New Zealand is best known for its sauvignon blanc wines, but it also produces flavorful good-value pinot noirs, such as the 2008 Brancott Vineyards Marlborough.
Most wine consumers are unaware of how recent New Zealand wines are to the world stage.
In 1975, Brancott Vineyards, then known as Montana Wines, planted the first sauvignon blanc vines in Marlborough. Within two decades, Marlborough became recognized as one the best areas for making world-class sauvignon blanc wine. Pinot noir is a more recent arrival, and Marlborough has been recognized as a great site for it, as well.
Pinot Noir seems particularly suited to Marlborough’s cool climate. Burgundy produces the world’s greatest pinot noirs wines and is among the coolest regions in France. Its northern neighbor, Champagne, is the coldest wine area in France and uses pinot noir to produce some of its most extraordinary wines. And in America, Oregon pinot noirs have more complexity and better balance than those coming from warmer California.
In 1990, Patrick Materman joined Brancott Vineyards and worked his way from cellar hand to winemaker. Using grapes primarily from Marlborough, with a small addition from other vineyard sites in Waipara and Otago, Materman produced a 2008 Brancott Vineyards pinot noir that is instantly desirable.
Materman employed a mix of used oak barrels and stainless steel tanks for fermentation and aging. This technique captures the natural color and fruit characteristics of pinot noir. Like some Burgundies, it has a translucent raspberry hue. Unlike cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah, pinot noir’s sheerness is not an indication of dilution or weakness.
The 2008 Brancott Vineyards pinot noir’s pronounced cherry and strawberry aromas attest to its ripe grapes. Its medium-body is comparable to the texture of pinot noirs from Burgundy and Oregon, and the cranberry and tart cherry flavors, along with the 13 percent alcohol, are similar to the wines from Burgundy’s Cote de Beaune and Cote Chalonnaise.
This pinot noir requires no cellaring. Buy it and bring it to the table. Enjoy it was appetizers from a butcher’s plate of country pate, soppressata and prosciutto to pasta with pork sausages and peppers. And it will match nicely with a main course of grilled branzino, tuna, salmon, red snapper, or sea bass; or roasted chicken or pork served with sautéed Swiss chard and roasted potatoes.
The 2008 Brancott Vineyards Marlborough Pinot Noir retails for approximately $13.