Burgundy World

Pinot noir, NZ style

Stoneburn Marlborough to drink now
Published:  March 07, 2012

I was in London for leap year 2012, to say farewell to a former colleague who had spent nearly 40 years in The Economist group. A lot of old timers turned up, including myself (the gentleman we were saluting recruited me for my first real job in 1989: seems like yesterday). Young colleagues were also present, and witnessed a lively, crafted speech that mapped the history of that particular section of The Economist with a simple, poignant clarity. The younger members probably learned a lot. Institutional memory has been one of the victims of the e-revolution I think (see this article about the risk of a digital winter; worrying).

Stoneburn Pinot Noir 2008 bottleAppropriately, the red wine chosen by the caterer for this occasion was also a fusion of old and young: a venerable pinot noir in the form of a young Stoneburn Marlborough 2009. Like the speech, it was as simple an introduction to pinot noir as you could ask for. All the fruit, young and light, with none of the woodiness or multilayer complexity that is so hard to achieve. A good wine for anyone wishing to grasp what a pinot noir is like at its most stripped down.  And yet again, there was a screw cap on the wine, perhaps because the wine growers don't expect it to age, or certainly don't intend it to.

Translucid, scarlet, smooth, light, just a little plummy, totally easy access. I don't know where the "spices, subtle oak" notes on the Stoneburn website comes from, or why necessary. Nor am I sure what the closest Burgundy is, maybe a Saint Romain from near Beaune, or an Irancy, which lies 150km away from the classier crus of the Nuits-Beaune-Chalon ridge, but occasionally packs a nice fruity pinot noir too.

Not that you need to find an equivalent in France, though it helps to find a reference in the cradle country. One thing on the price: it seems to be coming in at around 10-12 euros; you can get a good Auxey-Duresse or Bourgogne village for less. But price isn't everything. Pinot noir, as I often write, is not an easy grape to cultivate and get right, compared to the more common merlots, for instance. Keeping it simple, as this winery does, may explain why this unpretentious New Zealand wine works. Like the speech, a new world tribute to the simpler side of pinot noir.

©Rory Delucenay-Clarke, March 2012

Visit Stoneburn, who also do a decent Loire-style sauvignon.


blog comments powered by Disqus


What is your favourite Burgundy wine? Quel est votre vin de Bourgogne préféré ?

  • Pinot noir
  • Chardonnay
  • Other wines