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Friday, 16 July 2010

Babich Family Reserve Pinot Noir, 2007 - from Laithwaites

One of the pricier wines in my Laithwaites mystery case (£10.99 list price), I had reasonably high hopes for this NZ Pinot Noir from the multi-award-winning Babich.

New Zealand, with its cool climate and high-tech approach, is rapidly garnering a reputation as a source of classy, well-made reds as well as whites often in a full-but-restrained style - in addition to its signature ripe, tropical, up-front Sauvignon Blanc.

Pinot Noir's spiritual home is Burgundy in France and whilst few other places can lay any kind of claim to growing it successfully, New Zealand is certainly among those getting close.

Babich is a family-run winery with vineyards in the warmer North Island, particularly Marlborough and according to their website "Many of New Zealand’s most fragrant and flavoursome wines originate in Marlborough’s pebbly, flat plains. Abundant sunshine and a dry autumn climate allow ... Pinot Noir to benefit from a long, slow ripening period that intensifies flavours."

According to the Laithwaites website, the wine has "spicy complexity evoking fine red Burgundy, and is full and smooth, plump yet supple … as fresh as a Spring day and a delight with New Zealand lamb". For me, it was pale red in the glass, with typical Pinot aromas of cherries, a truffley earthiness and some vanilla from oak aging. On the palate, it is softly textured, with strawberry-ish fruit, more vegetal hints of forest floor and mushrooms with a long, smooth, but slightly elusive finish backed up by well-integrated tannins.

Overall, this is a Pinot in the "light-and-fragrant" style - well-made, pleasant and surprisingly more-ish if, as noted, a little elusive. It's certainly light enough to sip in the garden on a hot day or should match well with something light but gamey, such as plain roast partridge or quail.

Footnote - July 17

I have just popped into Cambridge Wine Merchants and sampled a very similar NZ Pinot Noir from Mount Brown - again, it was pale red in colour with a classic Pinot palate of mushrooms and truffles and a soft, smooth but long and well-balanced finish. Slightly more expensive than the Babich wine, it is £12.99 and has a Decanter Bronze award.

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