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New Zealand’s Best Pinots

Tim Atkin MW reported on this year’s New Zealand Pinot Noir Conference in Wellington in The World of Fine Wine (Issue 27, 2010). He noted that New Zealand has emerged as one of the best alternatives to red Burgundy along with Oregon, California and Australia. Plantings of Pinot Noir in New Zealand have more than doubled to 11,920 acres and Pinot Noir is New Zealand’s most exported variety behind Sauvignon Blanc.

Atkin noted, “New Zealand Pinots generally beat those from Burgundy for consistency, power, and fruit weight, but its wines still lag behind in complexity, longevity, and expression of place.” He went on to compile a list of New Zealand’s 25 world-class producers of Pinot Noir: Ata Rangi, Felton Road (several vintages reviewed in PinotFile), Seresin (recently reviewed), Neudorf, Pyramid Valley (see below), Pegasus Bay, Rippon (see previous feature), Schubert, Mount Edward, Julicher Estate, Martinborough Vineyards, Escarpment (previously reviewed), Bell Hill, churton, Bald Hills, Gibbston Valley, Craggy Range (previously reviewed), Mount Difficulty, Burnt Spur, Grasshopper Rock, Quartz Reef, Wooing Tree, Valli, Ma Maison, and Two Paddocks.

I recently sampled two good Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noirs, one of which was made by a producer who made Atkin's list.

2008 Kawarau Estate Central Otago Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $16, screw cap. Imported by Station Imports LLC, Colorado Springs, CO. From an family owned organically farmed vineyard. The label depicts identities from Central Otago’s gold mining era. Crafted by noted winemaker Dean Shaw at Central Otago Wine Company. · Complex aromatic profile of wild berries, rose tea, underbrush, savory spice, and oak. Light but pleasing core of cherries, cranberries and pomegranates with a slight confected note and a grapefruit peel infused finish. Crafted for current drinking. Good.

2007 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection Calvert Vineyard Central Otago Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.71, 700 cases, $44, screw cap. Imported by multiple US importers including Wine Connections Inc, Denver, CO, Cellar Door Imports, Inc., Woodland Hills, CA, Robert Mackin, Artisan Wines, Norwalk, CT, and Terra Firma Wine Co, Oakland, CA. Pyramid Valley proprietors Mike and Claudia Weersin source grapes from prestigious growers throughout New Zealand. Calvert Vineyard is farmed biodynamically by the team at Felton Road. Unfined and unfiltered. · Deeply colored trending to the purple spectrum. Lovely black cherry and blackberry fruit aromas initially, fading some over time revealing a more savory spectrum of scents including underbrush, green garden and the slightest oak. The moderately dense red and black fruits have an earthy side and a presence on the palate that demands your attention. Juicy and silky textured with fine grain tannins and a clean finish, with a beautifully harmonious composition that can age. A metrosexual wine: fairly masculine intensity with a soft and elegant presence.

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