Posted on January 26th, 2010
Pinot Noir is often cited as being a bit of fickle grape. You’ll also read that it’s a difficult grape to grow.
In the glass, it’s most often described as elegant, smooth and feminine with “gaminess” and “forest floor” often used too.
I caught up with Patrick Materman, Chief Winemaker with Montana wines in Marlborough, New Zealand. He was in town for the New Zealand Wine Fair last Tuesdsay, and was able to describe it a little differently.
“Everyone talks about Pinot Noir as being a difficult variety to make. I think the difficult part is finding the right place to grow it. Once you’ve done that, it’s not so difficult. But it is about being very focused in the vineyard. It’s very hands on”.
Burgundy was always the right place to grow it.
That was until an Ulsterman, Alan Brady, planted vines in southerly New Zealand region of Central Otago in 1981. The rest is history, and New Zealand now produces fantastic Pinot Noir not just in Central Otago, but also in areas like Martinborough, Waipara and Marlborough.
What’s more, New Zealand can produce great Pinot Noir at affordable prices, the same which can not be truly said of Burgundy.
Here are three of the best value Pinots from New Zealand.
1. Montana Reseve Pinot Noir, Marlborough 2008 (€14.35)
A suberb example of the quality and value coming out of New Zealand. Cherries, plums, combined with velvet and savory spices.
The winemaker, Materman, spends a lot of time in the vineyards tending to his vines, and this care and attention show in the glass.
With food? A wide range of possible matches, roast chicken, read meats, and mushroom risotto.
Available in Tesco and many other wine shops nationwide.
2. Clocktower Pinot Noir, Marlborough 2008 (€16.49)
In terms of style, it’s more action hero than femme fatale while still maintaing a nice balance.
This richness resembles Cherry Coke or Dr. Pepper but makes no apologies for it.
Full of flavor with no room for sublety, yet still maintaining low tannins and high acidity that we associate with Pinot Noir.
With food? Salmon, duck with hoisin sauce.
Available from Marks & Spencer nationwide.
3. Waipara Springs Premo Pinot Noir, Waipara 2008 (€19.99)
In my view, I’m leaving the best until last. I’ve tried this wine a couple of times from one of Ireland’s favourite online wine shops, curiouswines.ie.
Imported by Blackrock native, Joyce Austin who runs New Zealand Boutique Wines, and splits her time between Ireland and New Zealand.
This is produced naturally with minimum intervention which allows for a great expression of the fruit, cherries, raspberries, plums. There’s also a gamey character you often get with classic Pinot Noir styles. Great acidity with smooth silky tannins. Very classy. Good value at €20? For what you’re getting, I think so.
With food? Roast lamb.
Available online from curiouswines.ie