Tarras is a small Central Otago town after which Hayden Johnston has named his vineyard and premium boutique wines made from Central Otago Pinot Noir and Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Hayden has two vineyards – The Steppes and the Canyon, located high up on the terraces of a Bendigo sheep station with stunning views over the valley below, this small sun-trapped basin sheltered from the prevailing north-west wind is flanked by two spectacular canyons.
The gentle sloping topography allows for cold air to drain off the hill-sides to alleviate the risk of frost. The soils consist of fine wind-blown loess left over from glaciers ten of thousands of years before with traces of clay developed during this period.
Traditional French Pinot Noir clones of Pommard; clone 5 and Dijon; clones 115, 667 and 777 were planted in 2003, with a small but intensely fruited harvest insuring, displaying the potential that Hayden knew was possible.
The combination of climate and soils at The Canyon allow for a full structured wine with plenty of meaty backbone, a real statement of Pinot Noir.
Tarras wines are grown on a sustainable basis using organic principles to maintain soil health and natural vine condition. Organic compost is made at the heart of the vineyard using material grown and recycled on the property, along with the organic waste from the winery.
The Wines are all stunning and drinking beautifully at present so here are my thoughts after opening, decanting and trying each wine over a couple of nights to let them really express themselves.
Tarras Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2011
Pale green/gold in the glass, a soft nose of tropical fruit underpinned with a little capsicum, lovely fresh gooseberry acidity, quite integrated, creamy mouth-filling wine, great length, very nice…. Gold Medal at the International Wine Challenge
Kuru Kuru Pinot Noir, Central Otago 2008
Dark black cherry in colour with a smoky berry-fruit and leather nose, dark cherry and black berries on the palate with beautifully integrated tannins, nice oak textures, complex layered wine with a long finish – excellent pinot noir.
Tarras Vineyards Pinot Noir, Central Otago 2009
This is a blend of wine from both the Steppes and Canyon Vineyards. Stunning – deep red / black cherry purple colour, intense blackcurrant/cassis fruit nose with hints of savoury mushroom, big bright dark berry fruits on the palate, wonderful mouth coating silky tannins / oak textures that lead into a long, warming finish.
Tarras Vineyards “The Steppes” SV Pinot Noir, Central Otago 2009
Made entirely of grapes from the Bright dark red/purple in the glass, earthy savoury nose with hints of spice and even a tiny whiff of liquorice? On the palate displays nicely integrated tannins and oak with a lovely texture and structure, but perhaps still a little young really – a few more years will benefit (if you can wait that long to try it)
Tarras Vineyards “The Canyon” SV Pinot Noir, Central Otago 2009
WOAH! Hayen’s best wine ever he says! Gorgeous dark cherry coloured, a little lighter than the Steppes, black and red berries earthy, spice and savoury-herbal notes in the nose, on the palate mouth-filling powerful ripe fruit, perfectly integrated tannin/oak, a complex layered Pinot with a huge juicy finish… a very serious Pinot that incidentally just took out the INTERNATIONAL PINOT NOIR TROPHY at the Decanter Asia Wine Awards announced in Hong Kong on 5 February 2013. I can certainly see why!
Cheers Hayden – Thanks for giving me the opportunity to taste theses amazing wines of yours… Much appreciated!
To find out more about Tarras Vineyards and buy wines visit their Website at: http://www.tarrasvineyards.com/