TRICKY STYLE WORTH A SIP

PINOT NOIR MAY HAVE A POSH REP­U­TA­TION BUT HERE IN AUS­TRALIA IT’S A DIF­FER­ENT STORY AND ITS TI­TLE IS WELL DE­SERVED

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | FOOD & WINE - WORDS: TRAVIS SCHULTZ

As Bur­gun­dian wines ce­ment them­selves as the most sought af­ter col­lectable wines around the globe, prices con­tinue to climb for the iconic French pinot.

The rapid rise in the av­er­age sale price for the most pop­u­lar Grand Cru Bur­gundy wines is a story in it­self, with the Do­maine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru now sell­ing at the equiv­a­lent of more than $20,000 a bot­tle.

No, that’s not a typo.

White wines made in the fa­mous re­gion are made from the chardon­nay grape and for the reds, it’s 100 per cent pinot noir.

Given the as­tro­nom­i­cal ask for a bot­tle of the French favourite, we prob­a­bly shouldn’t com­plain that a good bot­tle of pinot in Aus­tralia sets us back more than $50.

The pinot noir grape can be a tricky one to grow.

And as a gen­eral rule, it prefers cooler cli­mates with a slower ripen­ing pe­riod over au­tumn.

When you con­sider that the style presents chal­lenges in the vine­yard, is gen­er­ally low yield­ing and also more labour in­ten­sive while the fruit is on the vine, it’s quite un­der­stand­able that it hits the shelves at a price point well above higher yield­ing reds like shi­raz and caber­net.

I’ve said be­fore that good pinot is never

cheap but cheap pinot is sel­dom good.

But there is value to be found in places such as Cen­tral Otago in New Zealand’s South Is­land.

The Cen­tral Otago District has a claim to fame as the world’s most south­ern com­mer­cial wine re­gion.

It sits at an el­e­va­tion of about 300-400m above sea level.

For­tu­itously it is nes­tled in the mid­dle of some high moun­tains, so it en­joys a con­ti­nen­tal cli­mate.

Sum­mer is hot and dry while win­ters are cold, with snow reg­u­larly fall­ing in the vine­yards.

The wide range be­tween daily min­i­mums and max­i­mum tem­per­a­tures is a plus.

The wide di­ur­nal tem­per­a­ture range and the ideal meta­mor­phic schist soils are among the rea­sons why wine­mak­ers have flocked to the re­gion in re­cent decades.

Vine­yards were first planted in the area in the 1990s.

Early suc­cess drove rapid ex­pan­sion to the point that there are now more than 80 winer­ies op­er­at­ing com­mer­cially.

Pinot from Otago is dis­tinc­tive and eas­ily iden­ti­fied in a blind tast­ing, be­cause of the in­tense ruby colour in the glass and the vi­brancy of the cherry and plum fruit and spicy bram­b­lesque con­clu­sion that typ­i­fies the lo­cal prod­uct.

There are any num­ber of good ones grac­ing the bot­tle shop shelves, but one which is worth search­ing for (and buy­ing on­line if you need to) is the Car­rick Ban­nock­burn 2016.

Wine­maker Fran­cis Hutt has made a style that is per­haps slightly lighter than pre­vi­ous re­leases, but stylis­ti­cally re­mains fo­cused on fruit, struc­ture and el­e­gance.

Typ­i­cally bright in the Riedel, the 2016 edi­tion of this sought af­ter wine is cur­rently show­ing ripe red cher­ries up front, some fra­grant vi­o­let aro­mat­ics in the mid­dle and a sweet but veg­e­tal, so­phis­ti­cated con­clu­sion.

While it will ben­e­fit from age­ing, in its youth, finely tex­tured tan­nins, gentle acids and a spicy French oak edge make for a wine of ex­cep­tional grace and poise.

I love the way the Car­rick pinot melts through the fin­ish like a but­tery French crois­sant, leav­ing a trail of dry, earthy, red cur­rants and maraschino cherry.

You’ll find the Car­rick sell­ing for about $45 a bot­tle, so it doesn’t take Ein­stein to work out that it’s a much bet­ter value propo­si­tion than a Bur­gun­dian Grand Cru. To read more Travis Schultz wine re­views go to traviss­chultz.com.au

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