Part One – after the first six contenders, the answer is YES
Le Chat Noir 2010 Pinot Noir
I’ve already written about this wine but it goes well with this story. The label is the best thing here. The wine itself is a joke, from the rusty water colour and a nose that speaks of nothing much to a gushy, mushy mid-palate of ill-defined flavour. There’s no discernable Pinot character and no structure or length to speak of. If it ever showed potential, it must have been a while ago. Whatever its best was, it’s well past it. I used some of it in a chicken paprika, and it didn’t turn out as well as usual. $15.
Ana-Hera is Maori for Angel and this wine comes from vines grown on the gently sloping terraces of Central Otago. Sadly, you won’t hear angels sing when you taste this wine. It’s big for a Pinot, even after 5 years, with mid red colour. The nose doesn’t really suggest Pinot, nor does the flavour. There are elements that don’t seem to be on speaking terms with each other – plums and sharp edges and hot alcohol. Lots to chew on here, didn’t improve in the open bottle. $16 at Dan M’s.
Palliser Estate Pencarrow Pinot Noir 2010
Billed as THE bargain Pinot from Martinborough ($18). Trophy and Gold medal winner. Good colour for a Pinot Noir, Pinot nose with some off notes and indifferent palate with some hot, muddy overtones, and a pretty ordinary finish. Not in the least convincing. A bad bottle? I didn't see chemical faults tough. $16 at Dan M’s.
Kumeau river Village Pinot Noir 2009
Light red colour with brown tinges. The nose is better with classic, sweet fruit and that slightly off Pinot character. There’s more of that sweet fruit on the palate, and it’s warm and friendly but there’s little else to add interest or complexity, and a big fade-out on the finish. A simple wine, and a disappointing one given its maker and price. $19 at Dan M’s
De Bortoli Gulf Station Pinot Noir 2010
Very similar to the Kumeau River in colour, with a bigger nose. Not exactly Pinot, sadly, just bigger. The wine has a tad more weight, but isn’t as warm and friendly as the Kiwi. Quite charmless really when we get through the mid-palate, with the fruit a little hard and flat rather than sweet. Good length and depth but not really distinctive Pinot and not really my idea of an engaging red.
This wine's had some good reviews, like this one from TS. Just for a second opinion:
‘Blimey! Has such pinot purity ever paraded at $13 (Dan M’s)? With no less than eight pinots in its carnival of love, there’s no operation on earth that hits every price point as thrillingly as De Bortoli. Steve Webber is the ringmaster and he’s pulled all manner of roses, violets and cherries out of his hat here.’ Tyson Stelzer
Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir 2010
From the guys at Giant Steps, Yarra Valley. This is a better proposition altogether, with lighter colour than the last two, but with real Pinot character – that slightly dank, earthy aroma and a taste of sweet fruit with a hint of damp leaves. Fairly true to style and quite attractive, there’s lovely gentle flavour but no potential for improvement. Drink it now or very soon with light pink meats, veal or poultry done the oriental way. $19 at Dan M’s.
Part 2 of this series is here http://briard.typepad.com/get_the_picture/2012/05/good-pinot-noir-under-25-mission-impossible.html