Pinot Noir is one of my absolute favourite wines. It’s light, well-balanced, intricately flavoured and extremely versatile. It’s a notoriously fickle grape, but when done right, it’s worth every ounce of effort. Signature Pinot Noir notes range from berry fruits and floral to earth, spice and herbs – however, each barrel of Pinot Noir can vary greatly in character and complexity depending upon the region where it’s produced.
From Bourgogne, France to Sonoma, California, Willamette, Oregon and Marlborough, New Zealand; each region produces a distinct Pinot and it’s this diversity which has helped it to become one of the most popular wine varieties around the world.
My latest discovery is this young Pinot Noir from the Wither Hills vineyard in Marlborough, New Zealand. Nestled in the heart of Marlborough’s Wairau Valley, Wither Hills has been producing premium wine since the early ’90s, but as their global reputation is still on the rise, their prices are extremely reasonable. The 2009 vintage that I picked up cost a mere £11; a bargain price for a New Zealand Pinot if you ask me.
Marlborough’s unique climate, fertile soil and tough terrain is ideal for the picky grape, which is why the region has become synonymous with sophisticated, premium, albeit pricey, Pinot Noirs. I came across this particular bottle in my local Waitrose and immediately felt enticed to try it after reading on the label that the Wither Hills winemakers “distill the natural beauty of Marlborough in every bottle.” It sounded too fantastic to pass up!
This wine is on the lighter side of the Pinot spectrum, offering hues of garnet and ruby and aromas of sweet vanilla, oak, ripe mulberry and black cherry. Subtle hints of spice and leather linger on the palate and help to balance out the zesty tannins. The wine does have a young feel to it, but if left to open up before drinking, it really comes into its own.
This 2009 Pinot Noir is an excellent choice if you’re not looking to spend a lot of money and is perfect for pairing with roast lamb, grilled chicken and soft cheeses. I imagine that with a bit of time on the shelf it would mature into a seriously rich, earthy Pinot worth far more than its current pricing. The only problem would be keeping it on your shelf long enough to get there!