Wine consumption in mainland China is tiny by world standards, at about half a glass per person per year. In Australia, where I live, average wine consumption is about 80 glasses a year.
Australia makes good pinot noir. But pinot noir from New Zealand’s Central Otago region has been receiving much attention from the world’s influential wine critics.
Robinson MW, wine writer for the Financial Times, was in Shanghai and Beijing last month to launch the Chinese edition of the World Wine Atlas. She describes Central Otago as having a good claim to be “the next great pinot region”.
Rudi Bauer, winemaker for Quartz Reef in Central Otago, is the region’s best-known winemaker. He was one of six people short-listed as international winemaker of the year, the equivalent of a wine-world Oscar. The award will be announced March 20.
Gibbston Valley was an early standard setter in Central Otago, its 2000 vintage gaining the trophy for best pinot noir at the London International Wine Challenge. Such is the demand for that wine that it sells for $NZ 450 a bottle.
In 2008 the Wild Earth 2006 pinot noir received an award for best pinot, and then the trophy for champion red wine, at the International Wine Challenge in London. Last year Cuisine magazine named the wine New Zealand’s best pinot noir.
Wild Earth’s owner Quintin Quider, an American, told me yields were deliberately kept low to improve fruit quality. The vineyard sits at the end of Felton Road, opposite the famous Felton Road Vineyard.
Next door to Wild Earth, another American, Jen Parr, is weaving magic in the vineyard at Olssens, and picking up lots of awards, especially for her whites. Parr’s 2009 Annieburn Riesling is sold out, such is the demand for this sweet delight. The 2009 dry version of the Riesling has elegance and great length, with minerally hints of honeysuckle and lime.
Perhaps the best-known red at Olssens is the Nipple Hill pinot noir, named after a mountain above the property that looks like the breast of a powerful Amazon goddess. It is a friendly, entry-level red with plenty of ripe fruit.
* “In praise of pinot noir” in China Daily, 29 May 2010, page 12.