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Recent Sips of Central Otago Pinot Noir

Although 2013 is being called a “vintage of a lifetime” in New Zealand, the 2012 Pinot Noirs should not be ignored. Aubert de Villaine from Domaine de la Romanèe-Conti recently visited New Zealand for the 10th annual Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration. Nick Stock wrote about some of de Villaine’s insights in NZ Dirt - The Inside Story of New Zealand Wines, an e-newsletter featuring news updates for the United States market. De Villaine said, “New Zealand is on a latitude that is very similar to Burgundy, but in the southern hemisphere. It is a climate that is not entirely different and that ‘seed’ of Burgundy has taken hold in New Zealand, it is a very interesting proposition.”

DeVillaine went on to point out, “New Zealand is a very young country, the wine industry is very young, but with this idea of making wines of terroir which took in the minds of many vignerons in New Zealand, things will go much more quickly than they did in Burgundy.” He was impressed by the progress New Zealand has made, commenting, “There are today a lot of good wines, certainly more than a few years ago. Great progress has been made, but my general impression is that besides these good wines, there are only a few great wines.” Perhaps the remarkable 2013 vintage will be able to deliver more great wines.

Periodically, I dip into New Zealand Pinot Noir to sample wines from prominent producers. Here are my latest reviews.

2012 Burn Cottage Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., $55. Estate grown and bottled. Winemaker consultant is Ted Lemon of Littorai. · Medium reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas build over time in the glass, offering notes of cherry reduction sauce, black raspberry, forest floor, clay and smoky oak. Ingratiating sweet cherry, dark berry and plum flavors really satisfy, complimented by well-integrated oak highlights, tucked in tannins, and a satiny mouthfeel. The generous dark cherry finish has impressive staying power. Score: 92

2012 Felton Road Cornish Point Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $50, screwcap. Biodynamic. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Effusive aromas of fresh black raspberry and boysenberry with a compliment of toasty oak. A suave wine with a silky smooth mouthfeel and very likable dark red berry flavor. The sweet berry fruit builds in intensity on the palate, finishing with a burst of goodness. Oak plays a favorable seasoning role. Score: 91

2012 Felton Road Calvert Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., $50, screwcap. Biodynamic. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The aromatics are very reserved, even with extensive swirling, revealing demure aromas of dark red cherries and berries with a touch of oak. Much more pleasurable on the palate, with a charge of fresh and juicy black raspberry and black cherry fruits, showing impressive persistence on the finish. The rather muscular tannins need more time to integrate, and the aromas have not arrived, but this wine has superb potential. Score: 92

2012 Quartz Reef Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., $30, screwcap. Estate grown, Demeter Biodynamic®, Bendigo Vineyard. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas of dark red cherry and berry accented with oak are pleasant but not distinctive. The core of mid weight dark cherry and dark red berry fruit is straightforward, and pinned down by copious, very dry tannin. Score: 88

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