An unusual offering this month which I wanted to share with you. Central Otago is New Zealand’s highest and the world’s most southerly wine growing region. The area is best known for its award-winning pinot noirs and Gibbston Valley Wines have won over 200 national and international awards. However, this is a more unusual merlot from an older vintage I had kept for many years to see how it matured. Gibbston Valley no longer have merlot plantings as they cannot guarantee consistent ripeness each year. They concentrate instead on those grape varieties which thrive in the cool climate growing conditions of Central Otago, for example pinot noir. However, I was certainly not disappointed with this wine. Notes of rich cherry, chocolate and tobacco on the nose, matched equally on the palate with hints of coffee. 18-month ageing in French oak barrels adds extra complexity to this lovely wine. I’ll just have to keep my last bottle to myself – sorry!