This pinot gris is influenced by the Alsace style, and is from Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand’s north island. In the glass, there are muted aroma of herbs, stones and almonds. The palate is off-dry, full bodied and the acidity racy. Pleasant enough, and something different, although not in a style I would seek. It would suit spicy food. Rating: Good. Abv: 14.5%. Price: $21. Website: www.church-road.co.nz.
This is a high quality merlot blend (76% merlot, 14% cabernet sauvignon, 8% cabernet franc and 2% malbec) from Craggy Range in Hawkes Bay in New Zealand. It has blackcurrant, clove and earth aromatics that are Bordeaux like, although more left bank than right. The palate has great length and ripe tannins. Ready to drink now, this is an excellent wine that impresses beyond its price. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 13.9%. Price: $35. Website: www.craggyrange.com.
Central Otago pinot noir really has improved at all price points over the last decade. The wines I see are increasingly complex and savoury, perhaps a function of vine age. This wine is rather good for a $16 Central Otago pinot noir. It has aromas of stems and ripe cranberries. The palate has a savoury and lightly tannic edge that is definitively pinot noir grown in a climate suited to it, with a slight fruit sweetness consistent with its climate. Rating: Good. Abv: 13%. Price: $16. Source: Sample.
Martinborough on New Zealand’s north island produces my preferred expression of New Zealand pinot noir. Having literally heard of Dry River in the hallways, this was a first encounter with this well regarded Martinborough estate. More premier cru than grand cru in style, it proved an enjoyable wine. Its aromatics remind of black cherry, cedar and earth. Anise too. The palate is medium bodied with a textured depth to it of cherry, earth and cedar characters. The finish is quite long, and the overall impression elegant.
Rating: Very Good
Vendors and website: http://dryriver.co.nz
Quartz Reef in Central Otago is another winery that has taken to biodynamics, and the results again are good. This pinot noir is from the Central Otago subregion of Bendigo, the grapes are handpicked and the vine density is admirable at 5000 to 8000 plants per hectare. Bendigo is warmer than the Gibbston subregion, which was the source of the Valli wine I reviewed yesterday. I find myself drawn to wanting to learn more about these Central Otago subregions.
There is a restraint and poise in Quartz Reef’s 2012 pinot noir that is attractive. The wine again diverges from my earlier memories of pinot noir from Central Otago. The aromatics remind of plum and new season red cherries that are not quite ripe yet. The palate has medium length, maybe more, and the cherry flavours continue. Overall, this is an attractive wine and certainly achieves balance in the glass.
Central Otago is surely one of the most beautiful places in the world. I expect that I am in danger of wishing to return to it sooner rather than later, adding yet a further destination to a list unable to be sensibly satisfied with such limited time. Since I last looked in on pinot noirs from the region some years ago there seems greater nuance and complexity in them, together with a marching focus on sub regional styles.
The 2012 vintage of Valli pinot noir from the cooler sited Gibbston Vineyard has aromatics of game, leather and dark cherry. These aromatics also feature on the palate, and the wine achieves a balance in the glass with some fine grained tannins gently providing grip with time in the glass. This is complex and interesting wine that will reward your interest.
Made from grapes sourced from the Waipara Valley (50%) and the remainder from Marlborough and Nelson, this New Zealand pinot gris has aromatics of pear and slightly candied lemon rind. The palate is verging on off dry with flavours reminding of sweet pears and lemon rind. The finish is short, and it presents as relatively crisp. Overall, while mostly balanced in expression, this is a fairly simple sort of a wine and I felt that the residual sugar on the palate papered over some of the lemon rind notes to mixed effect. Acceptable
Vendors: Check http://www.wine-searcher.com/
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