If you’re gearing up for Burgundy 2011 en primeur tastings next week, you are probably a big Pinot Noir fan. 

Whilst Burgundian Pinot Noir is held up as the ultimate expression of the grape, New Zealand has carved a niche for fruity, approachable, earlier drinking wines. 

Pinot Noir is one of the most appealing wines to both winemakers and drinkers but often falls short due to its susceptibility to disease in the vineyard and heavy handedness with oak-ageing. 

Pinot Noir thrives in a cool climate and needs a long, consistent growing season to achieve optimum ripeness. 

There is a raft of innovative winemakers concentrated in New Zealand using Burgundy as their inspiration without losing their own positive characteristics. The most successful regions include Central Otago, a remote inland area and coastal Marlborough, both on the South Island. 

Recommendations of
medal winning Pinot Noirs from a tasting in London include: 

Cambridge Road Pinot Noir, Martinborough, 2010. (The 2009 vintage is £28.49 at New Zealand House of Wine). The North Island’s foot is known for ’boutique’ wineries and makes some very elegant Pinots, as here. Juicy and fresh with a mouth-filling, expansive, ‘open’ texture, this is a very pretty wine, well deserving of its IWC Trophy. To read more about the area, see Wines from Martinborough

Lawson’s Dry Hills Pinot Noir, Marlborough, 2010
. (The ‘white label’ is £9.99 when buy 2 at Majestic). Famous for Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough produces fine reds too. With the classic hallmarks of ‘sweet’ ripe fruit and smoky oak spice, this is a benchmark NZ Pinot at an affordable price. One for any occasion and could satisfy humbugs who only like red Burgundy. 

For more information on the wines of New Zealand see
here and to read about Pinot Noir in Burgundy, see Clive Coates MW’s website here.

(photo – Loungerie / Flickr Creative Commons)

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