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2015 The Last Chance Pinot Noir

About the wine

Proprietor's Reserve

“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 cool spring in October and into November was followed by warm dry weather over December and a particularly hot and dry January.  Flowering was finished by the end of December.  Vigour was low and the vines were only green thinned and shoulders removed in the same pass.  Wide open bunches meant very little disease pressure was experienced and we started harvest on the 1st April 2015.

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.

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.

Winemakers Notes:

Thyme, wild flower, red fruit and spiciness on the nose.  Leading to a complex driven palate showing great coverage, elegance and length.


pH        3.55                              TA        6.0g/L                           Alc  13.5%

Proprietor: Sam Neill             Viticulturist: Mike Wing               Winemaker: Dean Shaw

Bottled: March 2016               Production: 150 doz                    Cellaring: Up to 10 years

Last Chance Pinot Noir 2015


Award / Reviewer Date Rating Review
Michael Cooper's NZ Wines 2018 Buyer's Guide Dec 2017 5 Stars

Estate-grown at Alexandra, in 'possibly the world's most southerly vineyard', the 2015 vintage (5*) was hand-harvested, fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured in French oak barriques (one-third new). Invitingly perfumed, it is bright ruby, with mouthfilling body and an array of fresh, strong cherry, plum and spice flavours, seasoned with nutty oak. Still youthful, it's a vibrantly fruity, finely balanced, complex and ageworthy red, likely to be at its best 2019+.

Wine Spectator, Maryann Worobiec Aug 2017 92 Points

As tasted for Wine Spectator article "Upwardly Mobile"  31 Aug 2017

Business Insider Australia, Frank Wilden Jun 2017 Outstanding

I refuse to mention that the man behind this outstanding south island wine is Sam Neill.

Just 150 doz bottles of this cuvée which sparkles like a perfectly cut diamond with a level of sophistication and subtlety uncommon (IMHO) in Otago Pinot.

Brilliant, medium-weight red colour. A sensational bouquet of ripe dark red and black fruits, touch of “animale”/well-hung meat, and a hint of menthol: there’s a lot going on here. Excellent attack on entry, really very lively. Delicious sour cherry fruit flavours, plush, with a hint of oak culminating in a long fragrant farewell.

This is as good as any Pinot I’ve seen out of NZ. Outstanding

The Wine Gang Jun 2017 94 Points

One of three single-vineyard Pinot Noirs that Sam Neill produced in 2015 (they're not made every year). All three are excellent, but this was the one we give our highest score to, by a tiny margin, at this early stage. It has beautiful fruit – ripe, crushed red berries including cranberry – dusted with spice and aromatic herbs, and a penetrating, complex palate with a subtle mineral thrust. It arrives this month but can be ordered now.

Raymond Chan Wine Reviews Apr 2017 18.5 / 20

Even ruby-red colour with slight purple hues, paler on the edge.  The nose is very refined with intensely fragrant dark-red and black cherry aromas lifted by dark-red and violet florals, complexed by subtle notes of dark herbs and whole bunch stalk nuances.  This has focus and purity with elegance.  Medium-full bodied, the palate has harmoniously interwoven flavours of dark-red and black cherry fruit lifted by red and violet florals, forming a smooth and integrated heart with dark herb and black mineral detail.  The palate is lively, vibrant and rich with fresh acidity and fruit drive providing depth and linearity.  The wine carries to an elegant, finely concentrated finish of dark-red and black fruits and herbal and mineral suggestions.  This is a finely concentrated Pinot Noir with dark-red and black fruits, fragrant florals, and herb and mineral complexities on a smooth, integrated and linear palate.  Serve with lamb, beef and venison over the next 6-8 years.  Clones 115 and 5, hand-picked and sorted, indigenous yeast fermented with one-third whole bunches to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in one-third new French oak barriques.

Bob Campbell MW Wine Reviews Apr 2017 95 Points

Attractive pinot noir that’s been made with a light touch to produce a wine with appealing purity and subtlety. Red cherry, rose petal, wet stone mineral and spicy oak flavours. Silky texture with fine peppery tannins on the finish. A wine with a strong sense of place.

Sam Kim, Wine Orbit Mar 2017 96 Points

Fragrant and inviting, the gorgeous bouquet shows dark cherry, blueberry, mixed spice, cedar and game characters on the nose. The palate is beautifully weighted and silky, and offers awesome fruit purity together with savoury undertones, brilliantly framed by fine tannins. The wine is generous and flavoursome, while remaining elegant and structured, and promises to evolve magnificently. A quietly spoken beauty with a steely backbone and persistence. At its best: 2018 to 2025.

Lisa Perrotti-Brown,Wine Advocate #228 Dec 2016 93+ Points

Pale ruby in color with a touch of purple, the 2015 The Last Chance Pinot Noir displays notes of wild strawberries, Bing cherries and red roses with hints of chocolate and cinnamon stick. Medium-bodied, it fills the palate with perfumed red berry flavors supported by grainy tannins and a lively backbone, finishing with mineral notes. Drink 2016-2021