Doctors Flat, Central Otago
A small, organically farmed vineyard at the top of Bannockburn, making some of  Central Otago's best wines


Steve Davies (above) gained his winemaking experience in the USA, and then came to Central Otago to work as winemaker for Carrick from 2002-2006. Altogether, including off-season harvests, he boast over 30 vintages’ experience.

In 2002 Steve bought a 15 hectare property at the top of Bannockburn, which he named Doctors Flat, and 3 hectares are now planted to vines. At 100 metres above the level of Lake Dunstan, this is quite a cool site. Steve works organically, but isn't certified, and every 10th row is planted with beneficial plants to attract parasitic wasps, which act as a biological control measure against certain insect pests.

The soils? They are deep gravels deposited by receding glaciers almost half a million years ago, and in the 19th century they were mined for gold. The claim here was held by the Deep Lead & Doctors Flat Mining Co, hence the vineyard name. Average yields are 5 tons/hectare, and nothing gets above 6.5 tons/hectare.

The wines are made at Mount Difficulty's winery, and then Steve brings the barrels back to the property for maturing. They live in two shipping containers, which is a novel way of getting around any planning laws. Some of the grapes are sold to other producers, so not all end up in Doctors Flat.

'As the vines have got older there's more substance to the wines,’ says Steve. He’s anxious not to work the ferments too much, to avoid excessive extraction, and on average will do just four punch downs per ferment. These are impressive wines, with the 2012 in particular really shining.


Doctors Flat Pinot Noir 2008 Central Otago, New Zealand
Vivid, sweet, bright berry and cherry fruits with some spiciness. Smooth with rich texture and sleek fruit. There's a delicacy to this wine, as well as richness. It has a smooth mineral quality on the palate. 93/100

Doctors Flat Pinot Noir 2009 Central Otago, New Zealand
Perfumed and floral with nice black cherries. Quite rich. Lovely sleek, ripe black cherry fruits and a spicy, mineral dimension. 92/100

Doctors Flat Pinot Noir 2010 Central Otago, New Zealand
Fresh with slightly meaty black cherry fruit and some floral overtones. Good texture and freshness here with some grippy tannins. Concentrated, full and grippy. 93/100

Doctors Flat Pinot Noir 2011 Central Otago, New Zealand
About 20% whole bunch. Fresh and lively with nice precision. Bright with lovely focus: not too heavy, with nice sweet cherry and berry fruit. Has vitality and focus and could use a bit more time. 94/100

Doctors Flat Pinot Noir 2012 Central Otago, New Zealand
26% whole bunch. Just beautiful. Taut and floral with black and red cherry fruit. Real finesse. There's some savoury detail to the fruit, and it's supple and elegant with nice structure and texture. 95/100

2013 barrel samples looked very promising.

Gibbston Valley
Chard Farm
Wooing Tree
Folding Hill
Mount Difficulty
Lowburn Ferry
Grasshopper Rock
Doctors Flat

See also:

Visiting Central Otago, New Zealand (2010) (series)
Visiting Martinborough, New Zealand (series)

Wines tasted 02/14  
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