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Top drops under $20 (and over) and wine news from Joelle Thomson

Category: Pinot Noir (page 1 of 12)

5 of the best… New Pinot Noirs

Wines of the week

Pinot Noir is the most planted red grape in New Zealand so there’s no shortage of wine made from it, but here are five top drops – these wines stand out from the crowd and they all came my way directly from the producers, who were looking for independent analysis of quality, style and price.

These wines rock… they taste great and deliver consistent quality. And, no, they are not cheap, but you get what you pay for.

Prices quoted are approximate retail and drawn from Wine-Searcher.

Top Central drop 

2014 Chard Farm Mata-au Pinot Noir $39

A tasty top drop from an iconic historic Otago winery, Chard Farm, which is based in the dramatic Kawarau Gorge and accessed via a precipice sliver of a road, but which leads to the winery’s HQ. The grapes are another matter. While many grow around the winery itself, the vast majority come from the warmer, more settled weather of Lowburn and Parkburn – about 30 minutes’ drive away through in the Cromwell Basin. These vineyards are planted on terraces of alluvial schist from the Mata-Au (Clutha) River, and the hot summer days and cool nights enable the development of powerful ripe fruit flavours, while preserving Pinot’s hallmark of fresh acidic drive, which cuts through this wine’s fruity core, adding nerve and lingering freshness to every sip.

www.chardfarm.co.nz

North Canterbury great

2014 Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir $49 

North Canterbury is often eclipsed by its southern cousin, Central Otago, but the best wines reach peaks that are at least as high, particularly Pegasus Bay, whose Pinots continue to grow in deliciousness, bringing a different take on the Pinot theme with their full body, earthy flavours, juicy succulence that provides the wines with length, finesse and elegance. The wine spent 18 months in French oak, 30% of which was new and adds some spicy bells and smooth whistles while.

Wellington wine 

2015 Te Kairanga Run Holder Pinot Noir $40

Fruit is the hero in this concentrated, richly flavoursome Pinot Noir from one of the Wairarapa’s oldest wineries, Te Kairanga – also known as TK on both the label and in the trade. Winemaker John Kavanagh… and the winery is now owned by Foley Family Vineyards, who employed winemaker John Kavanagh to turn things around, which he has done with  noticeable aplomb. He was previously the winemaker at Neudorf Vineyards in Nelson… speaking of which…

Nelson niceness

2015 Neudorf Tom’s Block Pinot Noir, $33

Nelson is known for its sunshine, its art and its lifestyles, two of which have forged the region’s most quality driven wines at their home in the Upper Moutere Valley at Neudorf – Tim and Judy Finn remain committed to their vineyard there, but also use grapes from other vineyards in the Upper Moutere in this full bodied Pinot, which spent nearly a year in French oak – 22% new – and went through 100% wild yeast fermentation, both of which have given this wine its wild earthy flavours and flatter its dark fruit appeal. It drinks well now and can age for 9 to 10 years.

Marvel newcomer from Marlborough

2015 Brancott Reflections Dror Pinot Noir $80

This is a powerful statement of a wine with bold, powerful aromas of cloves, orange peel and dried cherries; it’s 14.5% ABV, so it’s not shy on the alcohol front but this is nicely balanced by intense red cherry, plum and smoky flavours. It’s a blend of the best components of Pinot Noir from hand selected barrels, says Materman.

Taste Champagne Lallier in Wellington tonight… free

If you’re wandering around Wellington tonight between 5pm and 7pm, pop into Regional Wines for a free taste of an exceptional range of bubbles from Champagne Lallier…

My blog on Champagne Lallier…

Talk about modest. I’m talking about the price, not the big, beautiful taste of Champagne Lallier, which over deliver for the $50.99 you’ll spend on this wine. And the trio of Lallier bubbles will be open for a free tasting tonight at Regional Wines at the Basin Reserve in Wellington from 5pm to 7pm.

Our team here at Regional had the tasty pleasure of checking out Lallier Champagnes this afternoon and, while we’ve all got our faves, we agreed the rosé was the pick of this beautiful bunch, which range from $23 for a half bottle up to $50.99. That’s no mean feat, given the hefty resources of time, reserve wines and grand cru vineyards (the highest quality land) that go into making Lallier Champagne.

