Gourmantic travelled to Central Otago courtesy of Air New Zealand.
Think Central Otago and the mind conjures the aromas and flavours of the best Pinot Noir wines in New Zealand.
Central Otago, New Zealand
Central Otago is located in New Zealand’s South Island. The vineyard setting is nothing short of spectacular, with snow-capped peaks hugging the road, a running turquoise river and serene lakes. This is Pinot Noir country, and as much as it has risen to international fame, the region is 25 years young by old world standards.
A tour of the Central Otago winery region is one of the highlights of a stay in Queenstown.The majority of the wineries can be reached within a picturesque 45 minute drive from the town’s centre.
Drive out of Queenstown and along the Gibbston Highway for 25 minutes and you’ll find Peregrine Wines, a boutique wine producer specialising in Pinot Noir as well as quality Riesling, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
The winery’s distinctive building with a sloped roof mimics the wingspan of a Peregrine bird (native falcon or Karearea) during its flight. Wine producers and estate owners, Lindsay McLachlan and Greg Hay established the winery in 1988 and they produce wines from hand-picked fruit that comes from 11 sites around the Lowburn, Bendigo and Gibbston sub regions.
Peregrine Cellar Door
Inside the building, you’ll find a modern Cellar Door that overlooks dormant barrels in a temperature controlled room.
Here you can taste a range of organic wines including Peregrine Rosé, a dry style of wine with berry flavours, Pinot Gris, the most popular wine and not one you find in supermarkets but in restaurants and Peregrine Chardonnay which is aged in a combination of small and large barrels which makes it more fruit forward with less oak. The winery is also produces Settleback, a drink-now second label designed not to be cellared.
The Cellar Door is open daily from 10am to 5pm (except Christmas Day, Anzac Day morning and Good Friday). Groups bookings for more than 6 persons are required.
Peregrine Wines – 2127 Kawarau Gorge Road, Gibbston RD1, Queenstown 9371, New Zealand Ph: +64 3-442 4000
Continue heading east along the Gibbston Highway past Anthem vineyard. The Kawarau River hugs the winding road particularly around Kawarau Gorge Road and adds a burst of aquamarine colour. The scenery changes from bare rock face to verdant mountainous terrain but the fascination with the colour of the river never wanes. Gold has recently been found in the river.
Big Fruit, Cromwell
Upon reaching Cromwell, you will inevitably see the Big Fruit Sculpture, with an apple, pear and nectarine, a symbol that stands tall to the importance of fruit-growing to the region.
From Cromwell, head towards Bannockburn Rd then turn left onto Cairnmuir Rd in the direction of Carrick Wines, passing by a golf course and a racetrack built to Formula 1 standard that holds super V8 races. Bannockburn is known as “Heart of the Desert” and at 247 Cairnmuir Rd you’ll find Carrick Wines.
Carrick Wines Vineyard
Carrick Wines Cellar Door
Carrick’s restaurant and cellar door are open 11am-5pm daily for lunches and wine tasting.
Carrick Wines Restaurant
The restaurant opened in 2002 and provides a tranquil setting to enjoy lunch and discover their wines.
Here is the place to enjoy a leisurely lunch of freshly-prepared local produce with wine matching recommendations overlooking the spectacular Bannockburn Inlet.
Bread with Carrick Olive Oil and Balsamic Reduction
Start with Homemade Bread with Carrick Olive Oil and Balsamic Reduction soc rich and delicious that you’ll need a spoon.
Whitebait with Salmon and Potatoes
Whitebait, which features extensively on the menus on Central Otago is served here with perfectly cooked salmon and potatoes and is complemented by a crisp, dry Carrick Wines Rosé.
Potato Gnocchi with asparagus, beans, cauliflower, hazelnuts, greens and truffle cream invite a glass of Carrick Pinot Gris,
Equally tasty is the Beef Sirloin, Crepinette, Forestiere Mushroom farce, Potato Gratin, Pumpkin Puree and Capers.
Duck Confit Leg
The Duck Confit Leg with warm salad of chickpea, quinoa, fennel, mint, parsley and orange goes well with the excellent Carrick Pinot Noir 2007.
View from Carrick Wines Restaurant
If you’re having lunch at Carrick Wines, allow some time to take in the serenity and the natural beauty. With views such as these, you may never want to leave.
Carrick Wines – Cairnmuir Road, Bannockburn, Central Otago, New Zealand Tel +64 3 445 3480
A mere two minutes away from Carrick Wines by car, you’ll find Akarua Winery, positioned in the in world’s southernmost winemaking region Central Otago.
