Outstanding quality, price
IT’S not that long ago when pinot noir’s availability was limited and the real wine connoisseur’s wine; it was always red Burgundy and it was French.
So it should have been as pinot noir was the only red grape grown in the vineyards of the Burgundy region in the last 1000-odd years.
They have had a bit of practice.
The rest of the world’s winemakers looked on in envy, trying to understand this grape and produce a wine as fascinating and beguiling as the real thing.
Most failed, some persisted in specific locations within Australia and particularly in New Zealand.
It was a small market but vintage by vintage over the last 30 years, pinot noir quality has improved continuously in both countries, as has demand.
New Zealand grows more pinot noir than Australia, about 6000ha to our 5000 odd.
Its signature characteristics are strawberry, cherry and, in really good examples, more complex earthy and mushroom fragrances that are quite unforgettable and compelling.
The palate is generally light to medium and elegant, with soft tannins making it such a good food companion.
So it’s no coincidence the Burgundy region is the gastronomic crown of French cuisine.
Pinot noir is a remarkably versatile grape.
In one corner, it’s responsible for some of the greatest dry red wines in the world, as in Burgundy, and on the other it is combined with chardonnay or on its own is responsible for the greatest Champagnes in the world.
No other red grape can boast that tendency to greatness of quality and versatility.
In Australia, pinot noir has found its place in the cooler temperate regions of the Yarra Valley, Mornington, Adelaide Hills, Pemberton and more recently Tasmania that may become the best pinot noir region of them all.
In New Zealand, it’s Otago, Marlborough, Nelson, Martinborough, Waipara and more recently the Waitaki Valley that again may top the rest and be the best of them all.
All of these regions and others produce a diverse range of pinot noirs.
They are meeting the new trend of drinking medium bodied reds rather than the more full bodied.
They have a softer structured mouthfeel, good medium fruit flavours and tannins.
The quality and pricing of Australian and NZ pinots is outstandingly good.
By all means, if you can afford to drink French, that’s good but anything much less than $50 for a French red Burgundy and it won’t be so good.
The French mapped out their good and expensive plots long ago with prices to match.
Salmon, trout, chacouterie, pate, terrine, mushrooms and good sausages are superb food matches.
I have selected three pinot noirs, one NZ and two Australian.
Two are dry reds and one a sparkling, all under $30 a bottle.
Rob Palandri was raised in Margaret River and has been involved in the wine industry as a producer, wine bar owner, agent and reviewer of 1000s of wines.
2017 Mud House Pinot Noir (Central Otago, NZ)Slight purple tinge hue, youthful fragrant raspberry and spice undertones. Superb soft palate and medium to light bodied. Youthful, fresh long mouthfeel.17+ points, 91/100.$25 at Wine Box Nedlands and Shenton Park
Grant Burge Blanc de Noirs Non Vintage100 per cent multi- regional pinot noir sparkling. Mild nutty, apple and white fruits bouquet. Mouthfeel is quite full, well balanced with fruit sweetness and crispness. Long finish. Not French but better than most French at this price. 16.5 points, 90/100 $28
2017 Soumah Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley, VIC)Engaging lifted fragrant cherry bouquet, ripe medium bodied mouthfeel .Really enjoyable, youthful, rounded and long, slightly tart flavoured finish. Very, very good.17+ points, 92/100$25, available at most Liquor Barons stores