For some reason I have been ignoring New Zealand Pinots at this little store in exurbanish Atlanta. I stock plenty of Oregon and California Pinots because that's what the public wants and I stock a few French guys because that's what I want but the New Zealanders kind of fall between the cracks here. Oh yeah, that's right, they don't sell as well as the others. I knew there was a reason. But they should do better because, frankly, they are better than our domestics which I guess just means I'll have to try harder!
Last week we got in Lawson's Dry Hills 2011 Pinot and I loved it for its earthiness but admittedly it's not for everyone because of that very quality. This week it's the 2012 Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot that passed over our threshhold and after a little bit of internet research, I'm dying to taste it. Most critics love everything from Villa Maria which is saying a lot because they market an extensive line of wines! We'll be cracking that one open next Friday at the weekly event.
Both Lawson's and Villa Maria come from Marlborough which is the prime location for winemaking in New Zealand. What I learned from my research though is that Marlborough is most prime for Sauvignon Blanc, the signature wine of New Zealand. For Pinot, Marlborough is just one of five appellations that are optimal for the ever so finicky Pinot grape. That said, Marlborough has the most acreage devoted to Pinot Noir.
There are ten wine appellations in New Zealand. Pinot does best in cool climates and New Zealand is the wine producing country furthest to the south in that southern hemisphere so, of the two New Zealand islands, it's the southern one that has the most and best Pinot Noir. On the northern island in the bottom western corner lie Martinborough and Wairapa, two of that island's best Pinot producing venues. At the top of the southern island lie Nelson and Marlborough, to the eastern and western sides respectively, and at the southernmost end of the island lies Central Otago. So those are the five premier Pinot appellations of New Zealand.
In the next installment we'll further unpack the dirt on New Zealand Pinot Noir and why it is being called the best value worldwide in Pinot Noir and what makes it the only real competition for Burgundy!
Join us for the tasting here next Friday between 5 and 8pm when we'll open that Villa Maria along with a slew of others! And for gosh sakes, if you love pinot, become a follower of the darn blog!