The 50 hectare winery has plantings across three sub areas with 70% Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay while the rest is a small area of Riesling on Redback Ridge.
Akarua Winery Cellar Door
Akarua produces Akarua Brut NV Methode Traditionelle made of 71% Pinot Noir and 29% Chardonnay. The Akarua Vintage Brut 2010 uses 54% Pinot Noir and 46% Chardonnay and offers more structure to the sparkling wine. Other notable wines include the Akarua Alchemy Ice, a sweet dessert style wine made from Gewurztraminer variety.
Akarua, The Siren, Pinot Noir
Akarua, The Siren, Pinot Noir is a limited edition blend made from ultra premium blocks of Pinot Noir grown on the estate. Only 185 cases were produced. The textured wine has beautiful fruit with hints of oak and fine tannins.
Akarua Winery – 210 Cairnmuir Rd, Nevis 9384, New Zealand Ph: +64 3-445 0897
Head back north towards Cromwell along Bannockburn Road taking the State Highway 8B towards Dunedin. A 10 minute drive later and you’ll find yourself among the sloping hills of Northburn Station in the heart of Central Otago.
The Shed Cellar Door Restaurant at Northburn Station
The vineyard is located on a merino station that overlooks the picturesque Lake Dunstan and is surrounded by the Pisa Range mountains, snow-capped in the cooler months.
Views at Northburn Station
Walk down the red rose-lined path towards the cellar door and function space. The roses which are often seen at the end of rows of vines are now ornamental but traditionally served a purpose to check for aphids on vines. Behind you lies the central most point in Otago.
Richard Broadhead, Winemaker
Northburn Station is a certified organic winery using bio dynamic principles. They produce warm style of wine in a cool climate.
The 23 hectare vineyard was established in 1999 and produces around 2000 cases of wine a year primarily structured Pinot Noirs as well as Pinot Gris, Rieslings, and a bone dry crimson-coloured Rosé.
Lunch as The Shed is available daily from 10.30 – 4.30. An adjoining 200 seater function venue caters for weddings, dancing, live music and outdoor concerts during summer.
Northburn Station – 45 Northburn Station Road, Cromwell, Central Otago, New Zealand Phone: +64 3 445 1743
At this stage of the Central Otago winery tour, you may either want to make a brief stop at Amisfield Wine for a tasting at their cellar door, or head back to Queenstown and return for dinner in the evening.
Amisfield is located an easy 15 minute drive from Queenstown along the picturesque road hugging the river. The iconic stone building resembles an old church but inside, you can worship the fine food and wines it has on offer.
Max Patté Sculptures at Amisfield
Two solemn Max Patté sculptures guard the cellar but ascend the steps and you’ll find the cellar door on the right and Amisfield Bistro occupying a sizeable indoor and outdoor area.
Terrace Dining at Amisfield
Amisfield’s Bistro has won Best Winery Restaurant 2013 and offers a daily-changing a la carte menu and “Trust the Chef” menu, a shared dining experience. The dishes are chosen daily depending on the availability of fresh, local produce. You can dine inside the winery’s iconic stone building or at the terrace overlooking Lake Hayes within views of the Remarkables Mountain range.
The food on offer is exquisite and each dish can be matched with wines.
West Coast White Bait
In this condensed version of “Trust the Chef” menu, Italian classics take a New Zealand flavour starting with West Coast White Bait served two ways, deep fried and tapas style, sautéed in olive oil, garlic and chilli, with sourdough bread and homemade wild thyme butter. the dish goes well with a glass of crisp Amisfield Rosé.
Amisfield Sauvignon Blanc is recommended with the Lemon Sole with sorrel, turmeric vinaigrette and preserved lemon but a glass of Amisfield Chardonnay is a better choice.
The Duck Confit with red cabbage, pear and orange vinaigrette served with a side of rosemary and garlic roast potatoes is accompanied by the excellent Amisfield Pinot Noir 2010, the best Pinot Noir tasted along the journey.
Amisfield Bistro is open 7 days for lunch and dinner from 11.30am – 8pm.
Amisfield – 10 Lake Hayes Road, RD 1, Queenstown 9371, New Zealand Ph: +64 3 442 0556
Central Otago Wineries Tour Map
Central Otago Wineries Tour Map
A – Queenstown
B – Amisfield
C – Peregrine Winery
D – Carrick Wines
E – Akarua
F – Northburn
Air New Zealand flies all year round direct from Sydney to Queenstown. For more information, visit airnewzealand.com.au.
Central Otago Wine Tour is featured in our article Top 10 Things to Do in Queenstown
Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.
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