I can’t afford New Zealand Pinot Noir usually. Or at least, it’s certainly one of the pricier wines available in a supermarket. And there’s usually only one brand available too. And it seems difficult to pay £20 (or even £15) for a supermarket wine – particularly knowing that a lot of the best NZ Pinot Noir is made by pretty small estates that could never produce to the volume demanded by foreign supermarkets.
I guess I’m always a bit suspicious that what you see in supermarkets isn’t up to the same level of quality as what you get from independents, wine clubs, and restaurants.
So this was my first foray into the area for some time, regrettably, and, not-so-regrettably, it reminded me why these are some of my favourite wines in the world.
The variations in style between Marlborough Pinot Noirs can be pretty subtle, but the quality tends to be uniform too. This bottle from Opawa was medium bodied with a mid-shade of red: a gorgeous colour, not quite as opaque as some European ones, nor as dark as the New World Pinots can be. There was a distinct element of spice in the aroma, but the overwhelming component on the nose (as on the tongue) was the fruit: the warming presence of ripe, juicy cherries. There was also, of course, a touch of oak – but not so much as to overwhelm the flavour of what is, even in New World vineyards, a thin-skinned and temperamental grape.
I ordered this to accompany our lunch at the Ruin Beach Café on Tresco in the Isles of Scilly. I don’t know whether it was the ideal accompaniment for our dishes – fillet of beef carpaccio and gnocchi, respectively – but neither meal was especially potently flavoured, so it seemed a reasonably level field. And seeing it on the menu there, it was just too much to resist.
The resident sommelier obviously has good taste; Opawa’s Pinot Noir has recently (well, last year) been featured on the wine list at the Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong.
There are some very reasonable prices for this solid Marlborough Pinot Noir to be found in Google’s “shopping” results; if you can find one with none-too-expensive shipping then the price point is damn good, and cheaper than any supermarket Pinot Noir you’ll find in the New Zealand section.