Over at the Central Otago Wine Company, he plays with dozens of pinot noir parcels grown all over the place. It’s made him a consummate blender and

master of terroir; which he’s very adept at showing off. It would seem, too, that Neill has drunk more than his fair share of fine Burgundy and, with that watching over his shoulder, is fairly conscious about creating wine that is more about finesse than fruit salad. The latest Two Paddocks is no more expensive than other well-made, highly individual wines that Mr Shaw produces: Dry Gully, Nevis Bluff, Mount Maude and Kawarau. If you like Twin Peaks, er …I mean Two Paddocks, you’ll probably like all these other wines.

Two Paddocks Pinot Noir 2001
Integration, balance and poise are what this wine’s all about. Aromatics are beautifully integrated, more savoury than not, with hints of dried straw and tarragon-like clonal notes, smoke and mushrooms. Rich and velvety, without being sweet or heavy, like good Burgundy it’s very finely structured. Incidentally, this is the first vintage where the grapes actually came from two paddocks, and it definitely over delivers for it. $35 NZD.

© Copyright 2003, The Dominion Post. Posted with the permission of the publisher.

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