jamie goode's wine blog: I love NZ Pinot Noir!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I love NZ Pinot Noir!

Most wine nuts have a Pinot Noir epiphany. They start off wondering why peope make such a fuss about this variety - it's not a grape that makes big, heavy, intense wines (remember, size tends to impess newbies). Then, some way into their journey of exploration they suddenly 'get' Pinot Noir, and fall in love with it. But even then Pinot Noir is a bit like an unreliable lover - you suffer a lot of pain along the way, although the occasional highs make you persevere through the trouble.

The first Pinot Noir that really got me hooked on this variety was a New Zealand Pinot - I think it was from Palliser Estate. Since then, I've found New Zealand to be the most reliable source of delicious, elegant, complex Pinot Noir. Burgundy, of course, makes the greatest expressions of this grape, but it's just all to easy to spend 30 on a red Burgundy that just tastes simple, or square, or ungenerous, or inelegant.

For the last couple of days I've been drinking a fantastic Kiwi Pinot. Now I'm getting to the stage where I'm starting to get regionality in NZ Pinot Noir. Marlborough, Martinborough, Waipara and Central Otago all have distinctive regional characters to their Pinots, which are hard to explain, but which I might have a chance of getting right tasting the wines blind (or maybe not...). This Pinot is from Marlborough, and has that vibrant, slightly sappy berryish character that Marlborough Pinots share. It's a really great wine - not cheap at 17, but good value nonetheless.

Blind River Pinot Noir 2006 Marlborough, New Zealand
Hand harvested from the Awatare Valley, small batch processing with indigenous yeasts and maturation in French oak. This has a lovely perfume: aromatic cherry/berry/raspberry fruit with some dark spiciness and a bit of sappiness. There's a liqueur-like purity here. The palate is sweetly fruited with lovely purity and smoothness. A bit of plummy bitterness adds contrast. An impressive Pinot Noir of real poise. 92/100 (17.99 Oddbins)

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At 2:15 PM, Blogger Dan McGrew said...

I had a wonderful 2004 Seifried pinot from New Zealand a few weeks ago. It's a Nelson area winery, but the wine was just flavorful and balanced, and most importantly it was affordable.

At 4:24 PM, Anonymous Jack at Fork & Bottle said...

First, are you talking about the same wine in paragraph 3 (17) as paragraph 4 (18)?

Second, I get the opposite experience here with NZ pinot noir. At a trade tasting a few months ago, the 30 or so NZ pinor noirs I tasted simply disappointed again and again. I liked just 3 or 4 of them...but not enough to seek them out.

I have enjoyed, recently, the 2006 Blind Trail Pinot Noir, and a Surveyor Thomson Pinot Noir.

But, to me, your chances of getting something elegant, etc., is extremely better from the Sonoma Coast, Russian River, Northeastern Italy/Slovenia, or, even Oregon. I know the availability of good wines from these appellations is really poor in the UK. Perhaps you'll be in the US for the Pinot Days tasting in San Francisco, where there are hundreds to taste, and you'll see what I'm talking about.

At 8:24 PM, OpenID thewinelake said...

I'm wondering how well Pinot works in the context of a tasting anyway. I find it somewhat enigmatic and one really needs time to see how it develops (true with most wines, but particularly so with Pinot). I am a bit of a fan of the NZ style. Even the 10-12 range (eg. Kim Crawford), but particularly the 17ish stuff (eg. the basic Felton Road). I'm wondering, though, how long I'll like it before Burgundy gets too jealous of my wandering palate. I also love quite a few Californian ones (eg. Sanford, Rutz, even Mondavi) but regard them as similarly slutty. But this wine sounds good, Jamie, and I'll try and seek one out from a local Oddbins.

(having difficulty posting this, hope I don't end up with half a dozen copies!)

At 10:10 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Dan, just had and enjoyed the seifried sauvignon blanc.

Jack, my bad. It's 18! What didn't you like about the NZ style? The sappy/green character?

Alex, you did well - just the single copy. I'm rarely disappointed by NZ Pinot. I should really be drinking more Burgundy though. And I confess a soft spot for Californian Pinot, although I'm not sure it's wise to admit this in public.

At 9:09 PM, OpenID redispassion said...

I must admit, you are right. I haven't a great Pino Noir so far, but yesterday I went with friends of mine to a small winery in Prague and we were trying several types of red wines from a small wine producer Maderic , which is situated in Moravia. Here is the url http://www.vinarstvimaderic.cz

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Greg said...

I need to taste more NZ pinots. We are so limited in our selection here and the only ones we have are less than average.

At 10:12 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

As a Nu Zillund-er I find it distressing that there is such a mixed view of our Pinot 'over-there', ranging from Jaimie's positive experiences to Jack's disappointment. Mostly it seems to come down to the poor quality of NZ Pinot that you have available. Even those trade tastings appear to trot out stuff that local kiwis have either never heard of (as they are made for export and don't ever hit our shelves) or wines that locals wouldn't touch with a barge pole (such as the Kim Crawford wines which are never good quality in my experience and because of that don't really represent good value for money). There are some extrodinarily well made NZ Pinot Noirs that don't hyave to break the bank yet still never fail to impress. Do you get the La Strada, Nuedorf 'Tom's Block', Main Divide, Greenhough, Dog Point, Terravin or Dog Point labels over your way?

At 11:46 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

I think the general feeling is a very positive one in the UK - remember, not all the comments here originate from the UK. I haven't tried many bad ones.

At 9:19 PM, Blogger Gulian said...

Yes, NZ Pinot rocks. I'm biased towards Martinborough Pinot Noir. I'm an expat American from the suburbs of Detroit who's settled in rural Martinborough. We live in paradise. I blog about it at 'Moon Over Martinborough' here: http://martinborough.wordpress.com/


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