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Sunday 20 November 2011

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Pinot Noir, 2009

If Burgundy is Pinot's spiritual home, New Zealand is talked of as having the potential to be its new home-from-home.

This Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir is from Marlborough at the top of end of new Zealand's South Island, an area perhaps most noted for its tropical, zesty Sauvignon Blanc.

Dark purple in the glass with just hints of an aged brick-red hue, on the nose, there are cherries, dark plum fruit, some vanilla spice and earthy notes, but none of the decaying funkiness that is Pinot's classic calling card.

The palate shows more gentle, sweet plum fruit, a touch of wild herbs and savouriness, with fresh, juicy acidity and some hints of pepperiness.

With a soft,smooth texture, the finish is savoury and balanced.

This is an elegant wine with finesse that feels light and easy to drink, but is somehow not that memorable.

It's technically well made in a crafted sort of way and I've had many worse Pinots costing more than this, but somehow it does not feel special and is not something I would put in front of a Pinot novice as an introduction to the possibilities of the grape.

I can't help feeling the problem may lie in the 14% alcohol which is high for a Pinot, perhaps too high - especially without the benefit of altitude or a long growing-season - and personally I would prefer to see a degree or so less alcohol, more emphasis on structure and texture and a couple of quid off the price.

Whilst it's a very easy wine to like, I feel I have to concentrate quite hard to discern the hints of greatness - the soft texture, the earthiness on the nose, the elegant finish.

It's perhaps a bit like an old friend; reliable, dependable, not overly exciting or challenging but easy to get along with; I could certainly drink plenty of this wine and not get bored or find it too one-dimensional - but at a penny short of £15 and with plenty of other wines vying for my attention, I'm not sure that I would.

£14.99 from Majestic, Sainsbury's, Matthew Clark, www.wine-studio.co.uk, www.nzhouseofwine.co.uk, provided for review.

Update 21/11/11: after writing this, I received a tweet from @majesticwine saying they have it for sale at £10.79; that does not change my assessment of the wine itself, but does improve the price / quality ratio significantly, not least as Pinot - whether good, bad or indifferent - is never exactly cheap.


Villa Maria - http://www.villamaria.co.nz/
Majestic - http://www.majestic.co.uk/
Sainsbury's - http://www.sainsburys.co.uk/
Matthew Clark - http://www.matthewclark.co.uk/

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