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2013 The Last Chance Pinot Noir

About the wine

“We grow our premium Two Paddocks Pinot Noir entirely on our four small Vineyards in Central Otago. In some exceptional vintages, listening carefully, we realise that one of these may have something extraordinary to say in its own right. It is only then that we will make one of these very rare single vineyard wines.” Sam Neill, Proprietor

The Last Chance is a beautifully sited small terrace perched in bright clear air above the Earnscleugh Valley, carefully planted with well-tended Burgundian clone pinot noir. It nestles amongst a small cluster of the World’s most southerly vineyards and takes its name from the watercourse that runs through its heart, hand dug by gold miners in the 1860s, The Last Chance.

Tasting Notes

Vintage Comment:

A good start to the season with healthy well balanced canes being laid on all three vineyard blocks with appropriate bud numbers, but growing then got off to a slow start with cooler than normal temperatures in late spring.  The resulting bunches from the cooler spring were of average size but made up of very small berries, which regardless of clone and rootstock ripened at much the same time after a very warm and dry autumn.  March was the warmest March we have on record.  Additionally there was not the normal large diurnal shift this autumn tending much more to range between 5 degrees over night to 25 degrees during the day.  This seemed to be the catalyst for lovely even ripening and carried on until harvest in mid April.

Winemakers Notes:

Red fruit, dried herb and lifted spice aromatics. This wine displays great density, persistence and length. The mid palate density gives this elegant wine great poise.

Soils: Raw schist gravels. Vines: 115 and 5 on various rootstock, 3500 vines per hectare.
Canopy management: VSP two cane, 4 Tonne per hectare, 80g bunches.

Canopy management: VSP two cane, 4 Tonne per hectare, 80g bunches.

Oenology: Hand picked and sorted in the vineyard.  One-third whole-bunch fermentation in a 3.5 tonne wooden cuve. 5 day cold soak.  No commercial yeast added, ferment temperature peaked at 32° – post fermentation transferred to medium and light toast French barriques for 11 months maturation.  One-third new wood and the balance in second and third fill barrels.  Light filtration prior to bottling.

pH  3.58 -- TA   5.9 g/l -- Alc  13.5%

Proprietor: Sam Neill

Viticulturist:  Mike Wing

Winemaker:  Dean Shaw

Bottled: March 2014

Total Production: 150 doz

Cellaring: Up to 10 years

last chance 2013


Award / Reviewer Date Rating Review
Tyson Stelzer's Australian & NZ wines of the year Jun 2017 95 Points

Brimming with all the exuberance of exotic spice, pipe smoke and a basket of freshly-picked sage, this is a pinot noir that rejoices in all the theatrics of whole bunch fermentation, yet does so without compromising the silky fine structure of Central Otago pinot noir. Its core of black cherry and blackberry fruit upholds its integrity, finishing long, fleshy and full, yet well focused, promising strong potential. Dec 2016 94 Points Top 50 NZ

Top 50 New Zealand Wines 2016 - I really like the florals here. This has a vibrant and exuberant nose that offers up plenty of orange zest and bright red cherry fruits. The palate has a graphite edge and compressed red-cherry and raspberry flavors as well as some cassis to boot. Succulent finish follows groomed tannins. This has power and elegance. Drink 2018-2026+. Nick Stock, Contributing Editor

Michael Cooper's Buyers Guide to New Zealand Wines Dec 2016

From a vineyard 'perched above the Earnscleugh Valley' at Alexandra, the 2013 vintage was released in 2016. Hand-harvested, it was fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured for 11 months in French oak barriques (one-third new). Floral, mouthfilling and supple, it is an elegant, youthful wine, very savoury, with an array of vibrant ripe cherry, dried-herb and nut flavours, finely integrated oak, and excellent complexity, harmony and length. Delicious now, it should be at its best 2018+

Cameron Douglas MS Jul 2016 96 Points

On the nose - quite soft and fragrant with sweet oak spices mixed with darker berry fruits and crushed roses fill the bouquet; dark cherry and red apple skin; complex and intriguing.  On the palate- tense, dry, textures of chalky tannins and youthful vibrant acidity mixed with dark cherry and berry fruit flavours; darker baking spice moments plus clove and toasty oak. Youthful, complex, lengthy finish.

