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Wine of the Week for week ending 5 Apr 2009
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Churton Pinot Noir 2005
Marlborough, New Zealand

"I feel like fish for dinner," I said to Neil. We had looked at salmon the day before but if was outrageously expensive and so we had boring chicken again. But Neil came home the following night with tuna.

Tuna and pinot noir should go well together, I thought. I ferreted out a bottle from the Pinot Noir drinking box. It was an older wine, sealed with a natural cork, so it was with some trepidation that the wine was opened, but it was fine.

The wine was Churton Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005. In the glass it is a deep maroon red, translucent in appearance with gorgeous smoky, savoury aromas with a deep but subtle purple fruit intensity and hints of violets, perhaps. Earthy and savoury with a tingle of fruity acidity and quite spicy - exotic spices - on entry to palate. The attack is gentle and the impression is smooth with an incredible sensual succulence. The fruit is tart and sweet at the same time - like the "Chilean guavas" aka "New Zealand cranberries" that are in season now. It's got that kind of feral thing going on, a bit of an earthy funk. A hint of chocolate, sensed momentarily on the nose, fills out on the finish together with cherry that lingers behind.

Not so sure I would pick as Marlborough in a blind tasting because of its so savoury disposition, we loved this wine just on its own and beautiful with the food too.

The tuna was herb and spice encrusted and pan-fried gently so the fish retained some of its deep pink colouring on the inside. Accompaniments were potato and kumara mashed with Thai basil and a fresh salad of greens and tomatoes. The hint of fennel in the crust and the liquorice intonations of the Thai basil in the mash were beautiful with the wine. The x-factor, perhaps.

Churton Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 has just 12.5% alcohol by volume - lower than many of its Marlborough counterparts. Fruit was grown on the elevated Waihopai Slopes, where biodynamic practises are followed in the closely planted vineyard, and in the Wairau Valley. Find out more from

© Sue Courtney
30 Mar 2009

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