E Wine of the Week – Bruce Cochran

New Zealand Pinot Noirs

Hello Everyone,
Change is looming over the wine world’s horizon, with factors like weather and the low dollar beginning to shake up the market a bit. Factors like those are beyond our control, but new regions are emerging and older, almost forgotten regions are making comebacks. This week we’ll look at a great new place for pinot noir.

Try a new wine this week!


Read the label

If you’re one of the world’s many new fans of pinot noir, or a longtime fan for that matter, there’s good news on the horizon—a faraway horizon in miles, but I think not in years.
New Zealand is on its way to providing plenty of pinot for lovers of fruit-centered, mineral-laden New World style reds with the cherry-like flavors that pinot lovers love. Most of the action is on the South Island, and here’s a brief look at the specific areas where it’s happening. The words in bold below are the ones to look for on the wine label.

New Zealand’s Marlborough District, on the north end of the South Island, is the heart of that country’s wine production. The area’s unique white wines from sauvignon blanc grapes caused a worldwide movement that continues today. Now the region is producing reds from pinot noir.  One subregion leading this movement is Atawere River. It flows north into Cloudy Bay, with gravel beds providing good drainage for vines.

South of Marlborough, it’s best known wine region is Waipara, though wines from here still are often labeled simply “Canterbury”.  Known initially for white wines—mainly chardonnay and Riesling—and now pinot noir, Waipara has limestone subsoils and long dry summers—the lowest annual rainfall of New Zealand’s wine regions.

Central Otago
Forty-five degrees of latitude has long been famous north of the equator for running through or near some of the world’s most famous wine regions—the Oregon/Washington border (Columbia Valley), Bordeaux, the Rhone Valley. Now it’s on its way to becoming known for Central Otageo, southernmost wine region in the world. This wine region has the highest altitude vineyards in New Zealand (600 to 1,200 feet above sea level). It’s inland, and has the country’s only true continental climate, with the wide temperature extremes that often implies. Pinot noir is its most important variety.
Vavasour Pinot Noir from the Atawere River Valley has a classic New World Pinot Noir flavor and style. Locally available, it retails for around $25-$30  a bottle. Many others are also appearing on retailers’ shelves.

Categories: Legacy Archive