Sam Neill’s Two Paddocks is the result of discovering the joys of French Burgundy whilst he was filming in the UK. So, as you do, in 1993 he planted a small vineyard in Gibbston Valley (now known as the First Paddock) alongside his friend and film-maker Roger Donaldson (hence the name Two Paddocks). Whilst Roger’s vineyard no longer exists, Sam has extended his vineyards to four: The First Paddock, The Last Chance planted in 1998, the Red Bank (an old Agricultural Reseach farm) in 2000 and most recently the purchase of the existing Desert Heart vineyard in Felton Road, Bannockburn. Production is still very small and Sam’s modest aim is to “produce year after year, the world’s best pinot noir”. This may seem slightly facetious, but the results really speak volumes. Two Paddocks has become Sam’s passion and is treated with very serious intent. This is not a Movie Stars ‘play-thing’, and although I know he has a lot of fun and enjoyment from the project, it is when his wines are recognised as being of outstanding quality on the world stage that gives the most pleasure (along with being able to share a good bottle with his mates). The vineyards are organically and bio-dynamically farmed and are made as naturally as possible to reflect their region and sites.

Two Paddocks general manager, Jacqui Murphy hosted tonight’s tasting featuring a sneak preview of the 2015 single vineyard wines. For the first time, three single vineyard wines have been released and they really are exceptional wines. To me they all have an X-factor – they are very comforting and comfortable to drink. We will be getting a small allocation of these wines which will be released at the beginning of May.

Two Paddocks Picnic Riesling 2016 $28.99

Two Paddocks produce two Rieslings and both in tiny amounts (only a 1/2 ha of vines) planted on own roots in 1994. The Picnic label depicts Sam’s Grandfather Sydney Neill – Wine Merchant (of Wislon Neill fame), on the label and made in a slightly sweeter style than the Estate label with 12 gms/rs. A juicy, slightly fleshy wine with melon, greenguage fruits.

Two Paddocks Riesling 2015 $31.99

This is a much tighter, finer Riesling and drier with around 6ms/rs. Quite floral with the salivating palate like sucking on a lemon infused stone whilst still remaining quite fleshy on the palate.

Two Paddocks Picnic Pinot Noir 2015 $29.99

Produced as a lighter, classically Central Otago Pinot Noir with the emphasis on red fruit and floral flavours with a hint of spice. Nothing too complicated and a very enjoyable wine.

Two Paddocks Pinot Noir 2015 $49.99

A blend of fruit from all four vineyards, but predominately Bannockburn which makes up 60%. 25% whole bunch fermentation in 25% new French oak. Juicy and ripe tasting with plenty of complexity – black cherry, red currant, thyme and herb even hints of tea leaf. The flavours build on the palate like the classic peacocks tail.

Two Paddocks Pinot Noir 2014 $49.99

This was the first vintage that included fruit from Bannockburn – 50% Bannockburn, 40% Earnsclaugh, 10% Gibbston. More savoury, mineral, meaty. Again a wonderful rendition that builds on the palate.

Two Paddocks First Paddock Pinot Noir 2015 $72.99

The original vineyard of 2ha planted in the Gibbston Valley in 1993. A further 3ha was added in 2008. Of all the vineyards, this is the one that offers the greatest viticultural challenges. Of the 3 single vineyard wines this has the most whole cluster ferment at 50% adding a fragrant thyme/spice element. A wonderful lifted aroma with a concentrated, fine palate with silky tannins. Gibbston Pinot Noir at its finest.

Two Paddocks The Last Chance Pinot Noir 2015 $72.99

The Last Chance vineyard is a small 3ha block planted in 1998 on the hill overlooking the Earnsclaugh valley and takes its name from the gold mining water course that runs through it. Arguably the world’s most southerly vineyard with bony, dry schist soils. Both the Fusilier and Last Chance are naturally fermented in the same manner with 1/3 whole cluster in 4 tonne cuvees and aged for 11 months in 1/3 new French oak. Dense, persistent yet wonderfully balanced. There is a sense of ‘poise’ about these wines.

Two Paddocks Fusilier Pinot Noir 2015 $72.99

The 5.6 ha Fusilier vineyard in Bannockburn was purchased from Desert Heart in 2013. The darker fruit characters of Bannockburn come through here. Brooding with a polished, silky texture.

Two Paddocks Fusilier Pinot Noir 2014 $64.99

The 2014 Fusilier is darker and more savoury and no less exceptional. Only a few bottles remain.