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)