I’ve recently been tasting more and more wines from New Zealand (with many more to come in the near future, I assure you), and while I did stumble across a beautiful expression of Pinot Noir from Mt. Beautiful hailing from the North Canterbury region, it seems that many, if not most, wines produced are coming from the Wairau Valley. As Mudhouse Vineyard Manager Nev Gane says, “In Marlborough’s Wairau Valley most vineyard rows run perpendicular to the old braided riverbed deposits […] slight humps and hollows often lead to differing canopy densities, producing great depth and diverse flavors in the fruit.” This depth and diversity takes any of the “wishy-washy” stereotypes out of the region’s Sauvignon Blanc and certainly showcases itself in the Pinot Noir.

About the Wine: The Mud House 2015 Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes sourced from the winery’s Claim 431 Estate Vineyard located in the Bendigo sub-region of Central Otago. Here, the land is framed by hills, but fanned by westerly winds. The climate is predominantly continental with cold winters with low rainfall (just about 17 inches a year), and hot dry summers that can climb up past 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil in Bendigo is known as Molyneux Soils: it’s a mix of sandy loam over schist alluvium gravel formed from glaciers grinding up schist rocks to smaller gravels and finer particles.

After harvest, the Pinot Noir grapes were gently de-stemmed, and went through a week-long cold soak. Each vineyard lot was fermented separately (with a combination of wild and cultured yeast), pressed separately, and blended only after each parcel completed secondary malolactic fermentation. The wine was aged in combination new and used French oak barrels as well as stainless steel.

13.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the Mud House 2015 Pinot Noir to find beautiful aromas of dried cherries, dried currants, prunes, and chocolate. On the pour, this Pinot Noir is a luminescent red-violet that emits a shining pink aura all around it. Settled into the glass, the hue is the very definition of cranberry. Initial aromas are of glossy, finished cherry-wood, a Christmas-like cinnamon-sugar spice, and red cherry. Swirl and release those cherries as well as some raspberries, strawberries, and a fresh water scent. Pull the nose away from the glass to find a light floral aroma; dive the nose deep and take a big breath in to find a perfume-like quality.

The palate of the Mud House 2015 Pinot Noir is soft and silky at first — but the acidity, along with the tannins increase oh-so-slowly as the taste progresses, leaving a lingering white pepper-like heat in the back of the tongue and the roof of the mouth. Dominant flavors are of dried blackberries, dried currants, unsweetened cacao, freeze-dried strawberries, and just a hint of anise.

Food Pairing: After enjoying the Mud House 2016 Sauvignon Blanc as an aperitif, I paired the Mud House 2015 Pinot Noir with grilled chicken served with my Mediterranean quinoa salad. I loved this pairing. In this rendition of my recipe, I used some fresh tarragon leaves to season the salad, which brought out a bit of sweet tobacco flavors in the background of the wine. Meanwhile the chicken, which was grilled with garlic and a few other spices, brought forward a fresher sensation to those initial dried fruits flavors in the wine. And a bite of everything together with a sip of wine left the most aromatic, incense-like after breath.

More Info: I received the Mud House 2015 Pinot Noir as a sample for review. (Cheers Miriam!) Retail: Varies by location. For more information about Mud House and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Mud House website.

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