By Rick Riozza

Man!—there’s some really tasty and reasonably priced Pinot Noir coming out of a small country that has recently made a huge mark on yet another wine: Sauvignon Blanc.

The wide world of wine just gets better and better.

We know the famed Red Burgundy from the vineyards in France is almost exclusively made from the Pinot Noir grape. Goodness!—they set the bar for the world to measure up and winemakers everywhere refer to their Pinot either as being similar or dis-similar, but their homage is always to big papa François.


We’ve always heard Paris is France’s head, Champagne its soul, but Burgundy is the belly. And before the myriad of Michelin stars were awarded to restaurants along Route Nacionale 7 from Dijon to Lyon—even before France became Christian, Bourgogne was famous for its red wine.

For wine lovers full of Pinot envy, those classic Red Burgundies, be it Romanée-Conti, Richebourg, or La Tâche, are on the bucket list. Absolutely haunting flavors will waft into your memories.

In the U.S., California and Oregon have made wine history with stellar “new world” variety of Pinot Noir. In the Sunshine State, Pinot vineyards in Mendocino’s Anderson Valley, Sonoma’s Russian River Valley, Los Carneros, Monterey’s Santa Lucia Highlands, and Santa Barbara’s beautiful SantaYnez Valley especially produce world class wine. A panoply of brilliant rich cherry and berry flavors with cola, flowers, and earthiness.

Now the wines may not particularly be on a bucket list—they’re not over $1500 a bottle as the Burgundians! We can actually afford these California wines on occasions. They are the treat of the Thanksgiving table served by the happy host and/or brought over by the celebratory guests. Cheers!

And no one is leaving off Oregon on this pinot parade. Pinot Noir from the Willamette [Will-LAM-ette—not WILL-em-met]] Valley brings yet another delightful

dimension to the Pinot profile. French in terroir style, “new world” in fecund terroir dimensions.

If you had the power to force all Pinot lovers to drink only the wines from areas mentioned above—well no problem, they’d be kissing you forever and a day.

So why would we ever consider the new-Pinot-Kid-in-town ? Too late! The Kiwi Pinot has landed, and everybody loves him.

As mentioned above, the charming island nation of New Zealand is now known for its racy, bracing, and juicy Sauv Blanc. It’s on the wine map in stone. I don’t know how many people come by and pick out the Marlborough whites at Pavilions. (by the way—the 2013 N.Z. growing season was warmer than usual, so we’ll see a bit more tropical flavors in the wine.)

Now, the Kiwis have “heaps of good red wine—ay bro!” Translation: We’re now making Pinot Noir that can compete with the world. If you had to describe Kiwi Pinot—at a minimum, you’d be saying, “Complex and multi-faceted with remarkable freshness, vitality and purity.” And with the warming growing season, 2013 Kiwi Pinot will likely be a little fleshier, keeping Cal Pinot fans really interested.

As always, you CV Weekly vino readers get the scoop; you humble people are so wine savvy that it makes one want to put their your own wine-pairing dinner tonite! I know—you can barely hold in your exuberance & appetite .

Tasting such vivacious and complex Pinot only gets better when you realize great prices on these babes. Wine Spectator Magazine has given 90 points to the 2012 Murdoch James Estates Martinborough that sells for under $20. “Vibrant and aromatic, white chocolate, raspberry coulis, and ripe black cherry flavors that are plushed and polished.”

89 points to 2012 Kim Crawford South Island, under $17, “A peppery, crisp expression of fresh raspberry, cherry and cranberry, with loamy earthy details of spice, tea and tobacco.”

And 89 points to 2013 Matua Marlbourough, under $15, “Fresh-crushed raspberry and cherry flavors are graceful, vibrant and juicy, with a touch of pine needle and black tea. Balanced.”

Our friends over at Total Wine and More, Palm Desert, 760.346.2029 Offer N.Z. Pinots like Oyster Bay at $14, Stony Bay at $20, and Brancott Pinot Noir at $10, along with six others under $20.

Pavilions at Rancho Mirage, 760.324.4667, offers the Nobilo Pinot Noir Icon at $18. The winemaker notes: “The wine is dark ruby red. Spicy notes come to the fore immediately. Lifted aromas of raspberry, cherry, and blackberry. Rich fruitcake and spicy toasty oak flavors with fine tannins. The palate is generous and balanced with excellent length. 100% Pinot Noir.”

As they say in Kiwi-land, “No dalmy plonk here, just cracker pinot—sweet as—bro!”

Rick conducts & entertains locally at wine tastings, food & wine pairing events and fun wine seminars. Contact