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edited by Sue Courtney
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Wine of the Week for week ending 6 Jul 2008
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Bald Hills Blanc de Pinot Noir 2006
Central Otago, New Zealand

"That was a wintry forecast …. the wintriest of the year," said the weatherman on the radio this morning. And true to the predictions, it was a terrific wintry day. But why complain. It is winter after all. You just have to dress for the seasons and put on layer after layer of clothes.

Call mad. Call me crazy. But I've just been drinking a pink … I am sure for many the last choice of wine for winter for winter. But I had to wonder, after tasting it, if I would have actually picked it as a pink if I couldn't have seen and been influenced by the colour. More on that below.

Photo by Sue Courtney

The wine was Bald Hills Central Otago Blanc de Pinot Noir 2006 - yes, that's right, a 2006 vintage wine. And having it unchilled in the sense that it hadn't seen the inside of a refrigerator, but lightly chilled in the sense my whole house seems like a refrigerator, it really hit the spot.

It's a gorgeous, pretty, deep rose water / cherry coloured pink, transparent (or see through, if you want call it that). The nose is delicately floral with wild strawberry, sweet cherry and subtle herb scents. And the palate is rich and textural and seemingly quite dry with sweet cherry, hints of strawberry, a delicate herbal / citrus twist to the finish and a stonefruit character emerging on the lingering aftertaste. Soft, easy, non-confrontational and drinking surprisingly well for a 2 year old wine I thought it may suit the meal that we would have after the tasting - a fish, tomato and potato stew*

So if I had not been influenced by the colour, by drinking the wine from one of those black-painted glasses, what would I have thought? An unoaked wine with body and texture - if I had been tasting this in the top Hemisphere at this time of year, only then would I have considered Rose. But here I am at the end of a wintry week in one of the closest countries to Antarctica and the lack of oak and tannins and the delicate fruit would definitely have me heading in the white direction. And I reckon I would most probably come to the conclusion that it couldn't be anything other than pinot gris.

Okay, pinot gris doesn't usually offer strawberry and cherry on the nose, but that is primarily because we drink with ours eyes and don't think of those fruits being associated with white wine - although I did detect a touch of cherry on the Rockburn Pinot Gris 2007 the other day. So with that touch of stonefruit on the finish, a slight herbal nuance, a delicate earthiness to the lingering aftertaste and its comforting alcoholic warmth, what else would fit? From the varietals we drink in New Zealand, I'd say nothing.

However, Bald Hills Central Otago Blanc de Pinot Noir 2006 is made from 100% pinot noir grapes. The juice is left in contact with the skins to impart the pretty colour and the wine is cool fermented in stainless steel tanks before being bottled and settled. The notes say it has less that 1 gram of residual sugar and you cannot get much 'drier' than that. It's moderate to low in its acidity but the punch comes from the 14% alcohol. And, gosh, it's only $14 a bottle (plus freight) mail order price. Check out the Bald Hills website - www.baldhills.co.nz.

It's not new news that Rose is becoming more and more popular, especially in the Northern Hemisphere summer. Now Jancis Robinson is reporting one of the most expensive ever. It is Château d'Esclan Garrus 2007 from Provence, retailing at £65 a bottle. Jancis says of winemaker Sacha Lichine, "he has done the whole category a great service - from Rosé producers' point of view. Doubtless next year we will see all manner of outrageously priced pink."

I would ignore Jancis' advice at the end of her article titled "Everything's coming up rosé", where she says, "Unfortunately, poor weather last summer has left too many fading 2006s undrunk. If possible, choose a 2007." That is not true of new Zealand's 2006's. It was a super , super vintage here and some fine Rosé wines were made. They need to be quite dry, but if they are like this Bald Hills offering, I can't see what there is not to like.

*It wasn't actually the best match for the fish, tomato and potato stew, but it was fun coming to that conclusion. The fish we used didn't seem to be the freshest !!!!! (pity you can't smell it before you buy it) and was just a little too strong. However, with a full-bodied Pinot Noir, the combination was simply divine. More on my blog later on Monday.

© Sue Courtney
29 Jun 2008


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