WILD EARTH PINOT

KIWI WINE­MAK­ERS HAVE OUTDONE THEM­SELVES WITH BAN­NOCK­BURN’S PINOT NOIR PROV­ING TO BE A GOLD MEDAL EF­FORT

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

As the days lengthen and spring takes grip, red wine drinkers of­ten find them­selves shelv­ing the heavy caber­net and shi­raz that added warmth over win­ter in favour of lighter styles like gamay, chi­anti and pinot noir.

At my place, any red with a de­gree of translu­cence takes pri­or­ity as the mer­cury climbs and the hu­mid­ity rises. But the sea­sonal change of style typ­i­cally comes at quite a cost as sadly, the lighter-bod­ied wines are gen­er­ally far more ex­pen­sive than their full-bod­ied coun­ter­parts.

As much as we all love the del­i­cate and aro­matic reds, they are no­to­ri­ously finicky and more dif­fi­cult to make. In the vine­yard, the thin-skinned na­ture of the small berries makes them sus­cep­ti­ble to rot and fun­gus, not to men­tion oc­ca­sional sun­burn.

Whether it’s gamay or pinot noir, qual­ity comes at a price. Un­like shi­raz and caber­net, you won’t find good qual­ity wines sit­ting on the shelf at a $20 price point.

In fact, you’ll gen­er­ally have to shell out north of $40 a bot­tle for any­thing that you’d take to mum’s for Sun­day roast.

For va­ri­ety of op­tions and ease of ac­cess, there’s no doubt that pinot noir is my sum­mer­time sta­ple. It’s bright, lively and full of flavour. And while I’d pre­fer to drink the more savoury French pinot from Bur­gundy, any­thing above av­er­age is priced out­side a work­ing-class bud­get. While I en­joy the pinot from Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula and Tas­ma­nia, for qual­ity and value you can’t go past what Cen­tral Otago on New Zealand’s South Is­land has to of­fer. And while the re­gion takes in no less than six sub­re­gions and a whole set of craggy moun­tain ranges, there’s no doubt that Ban­nock­burn, out­side of the old gold min­ing town of Cromwell, is the epi­cen­tre of gold medal pinot.

Although there are any num­ber of big name winer­ies in the dis­trict, it was a lit­tle known pinot by Wild Earth that re­cently cap­tured the at­ten­tion of my taste­buds.

It shows a lovely ruby colour in the glass with a bit of a gar­net rim. But take a whiff and the aro­mas of cher­ries and plum ap­pear be­fore quickly be­com­ing part­nered with herba­ceous char­ac­ters of cloves and spice.

And there’s an en­gag­ing sweet­ness to the soft fruit as it hits the front of your palate, be­fore the juice seem­ingly dark­ens through the mid­dle and de­vel­ops a gami­ness through lay­ers of red berries. There’s a lot to like about the way the Wild Earth pinot meets an earthy un­der­cur­rent of fine tan­nins be­fore lin­ing your mouth in silk as it ef­fort­lessly glides its way through a so­phis­ti­cated con­clu­sion.

You’ll have to pay $40 to $50 to se­cure a bot­tle of this Cen­tral Otago clas­sic, but the com­plex­ity of fruit and bal­ance of fine tan­nin, and gen­tle acid is worth it.

Per­fect for spring, and I’m con­fi­dent that mum won’t be dis­ap­pointed.

To read more Travis Schultz wine re­views go to traviss­chultz.com.au.

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