edited by Sue Courtney
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Central Otago, New Zealand
"You're joking". "Really". "Wow, I never could have imagined". These were just some of the comments when the results of our mini pinot noir tasting were revealed. There were ten wines, five tasters and four of us, including me, had voted this wine into Number One. It was the Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Noir 2001.
The result was perhaps even more incredulous to two of the other tasters since Peregrine had come up in conversation, earlier in the day. They had not been impressed with Peregrine wines virtually since their debut a few years ago. As for me, well I was probably more familiar. The Peregrine Pinot Gris 2002, I told them, was a totally fabulous wine - a Wine of the Week choice in January 2002. Then, having attended the 2003 Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration in Queenstown I'd been able to taste the Peregrine Pinots at the Grand Tasting where 16 pinot producers had three vintages - 2000, 2001 and 2002 - to tickle our taste buds. But Pinot is not a wine to race around a tasting room tasting. It is a wine where you have to let the flavours evolve in the mouth to let subtle nuances of the finish, if they are there, to unfold and linger. They nuances I'm looking for are certainly there in the Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Noir 2001, it become quickly apparent to me.
What was so special about this wine that made it the favourite for most of us in the tasting?
It had good colour, a deep dark ruby with crimson pink hues and creamy oak on the nose - subtle oak that lets the cherry scents do their thing. Then the bright and fruity taste with a lovely rosemary and thyme character that is so Central Otago. It's savoury with a lovely richness and a smooth velvety texture. Everything is in balance, the sweetness of the fruit, the savoury of the herbs, the spiciness of the oak. It was simply summed up as 'Double Yum'. The top wines were bought back to taste the following night - just two of us this time. Neil had been the only dissenter in the group the first night, favouring a grunty Marlborough number from Riverby Estate - another surprise wine of the tasting that we all liked as well.
But two nights in a row the Peregrine had the edge that set it apart, though my second placed wine, the 2001 Martinborough Vineyards Pinot Noir, was knocking hard on the door. Picking the best really depends on what you want. Whereas the Martinborough was almost faultlessly good, I picked the Peregrine on the night because of the myriad of flavours the wine offered.
Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Noir 2001 is a well-priced Pinot in today's economy. It was priced $35 on release from the vineyard and should be found for about that in most retail outlets.
Find out more about Peregrine from the Peregrine Wines website.
© Sue Courtney
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