Vavasour Pinot Noir 2007
The rooster on the label is from the Vavasour family crest. The Vavasours arrived in New Zealand and established themselves in Marlborough's Awatere Valley in 1890. Nearly a century later in the early 1980's Peter Vavasour took a keen interest in the viticultural developments of the Wairau Valley to the North in Marlborough.
Vavasour is the founding winery of Marlborough’s Awatere Valley, with 196 acres of estate vineyards that produce acclaimed Sauvignon Blancs with distinctive oyster-shell minerality. Considered too extreme for winegrowing when Peter Vavasour boldly planted the region’s first vineyards in 1986, the Awatere Valley is a stunning land of rolling river benches, natural habitats and Tapuae-O-Uenuku, the 10,000 foot peak that frames and protects the region. Vavasour’s pioneering vineyards in the Awatere Valley ensured that today’s wines come from the valley’s oldest vines and best parcels and are informed by their hard-won knowledge of their terroir.
With a climate that is drier, cooler and windier weather than the neighboring Wairau Valley, Awatere vines are challenged by lower fertility soils, and produce small, concentrated berries. Low yields and artisan winemaking deliver a true expression of the valley’s climate and ancient soils: perfumed, textural, palate-led Sauvignon Blancs with creamy, rounded acidity and minerality.
A spirit of daring, veracity, and custodianship is as integral to their wines as the rooster crest featured on their label. Both are reflections of the Vavasour family’s storied past in Anglo-Norman England, where an early Vavasour forebear is believed to have been a taster for William the Conqueror. Today, led by winemaker Stu Marfell, born and raised in the Awatere Valley and recently named Winemaker of the Show at the 2018 New Zealand International Wine Awards, they continue to capture the extremes and nuances of the Awatere Valley in their wines. History, passion and a good amount of curiosity combine to make their winemaking a constant evolution, and their wines unmistakably Awatere.
An icon and leading region of New Zealand's distinctive style of Sauvignon blanc, Marlborough has a unique terroir, making it ideal for high quality grape production (of many varieties). Despite some common generalizations, which could be fairly justified given that Marlborough is responsible for 90% of New Zealand's Sauvignon blanc production, the wines from this region are actually anything but homogenous. At the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, the vineyards of Marlborough benefit from well-draining, stony soils, a dry, sunny climate and wide temperature fluctuations between day and night, a phenomenon that supports a perfect balance between berry ripeness and acidity.
The region’s king variety, Sauvignon blanc, is beloved for its pungent, aromatic character with notes of exotic tropical fruit, freshly cut grass and green bell pepper along with a refreshing streak of stony minerality. These wines are made in a wide range of styles, and winemakers take advantage of various clones, vineyard sites, fermentation styles, lees-stirring and aging regimens to differentiate their bottlings, one from one another.
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
Tasting Notes for Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is a dry red wine, typically diominated by red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles showing black plum and more delicate styles of Pinot giving citrus qualities. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age Pinot Noir can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice and dried fruit.
Perfect Food Pairings for Pinot Noir
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of salmon or texture of tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
Sommelier Secrets for Pinot Noir
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay, not Pinot noir. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Village or Cru level wines. So "red Burgundy" still necessarily refers to Pinot noir.