I was all set to post about another pizza red but last night for wife's birthday dinner we had pan roasted pork chops with lemon risotto and I chose a bottle of New Zealand Pinot Noir to accompany dinner.
The chops had an herbal, garlicky component to them and along with the richness of risotto I wanted something lighter to drink. I actually went to the store intending to grab a Cru Beaujolais but the selection and pricing didn't suit me so I wandered over to the New Zealand section and noticed that there was a Central Otago Pinot Noir on sale for $15.99. This was surprising to me because Otago Pinot Noirs are scarce in the BC market and I've never seen one below $20 before but since I had backup at home in the form of a nice Chianti Classico I thought "Why not give it a shot ?".
Just before plating I cracked the screw cap and poured, the colour was deeper than I would have thought, a good sign, and the nose had a nice sweet aroma of cherries, licorice and a bit of pepper. The taste was bright and clean, with more cherry, a bit of chocolate and coffee and little of the candied strawberry that tends to define inexpensive Pinot Noir.The mouth feel was creamy and the finish was long and most importantly it was obviously, unequivocally, Pinot Noir.
The search for inexpensive Pinot Noir is almost Holy Grail-like, time consuming, wrought with failure and can be obsessive to the point of institutionalization, the whole Sideways thing. People ask me why do we seek inexpensive Pinot Noir and the simple answer is because Pinot Noir, properly made, is so delicious that we deserve to drink it more often .
Anyway, the wine is called The People's Pinot Noir, it's a boutique project of Constellation brands, the world's largest wine company and owners of a number of wineries and vineyards in New Zealand. Constellation's sheer size means the cost of production is lower so that's why, even at it's regular price of $17.99 this wine is excellent value. The wine has good distribution but there isn't a ton of stock currently available so I would recommend grabbing a few bottles to have on hand for the holiday season, that is if you can avoid drinking it before the holidays arrive.