Recent Sips of New Zealand Pinot
I keep dabbling in New Zealand Pinot Noir, and although the wines can be very good, there are none that have
sent me into such a state of nirvana that I have been willing to switch from my California and Oregon favorites.
Here are a few exports available in the California marketplace that you should sample and judge for yourself.
2010 Over The Edge Martinborough New Zealand Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $11, screw cap. Imported by
Meadowbank Estates, Alexandria, VA.
Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Weighed down by oak
trappings, this wine still presents good value. Aromas of black cherries, plum sauce and oak spice and smoke.
Rustic and earthy as Martinborough Pinots can be, with a medium bodied core of darker fruits including flavors
of blackberry and cassis. Very smooth on the palate, leaving a finish with oak in its wake. Decent.
2010 Cairnbrae Marlborough New Zealand Pinot Noir
$19., screw cap. Imported by Station Imports, Colorado Springs, CO.
Planted in 1980, Cairnbrae started out as a contract grower, but by
1992 began producing Sauvignon Blanc under their own Cairnbrae
label. Purchased by Sacred Hill in 2001, Christie Brown was brought
on as Winemaker.
Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass.
Complex nose displaying aromas of strawberries, raspberries, cherries, and
savory spices. A light and pleasant drink, offering a tasty black cherry and ripe
strawberry core with a hint of sandalwood and herbal oak. Lively acidity and
mild dusty tannins add to the appeal. Very Good.
2010 Felton Road Block 3 Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $69, screw cap. Imported by Wilson Daniels, St. Helena, CA.
Darkly colored in the glass. Brooding aromas of black fruits, brier, black
tea, cardamom spice and leather. Reserved but interesting dark stone
fruit and berry flavors with a hint of citrus in the background. A wine of
character, tasting mysterious and intriguing but very young and only
hinting at its ultimate potential. Silky smooth on the palate with marvelous
structure and acid interplay. One of Central Otago’s benchmark wines.
2008 Tarras Vineyards Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $25, screw cap. Imported by
USA Wine West, Sausalito, CA. An estate wine from The Steppes Vineyard.
Moderate ruby color in the glass.
Deep aromas of dark berries, wine cellar and smoky oak. California in style, with copious dark berry and
cherry flavor supported by moderately firm tannins, finishing with an undertone of oak on the fruit-driven finish.
Displaying to much oak influence for me at this stage. Good.
2008 Escarpment Martinborough New Zealand Pinot Noir
alc., $35. Imported by Meadowbank Estates, Alexandria, VA. The
vineyard at Escarpment is planted on alluvial gravel terraces at the
foot of the Aorangi Mountains. Vinified by Larry McKenna, known in
New Zealand as the “Prince of Pinot.”
Moderate reddish-purple hue in
the glass. Nice array of spicy red and black fruits on the expressive
nose. Full-bodied and very ripe core of dark red and black fruits with
complimentary oak vanillin and spice in the background, displaying a creamy
mouth feel, and exhibiting a modest persistence on the finish. Very good (-).
2008 Mountford Estate Waipara New Zealand Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $40.
Imported by Infinity Imports, Los Angeles, CA. Crafted by blind winemaker CP
Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black
cherries, strawberries, sandalwood, spice and toasty oak. A bit rustic and
closed, showing flavors of black cherries wrapped in supple tannins,
underpinnings of tea, tar and oak, and slipping off the palate at the finish with
persistent aromatic interest. Should improve over the next few years in the
cellar. Very good.