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Greening: I’m disgusted by the prices of some wines

Nigel Greening, the owner of Felton Road, has told db that he hopes a secondary market doesn’t emerge for Central Otago Pinots and that he’s “disgusted” by the prices certain wines command today.

Autumnal vines at Felton Road

Speaking to the drinks business during the Central Otago Pinot Celebration in Queenstown, Greening revealed his aversion to the idea that his prized Pinots may one day be regularly traded on the secondary market.

“I honestly hope a secondary market doesn’t emerge for our wines. When it comes to Felton Road, there are customers with allocations that aren’t prepared to sell them. There is a significant buying market for the wines but not a selling market. We sell our Block 3 and Block 5 Pinots for £50, which is not high enough to make them worth selling on.

“I’m disgusted by the prices some wines can command today, it’s shameful. And it has nothing to do with wine. I won’t put my prices up as it’s not a competition – wine is not a competitive sport. It’s ludicrous some of the prices people are charging for their wines. There will always be rock star wines like DRC and Coche-Dury, but a middle of the road premier cru Burgundy can now command £1,000 a dozen, which they won’t get away with it in the long term.

Nigel Greening with Felton Road winemaker Blair Walter

“Central Otago wines are respected all over the world but I don’t want it to become the next Napa Valley,” Greening said.

Just yesterday db reported that the 2016 vintage of Screaming Eagle had gone on sale at US$3,000 (£2,325) a bottle and was being sold on Liv-ex for £7,200 per three.

Greening told db that he believes there is no longer a signature Central Otago Pinot style, as sub-regional character and nuance is starting to show in the wines.

“I don’t think there is a signature Central Otago Pinot Noir style today. There was in the past when producers were making big, indulgently fruity, higher alcohol wines. They had a lot of puppy fat on them but the wines are finding their own style now, which is much harder to nail down.

“Distinctive styles from the sub-regions are starting to emerge. The Pinots from Bendigo are like the wines from Corton – broad shouldered and muscular, as it’s on a big hill that catches the wind.

“The Pinots from Alexandra are bright and vivid, with a dried herb character. It’s not too early to talk about sub-regional differences because they’re happening. We’re unweaving the rainbow in Central Otago at the moment and winemaker influences are falling back,” Greening said.

He views the recent high profile acquisitions in the region as a good thing.

“There has been a lot of change in Central Otago over the last few years with some of the smaller estates being sold to larger players, local or otherwise, which I view as a positive thing as it’s good to have smaller domaines with greater professionalism.

“There are huge changes taking place in viticulture too – people are pulling back on fruit and picking earlier. Increasing vine age means the quality of the wine is getting better, and we’re working with better plant material,” Greening told db.

He did however warn that grape growers and vineyard owners need to take better care of their vines.

“A lot of really good land isn’t getting the care and attention a grand cru site needs. Our vineyards will come to be devalued if we don’t give more care and attention to them. We’ve yet to get to the point of distinguishing between really good sites and great sites. A lot of vines in Central Otago are on their own roots, which is risky due to the threat of phylloxera,” he said.

“Two thirds of our Block 3 vines are on their own roots, but we’re steadily replanting it, which is a gradual process,” he added.

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