2017 Wairau River Pinot Noir
One of my Burgundy collectors once told me, “Pinot Noir is like sushi – you don’t want it cheap.”
Meaning what every Burgundy collector has experienced – good Pinot Noir seemingly comes with an added tariff, a price hike that never seems to disappear. And once bitten by the Pinot bug, you’ve got to pay more or you risk getting something truly vapid or even, as in the case of cheap sushi, something that could make you sick!
Maybe that’s true, and maybe it isn’t. But what I know is true, is that we’ve got an amazing little contender that is going to put every Burgundy collector – or Pinot Noir lover – to the test. We taste a lot of Pinot at Waterford, and the quality of this wine at its price is simply astounding.
The wine is Wairau River Pinot Noir. As you may recall, Wairau is in the heart of Marlborough, New Zealand – prime-time growing region for Sauvignon Blanc. But as you climb up the slopes that make up Marlborough’s valley, you encounter limestone soils, a perfect match for Pinot Noir. So while Sauvignon Blanc takes the lead in wine production (and rightly so—that stuff is delicious), Pinots from there have been identified as wild berry flavored, silky, delicate, classic and scrumptious. The 2016 vintage is our outstanding example today:
Tasted blind, it immediately put me in the mind frame of Corton – a wine where the Pinot character is starting to turn from the strawberry fruit of the Cote de Beaune into the blackberry fruit of the Cote de Nuits – a mixture of wild berries with touches of black cherry. Marlborough is a cool climate, so you also get the deft touches of spice, little hints of clove and nutmeg, maybe a touch of pepper, and dash of vanilla from oak. The result is a wine that tastes like classic Pinot: fresh, vibrant, with good structure, light and elegant, yet full of flavor. Blindly tasted, I wouldn’t call it Grand Cru, but I didn’t rule out a Premier Cru Cote de Beaune. Come time for the big reveal, I was blown away!
So what is your appropriate “entry-level” price for Pinot Noir? No matter what your number, I guarantee this one from Wairau River completely over-delivers.