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
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