A Trip To South Island, New Zealand in Search of Pinot Noir

This month our fearless travelers of the #WorldWineTravel blogging group are venturing to the South Island of New Zealand, other than Marlborough. While we are few, we are mighty this month, intrepid seekers of new adventures. I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting New Zealand in person but it is high on my bucket list for the wine, the people, nature, and their attention to biodiversity and sustainability. I also think they have a super cool Prime Minister.. My problem has always been however that I do not necessarily gravitate towards their prevailing style of Sauvignon Blanc. I discovered years ago that they make amazing Pinot Noir on the South Island however it’s not that easy to find either in retail stores or restaurants.

When I do go to New Zealand, I will be visiting Cental Otago for their Pinot Noir. Lucky for me, I was able to attend a tasting in May of wines from New Zealand. They had a wonderful array of wines including many Pinot Noris like the one pictured above from Grasshopper Rock. The winery was started in 2003 and is dedicated to growing and bottling Pinot Noir. They are among the Southernmost wineries in the world.

The wine was elegant and refined with a good balance of acidity, fruit flavors with notes of forest floor and mushroom. Full bodied with fine tannins and a long finish, it was an example of what Central Otago can produce thanks to thermal excursion between diurnal and nocturnal temperatures.

Another top Pinot Noir I had the good fortune to taste that day was from Felton Road The winery is biodynamic from what I read on the website and this particular Pinot comes from their vineyard called Calvert. The explanation of the soils is very detailed and clearly is the reason behind the well-knit wine that they make which shows loads of minerality, fruit, and a hint of bramble. It is the first winery whose website shows that a day is a fruit day. Apparently tomorrow is a fruit day which means, a good one to drink wine. While I don’t 100% understand biodynamic farming, nor perhaps completely think it all has the same merit, I do believe in the biodynamic calendar and that plantings with the nuances of the natural world’s cycle does create exceptional vineyards and wines. While conventional vineyards be beautiful, there’s nothing like seeing hundreds of bugs flying around and creatures hoping in a vineyard. The whole ecosystem feels alive.

I also had the chance to try a wine from Domaine Thomson. Again, a lovely example of an elegant Pinot Noir with fruit, spice, minerals, and an herbal bouquet. Interesting the family owns a winery in Burgundy as well so the can compare and learn from vineyards on two continents and see how Pinot manages in each one.

The fourth wine I enjoyed that day in May from this part of the world was from the Black Estate. The too farm organically and follow biodyamic principles. There is apparently a lot of clay in the soils here and in fact their wine was deeper in color and the fruit seemed more black fruit rather than red fruit. Beautiful example of what can be done on South Island with Pinot Noir,

Rather than feeling sated, I know what to go to New Zealand more than every. I do like wine glass travel too though and with the weather outside is frightening so for now, I am dreaming yes of a white Christmas but more than ever about visiting. New Zealand. Cheers.

While we are skipping our our normally scheduled chat which falls on Christmas Eve tomorrow, you can read the articles here…

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