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2010 New Zealand Noteworthy Imports

Top Performers


2006 Dry River Martinborough New Zealand Pinot Noir $80 Syrah-like color and structure. Very contemplative nose showing nuanced scents of a variety of wild dark berries, with considerable oak-derived notes of spice, browned marshmallow, brandy and vanilla. Utterly amazing intense and saturating sun-kissed flavors of plums, blackberries and currants with a savory, woodsy undertone, and a hint of tangerine peel on the extremely long finish. Easy to mistake for a young Grand Cru Burgundy with the biggest tip off being the amazing persistence at the end. Beautifully balanced for the long haul. Still exceptional the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle displaying more softness and harmony. A truly unique wine of great distinction that stands out from the New Zealand crowd. Serve this wine blind to any of your Pinot geek buddies, let them try to guess where it is from, and you will find many surprised winos.

2008 Dry River Martinborough New Zealand Pinot Noir $95 Moderately deep reddish-purple hue in the glass. Amazingly vivid array of dark fruit aromas including hi-tone raspberry with nuances of tea and dried rose petals. Delicious and well-mannered complex of cherry and berry flavors with a very subtle leafy note. Seamless and seductive with flavors that caress the mouth and fan out beautifully on the lush and generous finish. More elegant and approachable than some vintages of this wine. One of the world’s greatest Pinot Noirs and one of the most spellbinding Pinot Noirs I have sampled this year.

2008 Felton Road Calvert Vineyard Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir $59 Darker in color than the regular blended bottling. Subdued aromas of black cherries, plum sauce and woodshed. Delicious core of black cherries and dark berries front and center with complimentary savory herbs and spices. Well-structured with a balancing edge of acidity and moderate tannins. Velvety and very sensual in the mouth. Still very young and will need some cellaring to shed and integrate the tannins.

2008 Felton Road Cornish Point Vineyard Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir $50 Moderately dark ruby in the glass. Haunting perfume of dark stone fruits with hints of oak, compost and pine. Mouth watering and juicy with bright flavors of earth-kissed black cherries, plum sauce, cola, and nutmeg. Well-proportioned tannins and acidity with pleasing persistence of the fruit flavors on the finish. Drinkable now, but can cellar with confidence as it will age effortlessly. The stuff that Pinot dreams are made of.

2008 Felton Road Block 3 Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir $65 Darkest of the 2008 Felton Road wines reviewed. Brooding and tight with a hint of smoky black fruits and toasted oak. Picks up fruit intensity and interest over time in the glass. Moderately dense core of earth-laden black plum and cassis fruit with accents of oak. Grand Cru Burgundy flavor intensity and finish. The tannins are still flamboyant and the wine is reluctant to give up its charm now, but will be great in several years. Still closed the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Don’t even think about popping the cork for three to five years. 2008 Felton Road Block 5 Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir $65 Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aggressive aromas of dark Bing cherries, forest floor, spice and pencil lead. Dense and unctuous black cherry core with citrus in the background. Fine-tuned tannins buffer the acidity beautifully. An exceptional wine that is really big and really good, but needs time for full expression. Tasted the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the fruit was more giving but cellaring is definitely indicated. For grown-ups only.

2007 Neudorf Moutere Nelson New Zealand $48 Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Demure but pleasing aromas of darker cherry and berry fruits including black currants with a subtle underpinning of oak. The dark fruit veers to the ripe side but is very tasty. Seamless with a refreshing acid tang on the finish. Even better the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle offering an impressive display of fruit and a peacock finish. Worth a search.

2008 Palliser Estate The Great Walter Martinborough New Zealand Pinot Noir $55 Moderately reddishpurple color in the glass. Demure aromas of dark berry jam and subtle oak. Delicious dark berry core that really attacks the mid palate with a vengeance. Hints of Dr. Pepper and tobacco add interest. Oak has a definite presence but is beautifully married to the fruit. Soft in the mouth, this wine really grows on you over time in the glass.

2007 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection Calvert Vineyard Central Otago New Zealand 700 cases, $44. Deeply colored trending to the purple spectrum. Lovely black cherry and blackberry fruit aromas initially, fading some over time revealing a more savory spectrum of scents including underbrush, green garden and the slightest oak. The moderately dense red and black fruits have an earthy side and a presence on the palate that demands your attention. Juicy and silky textured with fine-grain tannins and a clean finish, with a beautifully harmonious composition that can age. A metrosexual wine: fairly masculine intensity with a soft and elegant presence.

2008 Rippon Mature Vine Lake Wanaka Central Otago Pinot Noir 1,989 cases, $54 Charming aromas of dark stone fruits and berries, exotic woods and subtle oak spice. Moderately rich and mouth filling essence of dark grapes and berries with a hint of spice and minerals. Soft and satiny leaving a satisfying impression on the generous and lively finish. The most forward of the three 2008 Rippon Pinot Noirs tasted and quite showy for this vineyard.

2008 Rippon Emma’s Block Mature Vine Lake Wanaka Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir $74 Shy but very pleasing scent of dark fruits, dried rose petals and leather, gathering intensity with time in the glass. Delicious mouthful of dark red cherries and berries. Very crisp and juicy with fine proportioned tannins and a silky follow through. A seductive drink now, but tremendous upside potential.

2008 Rippon Tinker’s Field Mature Vine Lake Wanaka Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir $92 This wine smells of the outdoors with scents of wooded forest, wet leaves, darkly colored berry jam and a hint of oak. Very tasty attack of dark cherry and berry fruit and cherry skins, all with a subtle earthiness. Moderately rich with fine-grain polished tannins, a welcoming tug of acidity, and impressive persistence on the bold finish. The wine glides across the palate with a dreamy silkiness. Hard to put this wine into words: suffice it to say you know it when you experience it. Greater later in the day after opening. A New Zealand old vine Pinot Noir epiphany.

2007 Seresin Sun & Moon Marlborough New Zealand Pinot Noir $60 Terrific aromatic interest sporting dark berries, especially black raspberries, and black cherries, rose tea, oak spice and vanillin. I wanted to go on sniffing this one. Moderately rich and very tasty with flavors of plums, dark berries and toast. Smooth as a baby’s bottom in the mouth with moderate tannins and bright acidity in perfect harmony. There is a pleasing citrus note on the finish. The impeccable balance predicts long term aging potential.



Value-Priced Performers


New Zealand dominates the under $20 value priced Pinot Noir category. How do they do it? There are some amazingly good wines in this list for less than a Jackson.


2008 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Martinborough New Zealand Pinot Noir $33
2008 Deep Cove Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir $19
2008 Kawarau Estate Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir $16
2008 Nautilus Marlborough New Zealand Pinot Noir $26
2008 Over the Edge Martinborough New Zealand Pinot Noir $13
2008 Russian Jack Martinborough New Zealand Pinot Noir $13
2007 Saint Clair Family Estate Omaka Reserve Marlborough New Zealand Pinot Noir $28
2008 Waipara Springs Premo Reserve Waipara New Zealand Pinot Noir $20

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