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Sunday, March 3, 2013

New Wines--New Zealand: Pinot Poses Promisingly

Tim Atkin explains New Zealand Pinot Noir
I was invited this February to join Master of Wine and wine writer Tim Atkin (a very nice British Man) and other wine industry folks at the New Zealand Consulate General’s house in Los Angeles to sample through a variety of New Zealand Pinot Noirs. You might be thinking - New Zealand makes Pinot Noir? That’s exactly the point. Better known for Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz (called Syrah in the, ahem, Northern Hemisphere), New Zealand is a small country full of surprises. It’s one thing to have Pinot Noir from some random place in New Zealand, and it’s another matter entirely to sample through multiple regions within the country so you get a solid understanding of what the whole place is capable of producing.
I tasted through 18 New Zealand Pinot Noirs:
~6 wines from Martinborough, Nelson, and Waipara (what stood out: 2010 Pegasus Bay Prima Donna, reflective of bright, expressive, more California-ish fruit),
~6 wines from the best known grape region; Marlborough (what stood out: the 2010 Seresin “Leah” with its biodynamically produced grapes;
~6 wines from Central Otago (what stood out: the 2011 Burn Cottage with its smoky quality, and the 2010 Felton Road from Bannockburn) which showed the most fun and unusual characteristics, and a region that Atkin says playfully is populated with "remarkable misfits." The diversity of styles reflects how the subtle and not so subtle regions (and sub-regions) allow for a broad expression of Pinot Noir. Some are earthy, fleshy and rich like California, others present a minerality and quiet finesse, “fine-boned” as Mr. Atkins put it, others were nuanced and subtle, and frankly some tasted like no other Pinot Noir I’ve come across – less fruit and more hard-to-define austere. The point of this exercise, and what I’m advocating here, is to try something new the next time you’re out and about. Should a New Zealand Pinot Noir be offered by the glass or bottle, don’t be timid – try it. There were certain ones which were not my stylistic preference, but none of the wines were inferior. You will discover a new world of Pinot, only if you’re willing to experiment. So get to it, your taste buds will thank you.  NEW ZEALAND WINES

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