Tag Archives: New Zealand

Pegasus Bay 2011, Pinot Noir — Memories and Whole Bunch Fermentation

Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2011

Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2011

Pegasus Bay 2011, Pinot Noir — Memories and Whole Bunch Fermentation  

Wine is all about memories of place and experiences that have brightened our lives.  We drove in, surveying the impressive architecture of the winery and restaurant situated north of Christchurch in the Waipara Valley of New Zealand.  Relaxing at a table on the outdoor terrace, I can remember the feel of the place more than the food and I recall the utmost delight in a wine worthy of a moment that celebrated the completion of one of my books.  Emotions kept morphing into more complex feelings; calm led to peace of mind, while the colors in the gardens stimulated moments of excitement and delight that faded again into the calm of contentment.  Just as expected the emotions are the essence of the easily and oft recalled memory.  Trees and grasses edging a large lawn waved gently in a cooling breeze.  When the wine had been consumed we walked the Impressive gardens and longed to linger or spend the day in such refreshing surrounds. “Wine is emotion in a glass” and the emotions of the place mingled with the tasty Pinot Noir.

The 2011 Pinot Noir that sits on my desk being evaluated comes from a vineyard on a stoney north face (warm in the southern hemisphere) and ideal for stressing the vines when necessary.  This is a fertile valley overall, but the soils can vary from limestone to rocky gravel beds.

Whole bunch fermentation can be tricky, but it was used for a lot of the grapes in this wine.  The whole bunch — grapes and stems — are fermented together.  The stems add bulk to the tank (usually an open fermenter), allowing the juice to drain more easily through the mix and oxygenate the wine well.  The tricky part is that the stems can add too much harsh tannin to the wine and unless the grapes are really ripe, it becomes a “hard” wine.  This was a warm summer that produced very ripe, rich grapes, so the method was well chosen.  The alcohol reveals the ripeness at 13.8%.  The result is a wine that is full, round, and rich with well married flavors.  Dark cherry and blackberry dominate with cedar, vanilla, and smoke adding big depth to the wine.  Strawberry hides in the background while the wine finishes smooth and without any faults on a very long finish.

Rating: 89+

Emotional rating:  The memories affect my biased rating, but I enjoyed the depth of this Pinot and would suggest a rating of great pleasure.  It needs no food but could enhance a pork dish and both food and wine could rise higher.

Available?  Try winesearcher.com and wine.com.

Rich Pinot Noir Found in Wairau Valley, NZ

Dog Point Vineyard 2012 Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand

Dog Point Pinot Noir 2012, Wairau Valley, New Zealand

Dog Point Pinot Noir 2012, Wairau Valley, New Zealand

I have tasted one other rich Pinot Noir from the Wairau Valley that was so rich and velvety that it drew my mind to the Grand Crus of Burgundy.  Not that it was the equal of a Grand Cru, but it came so very, very close.

This one is another stellar example: Dog Point, from a vineyard on the Southern side of the Wairau Valley in Marlborough, close to the site of the Marlborough Wine Festival where New Zealand wines are celebrated in February annually.  Lighter soils here give way to more clay and a blend of wine growing techniques (both traditional and modern are used).  The other Pinot I mentioned also came from soils with a heavier clay content.  It could be true in Marlborough that the heavier the soil, the fuller the wine.

This wine offers an explosion of flavors.  Cedar, raspberry, and licorice dominate in this very deep ruby wine.  Find the many other fringe flavors as you contemplate and  evaluate its complex gifts.  The mouthfeel is positively velvety, which is what I want in an excellent Pinot Noir.  It floods the mouth with fruit — instant and lasting — and progresses to an abundant finish.  You’ll continue to taste the flavors for a long, long time.

Pinot Noir offers wines from lighter versions (which can satisfy and call for food to round out their offering) to the likes of this one.  It is a wine that asks for drinking with deep meditation and a wine that gives even “pleasure” a nuance to its meaning that enriches not only the word but our experiences.

If you want a Pinot Noir with power and finesse, try this one.

Rating: 94

Emotional rating:  I’m still experiencing.  Don’t disturb me!

Available from wine.com

Good On Ya, New Zealand! Beauty of a Pinot Noir!

Te Kairanga Martinborough Estate, Pinot Noir 2009

Sunset over the beautiful Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand

Sunset over the beautiful Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand

From the southern reaches of the North Island of New Zealand comes this impressive Pinot Noir.  Light ruby in color, brilliant, and still showing its youth, it bursts with lush Pinot fruit and the soft notes of deftly applied oak.  Juicy and mouth watering, it lingers long with tender tannins in a well-defined framework.

Autumns that are cool allow for the development of intense flavors.  Strawberry, cherry, and hints of plum are filled out with cedar tones, welcoming you to a wine that will not disappoint.  Te Kairanga is Maori for “the abundance of food.”  Wine and food are the essence of Martinborough.  Twenty-six hectares of stoney river terraces produce wines of great distinction at Te Kairanga.

