Martinborough – New Zealand′s Answer To Burgundy

Grape varieties – Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon
Style – Silky, alluring and fruity Pinot Noir

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Pinot Noir is New Zealand’s most fashionable red wine, and it’s also making waves internationally. In only three decades, Martinborough has transformed from a sleepy colonial town to world-class wine village, taking an enviable, attention-grabbing collection of international awards since 1990.

In 1982 the French were to Pinot Noir what the Swiss are to watches. French Burgundy towered so far above Pinot Noir made anywhere else in the world that it discouraged winemakers from experimenting with this challenging wine grape. In that year St Helena in Canterbury made a wine that set the ball rolling. Martinborough’s fledgling winemakers, believing their soils and climate were New Zealand’s answer to Burgundy, began planting Pinot Noir. By 1991 Martinborough had become New Zealand’s Pinot Noir capital.

The first decent Pinot Noir in New Zealand was made 30 years ago. Nearly 60% of the vineyards are taken up with the Burgudian varietals Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. And for once, Pinot is more prolific than Chardonnay, due to the fact that the people behind the region′s three pioneering wineries (Dry River, Ata Rangi and Martinborough Vineyard), are all Pinot lovers. Their enthusiasm has spurred on their neighbours to try Pinot and their wine was good, although not yet in the same class as the big three. There′s twice as much Pinot Noir as all the rest of the red varieties put together, but there are some impressive Bordeaux blends and even a decent Syrah or two to be found.

The best wines offer texture, perfume and the sniff and sip. The Bordeaux blends have ripe, fleshy, blackcurrant fruit, with decent structure.They′re good but can′t match the Pinots.


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