Pinot noir from New Zealand is gaining a foothold in America because of well-made wines like the 2007 Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Noir.

Stoneleigh takes its name for the riverbed stones that populate its vineyard. Excellent wines are developed from stone-filled vineyards like those in Châteauneuf-du-Pape in France’s Rhone Valley and Bordeaux’s Graves appellation. Stone-filled vineyards reflect the sun’s heat into the vines, lengthening the ripening process into the evening while simultaneously forcing the vines to extend their roots deeper to extract moisture. This added stress reduces the vines’ quantity of grapes but increases its quality.

Stoneleigh’s vineyards are in Marlborough, New Zealand’s best vineyard region. This cool-climate area is ideal for growing pinot noir, a grape that thrives in other cool regions such as Champagne, Burgundy, Sonoma, Oregon’s Willamette Valley and selected sites in Italy and Germany.

Winemaker Jamie Marfell and vineyard manager Rod Brailsford developed the vineyards with a mix of pinot noir clones, bringing an array of aromas and flavors to Stoneleigh’s pinot noir.

After fermentation, Marfell aged the 2007 Stoneleigh Pinot Noir in three-year-old barrels. Nearly neutral by their third year, the barrels preserved the wine’s bing-cherry color and delightful herbal, black-cherry and plum aromas.

Its medium body is loaded with black fruit flavors and supporting tannins. While the 2007 Stoneleigh Pinot Noir possesses the structure for aging, its appeal is so instantaneous that I doubt it will ever see the darkness of a wine cellar.

The 2007 Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Noir retails for approximately $18.