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New Zealand’s Otago hot spot for pinot noir

Otago New Zealand Pinot NoirNew Zealand is generally known for its racy, bracingly acidic sauvignon blancs, but pinot noir is quickly joining in the limelight.

New Zealand’s South Island is one of the world’s most exciting hot spots for the pinot noir devotee. This grape has a reputation for being finicky outside of Burgundy and doesn’t adapt well to many new areas, but the Otago region’s pinot noir production is growing at a phenomenal rate, with new wineries opening every year.

The cool climate of the South Island is comparable with the best growing regions for this grape. Central Otego grows New Zealand’s (and the world’s) most southerly grape vines, some of them cultivated south of the 45th parallel. It is New Zealand’s only wine region with a continental climate. Most vines are planted on hillsides to gain maximum sun exposure.

The region has a traditional winemaking style much like you will find in benchmark European wine regions.

Much of the influence is from the many New Zealand winemakers working second annual vintages in Europe and gaining a wider perspective on the world of wine (known as flying winemakers).

Another positive influence is the reverse migration of mostly young French winemakers joining in during the New Zealand harvest and winemaking. These influences continue to show in the restrained delicate pinot noir styles from the South Island.

THE VALUES 

  • 2012 Dashwood Pinot Noir, New Zealand (about $17 retail)
  • 2012 The Seeker Pinot Noir, New Zealand (about $14 retail)
  • 2012 Brancott Pinot Noir, New Zealand (about $16 retail)

THE SPLURGES

  • 2012 Roaring Meg Pinot Noir, New Zealand (about $23 retail)
  • 2012 Mount Difficulty Pinot Noir, New Zealand (about $40 retail)
  • 2012 Greywacke Winery Pinot Noir, New Zealand (about $39 retail)