- Lay of the Land, Ben Morven Farm Pinot Noir, Ben Morven, Marlborough, New Zealand 2012
Producing quality Pinot Noir at under £15 a bottle is no mean feat, as our judges acknowledged when picking this Trophy-winner. In addition to delivering great value for money, they were charmed by its earthiness and complex red fruits. What makes Falernia’s success even more notable is that Elqui is not regarded as a hotbed of Pinot Noir production, while Marlborough (home of its opponent) most certainly is.
Falernia is a frequent winner at the DWWA, though it is usually its northern Rhône-like Syrahs that take home the top gongs. Giorgio Flessati is the winery’s co-founder and hails from Trentino in northern Italy where he was winemaker, then general manager, of a winery called Concilio. He has also made wine in Alsace, Bordeaux and Burgundy, and consulted for wineries in Moldova, Austria, Tuscany and Sicily. Flessati’s career in South America began in 1995 when he visited his cousin Aldo Olivier, who had moved to Chile from Italy as a child. At the time, Elqui’s grape production was only used for pisco, the national spirit, but Flessati, bringing all his experience to bear, immediately spotted the potential of the region and, along with his cousin, began to put the building blocks of Falernia in place.
Their driving force has been a passion to transform a swathe of inhospitable desert into a top-quality, terroir-driven vineyard. Their success is indisputable and their pioneering efforts have opened up this northern region of Chile to a number of other successful winemaking ventures.
This is only the second vintage of Falernia’s Pinot Noir; production only reached 3,000 cases in 2013. The fruit was grown on land at 350m altitude and just 20km from the Pacific Ocean. Unique but challenging – it was all virgin land, never having been cultivated before – the vineyard is named Titon, and Flessati calls it his ‘beloved’ vineyard.