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edited by Sue Courtney
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Wine of the Week for week ending 25 February 2001
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Montana Reserve Pinot Noir 1999
Marlborough, New Zealand

An advertisement you should not miss

Do you buy wine at your local supermarket? I do sometimes. Because sometimes the prices are just so good I would be stupid not too.

The best example I've seen lately of a 'can't be ignored' price - in fact 'outrageously scandalous' price - was the special ended Sunday 18th Feb 2001. Did you see it? Did you buy some of the wine? I hope so if you live in Auckland or Northland New Zealand, for this supermarket has stores (according to their letterbox leaflet) from Pukekohe to Kaitaia. I hope you saw the special and took advantage of this steal.

I have to admit I only saw it by chance. The leaflet from this store is shoved in my letterbox, along with leaflets from five other supermarkets and a host of other retail outlets. However, I unceremoniously dump them into pile for recycling on arrival. I never look at them because I usually shop to a list. But maybe I should in future because I would have found out about this 'special' at the beginning of the week instead of the end of the week. This would have given me the opportunity to taste the wine and evaluate it in plenty of time to buy more.

So how did I find out about it? Well, I always cruise the wine section at our supermarket. It has a pretty good selection - from cask-wine to Champagne. But it is a supermarket and often pricing mistakes are made. Usually because some of the better wines come in 6-bottle cases and the powers that be in the Head Office divide all the cases by 12. You have to be vigilant, always on the lookout for the bargains. But first of all your have to know what the bargains are.

An advertisement you should not miss This bargain of all bargains that I stumbled across is the Montana Marlborough Reserve Barrique Fermented Pinot Noir 1999 (if you are reading this in the US, substitute Brancott for Montana). The wine normally retails in New Zealand for about NZ$30. The whites, at least, on the 'special' are sub-$20 wines and the savings for them were about $3 to $4. The Merlot I don't know. But the Pinot Noir - oh boy - the special gave a 50% discount. "It's been advertised", I was told. I put three bottles in my trolley and when I returned home I rummaged through the recycling to check if it was in the flier. Indeed it was.

I love wine with food so some tender juicy lamb loin chops and a portobello mushroom - packaged and labelled as a BBQ Flat - seemed the ideal combo. Well the preparation and cooking was not to the perfection of Alister Brown's* rendition of the dish, the food was never-the-less delicious with the wine.

It's a youthful pinot with ruby hues - a gemstone of this colour would cost fortunes. The warm, berry aromas with a little smoke were perhaps enhanced by the barbecue cooking of the lamb. In the palate there are earthy complexities but the bright fruit and vibrancy is there. The tannins are soft and the texture warmly coats the mouth while delicious sweet savoury flavours linger. It's a fine example of New Zealand Pinot Noir. At its normal retail of NZ$30 this is a well-priced Pinot Noir in this day and age, but at NZ$14.99 it cannot be faulted.

Sorry to all of you who missed out. All I can say from this end of the computer is that I definitely wish I had bought more.

Notes from the label: "Our winemakers have harvested only the finest grapes from our Marlborough vineyards to produce this intensely flavoured Pinot Noir which has been enhanced with French oak". 13.5% Vol..

*Alister Brown is the chef-owner of Wellington's Logan Brown Restaurant. I reviewed the restuarant in February.

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