Before you head to the wine store to stock up, read a few New Zealand Pinot Noir wine reviews. Although the Burgundy region of France is famous for this type of wine, in recent years, New Zealand has been producing delicious and relatively affordable bottles of this fruity red wine.
Pinot Noir Basics
Pinot Noir wine is made from the finicky Pinot Noir grape. The name French, and roughly translates to "pine" and "black," terms that describe the configuration -- which resembles a pine-cone -- and color of the varietal. The result is a light, red wine that ranges from fruity to earthy and pairs well with most types of food, from meat to fish to pasta.The Pinot Noir grape is grown in Europe, the United States and New Zealand, among other places.
History of New Zealand Pinot Noir
New Zealand has been predominately known for their Sauvignon Blanc wines, and wine makers have faced many challenges since they began to grow Pinot Noir grapes. With too few hours of sunshine per day, New Zealanders found growing any type of red grapes truly difficult; however, they didn't give up. After many years of trial and error, they have perfected their own versions of the finicky Pinot Noir grape. Successful Pinot Noir-growing regions in New Zealand include Martinborough, Central Otago, Wairarapa and Canterbury.
Typical of other types of New Zealand wines, Pinot Noir is fruity and sold very "young" in the bottle. It is rather full-bodied on the whole, and Pinot Noir wines from some regions, such as Martinborough, are more complex and savory. Since the wine industry in New Zealand is relatively new, the vines haven't reached full maturity, and the coming years will bring a shift in the flavor of their Pinot Noir. Interestingly, New Zealand and Australia lead in the use of screwcaps for their wine bottles over traditional corks.
New Zealand Pinot Noir Wine Reviews
Your local liquor store likely carries a range of New Zealand Pinot Noir wines. Some are affordable at $20 or less per bottle, while others are a bit pricey. It can be difficult to separate the wines worth trying from the rest. These New Zealand Pinot Noir wine reviews will help direct to the wine that fits your tastes and budget.
Rippon Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007 - $50
According to Eric Asimoz of The New York Times, this Pinot is "light-bodied, graceful and well-structured," featuring hints of spice as well as red fruit.
2008 Waipara Springs Pinot Noir - $16
On the other end of the affordability spectrum, this wine is a good, everyday red sipping wine. It's simultaneously fresh and elegant, veering towards the fruity side.
2008 Mt Difficulty Central Otago - $40
If you prefer bolder wines over easy sipping versions, this Pinot Noir is aromatic and earthy, but also contains bright fruit. A hint of game and spice balances the bitter cherry flavor and a little acidity.
2008 Ata Rangi Martinborough - $42
Gregory Dal Piaz of Snooth.com describes this Pinot as "powerfully put together," and believes that it contains "notes of game, smoke and grilled nuts," that touch your palette on the first taste, but fade into "lovely nuanced notes of tea, mace, dried herbs and violets all embedded in the dark berry fruits." Ultimately, it's a very balanced wine that feels silky in your mouth.
2006 Two Paddocks Central Otango - $10
Finally, a delicious $10 bottle of wine! You'll taste hints of vanilla, red cherry and tobacco in this easy drinking wine. It's dark and bold with solid tanins. If you can't find the 2006 vintage, look for the equally as good 2007 version.
Pinot Noir is the type of wine that pleases many people, from those who don't typically enjoy red wines to connoisseurs who like their wines big and bold. It is often described as a sophisticated wine, and New Zealand's Pinot Noir makers are successfully living up to the name.