Many are familiar with the great Sauvignon Blanc wines from New Zealand. But maybe not-so-familiar is Kiwi Pinot Noir. I first discovered the joys of New Zealand Pinot Noir at the Aspen Food & Wine Festival, when I was invited to explore wines at the New Zealand wine tent. Like I said, I'd long been fond of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, but tasting NZ Pinot was a real revelation.
Recently, I cracked open a bottle of 2007 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir ($38.32). Cloudy Bay is very-well-known for its outstanding Sauvignon Blanc, so I thought I'd take a chance on its Pinot Noir. I'm glad I did.
The wine is 100% Pinot Noir, made from nine different Pinot Noir clones, and hand-harvested at optimal ripeness. The grapes came from the southern side of the Wairau Valley, in Marlborough.
Upon opening the wine, smoky aromas mingle with dark plum and black cherries. Those same plums, along with blueberry and toasted oak, dominate the mid-palate, where the flavors are concentrated, and the crisp wine has a very rich mouthfeel and silky finish. It's a nicely balanced, plush Pinot Noir.
The winemaker suggests pairing this Pinot with slow-cooked star-anise pork belly, wild mushroom risotto, venison, tuna, goose, quail, and other game birds. I don't normally drink Pinot Noir with grilled meats but, in this case, I enjoyed it very much with grilled homemade burgers consisting of a 70/30 percent chuck to sirloin blend. The wine is a tad spicy and smoky, which played nicely with the burger, especially one topped with smoked Gouda.
This experience with Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir tells me that, before long, Cloudy Bay will be as well-known for making Pinot Noir as it is for its world-class Sauvignon Blanc.