Cloudy Bay celebrates passion for pinot noir
Discussion, enthusiasm and controversy featured at the 13th annual Pinot at Cloudy Bay event on Saturday.
More than 100 pinot noir enthusiasts, media, wine salespeople along with Cloudy Bay clients from New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Europe and Britain attended the event to taste and compare 18 pinot noirs from around the world and indulge in fine cuisine.
Cloudy Bay Estate managing director Ian Morden said the winery started hosting the event in 2000 to share their passion for the variety after recognising the global potential for New Zealand pinot noir.
"It started out as a forum to expose our winemakers and pinot noir enthusiasts to the best pinot noirs from around the world, but it is also an annual challenge to ourselves and an opportunity to benchmark Cloudy Bay pinot noir."
Cloudy Bay winemaker and event master of ceremonies Nick Lane selected the pinot noirs for the tasting from New Zealand, Tasmania, Mont Corton in France, the cooler sub regions within California and a ‘wild card' from Austria.
However, these were the only clues tasters received and people had only their senses and experience to guide them through the three rounds of six wines.
A panel of three wine aficionados Master of Wine Bob Campbell, wine columnist Ralph Kyte-Powell and Cloudy Bay winemaker Sarah Burton added perspective and a light-hearted element to the experience.
Mr Campbell said rather than getting hung up on trying to identify the wines origin, it was better to concentrate on the wine quality.
Although a lot of people are proud of New Zealand wines it is important to keep an eye on what other regions are producing around the world, he said.
"It is absolutely critical we do not stick our head in the sand and keep doing what we've always been doing," Mr Campbell said.
Mr Lane said the animated discussion that followed each of the 20-minute wine appreciation sessions, was some of the liveliest in the history of the event.
Although it is not the main reason for hosting the forum, it was helpful to see people's reactions to Cloudy Bay wines, he said. Mr Lane's work and passion for the wine variety was rewarded when a Cloudy Bay pinot noir received an enthusiastic response from the tasters.
"The fact we are making a pinot people recognise and want to drink . . . what more could you want?"
- The Marlborough Express