New Zealand’s other grape: Pinot Noir

New Zealand Vineyard Reports from #NZWine

When I say “New Zealand wine,” what color pops into your mind? Chances are your first thought went straight to “white,” perhaps quickly followed by “Sauvignon Blanc.” We think of these wines in connection with New Zealand with good reason: It was New Zealand’s bold, aromatic take on Sauvignon Blanc that first introduced the rest of the world to the wines of this beautiful land Down Under, a delight that came to us not that long ago.

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Oyster Bay 2012 Marlborough Pinot Noir ($14.99)

Oyster Bay

Clear ruby color, quite dark at the core but shading quickly to a clear edge. Light red fruit and a pleasant whiff of ripe, just-cut tomato – a characteristic that I often find in cool-climate Pinot Noir – shows in the nose and on the palate. It’s brisk and acidic in the flavor, tart and palate-cleansing, rather light-bodied, with a soft edge of tannins and a hint of stony minerality in the finish.
13% alcohol in a wine that’s distinctly Pinot Noir, more reminiscent of the Old World than the New.

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Nobilo Icon 2013 Marlborough Pinot Noir ($19.99)

Nobilo Icon

Rather dark ruby in color, with reddish-orange glints against the light. Mixed fruits, blackberries and plums and red and black cherries, with a distinct but not overwhelming edge of warm, spicy oak. Mouth-filling fruit and good body on the palate, red and black fruit and gentle spice over tart acidity, with soft tannins becoming more apparent in the long finish. Moderate 13% alcohol doesn’t intrude.

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Lustau Amontillado “Los Arcos”

Lustau Amontillado Los Arcos

Rich, full walnut aromas, a mix of fresh-cracked walnuts and Nocino Italian walnut liqueur, with a piquant back note of lemon. Nuts and tangy lemon carry over on the palate, light brown-sugar sweetness more than overpowered by sharp acidity. Hints of dark chocolate join walnuts and citrus in the flavor with a touch of alcoholic heat, a complex wine that opens up remarkably with cheese or other unctuous food match. Labeled “Solera Familiar,” Lustau’s good but relatively affordable range; 18.5% alcohol.

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Wisdom & Warter Extra Amontillado Sherry

Wisdom & Warter

Clear copper-bronze color, almost a pale orange hue. A mix of cracked walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and a distinct hint of lemon show on the nose and palate. It’s nutty and full-bodied in flavor, with medium-level sweetness well balanced by sharp, zingy acidity that lingers on the sides of your tongue. It carries its 20 percent alcohol well, with mixed nuts and tart citrus lingering in a very long finish. According to the label, “Special reserve drawn from the solera established in 1912.”

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Unexpected wine scents: Petrol


If there’s anything that makes people wonder about wine geeks, it’s our mysterious ability to detect things like tar, smoke, butter, caramel, bananas, geraniums, and even a whiff of the barnyard wafting from our glass.

But gasoline, diesel, or even petrol when we’re trying to tastefully emulate our British cousins? In wine? This is a step too far for many people.

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