Mix N Match
Pinot with Personality

Valli’s Otago Single Vineyard Pinots from 2016

Wines that say Drink Me - A great exploration of Pinot from Otago

I was ploughing through a heap of Pinot a year ago. Time after time I found promise, yet most of the wines were missing those little things that take a wine from good to great. Clearly quality fruit, balanced wine, fresh, then something would stick out, a little problem with reduction or a hard edge of tannin, more critically a clear separation of flavours and aromas.

Then four Pinot from Valli hit the tasting bench. Boom! There it was, the missing links, harmony, seamless complexity, individuality, the little leap out of the glass saying “Drink Me”. And, the textures, yup, you guessed it, excellent.

A year later Valli’s 2016’s are true to philosophy.

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$81ea, $77ea in any 3+, $73ea in any 6+
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Why are these Wines so Yummy?

These wines show the wisdom of the hand of Grant Taylor, Valli’s owner and winemaker. 40 years making Pinot in the US and New Zealand have given him some mad skills. There are those grape growers and winemakers who can grow a solid grape or make a decent wine. Then those are with touch, an innate intuition. I’ve not met Grant, this was the first time I’d tasted Valli’s wines, I was blown away.

Check out the reviews below.

About Otago

Otago rests in the lower half of the South Island stretching from the coast next to Dunedin inland.

When you take a careful look at a map of Otago and it’s sub-regions, crazy numbers start popping out. Mountain peaks above 2,000m, rivers running through sub-regions, lakes & oceans abutting them, creating maritime climates. Then, there’s the faultlines with tectonic shifts that have created natural terraces and dramatic changes in soil types.

It’s a region of extremes, that’s created a diversity of sub-regions making wines of equally diverse personality. The map below shows Valli’s Central Otago sub-regions Gibbston, Bannockburn and Bendigo. Waitaki is in what’s considered North Otago off the east coast above Dunedin.

Click to enlarge

It’s hard to give you any perspective of just how diverse the landscape is with a 2-D map. I couldn’t find any good footage of the wine regions. Seriously take 10min’s and check out this film of the South Island it is INSANE!

Gibbston Vineyard

Valli’s estate vineyard in Gibbston is planted at 4050 vines/ha and cropped at only1kg/vine to ensure perfect ripeness. The first vineyard in the valley to be planted in the true north-to-south direction, it maximises the amount of sunlight hours the vines receive, contributing dramatically to the uniform ripening of fruit, a critical factor in Pinot Noir quality. The vineyard soils are mainly schist derived, windblown alluvial loess. The topsoil is between .5 and 1m deep over free draining gravels that allow the vine roots to easily access water and nutrients. Gibbston, one of the coolest sub-regions of Otago, has one of the slowest ripening seasons. A key factor in quality Pinot Noir from such a cool area is long hang time, that is, the amount of time the grapes are on the vine; this allows them to develop elegance and complexity of flavour. Sometimes our Gibbston Vineyard is not picked until early May.

Bannockburn Vineyard

The location of Valli’s Bannockburn Vineyard is only 20km from Gibbston in the Cromwell basin but the difference in climate is responsible for creating markedly different wines. The Bannockburn wines reflect this warmer area by displaying darker fruits, by being denser, more powerful and with longevity based more on their tannin structure, as opposed to Gibbston wines which are based more on their acidity. The soils are also windblown loess over gravelly schist but with sandier, deeper topsoil, which allows for free draining. Climate, rather than soil, attributes to the main difference in the wines.

Bendigo Vineyard

The Bendigo Pinot Noir is the newest addition to the Valli stable of Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs. A number of years ago, Grant was involved in the largest-ever plantings at Bendigo, across 5 different sites, and quickly identified “Chinaman’s Terrace” as his favourite. The higher elevation of this site means slightly cooler temperatures, which is important in these warmer sub-regions, and good airflow, helping to prevent rots and mould. When the opportunity to make wine from the Zebra Vineyard on Chinaman’s Terrace presented itself, there was only one answer: YES.

The wines from this very warm part of Otago have been described as “big friendly beasts”. They are dark, rich, lush wines capturing the rock-reflected heat and ripeness of this special site.

Waitaki Vineyard

New Zealand’s newest and most exciting wine growing region where, like Burgundy, the soils are limestone based. After only a few commercial vintages, we are already seeing incredible consistency in the perfume and minerality of the wines. Slightly cooler than Central Otago, the Waitaki Valley should not be cropped as heavily, and therefore Valli’s Waitaki Vineyard is close planted at 5000 vines per hectare with early ripening clones from Dijon and Pommard.


92 Points

2016 Valli Gibbston Vineyard Pinot Noir

A nose of wild herbs and flowers to this fragrant, elegant pinot noir with red fruits, plenty of spice and gently peppery herbs. Some stony notes too. On the palate there is a vibrant surge of acidity that delivers tart, mouth-watering cherry fruit. Fine, taut and tidy. Drink now. Screw cap.

Nick Stock


Super sophisticated, with supple lush tannins. Lovely florals with a savoury earthy edge, great balance with beautiful acidity drinking well.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker Wine Decoded

93 Points

2016 Valli Bannockburn Vineyard Pinot Noir

This has impressive depth of fruit as well as fragrant top line perfume. The oak spice suits the dark cherry and sweet earthiness. On the palate there is a punchy frame of tannins that draws tight and fresh through the finish thanks to bracing acidity. Drink now. Screw cap.

Nick Stock


The Bannockburn steps up the richness factor with an extra layer of structure coming in to play. A core of dark fruits is tamed by an edge of spicey stalk tannin and freshening acid. Needs a year or two to settle.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker Wine Decoded

92 Points

2016 Valli Bendigo Vineyard Pinot Noir

The boldness of Bendigo is on full show. This wine delivers a dark hued and dark fruited style with earthy notes and powdered chocolate. Arrives on thicker tannins with rich bold flavors in the dark cherry and chocolate zone. Drink now. Screw cap.

Nick Stock


From a higher cooler terrace of this generally warmer part of Otago, this is the most structured of all four wines. Dark, dense, fruits are wrapped in phenolics, it's tightly coiled at the moment and needs a little time to resolve.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker Wine Decoded

92 Points

2016 Valli Waitiaki Vineyard Pinot Noir

A cooler and more herbal expression of pinot noir from North Otago's limestone-studded soils. This has a thread of light red cherry fruit with a tart, lattice-like palate. Acidity zips it up neatly at the finish. Drink now. Screw cap.

Nick Stock


Savoury, with hints of black tea, mandarin peel, a lovely expressive perfume lifts out of the glass. Great length and depth. Fresh vibrant fruit and supple tannins.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker Wine Decoded

Where in the world does the magic happen?

Valli Vineyards Gibbston Highway, Gibbston, New Zealand

New Zealand




Central Otago