Recently, when I was in the South Island, we walked through a regenerating native forest in northwest Nelson. The further in we walked the denser the trees - and the more intriguing the smell - earth, vegetation and even pepper - scents that reminded me of Pinot Noir and Syrah. It was the native forest reserve behind Te Waikoropupu Springs and the Department of Conversation had erected information signs at the springs and at various places on the track.
I learnt that fast regenerating trees included totara, matai, kahikatea, rimu and miro with mahoe and lacebark, the tree ferns wheki and ponga, and a groundcover of blechnum fern. The floor has a cover of leaves. As I inhaled the intriguing scent, I thought about the forest floor description in wine. Was this it? Or should the description simply be 'forest' rather than forest floor. It depends on the kind of trees, I guess.
I thought more about it when sipping on a few Pinot Noirs after I returned home, among them Kina Beach Reserve Nelson Pinot Noir 2007.
We did not have a chance to visit the Kina Beach vineyard on our recent trip. In fact we didn't even travel the coastal road close past the Kina beach turn off on the way from Nelson to Golden Bay, due to roadworks in the area - and being Easter the road was busy. It was better to travel through the upper road, which in places afforded expansive views over the Kina Beach area and Tasman Bay.
Kina Beach Reserve Nelson Pinot Noir 2007 is a deep burgundy red colour with a ruby glow and has a deep, sensuous savoury aromas with a depth of red fruit welling up from within. Savoury and just a little spicy to the taste with dark, bittersweet red fruit in the tamarillo and cherry spectrum, there's an earthy intensity with regenerating native New Zealand forest and smoky savoury oak adding to the overall appeal. All the while the fine tannins impart a smooth silky mouthfeel although there's a little bit of grip to those tannins on the aftertaste while a touch of acidity gives the wine brightness and oomph.
We poured a glass to accompany our meal of venison patties and tamarillo chutney. The gamey flavours of the meat brought out sweetness in the wine, while the tamarillo flavours were in harmony.
Next day, when we tasted the wine again the grippiness of the tannins have dissolved and the wine has become gorgeously funky with that extra time too - and the aftertaste simply lasted for minutes.
Kina Beach Reserve Nelson Pinot Noir 2007 has 14% alcohol and costs around $40 a bottle. It's made at notable winery nearby. You can buy direct from www.kinabeach.co.nz.
© Sue Courtney
2 May 2010