BURGUNDY, France, may be the spiritual home of pinot noir, but New Zealand’s cool climate pinot ranks among the best.
From easy-to-love fruit bombs, to dark, intense and gutsy wines, new world pinot is the pinnacle for wine lovers who like to be dazzled by up-front fruitiness.
Concentrated and well structured, the 2009 vintage has been hailed a triumph across the country’s main regions, and Kiwi growers are expanding the cellar door far beyond their signature sauvignon blanc.
A foodies delight, these tantalising reds drinks go just as well with salmon as they do with chicken, lamb or roast game - and they’re a joy for any wine rack.
New Zealand’s up-and-coming region, Central Otago (far south of South Island), may be a tenth of the size of Marlborough but its flagship grape produces some of the country’s finest pinot noir.
Try Taste The Difference Penguin Sands 2009, Central Otago (£9.99, Sainsbury’s). Earthy and complex with ribbons of sweet brambly fruit, a hint of cherry sherbet and a spicy kick on the dry finish, it’s the perfect wine to sip, savour and ponder over.
Another top-shelf offering from the high street, try Finest Central Otago Pinot Noir (£10.29, Tesco). It’s a light and fruity cherry-red beauty with scented purple fruit, a smack of pepper to give it some edge and a smooth, velvety finish.
For pinotphiles who are prepared to reach a little deeper, try Akarua Pinot Noir 2009, Central Otago (£25, Harvey Nichols nationwide). This bright cherry red spills over the tongue and coddles the tastebuds with a silky veil of lip-smacking fruit. Powerful and beautifully balanced, this beguiling wine will delight the most discerning drinker.
Further north, Marlborough’s flagship grape is sauvignon blanc, but it also produces some fabulously fresh, ruby reds.
From one of the region’s leading wineries, Wither Hills is growing a reputation for producing pinot to rival its zesty sauvignon blanc. Try Wither Hills 2009, Marlborough (£9.99 from £12.99, until July 19, Waitrose). Excellent value for money, I recommend snapping up a couple of bottles of this classy wine. Hugely appealing with a floral nose, it’s a lively mouthful of jammy, rich fruit with a seasoning of white pepper and a tingle on the finish – a baby sister for cabernet sauvignon fans.
Savoury and fruity with good concentration, Eradus 2009, Marlborough (£13.27, www.corneyandbarrow.com) is deceivingly rich for such a pale cherry red. Fragrant with firm tannins and a long finish, this pinot would work just as well with a meaty fish as it would teamed with pan fried duck breast and a yummy sauce.