The view from Felton Road

Felton Road reaches new heights with their latest releases


The View from Felton Road across the Pinot Noir vines of Block 3, center background

I was glad to have had the chance to spend some time with Felton Road’s winemaker, Blair Walter, this past month. For someone interested in experiencing the unique cool climate wines of New Zealand’s Central Otago region, these are must try wines.

Every effort is being made at Felton Road to allow the wines to express their terroir, while capturing the intense fruit flavors the vines are capable of providing. While not inexpensive by any stretch, the entire Felton Road line-up stood out, offering a sense of vibrancy and transparency, yet with rich, ripe fruit flavors. An attractive balance indeed. Read the complete report here.

Riesling, an emerging star

New Zealand is best known for its Sauvignon Blanc, and then perhaps Chardonnay if one is considering white wines. Both better watch out. The cool climate and poor soils are allowing for the production of Rieslings that will soon be ready to compete with the world's best.

2008 Felton Road Riesling
Aromas of minerals, lime oil, and green leaves greet the nose followed by key lime pie, slate, light honey tones and incipient notes of petrol. In the mouth this is fairly sweet and lush yet there's plenty of juicy acidity to keep things balanced.

Chardonnay, second to none

The cool climate of Central Otago has proven perfect for those who appreciate their Chardonnay on the elegnat, restrained side. With a deft use of oak, these wines have emerged as some of the most complex, balanced, focused expressions of the grape in the New World.

2006 Felton Road Chardonnay

Though this is served cool it is remarkably aromatic with green apples and green plums,a touch of vegetal herbs and an underlay of silica and clay. In the mouth this is really zippy with fine balance and a sweet/sour tension that highlights the green apple and citrus character of the wine.

Pinot Noir, a sign of things to come

While we tasted the soon to be relaesed 2008's with winemaker Blair Walter, the notes for those wines can be found on the site, the 2007 Pinot Noir is readily available and serves as a brilliant introduction to the house style.

2007 Felton Road Pinot Noir

This has a lovely nose that balances burnished cherry and dried raspberry fruit against delicate notes of stem, moss, dried floral tones and a whisper of cinnamony spice. Rich and soft in the mouth, bordering on lush, but again with great balance. The fruit is a touch dark, veering off towards black cherry, but the soil, mineral and woodsy tones keep this fresh and offer good complexity and length.

Each of these wines was bottled under screwcap in an effort to help preserve the freshness of the wines. Don't allow that to sway your view of these wines. They are world class wines and few producers are able to offer a range of wines that perform at this high level. I was impressed by the wines freshness, depth and balance and hope you will be as well. To read more about Felton Road click here.

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: rtrout
    229782 1

    I stopped buying $30 AND $40 bottles of wine a year ago. I am sure that Felton Road produces some superb wines, but I am looking for decent wines at half or less than that price. And guess what? I have found some surprisingly good wines in my search. I have also noticed that my wines merchants are advertising many of the lower price wines. Could it be that I am not alone in my quest?

    Sep 29, 2009 at 3:46 PM

  • Snooth User: bobzaguy
    251522 15

    Someone is not proofing the site very well

    2008 Felton Road Rielsing
    Priced from $29.84

    Sep 29, 2009 at 4:04 PM

  • Snooth User: schellbe
    Hand of Snooth
    247770 225

    I have been looking for Felton Road Riesling since I visited the winery in May 2007. I bought a bottle, but drank it to avoid transporting it to the US. The only place I've found Felton Road is a store in Ft. Collins, but not the Riesling.

