Tag Archives: New Zealand

Drinking Tonight: Pinot Noirs from France and New Zealand

I have a beef pot roast resting, and just cracked open two new Pinots – both inexpensive Trader Joe’s purchases. Pinot is one of those grapes where you generally get what you pay for – it’s a low-yielding vine that is prone to hail damage and rot. I generally don’t even try Pinot Noirs that retail for under $20, but let’s see what these have in store.

A good wine pairing tip – the less fat in the food, the less tannin you should have in the wine. Since pot roast is especially lean, it goes great with Pinot Noir – the lowest-tannin red out there.

Picton Bay Pinot Noir (2012) Marlborough, New Zealand – $12.00

Color: light, clean red – New Zealand Pinots are known for their light coloring.

Photo0247Aroma: candied cherry and some licorice/spice notes – I can’t tell from the nose if this is going to be masculine or feminine.

Taste: lively with good acidity. I think this comes down more on the spice/earth side, but there is some definite cranberry and raspberry fruit in there as well.

MGM Pinot Noir (2011) Pays d’Oc, France – $9.00

Color: just half a shade darker.

Aroma: this is closed off – I get a touch of candied fruit (what the English would call ‘boiled sweet’).

Taste: uneventful – it’s Pinot, but there’s not much to say about it. Let’s see if the beef improves it. Annnnnd….. no.

Well this was a disappointing tasting. I can’t recommend either of these wines – the Picton Bay is just barely passable.



Drinking Tonight: Two NZ Sauvignon Blancs – Picton Bay & Kono

Grabbed these today from Trader Joe’s, $10 for Picton Bay and $12 for Kono.  They are both 2012 vintage from Marlborough.  I’m making asparagus risotto tonight – let’s see how these do!

Picton Bay

Color: very pale straw yellow

Aroma: wow – monstrous gooseberry flesh, my nose crinkled when I smelled this. There’s some thyme or lemongrass in there too.

Taste: that’s a nice mouthfull of fruit – it’s not as tart as the aroma would leave you to believe. Gooseberry and yellow grapefruit, with some softer citrus underneath and a surprisingly strong finish for Sauvignon Blanc.

I like this – pretty good stuff for $10. But I wouldn’t serve it to novices; I think the nose would turn them off.


Color: also pale, but with a touch of green

Aroma: grapefruit – both pink and yellow – and gooseberry, pretty well balanced.

Taste: Huh – this is more acrid and sharp on the palate than it is on the nose! Lots more grapefruit, plus some grapefruit-skin bitterness that stands out just a bit too much.

Although this is more ‘traditional New Zealand’ style (all 30 years of that tradition!), I think the Picton Bay is a better value.


They are both okay with the risotto, but not exceptional; they both have too much acidity in them, and not enough green, grassy, herbaceous notes.  The meal would have been better with the VinTJs that I tasted at the store today.