John Saker Jun 2016 18 Points

Sweet floral aromatics with a savoury twist. In the mouth it is medium weight, ifted and driven by bright acidity. Red cherry and spice (clove, allspice) notes ring out. This is a wine that bristles with juicy energy, resolving in a long, fine savour finish.

Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews Jun 2016 17.5+ Points

Medium pinot noir ruby, some age showing, right in the middle for depth of colour. Bouquet is a little out to one side, maturing red fruits, fragrant but not exactly floral, with a spicy cinnamon and related quality suggesting light brett. Palate has the good concentration all these Two Paddocks wines now show, browning red cherry grading to black cherry, but again spicy, and very dry indeed. An unusual pinot noir style, enormously food friendly, like a pinot noir version of an older-style chateauneuf-du-pape (in flavour, not weight). Shorter term cellar might be wiser, on the drying factor, 3 – 8 years.


Wine Spectator, 31 May 2016 May 2016 94 Points

New releases - New Zealand

Concentrated, with firm and juicy black cherry and blackberry flavors that are generous and velvety, showing a range of star anise and black tea details. A fresh loamy earth note lingers on the lone, powerful finish. Drink now through 2026.

Bob Campbell MW May 2016 95 Points

"A serious pinot noir in a supple, elegant style with dark cherry, plum, mocha, fresh herbs and a suggestion of spice. Sweet fruit is balanced by gentle tannins to give a delicately drying and lengthy finish. Good now, even better in a few years."

Cellar 20162022

Raymond Chan Wine Reviews Apr 2016 19 Points

Dark ruby-red colour with slight purple hues, lighter on the edge. This has an elegantly concentrated and tightly bound nose with finely proportioned, intense aromas of black cherry fruit intermixed with liquorice, violet florals and black mineral elements, revealing subtle whole bunch stalk complexities, spice elements and oak hints. Medium-full bodied, the palate features bright and vibrant fruit flavours of black cherries, liquorice, spices and minerals which intensify, forming a concentrated core. The mouthfeel has acid vitality and tension, and significant fine-grained tannin structure, flowing with powerful linearity. Black florals, oak toast and reductive mineral detail unfolds and caries to a concentrated, long-lingering finish. This is a concentrated, elegant and finely structured, vibrant black-fruited Pinot Noir with mineral and liquorice complexities. Serve with lamb, beef and venison, and semi-hard cheeses over the next 6-8 years. Clones 115 and 5 from the 3 ha "The Last Chance" vineyard in Earnscleugh, vines planted in 1998, hand-picked and indigenous yeast fermented with one-third whole bunches to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in one-third new French oak barriques. 150 dozen made.

Sam Kim, Wine Orbit Mar 2016 97 Points

One of the most unlikely places to grow grapes on earth is Two Paddock's Earnscleugh vineyard. A tiny terraced single plot, among the most southerly vineyards in the world, has an old watercourse named The Last Chance hand-dug by goldminers in the 1860s. From an outstanding vintage, this glorious wine shows haunting aromas of dark berry, truffle, clove, game and cedar with nuances of thyme and nutmeg. It is concentrated and focused on the palate, and displays a flowing mouthfeel and delectable fruit flavours together with a seductive savoury undertone. At its best: now to 2023.

James, Nick Stock – Contributing Edit May 2015 94-95 Points

This shows plenty of the trademark fragrances and perfumes with hints of wild thyme and a poached cherry and raspberry fruit core; it’s really in tune with the established style of this southerly vineyard. The palate has crunchy fruit flavors set amidst sturdy tannins and looks full of promise.