Wild Earth Wines, Pinot Noir 2017
As the days lengthen and Spring takes grip, red wine drinkers often find themselves shelving the heavy cabernet and shiraz that added warmth over winter in favour of lighter styles like gamay, chianti and pinot noir. At my place, any red with a degree of translucence takes priority as the mercury climbs and the humidity rises. But the seasonal change of style typically comes at quite a cost as sadly, the lighter bodied wines are generally far more expensive than their full bodied counterparts.
As much as we all love the delicate and aromatic reds, they are notoriously finicky and more difficult to make. In the vineyard, the thin skinned nature of the small berries makes them susceptible to rot and fungus, not to mention occasional sunburn! Whether it’s gamay or pinot noir, quality comes at a price. Unlike shiraz and cabernet, you won’t find good quality wines sitting on the shelf at a $20 price point. In fact, you’ll generally have to shell out north of $40 a bottle for anything that you’d take to Mums for Sunday roast.
For variety of options and ease of access, there’s no doubt that pinot noir is my summertime staple. It’s bright, lively and full of flavor. And while I’d prefer to drink the more savoury French pinot from Burgundy, anything above average is priced outside a working-class budget. While I enjoy the pinot from Mornington Peninsula and Tasmania, for quality and value you can’t go past what Central Otago on New Zealand’s South Island has to offer. And while the region takes in no less than six sub-regions and a whole set of craggy mountain ranges, there’s no doubt that Bannockburn, outside of the old gold mining town of Cromwell, is the epicenter of gold medal pinot.
Although there are any number of big name wineries in the district, it was a little known pinot by Wild Earth that recently captured the attention of my taste buds. It shows a lovely ruby colour in the glass with a bit of a garnet rim, but take a whiff and the aromas of cherries and plum appear before quickly becoming partnered with herbaceous characters of cloves and spice. And there’s an engaging sweetness to the soft fruit as it hits the front of your palate, before the juice seemingly darkens through the middle and develops a gaminess through layers of red berries. There’s a lot to like about the way the Wild Earth pinot meets an earthy undercurrent of fine tannins before lining your mouth in silk as it effortlessly glides its way through a sophisticated conclusion.
You’ll have to pay $40 to $50 to secure a bottle of this Central Otago classic, but the complexity of fruit and balance of fine tannin, and gentle acid makes it well worthy of the elevated asking price. Perfect for Spring, and I’m confident that Mum won’t be disappointed!
$40 to $50
Winery Website: www.wildearthwines.co.nz
Travis Schultz is a wine reviewer for the Sunshine Coast Daily and The Grape Hunter extend their thanks to the Sunshine Coast Daily for allowing re-publication of his reviews