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Featured Reviews




Desert Heart – Wine2Trade Portfolio

01 January,2011



Denny Downie and Jane Gill established Desert Heart Estate when they purchased 7 ha of land at the base of Mt Difficulty at the end of Felton Road, Bannockburn in 1999. In 2000 they planted 6 ha of Pinot Noir, with Dijon clones 113, 114, 115, 667, 777, along with 10/5 and Pommard clones 5 and 6 with the viticultural advice of Robin Dicey. The vineyard is tended to organic and biodynamic regimes and the winemaking is at the nearby Carrick winery.

The Desert Heart label also includes aromatic whites and Chardonnay sourced from contract fruit mainly from Bannockburn with some Pinot Gris from a biodynamic site Lowburn, and these are very complementary to the Bannockburn regionally expressive Pinot Noirs from one of the best pieces of wine real estate in Central Otago.

The ‘Desert Heart’ name refers to Bannockburn, which was known as ‘heart of the desert’ from gold rush times. The name is apt on other levels too, as Pinot Noir, the variety Denny and Jane wanted to grow needs love and passion, and the logo of a hot orange coloured heart is similar to a grapevine leaf in autumn after a warm and dry growing season. The annual production is a tiny 1,500 cases, reflecting the low yields and Denny and Jane’s heart-felt desire to oversee all aspects in crafting the best wines they personally can.

The vineyard was sold at the start of 2014 to Sam Neill of Two Paddocks, but Denny and Jane still carry stocks made from it.  Having bought another property on Felton Road, they intend to continue the Desert Heart label with fruit sourced from their neighbours and friends.  www.desertheart.co.nz

Archived tasting notes of wines no longer commercially available can be seen by clicking here

FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW



Desert Heart Central Otago Riesling 2010

Riesling from New Zealand – Otago

17.5+/20

Hand-picked fruit from the company’s Felton Road vineyard, WBP and cool-fermented with indigenous yeasts to 13.0% alc. and 7.2 g/L RS. Bright, pale straw-yellow colour, pale on rim. The bouquet is softly full and rich with attractively lifted lime and lemon fruit entwined with honeysuckle and minerally notes and a delicate toasty element. Off-dry to taste and elegantly proportioned, bright, bold and lively lime and yellow floral fruit flavours are enriched by honied notes. Nuances of citrus zest, minerals and a toasty layer add detail. The palate features a fine, textural thread and crisp acidity, providing a phenolic-based line that leads to a very long, dry finish showing toast, honey and flowers. This is an attractive floral and honey flavoured off-dry Riesling with some textures, just beginning to develop some toasty development notes. Serve as an aperitif and with Asian influenced cuisine over the next 4+ years. Winemaker: Jane Docherty. 17.5+/20 Sep 2013 RRP $24.95

Disclaimer: This wine is distributed by ‘Wine2Trade’, the company under which ‘Raymond Chan Wine Reviews’ operates

 

Desert Heart Central Otago Riesling 2011

Riesling from New Zealand – Otago

17.5/20
Brilliant, pale lemon-straw colour with lighter green hues on rim. The nose is elegantly expressed with delicately interwoven aromas of lime fruit, minerals and secondary toasty development and a suggestion of honey. The mouthwatering minerally elements build in intensity and concentration. Dry to off-dry in taste and light-medium bodied, this has a tight core of toasty limes and minerals. The mouthfeel is crisp, lively and lively with lemony acidity. Some dry phenolics provide good texture and line, the acidity lending balance. The wine carries through to a light, crisp, dry, thirst-quenching finish of limes and toast. This is an elegant and tight, crisp and dry Riesling developing some secondary toastiness. Serve as an aperitif and with seafood over the next 3-4+ years. Fruit from the ‘Desert Heart’ Felton Road vineyard, hand-picked and WBP, and cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 12.0% alc. and 9 g/L RS, TA 7.3 g/L and pH 3.05. Winemaker: Peter Bartle. 17.5/20 Dec 2014 RRP $24.95

Disclaimer: This wine is distributed by ‘Wine2Trade’, the company under which ‘Raymond Chan Wine Reviews’ operates

