Wine Time with Aaron the Wine Guy

Hello Prince Albert!

When people think of New Zealand, a few specific images come to mind; Lord of the Rings, sheep roaming the green countryside and of course, the grape varietal Sauvignon Blanc.

There is nothing quite like the crisp and intense flavor of a Sauv Blanc from the Marlborough region of NZ but if you are willing to look a bit deeper, there are numerous premium areas in NZ that produce much more than Sauv Blanc.

Take for instance the previously mentioned Marlborough region which is famous for one of the best-selling wines in PA: Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. This area also produces fantastic examples of chardonnay, pinot gris, pinot grigio, merlot and pinot noir. While there are dozens of premium regions in NZ, my focus this week was pinot noir from Marlborough and another premium area known as Central Otago.

What can you expect out of a pinot noir from Marlborough?

Like any wine from around the world, the style and flavors found in these wines can vary greatly depending on the producer and also the price point that you are comfortable with.

I had the pleasure of tasting the Mission Estate VS Pinot noir and found it to be deliciously light and fruit-forward with a soft mouthfeel and minimal tannins. In other words, this wine was extremely enjoyable to sip on and made for an easy drinking experience.

Another area for Pinot Noir lovers to explore is the Central Otago located on the tip of the Southern island.

Since this region is located further away from the equator and is in fact quite mountainous and elevated in several locations, the majority of wines from this region are cold-climate wines.

With the proper amount of sun exposure (by facing vines towards the rising sun), wines from this region strike the perfect balance between acidity, body and fruity flavors.

The wine I tasted from Bannockburn, Central Otago is a more challenging wine compared to the Marlborough pinot because it carries more oak spice, fuller body and notes of complex mushroom and a much-favored highlight of quality pinot noir: animal funk.

Yes, that does sound bizarre but notes of barnyard, musky earth or animal are desirable in a good pinot and add a level of complexity which is a signal for serious collectors to keep and store a bottle for a few years.

When put side by side, both wines were incredibly enjoyable.

If you feel the need to sit and think and feel challenged by a wine, grab the Ceres from Central Otago. Alternately, if you want to simply enjoy your wine and shut your brain off for a while then you will enjoy the softer, fruitier style of the Mission Estate from Marlborough. Here are my wine picks of the week!

Ceres Pinot Noir 2016: (Bannockburn, Central Otago, New Zealand). Dry red, medium to dark ruby color. The nose opens with a fruity, earthy bouquet of freshly picked strawberries, cranberries, cocoa, earth, cherry, sweet mushroom, sweet manure, barnyard funk and BBQ char. Medium-plus intense on the palate with an opening of sour cherry fruit and warm black pepper spice.

Cooked plum, dark cherries, black licorice bitterness and dark cocoa follow with high, grippy tannins and medium-plus acidity. The finish lingers with earthy spice and pressed grape skins as well as black tea. Pair with goat cheese and roasted nuts, crispy pork belly or a wine-poached duck breast. Very good! $65, 14% ABV

Mission Estate VS Pinot Noir 2017: (Marlborough, New Zealand). Dry to off-dry red, medium ruby color with minimal fading at edge.

This red is bright and fruity on the nose with red cherry, strawberry, raspberries, sweet red licorice, hints of kola nut, sweet cocoa and mineral rock.

The first sip reveals a medium bodied wine with a soft mouthfeel and medium-minus acidity. There are glimpses of sweet mushroom and freshly-tilled soil here but the emphasis remains on light, fruity flavors and softer character. A touch of black pepper and earth followed by bready notes linger on the medium finish. Very good! $32, 13% ABV

Cheers and thanks for reading!

Aaron Winsor is a Prince Albert resident who currently holds a WSET Level 3 certification in wine and will never turn down a good cigar or whisky. Check out his Instagram and Facebook page under Aaron The Wine Guy for wine, whisky and cigar reviews.