2010 Escarpment Pahi Martinborough Pinot Noir

Preconceived ideas about how you like a grape variety to taste are always liable for a surprise. Over the years, a perfumed, crisply red fruited version of the mystery that’s Pinot Noir has become more appealing. Well, red fruited and lightly built this isn’t. Dark spiced berries, almost plum and licorice chocolate with a touch of fruit cake all melded by time. No flab though as there’s a perfect counterpoint of graphite like tannin and beautifully integrated naturally ripe wet stone acidity, all benefiting from time together in the bottle. A tickle of dried and sweet green herbs twists and turns the rich fruit too. Dark, complex and such an even keel that shows this most fickle of grapes can express itself in the most valid and surprising ways. Côte d’Or it ain’t but Martinborough it must surely be. Choice eh?

14% alcohol. Cork. About $60 a few years ago.

94 points.

2016 Te Mata Awatea Cabernets Merlot

Perfect way to celebrate Bastille day eve with a Kiwi that’s better value and probably a bit cleaner than some more illustrious Bordeaux, which was already an expensive dabble thirty years ago when the bug bit. Not that price stopped a reckless love of Burgundy instead. Probably as many disappointments too. Anyway, unlike nearly every other NZ producer, Te Mata are as nineteenth century traditional as the Bordelaise in the choice of stopper. Happily the expensive looking tree bark here didn’t spoil a seriously delicious wine. Just medium in body but achingly fragrant. A perfect mix of marginally tart but ripe fruit and a savoury anchor. Black cherry, cassis, sweet green leaves and seasoning of black olive and cedar oak, all in elegant proportion and driven long. Hint of that grounding claret gravel too. No grunt, just harmony. Anyone on either bank of the Gironde able to guarantee the same quality to price rapport? Could default to a predictably not funny….. choice, eh bro?

13.50% alcohol. CORK! C’est quoi!? $28 from what Dan’s questionably call a rationalisation which means they won’t stock it at my local. Happy to take the below cost discount to clear it though.

95 points.

2007 McArthur Ridge Southern Tor Central Otago Pinot Noir

The only bottle of Kiwi Pinot in the cellar. Ten years ago it was fresh and bright, lower in alcohol than a lot of Otago Pinots and Murphy’s decided to clear it for under $30 I think I remember. Despite a bit of smoky old bottle development, it’s still fresh red fruits that hit the tongue mid way and taper a bit to finish. Pliant tannins and some more pure ripe strawberry and cherry as well. The acidity’s just a bit too hard and assertive, standing a little separately from the fruit and tannin. Bit of a shame as the flavours are convincing and tasty.

13.50% alcohol. Screwcap. $35 retail originally roughly before the less than engaging label saw it heavily discounted.

91 points.