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Winemaker’s Comment – Autumn 2024

As many of you will now recognise, there’s always a tone of relief in our autumn newsletter. It’s the conclusion of another vintage; the end of the long hard days – every day for several weeks. It’s when about 90% of our winemaking activity occurs and is always the most satisfying and intellectual time. There’s an air of excitement right through the entire crew… the much-appreciated morning treat and coffee deliveries to us on the run as we work are a chance for the team in the office to experience some of the energy, controlled mayhem – and hopefully not wayward high-pressure hoses!  It’s an ancient ritual of farming: of seeing another growing season tucked up safe for the winter while knowing that our quality ambitions have again been delivered and we have a cellar sufficiently full. We’re blessed in Central Otago that we have been experiencing extraordinary reliability. In this time of Climate Crisis and significantly increasing tumultuous weather events, we have been largely unscathed to date. Long may it continue, but we are fully aware that we will no doubt see our fortune change and we’ll face our share of adverse conditions. It is sadly happening on a regular basis to other regions around the world, experiencing devastating low temperatures, violent heat, massive hail events, fire, flood, drought…etc, often wiping out entire vintages. Our thoughts are all too often turned to our fellow vignerons who have suffered from these extreme weather events and growing conditions.

To cap the conclusion of vintage 2024, as we were filling the very last barrels of Pinot Noir in the lower cellar, we received the unexpected news that The Real Review had awarded Felton Road as its New Zealand Winery of the Year 2024. We tend to be surprised as we never enter competitions or seek awards, so it isn’t really part of our make-up. But critical acclaim is important; a pat on the back recognising the work we do, and we’re immensely proud of this achievement. In the words of Bob Campbell MW: “Last year Felton Road was third, in 2022 fifth, in 2021 third, in 2020 fourth, in 2019 third, and in 2018 sixth. In seven years, its lowest ranking was sixth. I cannot think of a more deserving winery occupying the top slot.”. That is what gives us pride; not winning, but always being consistent high achievers.

So, with 2024 recently gone to barrel and looking exceptional, what of the 2023’s? Across the board they are deeply impressive wines. Very Felton Road: pure, classic, balanced, not excessive in any dimension and wines that will readily sit amongst our very best. It’s too early to make bold claims, we’ll leave that to you and the critics. But the one thing you’ll notice, as already highlighted by The Real Review, is the consistency that we achieve. Accuracy, humility of expression is what we strive for: there’s no place in our wines for excessive ambition or ego. Those wines are often impressive, sometimes pushing boundaries, which is important, but usually fail our ultimate test of which bottle or decanter is the first on the table to empty. 

We think we know what ‘Felton Roadness’ is when we taste one of our wines, but we’d like you, as a regular examiner of our produce, to think about that as well. We’d love to hear your thoughts, as your opinion is absolutely as important as that of a critic. Critics can’t choose the wines they taste, but you can. As a small producer, producing just a quarter of a millionth of the world’s wine, we don’t have to create for general opinion but for a smaller cohort who will really appreciate and enjoy what we seek to make. So, we’d like to thank you for being in that rather small (dare we use the word exclusive?) club: those that enjoy Felton Roadness. 

Cheers

Blair

Winemaker's comment - Blair
Nigel's musings

Winemaker's Comment - Autumn 2024

As many of you will now recognise, there’s always a tone of relief in our autumn newsletter. It’s the conclusion of another vintage; the end of the long hard days - every day for several weeks. It’s when about 90% of our winemaking activity occurs and is always the most satisfying and intellectual time. There’s an air of excitement right through the entire crew… the much-appreciated morning treat and coffee deliveries to us on the run as we work are a chance for the team in the office to experience some of the energy, controlled mayhem - and hopefully not wayward high-pressure hoses!  It’s an ancient ritual of farming: of seeing another growing season tucked up safe for the winter while knowing that our quality ambitions have again been delivered and we have a cellar sufficiently full. We’re blessed in Central Otago that we have been experiencing extraordinary reliability. In this time of Climate Crisis and significantly increasing tumultuous weather events, we have been largely unscathed to date. Long may it continue, but we are fully aware that we will no doubt see our fortune change and we’ll face our share of adverse conditions. It is sadly happening on a regular basis to other regions around the world, experiencing devastating low temperatures, violent heat, massive hail events, fire, flood, drought…etc, often wiping out entire vintages. Our thoughts are all too often turned to our fellow vignerons who have suffered from these extreme weather events and growing conditions.

To cap the conclusion of vintage 2024, as we were filling the very last barrels of Pinot Noir in the lower cellar, we received the unexpected news that The Real Review had awarded Felton Road as its New Zealand Winery of the Year 2024. We tend to be surprised as we never enter competitions or seek awards, so it isn’t really part of our make-up. But critical acclaim is important; a pat on the back recognising the work we do, and we’re immensely proud of this achievement. In the words of Bob Campbell MW: “Last year Felton Road was third, in 2022 fifth, in 2021 third, in 2020 fourth, in 2019 third, and in 2018 sixth. In seven years, its lowest ranking was sixth. I cannot think of a more deserving winery occupying the top slot.”. That is what gives us pride; not winning, but always being consistent high achievers.

So, with 2024 recently gone to barrel and looking exceptional, what of the 2023’s? Across the board they are deeply impressive wines. Very Felton Road: pure, classic, balanced, not excessive in any dimension and wines that will readily sit amongst our very best. It’s too early to make bold claims, we’ll leave that to you and the critics. But the one thing you’ll notice, as already highlighted by The Real Review, is the consistency that we achieve. Accuracy, humility of expression is what we strive for: there’s no place in our wines for excessive ambition or ego. Those wines are often impressive, sometimes pushing boundaries, which is important, but usually fail our ultimate test of which bottle or decanter is the first on the table to empty. 

We think we know what ‘Felton Roadness’ is when we taste one of our wines, but we’d like you, as a regular examiner of our produce, to think about that as well. We’d love to hear your thoughts, as your opinion is absolutely as important as that of a critic. Critics can’t choose the wines they taste, but you can. As a small producer, producing just a quarter of a millionth of the world’s wine, we don’t have to create for general opinion but for a smaller cohort who will really appreciate and enjoy what we seek to make. So, we’d like to thank you for being in that rather small (dare we use the word exclusive?) club: those that enjoy Felton Roadness. 

Cheers

Blair