Talk about the odd couple. I cannot imagine how it would be possible to come up with two varieties as radically different as Hunter Valley semillon and Central Otago pinot noir. They are grown and made in two countries thousands of kilometres apart by a team of two, each variety’s vintage months apart. The semillon is picked late January/early February, the pinot noir late April/early May.

Charteris Wines is the creation of two free spirits, PJ Charteris (universally called PJ) and wife Chrissi (likewise only that) Pattison. PJ is the winemaker, Chrissi does the PR and – since December 2021 – runs the Charteris Wine Room in the Hunter Valley which is open every day. They met at Brokenwood Wines during PJ’s 12-year tenure as chief winemaker, Chrissi endeavouring to keep track of uber chief winemaker/CEO Iain Riggs, PJ and their two children.

Running the gauntlet of Covid’s waxing and waning during the 2021 and 2022 vintages (and the interweaving months) required a heady blend of skill, luck, patience, yin and yang, and cunning. Slightly more prosaically, they had the time (and the need) for wines which had a story of their own beyond the keystone releases. Le Fauve was the solution, its aim ‘to tap into a place not too deep in the memory. A place of unencumbered liberty and adventurous abandon. That place for the young at heart, full of experimentation, of running freely through the wild with bare feet, without the weight of caution that the experience of living brings with time.’

Thus the 2021 Le Fauve Rouge is a blend of Orange pinot noir and Hilltops tempranillo (94 points, $35). The colour is so vibrant it almost halts the traffic, the perfume of the juicy red fruits and transcendent notes of exotic spices and gossamer tannins result in a wine with no ‘drink to’ or ‘by’ guides. It’s ready now, but will coast through to the end of the year.

The full 2022 current release package is now on, the next release July 2023.

2021 Charteris Central Otago Pinot Noir

In regional style, overflows with plums and black cherry, tannins rippling alongside this precocious pinot. A burst of spices will be make their appearance over the next few years before settling down for the long haul.

95 points, drink to 2036, 13.5% alc, Screwcap, $40

2016 Charteris Museum Release The Doctors Flat Vineyard Bannockburn Pinot Noir

The discipline required to hold back the wine from earlier release has paid major dividends. The colour remains a bright, welcoming ruby, and the supple, silky centre of the palate has a garland of spice-driven tannins that provide the framework of a top class pinot.

96 points, drink to 2026, 13.5% alc, Screwcap, $80

2019 Charteris Hunter Valley Shiraz

This has the dual bloodlines of a great Hunter Valley vintage and a 50yo shiraz vineyard. The deep, clear colour is a come on, and the palate lives right at the door. The tannins are the key with notes of bramble and fresh earth providing flavour, texture and structure to a stylish wine.

95 points, drink to 2039, 13.5% alc, Screwcap, $45

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