Established in 2001 and set in the heart of Central Otago’s Upper Clutha basin, Akitu’s 12-hectare vineyard sits alone at 380 metres above sea level on a stunning north facing slope. Set just minutes from Lake Wanaka the semi-continental climate, with high sunshine hours, hot summers and dry autumns help to create wines of amazing fruit purity and complexity. The vineyard is entirely dedicated to Pinot Noir, block planted in 6 sections on 250 million year old schist soils; Blocks A and B were planted in 2002 with the remainder the following year. Founder Andrew Donaldson, a native to Central Otago, had long believed in the region’s ability to produce exceptional world class Pinot Noir and when the opportunity arose to purchase the Mount Barker site, he did so with this in mind.
A white wine, using a black grape!
Lots happening on the nose: dusty river rock minerality, rose petals, Turkish delight, slight wild herbs, and a hint of sourdough mother but more brioche than that. There is a risqué bouquet of rouge compact and red-hot lipstick entwined with ripe golden queen peaches and musk sticks. It’s evocative and multi-dimensional, so many layers evolving and changing as it readies itself in the glass. The intensity on the palate impresses and it moves you in another direction: dry and savoury but full of textural depth. The interplay between acid and phenolics reminds you of that attribute in fine Nebbiolo, that leads to complex florals, particularly roses but some cherry blossom adding sedimentary depth. You cannot escape the musk, with a hint of cinnamon apricot kernel. The finish is long and dry with a distinctive crunch on the exit.
Delicious to sip on its own but also well-suited to enjoying with smoked salmon on toast.