Tasting two 2011 Pinot noirs from different continents was a very revealing experiment. One Pinot was from Marlborough New Zealand and the other from Willamette Valley Oregon. New Zealand’s 2011 vintage was not highly rated but the wine we reviewed from there represented the region and variety well. While it was not the highest rated Kim Crawford Pinot we have ever tasted it was respectable and would be a welcomed guest at my dinner table anytime.
The Willamette Valley wine is made from fruit grown by Dick Shea and illustrates that despite growing conditions that were not heralded as pristine, some producers were still able to make excellent wines. In this bottling from Raptor Ridge, Scott Schull (owner and winemaker) showcases all the red/black fruit, subtle tannins and floral aroma characteristics that Shea fruit is famous for. Just smelling these two wines blind they are distinguishable immediately by their bouquet. Each is significantly terroir driven and recognizable if you have ever tasted classic Willamette Valley or Marlborough Pinot noir.
2011 Raptor Ridge Shea Vineyard Yamhill Carlton Oregon Pinot noir
Distinctive aromas of red and blue fruit, this wine subtlety expresses fresh turned earth and blooming tomato plants. The smooth vibrant fruit combines an earth and spice element as the flavors cascade across the palate offering a glimpse into the flavors that will follow if this wine is given time to develop in the bottle. Despite the relatively low alcohol, there is enough acidity for this wine to have a broad culinary appeal. This wine will pair well with complex as well as simpler fare.
Rating: Excellent (90) | $55 | 12.5% ABV
2011 Kim Crawford Marlborough New Zealand Pinot noir
Upon opening, this wine is hard to distinguish the origin due to the distinctively old world Pinot noir aromas. It definitely has shades of Burgundy in the earthy, masculine almost musky aromas that are balanced by the smell of sweet ripe cherries and fresh vanilla bean mingled with a hint of smoke. Although young, this wine is very approachable now. The flavors exhibit the same characteristics that the aromas present and the red fruit, spice and earth take center stage and linger through the long finish. Grilled fowl or Lamb will pair well and casual fare like burgers and pizza will work too. The quality-to-price ratio (QPR) is very advantageous with this wine offering big smooth flavors that can be enjoyed anytime.
Rating: Very Good (89) | $20 | 13.5% ABV