New Zealand, a country composed of two main islands and many small ones, is narrow, and stretches from latitude south to south. The further south you go, the cooler it gets, and although the country was put on the world viticultural map by sauvignon blanc, now other grape varieties are becoming increasingly prominent i.e pinot noir, chardonnay, And Riesling.
Pinot noir is one of the up-and-coming varieties that has enormous potential in this country.
winemakers like to produce wines that please the palate. They aim to vinify wines that are balanced, possess medium levels of alcohol, are elegant, and aromatic with good acidity to cleanse the mouth. Most of the New Zealand wines go well with food few are patio-sippers.
Native to Burgundy, France, and notoriously fickle, the pinot noir is thin skinned, requires a cool and long growing season, calcareous soil, mutates easily and must be pruned to yield no more than six tones per hectare.
In Burgundy then the growing season is favourable and the vintner has shown restaurant in yield, the resulting wine can be outstanding.
There are only a few regions, outside of Burgundy, that produce fine pinot noir wines, one of which is Central Otago in the southern part of the South Island the farthest southern hemisphere location to grow grapes. Ontario and Oregon, Patagonia in Argentina also produce fine pinot noir.
In Burgundy pinto noir wines are elegant, delicate and relatively low in alcohol, whereas in New Zealand elegance is overlaid with power and fruit-driven intensity.
has long been famous for the success of its sauvignon blanc, but more recently the darling of the wine world pinot noir, has proved to be a viable competitor for the spot as the number one of the country.
Recently, I had an opportunity to taste several pinot noir wines from five regions:
Pinot Noir, 2008, Ata Rangi, Martinborough
From the most southern part of the North Island, This delightful wine is soft, elegant, fruity, balanced with an excellent finish
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Pinot Noir, 2008, Neudorf Vineyards, Nelson
This small region adjacent to Marlborough in the northern part of the North Island is small, but very suitable for pinot noir.
This wine smells of cherries and plums, is light, soft, with hints of spice and is “juicy”. Excellent value.
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Pinot Noir, 2007, Pegasus Winery, Waipara
This region’s terroir has limestone soil and enjoys a cool climate. It is located in teh vicinity of Canterbury, in the middle of the South Island. This pinot noir exudes berry and plum aromas, In the mouth it tastes of spices, and possesses a silky smooth texture. An excellent pinot noir to enjoy now, or cellar for one to two years for extra complexity.
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A powerful, fruit-driven (cherry), and soft wine with an excellent finish. Otago is the most southerly region to grow grapes.