Reds

New Zealand red wines have lagged behind for a while, as one might have expected in a generally cool, damp climate. Much of the Cabernet Sauvignon was excessively light and herbaceous, its whiff of raw green pepper skin too often complaining of climatic indignities in the vineyard. With better selection of planting areas, and judicious blending ...

New Zealand red wines have lagged behind for a while, as one might have expected in a generally cool, damp climate. Much of the Cabernet Sauvignon was excessively light and herbaceous, its whiff of raw green pepper skin too often complaining of climatic indignities in the vineyard. With better selection of planting areas, and judicious blending with Merlot, that picture has now improved beyond recognition. Even better has been Pinot Noir, always a likelier bet in a cool climate, with wines that are now challenging the best of California for sheer opulence of fruit, and bright balancing acidity.

Pinot Noir is now the most widely planted red grape, and is flexing its muscles on the world stage with wines of scintillating complexity, diamond bright fruit and plenty of ageing potential, as thrilling and distinguished as the best of Carneros or Oregon. As well as being built on good, solid, raspberry fruit foundations, they also display a distinctly Burgundian reluctance to charm in first flush, and nothing quite succeeds like a classy Pinot Noir that makes you do all the work. A fair amount of the Pinot goes into quality sparklers, white and rose.

Merlot is also striking out on its own in some parts, while playing its historically sanctioned role of chaperoning Cabernet Sauvignon in others. Cabernet itself has improved enormously. Those vegetal flavours that once dogged its image are occasionally still in evidence, but many are exhibiting much deeper, plummier concentration than before.

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  • Pinot Noir

    The Martinborough ~Wairarapa Valley, by contrast, has been New Zealand's first spiritual home for the Pinot Noir. Martinborough Vineyards, Voss and Ata Rangi are the stars with some very Burgundian versions of this variety, but their neighbours are doing well with it too. Ata Rangi's other strongest card is its Shiraz, while Dry River produces New Zealand's finest Pinot Gris The other name to remember here is Palliser Estate.

    Pinot Noir is now the most widely planted red grape, and is flexing its muscles on the world stage with wines of scintillating complexity, diamond bright fruit and plenty of ageing potential, as thrilling and distinguished as the best of Carneros or Oregon. As well as being built on good, solid, raspberry fruit foundations, they also display a distinctly Burgundian reluctance to charm in their first flush, and nothing quite succeeds like a classy Pinot Noir that makes you do all the work. A fair amount of the Pinot goes into quality sparklers, whites and rose.

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 items

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