Pinot push

by Keith Stewart / 27 December, 2003

Next month, the whole wine world will be coming to Wellington to celebrate pinot noir, or at least New Zealand's burgeoning fame with the wine. Pinot Noir 2004 is party time for those in the pinot business, from Burgundy to Oregon and beyond, as well as the mob of fanatics for whom pinot is the wine with direct links to the gods.

Over a few days from January 28 to 31, Wellington will be the soft red centre of the wine world, buzzing with seminars, tastings and feeds both official and random at which pinot-spotters will pursue their latest fad by matching individual pinot nuances with precise food tastes. If you drink for fun, stay away, but if winemakers are your idea of celebrities, there will be more famous ones in Wellington than screwcaps in the Blenheim tip.

What all the fuss is actually about is the hip red wine that dominates drinkers' attention from Central Otago, Waipara, Nelson, Marlborough and from the first place to get the glimmer, Martinborough. For the wealthy, it is the perfect variety to match the architectural extravaganza on your new winter getaway block in Central Otago, whereas for the middle classes it is better dinner-party status than a second-hand BMW.

But while food- and wine-matching rampages through Wellington's restaurants, how are we going to sell all this pinot noir to the world that demands cultural extras with top red wines? Although the premium wine market is growing everywhere, one of the prime reasons it attracts sophisticated money is that it is sophisticated.

Take Champagne. It's not just phizz, but wine from the cultural heart of the French nation, source of their language and of French kings for centuries, scene of Northern Europe's defining battles for a millennium. Or Burgundy, France's rebel soul, capital of lush medieval arts, the monastic engine that succoured knowledge for a continent, and the centre of a great trade and cultural enclave that stretched from the Sôane to the Rhine mouth.

How do we compete with that? Well, we could have started by making Pinot Noir 2004 a cultural festival that celebrated what it is that makes New Zealand unique - why we are good at sensual opera, for example, and does this translate to our love of pinot noir? If so, what better than a performance to match the wine, or some poetry in honour of the Celtic roots that New Zealand and pinot noir share.

But that may be too much to ask - that we actually celebrate and enrich our pinot noir culture. Instead, we play parlour games in the hope that our guests will buy some to take home. In fact, if you were cynical, you could imagine that the conference is like a giant Avon party, which would be a disservice to the outstanding achievement of our top pinot producers. Don't forget your credit card.

TRY THIS: ESCARPMENT 2002 PINOT NOIR

No romance here, but plenty of sensuality and muscle, promising that it will give you some history over time. It has the richness and sleek nature of the best pinot noir, with grunt to ensure that it will mature with enough grace and sophistication to create its own legendary future. You get the feeling from this that Escarpment is here for the long haul.

PRICE: $45. AVAILABLE: momentarily.

Latest

Keira Knightley shines in bodice-ripping period drama Colette
102397 2019-02-16 00:00:00Z Movies

Keira Knightley shines in bodice-ripping period dr…

by James Robins

The story of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a heroine of French literature, focuses on her early struggles.

Read more
Is barbecued meat bad for your health?
102255 2019-02-16 00:00:00Z Nutrition

Is barbecued meat bad for your health?

by Jennifer Bowden

Sizzling meat on the barbecue is the sound and smell of summer, but proceed with caution.

Read more
March of the Algorithms: Who’s at the wheel in the age of the machine?
102434 2019-02-16 00:00:00Z Tech

March of the Algorithms: Who’s at the wheel in the…

by Jenny Nicholls

Complacently relying on algorithms can lead us over a cliff – literally, in the case of car navigation systems.

Read more
IBM’s new quantum computer: The future of computing
102458 2019-02-16 00:00:00Z Tech

IBM’s new quantum computer: The future of computin…

by Peter Griffin

The Q System One, as IBM calls it, doesn’t look like any conventional computer and it certainly doesn’t act like one.

Read more
James Shaw: Capital gains tax key to fixing wealth gap
102456 2019-02-15 14:54:45Z Politics

James Shaw: Capital gains tax key to fixing wealth…

by RNZ

The week before a major tax report is released, Green Party co-leader James Shaw has again challenged his government partners to back the tax.

Read more
Jealousy, murder and lies: The killing of Arishma Chand
102448 2019-02-15 10:28:12Z Crime

Jealousy, murder and lies: The killing of Arishma…

by Anneke Smith

Arishma Chand was just 24 when she was murdered.

Read more
Top wine picks from Central Otago
102233 2019-02-15 00:00:00Z Wine

Top wine picks from Central Otago

by Michael Cooper

Tucked into small corners, Central Otago vineyards offer nuggets worth digging for. Wine critic Michael Coopers offers his top picks.

Read more
Ivanka and her tower of crumbs
102404 2019-02-14 10:33:12Z Arts

Ivanka and her tower of crumbs

by Preminda Jacob

For two hours each evening, an Ivanka Trump lookalike has been vacuuming a hot pink carpet at the Flashpoint Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Read more