New Zealand pinot noir offers great taste

While pinot noir is originally from Burgundy in France, it has become a popular grape varietal in places such as Northern California and even Germany. It is all the rage in New Zealand, including this reserve selection from popular Brancott Vineyards.

Made by New Zealand’s biggest winery, Montana Wine Co., Brancott Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir comes from the famous winegrowing district of Marlborough on the South Island.

Although the production is not huge by American standards — about 25,000 cases annually — the company managed to maintain the quality necessary to make it a great New World pinot noir, distinctly from New Zealand in this case.

With the bottle priced at about $14, this is one of the best values in its class, especially compared with pinot noir-based wines from Burgundy. It also has similar characteristics to wines made in the Cote de Nuits there, and that’s a mark of great quality.

In the glass, Brancott Pinot Noir is a semitranslucent, bright garnet-red color with a clean, burgundy-red core going out into a pinkish, slightly tinged rim definition with high viscosity.

On the nose, the wine exudes well-matured strawberry and other red berry fruit with crushed red currants, mint leaf, stewed red plums, raw meat, geranium, musk, oak references, licorice root and minerals.

In the mouth, the wine reveals itself as quite forward with well-delineated red fruit components, red cherries, strawberry compote, phenolics compounds, red currants, pomegranate and distinct minerality. The midpalate has a solid balance between the acidity and the tannins, and with an unmistakable cranberry juice characteristic that carries through to the well-rounded and lengthy finish.

This is an interesting wine, considering its relative age and great breeding. Additionally, Brancott has adopted screw-cap closures for most of its wines, which is really practical, especially if you just want a glass with dinner and then keep the rest for the next day or two. It preserves the wine beautifully. Try it with a piece of grilled mahi-mahi or similar “meaty” fish. Drink it now through the end of 2008.

Wine: Brancott Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir

Grape: Pinot noir

Region: Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand

Vintage: 2001

Price: $13.99

Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89016-0749, or e-mail him at

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