Desert Heart ‘Untamed Heart’ Chardonnay 2015

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Marlborough

17.5/20
Bright, light straw-yellow colour with slight green hues, paler on the rim. The nose is elegantly concentrated and tightly bound with a concentrated core of fresh citrus fruit and white and yellow stonefruits, entwined with subtle notes of nutty and spicy oak, and suggestions of creamy lemon-curd MLF. Medium-bodied, the palate has an elegant and harmoniously concentrated heart with flavours of citrus fruit and stonefruits intermingling with spicy oak and hints of lemon-curd MLF. The mouthfeel has good presence and freshness with lively, lacy acidity, and the wine flows with energy and drive along a fine-textured line, leading to a lingering finish of stonefruits and nutty, spicy oak. This is an elegant, harmoniously concentrated Chardonnay with stonefruit, citrus fruit and spicy, nutty oak on a fresh, linear palate. Serve with seafood, poultry and pork over the next 4 years. Marlborough fruit, clones Mendoza, 6 and 15 fermented in tank and seasoned oak to 13.0% alc. the wine undergoing batonnage and MLF. 17.5/20 Sep 2017 RRP $25.00

Disclaimer: This wine is distributed by ‘Wine2Trade’, the company under which ‘Raymond Chan Wine Reviews’ operates

Desert Heart ‘Untamed Heart’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Otago

18/20
Moderately deep garnet-red with some brick hues on the edge. The bouquet is very soft, full and gently voluminous with an array of complex savoury red berry fruits entwined with dark herbs, lifted red florals and secondary nuances of earth and game, along with oak cedar. The aromatics are integrated and harmoniously interwoven, and bloom ethereally. Medium-full bodied, the palate is elegantly proportioned with a soft and rich heart, of well-packed flavours of savoury red berry and plum fruits, dried herbs, earth and cedar, unfolding lifted red floral notes. The mouthfeel possesses a fine-grained tannin line along with piquant acidity with provides energy and vibrant flow. The textures grow to provide a dry, long lingering finish od dried herbs, spices and cedar. This is a softly concentrated, sweetly rich Pinot Noir with layers of ethereal savoury red fruits, dried herbs and cedary flavours, and a fine-grained, dry, textural finish. Match with coq au vin and casseroles over the next 4-5+ years. Fruit from the ‘Desert Heart’ vineyard on Felton Road, fermented with a portion of whole clusters to 14.0% alc., the wine aged a year in 30% new French oak barrels. Winemaker: Francis Hutt. 18.0/20 May 2016 RRP $34.95

Disclaimer: This wine is distributed by ‘Wine2Trade’, the company under which ‘Raymond Chan Wine Reviews’ operates

Desert Heart ‘Paint it Black’ Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Otago

19-/20
Moderately dark red colour with garnet hues and showing some bricking on the rim. The bouquet is full and deep with bold and solid aromas of rich, savoury dark-red berry fruit overlaid by complexing layers of game, dried herbs, mushrooms and undergrowth, the aromatics in the secondary development spectrum with tertiary notes appearing. Medium-full bodied, this has a fulsome and rounded palate with sweetly ripened and lush flavours of savoury dark-red berry fruits entwined with dried herbs, game, undergrowth and mushrooms. The mouthfeel is rich and lush, revealing sweet plum and liquorice notes and slight cedar suggestions, and is balanced by fine, grainy extraction and structure, the acidity quite integrated, but providing energy. This has drive and power that carries the wine to a fine-textured finish with ethereal game, undergrowth and cedary layers. This is a rich, juicy, sweet fruited Pinot Noir with complexing secondary and tertiary development on a fine, grainy palate with plenty of drive. Match with slow-cooked game meat and casseroles over the next 5-6 years. Fruit from a selected parcel known as the ‘Beagle Block’, named after Jane Gill’s brother, in the ‘Desert Heart’ vineyard. Predominantly clone 115 with some 667, fermented with a portion of whole bunches to 14.0% alc., the wine aged one year in 33% new French oak. Winemaker: Alan Brady. 19.0-/20 Oct 2016 RRP $75.00 Cellar Door Only

Disclaimer: This wine is distributed by ‘Wine2Trade’, the company under which ‘Raymond Chan Wine Reviews’ operates

Desert Heart ‘Freedom’ Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Otago

18.5+/20
Even ruby-red colour with garnet hues, lighter on edge. This has a full and voluminous bouquet with ethereal aromas of dark red berry fruits and lifted red florals interwoven with subtle earth, undergrowth and mushroom notes, some volatility and spicy oak. With aeration, a deep core of black fruits becomes revealed and grows in intensity with complexing dark herb and cedary oak detail. Medium-full bodied, the palate features rich and lusciously ripe, juicy black berried fruits, dark plums, liquorice and spices, the flavours enlivened by bright acidity, providing a vibrant, energetic palate line. Complex layers of undergrowth, dried herbs and Asian sauces unfold, along with fine-grained, powdery tannins lending structure and line. The wine flows to long, succulently sweet, fine-textured finish. This is a rich, concentrated, lively and ripe black-fruited Pinot Noir with secondary interest and fine structure. Match with lamb, beef, venison over the next 6-8+ years. Fruit given a cold soak and indigenous yeast fermented with 10-15% whole clusters to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 12 months in 30% new French oak barrels followed by another 6 months in seasoned oak. 50 cases made. 18.5+/20 Jul 2015 RRP $62.00