When, where and what…

Champagne Lallier is based in… the village of Ay (one of the 17 Grand Cru villages) in the Champagne region.

It was founded in 1906 by… Rene Lallier and the business was sold in 2004 to Francis Tribaut who is the current owner and also the winemaker. This makes Lallier the only champagne brand where the owner is also the winemaker.

The bubbles are made in two locations… in Maison D’Ay and  in the new Cellier D’Oger, 10 kms outside of Ay on the Cotes des Blanc; a modern facility built in 2012.

Lallier Champagnes only contain the two most respected grapes… namely, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The wines go through malolactic fermentation, which varies… depending on the vintage and the acidity in the grapes as a result of the vintage.

Dosage varies from zero up to… 18 grams per litre.

 

The champagnes

Champagne Lallier Ay Brut R012 $46.45

Very fresh, very flavoursome and very affordable; this is made from a blend of 62% Pinot Noir, 38% Chardonnay and 81% of the wine comes from grapes grown in 2012 (hence the R012 – ‘recolte’ means year) and 19% reserve wines. It’s also drier than many champagnes with a dosage of 8 grams per litre and the wine is made from 85% Grand Cru vineyards.

Champagne Lallier Blanc de Blancs Ay $53.80

This is 100% Chardonnay and all from vineyards that are classified as Grand Cru; 60% from Ay and 40% from Cote des Blancs. The wine spent 36 to 88% wine of the year, 12% reserve wines, aging on lees 36 to 48 months, dosage 9 grams.

Buttered croissant aromas, very strong yeasty flavours, high acidity, great concentration with strong citrus flavours, a full body and a long finish.

Champagne Lallier Rose Grand Cru $50.99

Wine of the year 92%, reserve wines 8%, grand cr vineyards only; 65% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay. Pale salmon colour, savoury aromas, yeasty flavours, high acidity, very long finish. Very pronounced mushroom aromas with an explosion of beautiful red fruit flavours in the mouth…

Taste history… Ata Rangi with Helen Masters on 19 October

I’ve always had a soft spot for Ata Rangi winery in Martinborough because it was one of the first and was pioneered by a man who knows how to follow his heart. Clive Paton. He’s at least as dedicated to environmental work these days as he is to wine because he has something of a penchant for replanting native trees all over the country in his role as advisor, fount of wisdom and passionate lover of nature for Project Crimson, but that’s another story.

Back when he founded Ata Rangi Wines, Clive was a single dad and a shear farmer with a love of red wine in a country awash with Lion Brown. Not that there’s anything wrong with a good beer, if you’re that way inclined, but Clive wasn’t. He lived in the Southern Wairarapa and had heard of a few fledgling wineries in Martinborough, so, one Saturday, he decided to go and take a look for himself, his young daughter Ness was along for the ride. He looked at a piece of land and instantly decided to buy it and grow vines to make wine. If you know Clive – or met him for the first time – you probably wouldn’t call him rash. He is quietly spoken and seems to be extremely considered, but that instant decision to follow his heart into wine was one that was not only spur of the moment, but changed his life for the better. His young daughter is now married with children of her own, which she shares with her husband who is another great winemaker – John Kavanagh of Te Kairanga Wines.  And Clive also has a long term partner in life and in wine in the fellow winemaker Phyll Pattie (who rarely talks of her days in winemaking since she manages marketing and pretty everything else at Ata Rangi).

The winemaker today is Helen Masters, who will present a stellar line up of the Ata Rangi wines at a tasting at Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington on Thursday 19 October from 6pm to 8pm.

The cost is $50 per person and bookings are essential.

Book by calling Regional Wines, phone 04 385 6952 or hook onto the website here to book at Regional Wines…

The line-up on the night

2017 Ata Rangi Lismore Pinot Gris

2011 Ata Rangi Lismore Pinot Gris

2016 Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay

2012 Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay

2016 Ata Rangi Crimson

Ata Rangi Crimson (vintage TBC)

2014 Ata Rangi  McCrone Vineyard Pinot Noir

2013 Ata Rangi  McCrone Vineyard Pinot Noir

2015 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir

2010 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir

2008 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir

2014 Ata Rangi Célèbre

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