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Wine of the Week for week ending 14 August 2011
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Gladstone Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2009
Wairarapa, New Zealand

When you hear about a wine winning award after award overseas, you wonder how it will stack up when you taste it in its homeland amongst its peers. Well, it seems the gongs were justified. The wine in question came top in my book too both in the initial tasting and again with the food that was put on the table.

Gladstone Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2009 has taken Trophies from the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Competition 2010 for Overall Best Pinot Noir, which of course mean it receives the Best New World Pinot Noir. As well it has received a gold medal in the Selections Mondiales des vins Canada 2011. It adds to the gold medal haul that this Wairarapa Pinot has been accruing since 2004.

Here in New Zealand, silver medals and four star awards late last year was the best the Gladstone Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2009 has attained. But perhaps a little more time in the bottle since those awards was all that was needed to take it to the top homegrown rung?

Tasted in August 2011, Gladstone Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2009 seems generously fruity yet has a deep savoury richness, which proves that colour is only a minor indicator to the depth and flavour. This was the lightest in the line-up, or most translucent I should say, with a floral nuance to the smoky aroma and sweet earth, field mushrooms and thyme. There's a pretty character to the wine and it is fine textured, focussed and clean, finishing with a well-balanced fruitiness. But there's a savoury, gamey depth of flavour all the time, reminding me of a Martinborough style. Well, Wairarapa is pretty close to Martinborough, so I gave myself a pat on the back for 'almost' picking the region.

A wine that is a chameleon in a way, not surprising with eight different clones in the mix. Crafted by Christine Kernohan and Gerhard Smith, after the hand-picked grapes went through the fermentation and maceration processes, the wine was matured in French oak barrels (30% new) for 10 months. Alcohol clocks in at 14.7%. Cellar door price is $42.

The food was lamb casserole, inspired by an old family recipe, slow-cooked so the tender juicy meat falls off the bones. Lamb is perfect for this Pinot. Try it.

Check out for more info and to buy online.

© Sue Courtney
8 Aug 2011

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