I first met Rod Easthope when he was winemaker at Craggy Range, based in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, back in 2008. I met him again in 2010 at the Hawkes Bay Syrah symposium, when he gave a deeply impressive talk on Kiwi Syrah. And then again, I met him in Wellington in January this year, where he told me that he’d begun working with Naked Wines.
I was surprised about the decision to move on from Craggy, such an impressive winery that it would be hard to imagine a better job in New Zealand. But the first couple of his own wines arrived this week, and I was really impressed by them. At the Angel prices (the Naked Wines pricing is complicated and a bit obscure) these wines are great value, with the Pinot being a special bargain.
Rod Easthope Pinot Noir 2012 Central Otago, New Zealand
Schist-based soils from an elevated site. hand plunging with some stems, and French oak maturation. Floral black cherry nose with a fresh green herbal edge, and just a hint of cola. Supple, fresh, ripe palate with lovely black cherry and herb notes, and a hint of pepper. This is a lovely supple, drinkable, fresh Pinot with some complexity and a hint of meatiness. 92/100 (£24.99 Naked Wines, but £12.49 if you are an Angel)
Rod Easthope Syrah 2012 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Sweet, fresh, lively and peppery with black cherry and plum fruit aromas. The palate is bright and sweetly fruited with black cherry fruit and a distinctly savoury, grippy, peppery character. Midweight, juicy and distinctive, with a hint of clove adding complexity. 92/100 (£15.99 Naked Wines, £11.99 if you are an Angel)