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Murray Almond's "From the Left Island"

Taste of New Zealand Wine Fair 2002 - Part 4
The Pinot Noir Seminar

© Murray Almond - text and photos
21 April 2002

This column summarises the Pinot Noir Seminar held in conjunction with the Taste of New Zealand Wine Fair when it passed through Melbourne in February.

One feature for me of the New Zealand Wine Expo was the Pinot Noir Seminar that enabled a closer look at one of the feature styles of the New Zealand Wine Industry.

The Amcor Studio Held in the stunning Amcor Studio, with it's lit mural consisting of glass beads, cassette tape, jelly beans and spider encased in perspex, the seminar presented 8 Pinot Noirs from across New Zealand, each presenting by a winemaker or representative of the winery.

The Seminar was hosted by Lois Mills of Rippon Vineyard in Central Otago. Her introduction covered the dramatic growth of plantings in Pinot noir, from 500 hectares (ha) in 1994 to 1700 ha in 2002, this is to further expected to grow to over 2600 ha in 2004. Nevertheless New Zealand remains a small player in the global Pinot Noir market. Accordingly it competes as a niche player. in the world market. The advantage here is that the market has plenty of room to grow.

The discussion on each wine included information on clone selection and vine trellising, as well as the picking and making processes. This level of detail was greatly appreciated by the attendees. The notes below are my notes from the wines presented, with winemaker comments. The dollar values are those stated and are in Australian dollars.

2000 Kumeu River Pinot Noir, Kumeu $36.00
This wine was made from the 'new trellis' vineyard with the oldest vines dating back to 1993. It's hand harvested and matured in small oak barrels. I noted a funky nose, with a slight medicinal quality. Very good even mouthfeel and good finish with a fine tannin backbone. Very good.

2000 Palliser Estate Pinot Noir, Martinborough $38.90
The wine spends 12 months on 'light lees' in new and used French casks. There was muted berry on the nose, which blossomed on the palate. Good quality fruit and medium-fine tannins, there was a slight malo character on the palate. Enjoyable.

2000 Te Kairanga Pinot Noir Martinborough $38.00
Te Kairanga aims for a fair chunk of alcohol in the wine (14.%). The nose of this wine has berry with dark chocolate and a great balanced mouthfeel. Very fine tannins with a drying finish. A very good quality wine with a good finish. Age for 3-5 years.

2000 Seifried Estate Pinot Noir Nelson $23.99
Seifried Estate have been producing Pinot Noir since 1978, and these are 20yo vines. The wine went through malolactic fermentation before aging in new and one year old French & American oak. The wine was quite pale and had a slightly green aroma with red cherry overlay, there's also a bit of VA there as well. There's a medium-full mouthfeel with berry coming forward, the mouthfeel is slightly buttery reflecting the malo. A nice wine, but a touch too green for me.

2000 Highfield Pinot Noir Martinborough $25.00
A hand picked one, fermented in open top tanks and hand plunged. Malolactic fermentation occurred in French oak. The wine had medium-full depth with a medium-weight dark cherry character on the nose. It has a nice rich mouthfeel, full of fruit but with good purity. Fine tannins and a long finish. It's still from young vines which shows, but it clearly shows great promise.

2000 Montana Reserve Pinot Noir Martinborough $19.95
This is a middle-weight wine showing cherry and plum nose, with a medium weight mouthfeel. Ever slightly lacking in balance in this company, it delivers decent flavours for the price.

2000 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir Marlborough $32.40
James Healy noted that Cloudy Bay had no real focus on Pinot Noir until 1997. The Pinot Noir vines were planted in 1993. The 2000 vintage was picked in early April with grapes averaging 23.9 Brix. The wine had a rich nose with plum and cherry with a smidge of underlying spice. It has a rich warm mouthfeel, reinforcing the cherry and plum. It's a medium weight wine with a good long finish. Age for a few years.

1999 Rippon Pinot Noir Central Otago $42.00
The wine is held back a year in bottle before release. The wine has restrained fruit on the nose of berry, cherry and slight forest floor. On the palate a roast coffee character comes through with fine tannins before a medium long finish. Should cellar very nicely.

At the end of the session I had a great discussion with James Healy of Cloudy Bay and Tony Hooper of Highfield while sampling the leftovers. Discussion ranged from the cellaring capabilities of Sauvignon Blanc, "sure it ages, but why bother when it tastes so good now", terroir and selection the right grapes and clones for the right places, and effective marketing and positioning of New Zealand wine in overseas markets.

The two days of the New Zealand Wine Expo where highly educational and enjoyable and my congratulations and thanks to the New Zealand Wine Institute and Elmira Curin for their efforts.

From the Left Island

Murray

Recap:
Overview of the New Zealand Wine Fair in Melbourne.
Opinions and notes from the first day of tasting.
Opinions and notes from the second day of tasting.

© Murray Almond
21 April 2002

Any feedback? Send it to Murray at fromtheleftisland@yahoo.com.au


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E-mail me: winetaster@clear.net.nz