A career in winemaking attracts a large proportion of people with huge personalities. There are endless examples; Gary Pisoni, Didier Dagueneau, and Randal Grahm come to mind. Grant Taylor is one of these personalities. His excitement for wine is contagious and as he begins to speak about "experiencing the place" where his grapes grow, its almost as if he can't explain fast enough as he races to his next important point. Grant's passion combined with consistent winemaking has boosted the importance of the Otago region and helped garner international interest in New Zealand wine.
Grant's social and vinous skills have led to the success of Pine Ridge in Napa, Domaine Napa (in Napa...), Archery Summit in Oregon, and personal brand Valli founded in his homeland of Southern Otago, NZ in 1998. A winemaker for over 40 years, Taylor can count himself among the few that have been at the very start of wine revolutions on two continents. He's also made the inaugural vintage for over 10 additional New Zealand brands. A signature component of his style is a successful marriage of opulence that brings big scores and respect for terroir. His wines may be big, but they also honestly reflect the vintage and place. In New Zealand, he has again found fruit that, nurtured correctly, can offer big flavors along with physiological maturity. His wines are the equivalent of Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. Each sub-region bottling of Pinot Noir is as friendly as a Katy Perry single for the casual consumer, but contains layers that are lauded by critics and sommeliers alike.
Much is gained from avoiding the temptations of big money and expensive toys to focus on simpler productions methods that better reflect terroir; techniques that often take a back seat when budgets swell. Taylor makes five wines for a total of 4000 cases. His single vineyard Pinot Noirs from the four different subregions of Central Otago, Bendigo, Bannockburn, Waitaki, and Gibbston, are an excellent way to experience the variety of Otago's terroirs. It's an important fact that Central Otago covers a large range of climatic conditions in its six primary sub-regions that can be over 50km away. As a result, Valli's wines stand tall not only as an individuals, but tasted together, help someone conceptualize how the terroir of the sub-regions are reflected in the final wines by a single winemaker.
2013 Pinot Noir, Waitaki Valley, Central Otago, New Zealand
An herbaceous and more restrained nose that shows cedar and pepper (restrained only in the context of other Valli wines, which are all fairly extracted with big personalities). Texture is lively and almost reminiscent of carbonic maceration with a silky texture towards the finish showing the finer limestone soils. Violets and candied fruit with some spiced qualities. Lighter and elegant among its brothers.
2013 Pinot Noir, Gibbston Valley, Central Otago, New Zealand
The latest harvested vineyard, the wine is austere and well structured with the wood and alcohol noticeable on the nose. Palate is sexy and opulent with the darker of Pinot's spectrum; violets and plums. Texture features well integrated acid and tannins with wet loamy soils.
2013 Pinot Noir, Bannockburn, Central Otago, New Zealand
Violets and juicy dark fruit dominate the nose of this wine with secondary characteristics of greasy soil and potter's clay. Tighter on the palate with a bit of stemmy tannin. Still featuring the sexy, juicy mid palate fruit, the finish is dryer with a muscular tannin component. Features flavors that contribute to the sub-region's own tasting note: "tannickburn."
2013 Pinot Noir, Bendigo, Central Otago, New Zealand
Inky purple with wet earth and dark, ripe plums and cherries. The palate features surprisingly bright red fruit with a warmer and grippy finish. The youngest of the four vineyards, the Bendigo fruit ripens earliest and is the least complex of the bunch, although still eminently drinkable.