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Stars shine at rare vintage wine tasting event

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Gibbston Valley Winery opened the vaults to some of Central Otago’s oldest and rarest wines at an exclusive ‘vertical tasting’ event to coincide with 25th anniversary celebrations on Saturday (September 1).

The Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir Grand Vertical Tasting took wine enthusiasts on a journey through four generations of the award-winning winery’s finest Pinot Noirs showcasing the development of the wine from 1990 to 2011.

Held at Queenstown Resort College, the exclusive event was open to Gibbston Valley Wine Club members and was hosted by legendary wine vignerons Alan Brady and Grant Taylor and current Gibbston Valley winemaker Christopher Keys.

Mr Keys said they were left with no doubt as to which wine was the "star of the show".

"Without question this was the 1990 Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir," he said. "I had to taste the wine to check it before we poured it, and my reaction was instant surprise, amazement, and delight. In fact I swore.

"This wine was so alive, so textural, absolutely incredible, and all this at 22 years old! There is no doubt there is real benefit in cellaring our Central Otago Pinot Noirs."

Fifty tasters from Gibbston Valley’s Wine Club took the memorable walk through the wines with many noting the incredible consistency of Gibbston Valley Pinot Noirs throughout the 21 years covered by the tasting,

Gibbston Valley Winery founder Alan Brady recalled the encouragement he received when the 1990 Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir was released.

"At the time of its release, I received a fax from renowned UK wine writer and Master of Wine Jancis Robinson giving me great praise for the wine," said Mr Brady. "She commented that the wine was an absolute star, so Burgundian, savoury, earthy with lots of fruit and quite a bit of complexity."

Mr Brady said the vertical wine tasting had been a "wonderful" event.

"Every one of those bottles was a time capsule representing the place and the year. The 1990 was unbelievably good."

Former Gibbston Valley Winery winemaker Grant Taylor was the man who steered the winemaking through 14 of the years covered in the vertical tasting.

"It was a treat and honour to try such rare wines," said Mr Taylor. "There were no ‘dead’ wines and nothing was uninteresting which was the biggest surprise for me.

"There’s a lot to learn from a tasting like this. When you’re making wines in a new area, there’s lots of experimentation, and trying new techniques, so this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to look at the way these come through in the wines."

Mr Taylor spoke to tasters about the change from cork closures to screwcaps in 2001, protecting the wines’ consistency.

"The introduction of screwcaps enabled us to ensure that consistency, and allow the wine to age gracefully," he said.

The tasting finished with the ‘modern times’ flight, from 2008-2011 under current winemaker Christopher Keys.

"These wines benefitted greatly by having a continuity of supply from established company-owned vineyards," said Mr Keys. "Whilst all consistently stylish, the 2010 stood out as having great intensity and balance. And I think the 2011 is destined to a very good future as well."

Mr Keys said no-one had left the tasting unaffected by what they had experienced.

"The quality of the wines was only matched by their scarcity," he said.

The tasting preceded a glittering black tie anniversary dinner held in the winery’s Barrel Hall room on Saturday night to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its first commercial grape harvest.

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