• Two Thumbs Up
• Bright, refreshing aromas of raspberry, dried cherry with pleasant notes of fresh earth and flowers. Light in body, but not insubstantial, with flavors of tart raspberry, red cherry, red licorice, black pepper and nutmeg. Absolutely fabulous with slow-roasted pork shoulder.
This week I’m heading south of the Mason-Dixon Line for my wine pick…way south. In four successive nights recently, I had a pinot noir from the Southern Hemisphere—three from Chile and one from New Zealand. I was surprisingly pleased, in some ways by the quality, but more so by the prices.
The Sideways phenomenon continues to pump up pinot noir sales in this country and has produced a whole lot of inexpensive wines that are, for the most part, pretty disappointing. The three Chilean wines were Quintay’s Clava, Cono Sur and Montes’ Limited Selection and all were under $15 a bottle. The lone New Zealander from Whitehaven came in at $23—pretty cheap for a New Zealand pinot. The White haven, however, is not from the vaunted Central Otago, the world’s most southerly wine producing region, where they make some righteous pinot noir.
All the Southern Hemisphere wines delivered way beyond expectations, frankly leaving their pinot-producing counterparts in the USA in their dusty, dried cherry rear view mirror. I know pinot noir—otherwise known as the heartbreak grape for its challenging behavior in the vineyards—can drive up production costs. But if they can deliver a gulpably yummy pinot noir at a price we all can afford, why can’t our domestic producers do the same?
Gil Kulers is a certified wine educator with the Society of Wine Educators. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Wines are rated on a scale ranging up from thumbs down, one thumb mostly up, one thumb up, two thumbs up, two thumbs way up and Golden Thumb Award. Prices are suggested retail prices as provided by the winery, one of its agents, a local distributor or retailer.)