Think of New Zealand wine, and the first thought is of Sauvignon Blanc. Yes, it's impressive and all that, but I reckon Pinot Noir could prove to be the Kiwi's more memorable contribution to the world of wine. I've tried three this weekend (representing the three main Pinot-producing regions), all from www.hellionwines.com, and I've enjoyed them all. And the good news is that they aren't prohibitively priced. It's nice to find really good wine that you can actually afford to drink.
Waipara Springs Pinot Noir 2004 Waipara, New Zealand
Hand harvested, destemmed, cold soaked, hand plunged, gently pressed and aged in French oak - a classic recipe for Pinot Noir, and here it has worked brilliantly well. This wine has a lovely perfumed nose of sweet, lush dark cherry and berry fruit, with a hint of spiciness. It is elegant, ripe and lush. The palate is dense and spicy with smooth, concentrated, rich fruit. Ripe and full with lovely weight: it's certainly a big style of Pinot, a bit like a modern-styled Grand Cru Burgundy. Delicious stuff. Very good/excellent 94/100 (£13.50 Hellion Wines)
Ranui Pinot Noir Wairau Valley 2005 Marlborough, New Zealand
Hand-picked and hand-plunged before ageing in French oak. Sweet rounded cherr and berry fruit nose with just a hint of stewed fruit. There's a sweet liqueur-like edge to the dark cherry and berry fruit. The palate is smooth with alluring dark cherry fruit. Not at all overdone: delicious stuff. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£9.95 Hellion Wines)
Lowburn Ferry Skeleton Creek Pinot Noir 2004 Central Otago, New Zealand
Perfumed, fresh black cherry nose is quite subtle, and has a pleasant, subtly green character in the background. There's a nice, spicy tang to the sweet black cherry fruit on the palate. Quite a rich, juicy, vibrant style. Tasty. Very good/excellent (£12.95 Hellion Wines)