Pinot Down Under

In January of 2004, the New Zealand Winegrowers’ Association invited me to their country to be a guest speaker on how to increase the sales of New Zealand Pinot Noir in America.

I know, I know, it’s a hard life I lead, but someone has to do it. I flew into Auckland on a beautiful day in January and continued to head south on the north island visiting wine regions and tasting the different styles of Pinot Noir.

It was an enlightening trip on many levels. Being in a country that is as beautiful as New Zealand is awe-inspiring in itself. However, it was also very interesting to see a country whose reputation was built on its Sauvignon Blancs trying to make a new statement with this delicate, red gape.

During that wonderful week, we tasted many outstanding Pinot Noirs with a wide variety of flavors. Orange rind, wild mushroom, cherry cola, light-bodied, medium-bodied, you name it, the Pinot flavors were rampant. It was fascinating to see how these wines had similar characteristics to Pinots from Oregon, Santa Barbara and Morey St. Denis. There was something different about the New Zealand Pinots at the same time. I think it was the orange zest which made perfect sense to me since Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is loaded with citrus.

After returning from my glorious trip, I continued to taste Pinots from Kiwi land. Tonight, as I blog, I am drinking one from Wairarapa. It is the Paper Road Pinot Noir 2008. It has candied flavors combined with cola and sunkist, making it a ready-to-drink Pinot that has lots of fun personality. It’s entertaining yet delightful at the same time.

It’s a completely perfect PInot to enjoy while watching the Tar Heels play Michigan State in basketball.

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