Akarua releasing their first '25 Steps' vintage

This May you will not want to be late for a very important date. Central Otago icon, Akarua, are set to release their first vintage of wine from the unique “25 Steps” site.  From seventeen year old vines this stunning vineyard is wholly devoted to the growing and production of outstanding Pinot Noir.

Soaring high over the picturesque Lake Dunstan, the 25 Steps vineyard sprawls across nine hectares of terraced hillside facing all four points of the compass. These ancient glacial slopes have been carved with 800m long terraces, with two rows of vines per step, over a 120m elevation change. Viticulture then is no easy task, with hand harvesting essential. Through this hard work though comes great reward; wines of outstanding complexity already speaking volumes about the special site of their provenance.

This first release from the 2018 vintage consists of two wines; the 25 Steps Pinot Noir and Pinot Rose.

The Rose, produced via the Saignee method, is very much Provence inspired in style. A pale blush in the glass, dry on the palate and laced through with earthy, red cherry notes. Unusually for a New Zealand Rose the 25 Steps undergoes a certain amount of treatment in oak – with 40% aged for six months in seasoned puncheons, providing a distinctive mouthfeel and texture. Outstanding with food, this wine is pink proof that Rose can be far more than just a sunny day sipper.

Pinot Noir, and its capacity to speak of terroir and a specific place perhaps like no other variety can, is beautifully expressed in the 25 Steps. Markedly different from the Akarua Pinot grown in Bannockburn, the 25 Steps showcases vibrant red berry characters. The colder, wind buffeted slopes of this vineyard in Pisa also lend the wine a keen mineral note and a taut acidity to keep the fruit in check.

Released for the first time in May, the 25 Steps wines can be easily identified through their Alice in Wonderland themed labels. Inspired by the rugged and scenic contours of the vineyard where seemingly anything can be around the next corner, artists have rendered a whimsical rendition of the Steps, complete with Alice and Cheshire Cat. So grab a pair of glasses and a friend and take a trip down the rabbit hole that is the wonderful world of Central Otago Pinot Noir at it’s finest!

By: , Wine with Liz Wheadon, Glengarry

Issue 98 May 2019