Elephant Hill is a spacey-modern-60s-retro looking winery and restaurant in Te Awanga, Hawke’s Bay on the North Island of New Zealand. The winery itself is just 10 years old. It was founded in 2001 by the German expatriates/immigrants/tourists Reydan and Roger Weiss. Enough history, back to the actual wine. Today’s Pinot Noir is not from Hawke’s Bay. Strange? The grapes for this wine were grown on Three Miners vineyard in Alexandra, Central Otago. The most southern viticulture area on the South Island. In my opinion maybe the best area for Pinot in New Zealand. Whatever! I digress! It just comes to my mind that it might be rather odd to have the actual winery more than 1000 km north from the viticulture area (for this wine)!?! Whatever again! Today I am in a good mood. I don’t want to be too sceptical about such things, which by the way happend pretty often.
My first impression of this Pinot was: Central Otago! I cannot really explain why, but it simply had to come at least from New Zealand. The nose presented itself very fruitful. I sensed fragrances of very aged strawberries and raspberries, maybe even some hints of blueberries as well. Besides those berry characteristics I got additional scents of mild white smoke, hints of pepper, some “spicy” sweetness and here and there a bit of "breaking wind" results. The taste instantaneously said to me: Drink me, Drink me, and I thought more, more …! Probably the main intention of this wine. Drinking not thinking! It was very fruitful, but nowhere near a pathetic candy shop style. Very nice, refined, not too multilayered sweet fruit flavours. I got flavours of very well aged strawberries and raspberries (again), minor hints of caramel (after one or two hours), fluffy whipped cream and a few impressions of fresh nuts. The acid was well tempered, the alcohol totally background’ish (13%), the oak was inexistent (aged in stainless steel, very benificial and resulting in a clear fruitful style) and the body itself semi-strong. Well, if your capacity for NZ Pinot enthusiasm is rather limited - Don’t despair, please! I do very much understand your doubts. Well, I think I have got to do so, because I am drinking that stuff all the time ;-). I had plenty of unfortunate experiences. This Pinot however is definitely a representative for “classical” NZ (New World’ish, modern) Pinot, in a positive sense. It is not all too complicated, not highly sophisticated, not expensive, not excessively full of alcohol or sweetness, not from a carpenter's workshop – it is just a fine, very clear and fruitful Pinot! Give it a try ;-)