When I was in Central Otago recently, I was one of two Australians in the vintage crew, Jimi Lienert being the other. Jimi hails from the Barossa, where his family has a beautiful vineyard. Inevitably we got to tasting a bit while in New Zealand, and again when I passed through the Barossa Valley the other day. Despite growing up surrounded by, and helping to make, traditional Barossan styles, Jimi has a penchant for lighter, elegant wines. After vintage, he toured New Zealand and tasted as widely as possible; this is a bottle he found along the way that he shared with me.
I’m very glad he did, because it’s excellent. Something I’ve often enjoyed about Martinborough Pinots versus those from Central Otago is their shift in balance away from fullness of fruit towards fragrance, savouriness and structure. This is a good example of the style; aromatically it’s spiced and fresh, with berry-cherry compote, just a touch of stalk character (easily carried) and vanilla oak. Although the fruit is present and lush, it doesn’t push its way past the other elements, making this far from a fruit bomb style. With air, further complexities of curry leaf and musk, all aromatic and floral.
In the mouth, structure, depth of flavour, layers and length. There’s something quiet about this wine, though, like a really smart person who just makes enough of a contribution to the conversation. Despite that, its contributions have a tremendous impact, so this wine, although measured, makes itself known. Partly this is due to its acid structure, which drives flavour down the line quite firmly and gives it good length. Partly, it’s due to a complex flavour profile that makes one lean in to look more closely. It’s both sweet and savoury, umami-filled and delicious.
A whole lot of sophisticated, delicious Pinot.