New Zealand Pinot
Amid the current craze for Pinot Noir, wine enthusiasts spend a lot of time comparing the Pinots of Burgundy (the arguable benchmark) against those from California's Central Coast (the scene of Sideways), other California growing regions and intriguing Oregon.
Kim Crawford, also known for its luscious, fruity "unwooded" Chardonnay and a straight-ahead Sauvignon Blanc, presents an easy-drinking, well-balanced Pinot Noir in this 2003 edition, which is tightly secured - like an increasing number of New Zealand wines - under a sturdy, high-tech metal screwcap that ensures you won't get a cork-tainted wine.
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Kim Crawford 2001 Anderson Vineyard Marlborough Pinot Noir ($13.99)
This is a dark reddish-purple wine, clear in the glass but short of transparent. Good cherry and red-berry aromas with subtle spice are varietally correct. Juicy red fruit and snappy acidity are nicely balanced on the palate, with medium-bodied, velvety texture that says "Pinot." Consistent with other New Zealand Pinots I've tried, it's hard to pin down stylistically: More subtle than the stereotypically California Pinot but more fruit-forward than benchmark Burgundy, it may fall closest to Oregon on the style spectrum. U.S. importer: Philips Hogue, Esparto, Calif. (April 21, 2005)
FOOD MATCH: Fine with Italian sausages cooked with rapini (broccoli rabe) over creamy polenta.
VALUE: Fine value at this price; it would be difficult to find a California Pinot and probably impossible to buy a Burgundy of similar quality for this low-teens price.
WHEN TO DRINK: Pinot is unpredictable in the cellar; good balance and structure suggest that cellaring might pay off, particularly with its sturdy Stelvin-type metal screwcap to ensure cleanness, but it's ready to drink and enjoyable now.
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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.
Friday, April 22, 2005