Central Otago, central otago New Zealand

The Skeggs family were among the first people to buy and plant vineyard land in Central Otago in the mid 1990s, so were lucky enough to acquire a superb north facing site in Bannockburn. Planted in 1996, this 50 hectare site has since provided the backbone of the Akarua wines. Due to the short growing season in Central Otago, site selection is one of the key elements in making a great wine, and Akarua has a site that is among the very best.

Sustainability in the vineyard and winery is integral to the Akarua ethos; water conservation, recycling, the use of lightweight bottles, fully insulated barrel rooms and energy efficient lighting in the winery, are a few of the initiatives taken by Akarua to guarantee their accredited status as a sustainable producer.

Winemaker Andrew Keenleyside ensures this fruit is nicely balanced. He avoids the raisiny flavours that some in Central Otago seem to obtain, and produces wines with lovely aromatic lift and fine tannins, which are perfectly illustrated in the RUA. The grapes for the RUA are cold soaked for five days before fermentation commences, and are punched down twice daily and given another six days on the skins post fermentation to provide the wine with the tannic backbone it requires. The result is a remarkably attractive and great value Pinot Noir from Central Otago. Their Akarua Pinot Noir, made solely with fruit from Bannockburn, has similar treatment (no whole bunch, just so the Pinotphiles among you know) to the RUA but sees 30% (instead of 10%) new oak. The wine has an extra dimension of richness and depth, and real class.

While we've known Akarua for many years, we came to them this time around through Tony Jordan, who is making their sparkling wines. Tony built Domaine Chandon in Australia, and is one of the world's leading experts in sparkling wine production. He has been enamoured with the potential for Central Otago to make top quality fizz for quite a while, and is now doing so with Akarua. The Brut, a blend of 33% Pinot Noir and 67% Chardonnay from Bannockburn, is crisp and clean with lovely balance and complexity. The base wines go through full malolactic before being blended with 15% of reserve wine. The wine is aged in bottle on its lees for 18 months prior to disgorging. The Rosé is a blend of 38% Pinot Noir and 62% Chardonnay from Bannockburn. It has a lovely fresh perfume of strawberries and red fruit and great zip on the palate.


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