Saint Clair Vicarâ€™s Choice Pinot Noir 2006
Since the Sideways-induced boom of Pinot Noir, a number of affordable bottlings have been emerging from down under — meaning New Zealand rather than Australia. And it makes sense, as the most prominent wine region in Kiwi land is Marlborough, which just so happens to have the ideal climate for growing Pinot Noir vines — dry, sunny, and cool.
From the Marlborough region of New Zealand comes this bottle, dubbed “Vicar’s Choice” by the producer Saint Clair. As you might expect, Saint Clair also makes a fine Sauvignon Blanc, which we may review at a later date. For now, let’s talk about the Pinot Noir.
The color is very light — it could be mistaken for a deep rose — but the paleness belies its bigness. Open nose of stemmy green fruit, ripe cherry and raspberry, some hints of earth. Flavors are similar — ripe cherry, raspberry, and cranberry, with touches of earth, mild tobacco, mineral, and a hint of green / unripe fruit. Acidity is surprisingly medium-high, and appropriate for the fruit concentration. Tannins are medium, and also in good balance. The wine finishes with sour cranberry and cherry flavors, ripe tannins, and mouthwatering acidity.
Overall this is an excellent under-$20 Pinot Noir, showing good complexity and polish. Its subtle greenness and minerality reminds one more of an Alsace Pinot Noir than a jammy example from the New World — which is a good thing. It is enjoyable on its own but really finds its potential on the table. Match it with simply prepared chicken, complex fish, turkey, vegetarian dishes, roast pork (pork loin), mild cheeses.
I’ve seen this at various price points between $12 and $18; even at the higher end, it’s a fair value (and a great one at the lower point). Whatever the cost, it’s a good choice as a “weekend wine”.
a-8 t-8 b-8 fc-9 v-9 ~ 92 Points
Importer: Winesellers Ltd.
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