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Wine of the Week for week ending 17 Apr 2011
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Karikari Estate Northland Pinotage 2008
Karikari Peninsula, Northland, New Zealand

When I reviewed the 2009 vintages of the Kidnappers Cliffs and Muddy Water pinotages a few weeks ago, Raymond Chan of Raymond's Wine Reviews emailed me to say that Karikari Estate Northland Pinotage 2008 looked great too. So I immediately went about the task of procuring a bottle and it was duly opened to accompany roast lamb. Well, this wine was more than great. It was exceptional.

Karikari Estate Northland Pinotage 2008 is a rich ruby colour with a profound density to the hue. The aroma is smoky, savoury, meat and gamey with quite a bit of polish coming through. It's silky textured with a plushness to the mouthfeel. A generous wine with concentrated fruit from the freshness of strawberry to the richness of cassis and everything in between. Oak adds a polished veneer and well-balanced underlying acidity hints of its potential to age. And as the wine disappeared from the glass, hints of vanilla start to come through. I love the evolution of the wine and the journey it took me on. The smokiness whisked me to a place where I was sitting with my loved on in front of an outdoor fire, and then there was the long, sensual, supple and gently spicy aftertaste that it left behind.

The label (pictured right) shows a giant octopus, which represents Puwheke, the hill at the end of Karikari Beach, and also on the label are wine dribbles and an insect that landed on the label when the photo was being taken.

Just after vintage 2008, winemaker Ben Dugdale said he held high hopes for the pinotage along with other reds harvested from the Karikari Estate vineyards. I think he would be extremely happy with this result.

I don't know the winemaking details but it's useful to reflect that the first vintages, released in 2003 and 2004 were made entirely with American oak but in 2005 French oak was part of the mix. In 2006 French oak was dominant of the two and I'd say that was the case with this 2008. Alcohol is 13.9% and the wine is closed with a Diam cork.

My sister cooked Lamb Abruzzi from a recipe in Julie Biuso's Italian Cooking cookbook, published in 1999. It has a liberal amount of rosemary and parsley mixed with garlic and inserted into knife holes that she made in the lamb. The herb flavours infuse the meat beautifully while it's cooking. Then, near the end of cooking, half a cup of balsamic vinegar is poured over it and as well as flavouring the lamb, it enriches the cooking juices, which are served over the carved lamb as a jus.

I found an online recipe for Lamb Abruzzi here. The recipe calls for bacon but my sister didn't use it. It also has a Parmesan crust, which makes the lamb look beautiful, but really adds nothing to the flavour of the meat while cooking. Serve the crust on the side, if you want because it is not imperative for the wine and food experience on this occasion.

The only problem with the wine was when shared with four people, and accompanied with the most delicious tasting roast lamb, with roast beetroot that was also resoundingly good with the pinotage, there wasn't really enough of it one and a half glasses each, that's all. But just one glass is enough to know that Karikari Estate Northland Pinotage 2008 is 'Pinotage Perfection' both on its own and with the food.

Expect to pay around $35 a bottle. Check out for more.

© Sue Courtney
13 Apr 2011

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