Some discriminating palates will argue the point that the jury is still out on the kiwi Pinot Noirs. My very first experience with the kiwi Pinot Noirs was not a favorable one; an $11 bottle from a lesser known Canterbury region resulting in a fruit lacking, light bodied example. With Pinot Noir however, I have found that this is one varietal where you get what you pay for, and much of what you pay for is location. What a difference a region makes! Move Northward on South Island to Marlborough , the most important wine making region in New Zealand.
Certainly, I’m sure everyone has enjoyed some rock star quality, reasonably priced Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough and Hawkes Bay this spring and summer. If not, for less that $13 you should be able to find a bottle to experience the zest and zing for yourself; most people either like it or love it. For me, the transition into autumn influences my wine selection and I’ll move more so towards Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and other select reds, as well as fuller whites.
Pinot Noir is not a varietal you will find much of in Virginia. Some vineyards grow it, and the end result is usually a light bodied example where the fruit dissipates quickly, but for the warmer months it might work for some.
All this to say New Zealand is doing some great things with their Sauvignon Blancs; so much so that the influence has grown onto other areas to find ways to make their Sauvignon Blanc in typical kiwi fashion, example, California. With that, the kiwi Pinot Noirs are not too far behind; reasonably priced, and a come hither, seducing style that displays complexity, good varietal character and your typical red fruit integrated with a sometimes chocolate and coffee bean nose.
With sun filled days, cool nights and a long growing season, Marlborough certainly could be the ideal host to the Pinot Noir grape. In addition to, the kiwis appear to be striving towards keeping their product consistent and polished for their thriving export market; and of course foreign interest in the country has taken the kiwis over top and into the global market.
The wine pictured is the Babich Pinot Noir 2005 from the Marlborough region. I purchased this at Unwined for under $17. This young wine displays a deep ruby color with aromas of cherry and spice that follows through to the palate with a nice lingering finish. Picture this paired with a red pasta sauce, pork or game dish or even on its own. From my personal experience, Breaux Vineyards dark chocolate goes quite nicely as a side treat.
Similar values from the Marlborough region can be found, so if you have a favorite, drop me an email or comment so I may try it.
In closing I wonder what Miles impression of the kiwi Pinot Noir would be; seeing how one could despise Cabernet Franc and Merlot and so love a 1961 Cheval Blanc leaves Dezel to wonder (lol). One thing is for certain however, given Pinot Noirs food pairing diversity it may pair well with burger and fries.
Stay tuned for reviews of Breaux Vineyards Lobster feast, Veramar Vineyards visit, Tarara Great Grape festival, and a Viognier from South Africa .