Thirsty Thursday- A Taste of New Zealand Pinot Noir

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I love Pinot Noir and love to experiment with different Pinot’s from different regions. In my tasting travels I have sipped some of the best Pinot Noir from Oregon as well as California. Do I have a preference for New World Pinot Noir? Some would say yes! I just happen to like the “in your face” fruit forward taste of Californian and Oregon Pinot Noir. I’m especially fond of the California 2007 vintage of Pinot Noir.

Recently my partner, Chef E and I visited a well known restaurant in the area and decided to try out a New Zealand Pinot Noir and settled on the Mana NZ Pinot Noir 2008. (t.n. below) My impressions were “not bad, but not quite there”. Faint bouquet with a lacking finish. Who knew how long the bottle had been open. At $10 a glass, just a little bit too pricy for a wine that I’m not too sure about. At about $20 a bottle, worth a whirl with your friends as an experiment or introduction to New Zealand Pinot Noir. In short, I had better Californian Pinot’s at that price point, but then again that’s just my taste buds.

It just so happens that NY Times wine critic Eric Asimov recently did a tasting on New Zealand Pinot Noirs. While California and Oregon have been in the Pinot Noir business for many years, New Zealand has not been in the Pinot business for that long. It still has plenty to learn, just like a teenager.  In a nutshell Asimov states…

We have the impressions that the New Zealand Pinot Noir is still seeking an identity”.

Asimov continues to say…

” While we found very good wines — wines I’d be happy to drink with dinner — we did not find a great wine, one that could demonstrate the full potential of New Zealand pinot noir, rather than simply suggesting it. “

As stated in Decanter, New Zealand is making more good value Pinot Noir than any other county, says Matthew Jukes, one of the Uk’s best known wine critics.

For winemakers, as well as wine lovers, Pinot Noir has the reputation of being one of the most fickle grape varieties to grow. Yet New Zealand seems to be made for growing Pinot Noir where the climate is suitable and importantly has acquired a highly desirable mix of clones. Not surprising Pinot Noir has been the most recent varietal to show rapid growth, with three distinct regions fighting for notoriety: Marlborough, Central Otago and Martinborough. Pinot Noir has now surpassed Sauvignon Blanc as the most widely planted grape variety in New Zealand.
New Zealand Pinot Noirs are not cheap. Pinot Noir is rarely cheap because its fussy wine, yet NZ Pinot Noir offers a good value for the money.  While the winemakers may need to work a little on their Pinot Noir, its worth giving these a try to see what you think.

Some suggested New Zealand Pinot Noirs to taste-under $25/bottle as cited by Eric Asimov:

  • Stonecrop Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008 $22
  • Waipara Springs Waipara Pinot Noir 2008 $16
  • Babich Marlborough Pinot Noir 2007 $16
  • Dashwood Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 $14
  • Dashwood Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 $14
  • Mana NZ Marlborough  2008 $20– MANA Pinot Noir is a seductive and elegant wine with pronounced red berry fruits and lingering spicy oak character. Medium bodied and dry in style, the wine balances fruit, acidity, and tannins. A pure New Zealand Pinot Noir .

    Cheers and Tweets!  Adrienne

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