Notice how this wine, which finishes dry, almost tastes sweet on the palate as its layers unfold.  The sweetness is a sure giveaway of sweet, rich fruit that form the base of this wine.  The tip of the tongue test (the tip of the tongue is where you will tell if the wine is dry or sweet and what degree of sweetness it has) says dry and the aftertaste is a strong confirmation of dryness.  The fruit, together with the tannins, linger on the side of the mouth to not let you forget you are tasting sweet fruit from a rich Pinot Noir.

Wind is the curse of this area as it is beaten with southerlies roaring off Cook Strait and northwesterly gales funneling down the valley.  Excessive wind can close the pores of the leaves, halting the vines ripening and growth. However, despite the wind, sufficient sun and friendly soils make this one of New Zealand’s best wine growing areas.

Rating:  91

Emotional rating:  That sweet fruit lifts it to the upper 90’s for my emotions.


EXPERIENCING COLORADO WINE, Volume 2: The Whites and Rosés! 



You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in my books, “Experiencing Colorado Wine, Volume 1 – The Dry Red Wines ” and “Experiencing Colorado Wine, Volume 2 – The Whites and Rosés.”  Volume 1 also provides descriptions of the pairing of several Colorado wines with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.

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Cloudy Bay 2013 Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc can be pointed and sharp and that’s the element that most people love

Rarangi Beach, Marlborough, New Zealand

Rarangi Beach, Marlborough, New Zealand

about this wine.  It’s refreshing with acids that make you salivate like no other.  Flavor in white wines in particular is all about the acids and how they showcase the aromas.

Some Sauvignon Blanc’s can burst with aromas that tingle all the way up your nose.  Grapefruit and pineapple laced with lemon is what makes them so dashing and refreshing.  Lemon is the basic flavor that forms the foundation on which other exciting flavors are built.  Cloudy Bay’s 2013  Sauvignon Blanc builds its complex citrus and peach flavors on a smooth structure of fresh acids that leave behind on the palate a touch of creaminess.  This creamy citrus is a wonderful surprise when all you may be expecting is a razor sharp burst of grapefruit.  The next step that some desire is riper grapes that produce the much desired tropical flavors like guava and passion fruit.  But cream that stays to pleasantly coat the mouth and temper the acids is what this wine offers.  This is a softer Sauvignon Blanc with a pleasant 13.5% alcohol.

Cloudy Bay, located in Marlborough, New Zealand, has always had its own winemaking philosophy that differs from the other wineries that fill the Wairau Valley.  It has succeeded in marketing its wines and developing a strong following.  Image is part of its magic.

Enjoying Marlborough’s Sauvignon Blancs in Marlborough is a beautiful experience!  But New Zealand, beginning with Cloudy Bay, showed the world what Sauvignon Blanc could be.  New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blancs are now sought after all over the world, yet they remain priced very reasonably.  This one was introduced to my wife (a particular fan of Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs) and me by the Estate Director, Ian Morden, recently in Boulder, Colorado.  Wherever you drink it, you will enjoy it.

Taste this wine alongside of Brancott’s Sauvignon Blanc and talk about the differences and similarities you find.  Experience wine!

Rating: 89

Emotional rating on a picnic with cold cuts, cheese and fresh breads, 95.  This wine can enliven food!


You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in my book, “Experiencing Colorado Wine,” and you’ll find the description of the pairing of several of them with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.

COMING SOON!  Experiencing Colorado Wine, Volume 2 — Whites and Rosés

GET YOUR COPY  at SQUARE MARKET!Experiencing Colorado Red Print Ready

Book entertains, educates, and entices readers to experience Colorado wine


A New Zealand Pinot Noir Comparison – Jules Taylor vs Oyster Bay


The leaner Oyster Bay Pinot Noir comes from a leaner soil:  more rocks, and you can taste the minerality in this wine.  The fruit is brighter.  The wine is lighter in texture and in color.  The result?  A marked difference in style to the Jules Taylor.

The Jules Taylor Pinot is bigger, with perhaps riper fruit, but the alcohol is 13.5% for both.  Where does the fuller mouthfeel come from?  From the darker fruit and most probably, without looking at the technicals, from a different oak treatment.  Structure has to do with the tannins, alcohol, glycerol, and flavor elements.  Different soils will also make for marked differences in the wine, especially when the grape is Pinot Noir.

Try to describe what it is that makes these two wines from the same region and the sameIMG_1123 grape so different, if a difference is what you detect.  Don’t forget, they are from different vintages.  Style, rather than vintage, has more to do with the difference, since I have tasted other vintages and the same differences appear.

We all need to know what style we like best. The discovery process should be pure pleasure.


You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in my book, “Experiencing Colorado Wine,” and you’ll find the description of the pairing of several of them with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.

GET YOUR COPY during our “SUMMER OF WINE” Sale at SQUARE MARKET FOR $20!Experiencing Colorado Red Print Ready

Book entertains, educates, and entices readers to experience Colorado wine