Pinot Noir, Martinborough, Champagne, France

Pinot Noir is a red grape that is one of the most challenging to grow in any part of the world. Due to its thin skin and tight bunches, it is susceptible to both mould and disease. However, when it is successful, it produces some of the most amazing wines in the world. Although its home is Burgundy, it has emerged as a popular variety in Australia. Representing only 1% of grapes crushed, it has built a high profile with a number of world-class, distinctly Australian wines being produced. The greatest examples coming from the cool climates of the Adelaide Hills, Tasmania, Mornington Peninsula, Geelong and the Yarra Valley.

Pinot Noir performs well on the deepish limestone based subsoils that are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or. However, yields need to be kept in check. Pinot Noir's concentration and varietal characters disappear rapidly if yields are excessive. Some of the best and most expensive wines in the world are still found in Burgundy.

Pinot Noir also plays a key role in Champagne, being blended with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. In the US, Oregon and Washington state are producing outstanding wines. In New Zealand, great Pinot Noirs are crafted in Martinborough and in Central Otago, New Zealand's only true continental climate.

The thin skins of Pinot Noir mean the wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However, the best wines have grippy tannins, fragrance and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, but as it matures, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouthfeel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey nuances emerging.
The wine region of Martinborough is located in South Wairarapa on the southern end of the north island, and in only 30 years or so has gone from a sleepy colonial town to a world-class wine village.

The region has picked up numerous international awards since the 1990’s with Pinot Noir picking up the lion’s share of the medals. Pinot Noir is undoubtedly the flagship wine of the region, with some incredible wines being produced.

The mineral laden soils, combined with the cool climate provide the perfect backdrop for Pinot Noir, much as it has for centuries in Burgundy, France. Indeed the Pinot Noirs produced are very Burgundian in style, a compliment not adorned to many other wine regions worldwide.

The micro-climate of Martinborough is rather warm, with hills both to the east and west. Most all of the vineyards are located in thin strips around the northern and eastern sides of the town or on the Dry River to the south of Martinborough. All the vineyards follow dry riverbeds, which have the desired soil structure for viticulture.

Although Pinot Noir is the king of the reds, Shiraz is also cultivated and in the whites, Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris are grown.
Champagne is a wine region to the north-east of Paris where wine has been grown since the Romans first planted in the 5th century and the region is most well known for the Sparkling wine that goes by the regions name.

Champagne is made from 3 grapes. The two red grapes Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and the white grape Chardonnay. All three are commonly blended though a ‘blanc de blanc’ meaning ‘white from white’ indicates that only Chardonnay was used. Conversely a ‘blanc de noir’ or ‘white from black’ indicates that the two red grapes were used.

A common misconception is that Champagne was invented by Dom Pérignon. Although this is not the case, he made considerable contributions to the quality and production methods used in the region. The very first bottles of Champagne were created by accident, and coined ‘the devil’s wine’ for all the popping corks. Sparkling wine in Australia was referred to as Champagne but this practise has long been disallowed.

Methode Champenoise is the traditional method by which Champagne is produced and if you see Millisime on a bottle, it represents the fact that the wine comes from a particular vintage rather than being blended, which is the more common practice.

Icons such as Dom Pérignon and Krug are world renowned, but we find as much pleasure in the smaller Champagne houses such as Gosset and Jacquinot. Magnums are perfect for the festive occasions and half bottles are also available.
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  1. Ata Rangi Pinot Noir 2019
    The highly sought-after Ata Rangi Pinot Noir is undoubtedly one of the great new world Pinot Noirs, often considered a rival to top Burgundy with only limited stock available every vintage. To prove this, winemaker Helen Masters was recently awarded ... Learn More
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    Nick Stock
  2. Jacquinot & Fils Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne
    Jean-Manuel Jacquinot obtained a degree in Oenology at the esteemed University of Reims. After this he became trainee oenologist at the world famous house of Veuve Clicquot. Today, Jean-Manuel has over 20 years of experience in making Champagne, is a Member ... Learn More
  3. Larmandier Bernier Rose De Saignee Brut 1er Cru Nv Champagne
    A rosé de saignée is made by directly macerating Pinot Noir. This method of vinification is more demanding and requires grapes with an excellent degree of maturity. Base year is 2013 and the disgorgement date is Jan 2016. A very bright ... Learn More
  4. Champagne Egly-Ouriet Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Vieilles Vignes Les Crayères NV
    Bottling: 2015 Disgorgement: July 2021 Time on lees: 72 months This is the emblematic wine from Francis Egly. Michel Bettane, the influential French critic, encouraged Egly to bottle this single vineyard wine separately and the first vintage was in 1989. This latest release was ... Learn More
  5. Billecart-Salmon Le Clos Saint-Hilaire 2006
    This cuvée Blanc de Noirs vinified in oak casks allows the richness of the terroir and the purity of the wine to express itself. This rare vintage of incredible typicity will live on for future decades with strength and ... Learn More
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