This week I was going to talk about New Zealand but I want to do some more research in finding some wines to recommend in the under €15 category.
This is always a bit of a struggle outside of supermarket special offers.
Instead I’ve chosen some Pinot wines for you to try — inevitably from New Zealand of course, but also from a few other unlikely spots.
As you probably know by now Pinot is a fickle mistress. At its best it can be intensely fragrant and beguiling but it can also be a jammy mess if grown in the wrong place.
Burgundy (when it is good) is the place to go but given the mad prices these days you may think twice (and prices are getting worse thanks to some violent, unpredictable weather in recent years).
Back in the 1990s my wine club would occasionally buy a bottle of top Burgundy such as La Tâche for our annual classic tasting — back then La Tâche was under €100, expensive but achievable, these days it costs around €3,000.
German Pinot gets good mentions on this page and the best of Baden and the Pfalz are well worth seeking out, but the New World also has its charms.
Good Pinot is never cheap so expect to pay a little more from Oregon or the best California regions such as Carneros and the Russian River Valley.
Australian Pinot can be excellent but there aren’t many in the market — watch for Tasmania and the Yarra Valley.
Pinot has been grown for at least 2,000 years, it is reckoned, so there has been ample opportunity for mutation — hence Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris which have the same DNA profile (strange as this may seem).
The true origin of the grape is still unknown but it has given birth to at least 150 different other grapes including ones you could guess such as Gamay and Blaufrankisch but also grapes such as Teroldego and Garganega (Soave).
Early budding makes the grape susceptible to spring frosts but sadly it only grows well in temperate climates (which are more susceptible to spring frosts).
In warmer climates it can ripen too quickly and knock the grape out of balance.
So see what you think of these and I’ve thrown in a Pinot Gris for fun also.
BEST VALUE UNDER €15
Aimery Pinot Noir 2015, Pays d’Oc, France — €14.05
Stockist: Karwig Wines www.karwigwines.ie
The Languedoc is one source of inexpensive Pinot such as this fresh little wine from just south of Limoux in the Languedoc in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains.
Light cherry colour with light and slightly dusky sweet red fruit aromas and flavours and just a hint of earth on the finish.
Leyda Reserve Pinot Noir, Chile — €14.95
Stockists: JJ O’Driscolls, O’Briens
Leyda is one of the cooler regions of Chile and wines from here and also Casablanca are getting better and better all the time.
This has a touch of oak and has some solid red and plum fruits with a solidly fruity texture with good lingering earthy touches.
Incanta Pinot Noir, Recas, Romania — €9.99
Stockists: JJ O’Driscolls, O’Donavans, Ardkeen, Vintry Rathgar, Independents
Finding Pinot Noir to recommend under a tenner is nigh on impossible but this is well worth a try. Romania is actually a very large producer of wine and quality is improving all the time.
This has a distinct European feel and has some charming red fruits and a supple fruity texture.
BEST VALUE OVER €15
Paddy Bothwick “Paper Road” Pinot Noir 2014, Wairarapa, New Zealand — €16.45
Stockist: Wines Direct www.winesdirect.ie
This wine is from the southern tip of the North Island from a family owned vineyard near the town of Martinborough.
Paddy Bothwick’s wines are always consistent and interesting and I like the earthy but brightly toned red fruits to be found here. Fragrant and fresh but with some nice lingering intensity.
Kim Crawford Pinot Gris Marlborough 2016 — €18.99
Stockists: Independents, 1601 Kinsale, Cashel Wine Cellar, World Wide Wines, Martins Fairview
I don’t feature Pinot Gris very often and perhaps I should given its popularity (it is the same grape as Pinot Grigio but tends to be riper and fuller flavoured).
This has some nice weighty ripe apple and pear flavours undercut with good minerality and freshness. Try with prawns or scallops.
Yealands Estate Pinot Noir, Marlborough 2015 — €19.99
Stockists: Independents, JJ O’Driscolls Ballinlough
I featured the Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc here recently (excellent value in O’Driscolls at around €12) but I also like their straight and pure Pinot Noir.
This has a nice silky quality with soft red fruits with just a hint of forest floor and ripe cherry. Try with some slow-braised lamb shanks.
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