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Sips of Pinot from Down Under

Neil and Dawn McCallum planted a vineyard at Dry River in 1979. The area has became known as the Martinborough Terrace, a cool-climate region appropriate for growing Pinot Noir. In 2002, the winery and 30 acres of vineyards were sold to New York executive Julian Robertson and California winegrower Reg Oliver who owned El Molino Winery in St. Helena, California. The new owners infused cash into the operation for expansion and updating of winemaking equipment. Neil McCallum has remained as the head winemaker. The vineyards are dry-farmed, despite the low rainfall, and crop thinning is employed at veraison to severely limit yields. The wines are known for their complexity and longevity. Look to to buy.

2006 Dry River Martinborough New Zealand Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $90. Imported by RO Imports LLC,, California. · Substantial color and structure. Complex aromatic profile that changes in the glass showing dark berries, vanilla, wood spice, browned marshmallows and brandy. Satisfying flavors of plums, currants, and blackberries with a woodsy and citrus undertone. Intense, even saturating fruit, but not jelly jar rich. Amazing persistence on the finish. The tannic backbone is ripe and substantial and the wine has the balance to age. Easy to mistake for a Grand Cru Burgundy with its expansive and lingering finish. A very unique wine that stands out from the Pinot crowd. Very good.

Frogmore Creek is a 5 star winery in the 2009 Australian Wine Companion written by noted wine critic James Halliday. Established in 1996 in the Coal River Valley of southern Tasmania, Frogmore Creek bottled its first Pinot Noir in 2002. Internationally, Frogmore Creek Pinot Noir has garnered many awards. Andrew Hood is the consulting winemaker. The property is 445 acres of vines including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. The property’s climatic profile is similar to Burgundy.

2006 Frogmore Creek Tasmania Australia Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., $20. Imported by Hathaway Co., Inc.. · Moderately deep reddish-purple color in the glass. Lovely aromatics featuring black cherries, raspberries, spice and violets. Plenty of sweet purple fruit coats the palate with a silk and satin texture, mild grainy tannins, and enough structure to predict some longevity. A well-priced wine that drinks like wines with tonier names. Matches well with kangaroo. Very good (-).

Andy and Penny Loving of Station Imports spend considerable time in Central Otago where they work with quality labels and import the wines to the United States. I visited Nick Mills at Rippon last year and was impressed by his commitment to biodynamic viticulture. His extensive training in Burgundy and the old vines on the Rippon estate (some dating to 1985) give him to tools to produce classically styled Pinot Noirs.

2007 Kawarau Estate Reserve Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $31, screw cap. Imported by Station Imports, Colorado Springs, Colorado. The estate vineyard is located north of Cromwell in the heart of Central Otago and is organically certified by Biogro. · On the nose there is shy cherry and berry fruit with up front green garden, vanilla and dirty boot aromas. Very tasty dark red berry core, moderately rich, encased in soft tannins and complimentary oak. Smoothly textured and easy to drink. The oak has been noticeably toned down from previous vintages. The flavors trump the nose at this stage. Decent (+).

2007 Rippon Lake Wanaka Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $50, Diam closure. Mature vines. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. Imported by Station Imports, Colorado Springs, Colorado. · Immature aromas of black cherries, green olive and seasoned oak. Crisp and juicy black cherry core with a pleasing grip of acidity and minerality on the finish. Still needs to shed substantial tannins. If you drink now, decant, or better yet, cellar for a year or two at least. A little more luscious than usual for Rippon Pinot Noir. A stellar wine. Very good.

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