China Daily wine column #16

We return to New Zealand’s Central Otago, the country’s premier region in the deep south, to talk about wondrous pinot noir. The Central Otago Winegrowers’ Association provided a case of what it considers the region’s best wines, and some of these are reviewed this week.

The 2008 Wooing Tree sandstorm reserve is dark cherry in color and tastes of ripe cherries and plums. Michael Cooper in his Buyer’s Guide to New Zealand Wine rated the 2007 version as worthy of five stars, his top award. At $100 a bottle the price may seem high, but that is what you must pay to access the limited quantities of this special wine. It is made from low-yielding vines at the family-owned estate in the heart of Central Otago, near the town of Cromwell.

The wine is dark, brooding and exclusive. Tasted again after being opened for two days, the wine was still fresh, suggesting longevity. The Wooing Tree name comes from the fact that courting couples used to meet under the tree that features on the label of the company’s best wines.

If you are able to resist its brooding and restrained charms this wine should be cellared for at least five years. The wine is available from high-end hotels in Hong Kong.

Another reserve pinot noir, the 2009 Aurum Mathilde, also developed nicely after being open for two days. Leaving a complex wine open for a couple of days offers a way to get a sense of how it might develop. This may seem a brutal process but exposure to air accelerates how it will taste in years to come. The Aurum is dark cherry in color with aromas of spice and thyme. The finish has hints of dark chocolate.

An image of a golden bowl adorns the label. Aurum is the Latin word for gold. This treasure of a wine is available from New Zealand Wine Ltd in Causeway Bay in Hong Kong.

Grapes were hand harvested from the Lowburn area of Central Otago and given the wine comes from relatively young vines, planted in 2001, it is complex yet approachable. A spine of dusty tannins suggests this wine should be cellared for at least five years to appreciate its full potential.

Mathilde is the name of the first-born daughter of winemakers Brook and Lucie Lawrence. Brook met his wife while they were working at Domaine d’Arlot in Nuit St. Georges in Burgundy. Their creation sells for about $35 at the cellar door. It was matured for 14 months in French oak, a quarter of it new.

* “A little age does wonders for these pinot noir” in China Daily, 13 November 2010, page12.

Categories: Not home, wine

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