Disclaimer: This wine is distributed by ‘Wine2Trade’, the company under which ‘Raymond Chan Wine Reviews’ operates

Desert Heart ‘Mackenzies Run’ ‘Reserve’ Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Otago

18+/20
Even, dark ruby-red colour, lighter on the rim. The nose is elegant and fragrant with aromatic soft red berry and dark red cherry fruit entwined with subtle thyme herb and red floral notes. Subtle nuances of spice, perfume and cedary oak emerge and are refined and detailed in expression. Medium-bodied and elegantly presented, the palate has fine intensity of soft red berry and cherry fruit melded with plum, spice and cedary oak flavours. The fruit is supported by flowery tannins extraction and smooth textured grip. The acidity is balanced and lends good energy. This is fine in flow, quite satin-like, and with concentration, the flavours carrying through to an elegant, long lingering finish of dark herbs and oak. This is an elegant, red-fruited Pinot Noir with subtle spice and cedary notes and flowery, flowing tannin structure. Serve with poultry and pork over the next 5-6+ years. Fruit from the ‘Desert Heart Felton Road’ vineyard, given a cold soak and indigenous yeast fermented with a portion of whole bunches to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 12 months in 30% new French oak. Wine made by Francis Hutt. 18.0+/20 Jul 2015 RRP $47.95

Disclaimer: This wine is distributed by ‘Wine2Trade’, the company under which ‘Raymond Chan Wine Reviews’ operates

Desert Heart ‘Mackenzies Run’ ‘Reserve’ Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Otago

18.5+/20
Dark, deep ruby-red colour with slight black hues, lighter purple on rim. This has a fulsome, near robust nose with ripe, dark red berry and cherry fruit interwoven with plum notes and complexing oak spices, thyme herbs, earthy minerals and subtle, savoury, stalky whole bunch elements. Some game-like nuances emerge with aeration. Medium-full bodied, full flavours of ripe black berry and plum flavours show with spices, florals, herbs and earth. The fruit richness is supported by plenty of structure, the tannins fine-grained and powdery. Soft acidity enhances the fruit brightness and liveliness of the mouthfeel, which carries the wine to a long, juicy, spicy and refreshing finish. This is an archetypical Bannockburn Pinot Noir with ripe and spicy black fruits, thyme herb and significant fine-grained structure. Match with roast beef, lamb and venison over the next 7-8+ years. Fruit from the ‘Desert Heart’ Felton Road vineyard, given a cold soak and indigenous yeast fermented with a portion of whole bunches to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 12 months in 30% new French oak. Winemaker: Francis Hutt. 18.5+/20 Dec 2014 RRP $47.95

Disclaimer: This wine is distributed by ‘Wine2Trade’, the company under which ‘Raymond Chan Wine Reviews’ operates

Desert Heart ‘Mackenzies Run’ ‘Reserve’ Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Otago

18+/20
Even ruby-red colour, a little lighter edged. The nose is full, open and voluminous with aromas of dark-red berry and cherry fruit harmoniously interwoven with thyme herbs and subtle, complexing nuances of stalk notes, suggestion some whole bunches. The nose unfolds red liquorice and fragrant red floral elements in the glass. Medium-full bodied, the palate is softly presented with integrated, but intense flavours of dark-red berry fruits entwined with dark and fresh herbs, stalk elements and red florals. The mouthfeel is fine-textured and slippery in flow with powdery tannin extraction lacy acidity which enlivens the palate. The complex flavours of fruit, herbs and stalk softly recede to a light and harmonious finish. This is a soft and harmonious red cherry and cherry-fruited Pinot Noir with complexing thyme herb and stalk notes on a slippery, smooth-flowing, lively palate. Match with duck and pork dishes over the next 5+ years. Fruit from the ‘Kingsmill’ vineyard, fermented with a portion of whole bunches to 13.5% alc., the wine pending approx. 27 days on skins and aged 11 months in 28% new French oak. Winemaker: Francis Hutt. 18.0+/20 Oct 2016 RRP $42.00

Disclaimer: This wine is distributed by ‘Wine2Trade’, the company under which ‘Raymond Chan Wine Reviews’ operates

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