    Sep 29, 2009 at 4:52 PM

  • Snooth User: clivehol
    266902 1

    To say that "Each of these wines was bottled under screwcap in an effort to help preserve the freshness of the wines" is a totally underwhelming slant or portrayal in relation to the technical revolution that has occurred over the past five years in closure technology, pioneered to a large extent by New Zealand & Australian winemakers.
    Nearly EVERY quality New Zealand white wine is bottled under Stelvin (screwcap) and the result has been a HUGE AND CONSISTENT increase in fruit flavour retention, together with elimination of the unacceptably high percentage of spoilage due to TCA in conventional cork.
    Most NZ red wines are under screwcap too. I can't wait to try a 2007 Hawkes Bay Reserve Cabernet Merlot, bottled under screwcap, in 20 years time. It will be simply superb, fresh fruit characters combined with bottle aged complexity. And it will be easy to open too, no rotten ,moldy, half-decayed cork to dig out.
    The USA is way behind the ball park in this regard, fed by some poorly researched articles in the wine press, prejudice by sommelier's - whose sole function in life is to pull out a cork, whist spewing forth mostly meaningless bullshit (hey I know there ARE some good ones too!!) and a highly conservative public, mainly the same ones who voted in George W. for a second term.
    Nearly all progressive well educated young winemakers in Napa know that the argument in favour of screwcap (& some technical corks such as Diam) is a no-brainer and if they could they would change today (or tomorrow). The reason they haven't is the aforementioned prejudice which I can assure you has zero technical basis.
    Sure producers can make mistakes in their first screwcap bottlings, but like anything else they just need to learn, understanding and managing the (oxidative and reductive) processes that are taking place in the wine.
    There is still a home for cork, especially since the arrogant cork producers, stung by their loss of market share, are belatedly getting their QA act a little more in shape. But too late!
    90% of commercially produced wines would be better under screwcap, with the consumer being the ultimate winner, but there is a win-situation also for producers and especially retail.
    Clive (NZ)

    Sep 29, 2009 at 7:05 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,749

    Hi rtrout. There are great bottles at many price points out there. I'm glad you are finding wines for less than the $30 or $40 Felton Road is getting but that doesn't take away from the quality of their wines.

    Hi bobzaguy, I'm pretty sure the wine was starting at $29.84 on Monday when the document was last proofed. Availability does change though, and it's an issue that sometimes pops up between proofing and publishing from time to time. We'll make sure to be vigilant though.

    Hi schelbe, If you can track it down it's worth a look. You retailer in Fort Collins should have access to some.

    Sep 29, 2009 at 7:10 PM

  • Snooth User: penguinoid
    Hand of Snooth
    148296 1,216

    I think the typo here --

    2008 Felton Road Rielsing
    Priced from $29.84

    is that 'Riesling' is not normally spelt 'Rielsing'?

    Sep 29, 2009 at 8:20 PM

  • Snooth User: Philip James
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    1 12,574

    Riesling? I'm confused, I couldn't see the typo there either...

    Sep 29, 2009 at 10:36 PM

  • Snooth User: Clairette
    158405 3

    Earlier this year in London at a NZ wine tasting (50+ producers), Felton Road fielded a blanc de noir - a free-run, still white from Pinot Noir grapes. Loved it. Yes, the rest of their output was pretty good, too!

    Sep 30, 2009 at 8:29 AM

  • Snooth User: jothmore
    188986 7

    Is someone producing a champagne style wine in New Zealand at this time? If so, is it available for export to the US?

    Sep 30, 2009 at 8:53 AM

  • Am looking forward to their Pinot Noir. Can I buy it from them directly?

    Sep 30, 2009 at 11:35 AM

  • Snooth User: Mark Angelillo
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    2 5,324

    I tend to enjoy wines from NZ. Looking forward to tasting a couple of these.

    Sep 30, 2009 at 1:24 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,749

    I don't know of any New Zealand sparkling wines that are distributed in the states but I bet there are some real great ones being produced.

    If you get to New Zealand I'm guessing that Felton Road would be happy to sell from the cellar door, but here in the states it's strictly retail.

    Sep 30, 2009 at 2:18 PM

  • Snooth User: cadouglas
    267427 1


    Quartz Reef out of Central Otago does a great sparkling wine. Here is their American distributor's contact info:
    Vine Street Imports
    5301 Tacony St, Bldg 124, Philadelphia, PA 19137
    Tel: +1 215-533-9463
    Fax: +1 215-533-8163

    Also, another one to look for is from Amisfield in Central Otago. Here is their importer:
    United States

    Pasternak Wine Imports
    500 Mamaroneck Avenue
    NY 10528
    Ph: +1 800 946 3110

    Stockists can be located at:

    Sep 30, 2009 at 3:47 PM

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