Ryan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member
It was with mixed feelings that I turned to page 61 of this month’s Wine Spectator. I was looking for the article splashed on the front cover “New Zealand Pinot Noir Comes of Age.” In general I am not a fan of the 100 point system or large publications having such a rampant impact on the success or failure of wines, wineries, regions, even countries. However, when one of these industry “Super Powers” puts its considerable weight behind a wine by bestowing it with a 90+ point rating, or as in this case, many 90+ ratings, behind a whole category, New Zealand Pinot Noir, one can’t help but feel excited and somewhat gratified. For many years I have been preaching how great these wines are, telling customers and colleagues alike, that NZ has truly world class potential for many grapes beyond Sauvignon Blanc. Sure some listened and have been enjoying the rewards ever since. Others still believe that NZ makes “pretty good Sauvignon Blanc”, yet refuse to believe that any NZ wine above $15 is worth considering, yet at the same time spend $100’s of dollars on Pinot with less balance, finesse and complexity from other regions. So perhaps now the “powers that be” have spoken declaring the “coming of age” for NZ Pinot Noir, more people will listen and grab some before the prices skyrocket! Being consistently ahead of the game at K&L we are already in possession of many of these top rated wines and indeed many others that may not feature in this months WS article but are nonetheless worthy of your consideration.
Before discussing the individual wines I would also like to point out the regional diversity within New Zealand. Pinot Noir from Marlborough, Nelson, Martinborough, Central Otago, Waipara etc, etc, will have very different flavor profiles. To stereotype hugely, for me Marlborough often shows a very crunchy, red berry acidity and some orange peel notes. Nelson (specifically the Moutere Hills,) has clay soil that gives a lifted brightness to then fruit, silky texture and often shows a dusty element on the finish. Martinborough, red fruited with gamey hints, more detail and layers to the wines seem to take more air / time to show their true qualities. Central Otago Pinot is generally the power house Pinot region of New Zealand, offering darker fruits with more weight and richness. Waipara / Canterbury, with lots of coastal influence and huge site diversity generally shows an elegant and often earthy, herbal style of wine. These are generalizations, and the beauty is that many sub-regional variations exist adding further intrigue to the category. If you don’t want to take my word for it, please read the WS article and explore some of these stunning wines!
94 Points Wine Spectator: "Exotic aromatics of mahogany and sandalwood follow through to supple red licorice, cranberry, cherry and raspberry flavors that are elegant, precise and balanced. Baking spice details of clove and nutmeg persist on the finish. Drink now through 2020.”
93 Points Wine Spectator (94Pts Wines & Spirits): “Delivers lovely aromatics, with sandalwood, Asian spice, white pepper, crushed stone and dried floral notes. The details continue on, offering strawberry, cherry and a terrific balance between tannins and acidity, keeping the flavors fresh and lively. Drink now through 2020.”
92 Points Wine Spectator: "Wild strawberry and raspberry flavors are delicate and pretty in this stunning red, which shows spicy nutmeg, dried ginger, fresh herb and floral details, with a terrific supple texture. Drink now through 2016.”
91 Points Wine Spectator: “Elegant and highly detailed, with plush, ripe red raspberry and cherry flavors that are fresh and juicy, joined by black tea, clove, sassafras and sage notes. Smooth and tasty, gaining momentum on the finish. Drink now through 2019.”
91 Points Wine Spectator: “Light and velvety, with lovely detailed red cherry and cranberry aromas and flavors, hinting at citrus peel and white pepper as the finish lingers effortlessly. Drink now through 2015.”
90 Points Wine Spectator: "A wonderfully smooth and classy expression of ripe red fruit flavors, warm baking spices, vanillin and mineral accents. Very harmonious, with a long finish. Drink now through 2016.”
92 Points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Pale ruby colored, the 2008 Pinot Noir gives pronounced notes of warm strawberries and cranberries going earthy/gamey with supporting aromas of underbrush, smoked duck, truffles and wet stones. Medium to full bodied, there is a lot of poise on the palate with a good backbone of high acid and a medium level of very fine, silt-like tannins. There's plenty of berry and earth flavors layering the long finish. It's good now and should continue to develop and drink to 2016.”
91 Points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: “Ruby colored, the 2009 Moutere Pinot Noir offers a good intensity of warm cranberry, pomegranate and red currant aromas with hints of violets, damp earth and Ceylon tea. Medium bodied, the concentration of red berry and earth flavors is well balanced with a medium level of finely grained tannins, and refreshing acidity. It finishes long and savory. Drinking nicely now, it should cellar to 2015+.”
-Ryan Woodhouse K&L Aussie / NZ Specialist
Terra Ignota is Latin for "Unknown Land". It was the name for the South Pacific region during intial mapping and exploration of Australia and New Zealand. As we are going to be exploring new and exciting wines from this region, we think this is a fitting title for our blog series on wines from this part of the world. Stay tuned for more!