edited by Sue Courtney
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Marlborough, New Zealand
Mention Cloudy Bay and you immediately think of New Zealand's most famous Sauvignon Blanc producer from the plains of Marlborough's Wairau Valley. But there is more to Cloudy Bay's bag of tricks than Sauvignon Blanc. There are delicious sparkling wines, powerful chardonnays and luscious sweeties. And then there is the Pinot Noir. Cloudy Bay was one of the first Marlborough producers to produce a still red Pinot Noir. They are also one of the best.
The Cloudy Bay Marlborough Pinot 1999 is the current release and it is a rather entrancing little number. I've tried it several times since last November and it just gets better and better.
An array of aromas from floral cherry to mushroom and game, and even a hint of chocolate, soon has you under the spell.
At first the taste is delicate but soon bursts with richness and power as delicious Pinot flavours fill the mouth.
Smoky, toasty oak adds a delicious charry character that goes so well with the sweet cherry, plum and brambly fruit and the earthy, forest floor notes. It is warm and rich in flavour with sweet spice and savoury. Soft, velvety tannins combine with a silky texture.
Then after the liquid has gone and you are left with memories in the mouth, floral connotations linger with a stylish mystique.
Cloudy Bay produced their first still red Pinot Noir as an experimental bottling in 1989. It was made from the Swiss clones - Bachtobel and AM10/5. Pinot Noir in the Cloudy Bay livery followed in '92 and '94. Kevin Judd and his team soon decided that better clones were called for and this is what we taste in the Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 1999.
It is a blend of 75% UCD5 (Pommard), 15% UCD6 and 10% AM10/5. After fermentation in stainless steel, the wine was transferred into French oak barrels, of which 45% were new, for malolactic fermentation and maturation.
It is no wonder the wine is so deliciously warm and textural in the mouth - it has 14% alcohol by volume.
Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir is fairly widely available. Check out the Cloudy Bay website for stockists in New Zealand and around the world. It's reasonably priced in the day and age - expect to pay no more than about NZ$38.
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