As seasonal treats go the Cloudy Bay Pinot and Duck Tasting Trail offers a delicious pairing that has been worked 25 ways by leading chefs for the month of May. Now in its sixth year, the Cloudy Bay Pinot and Duck Tasting Trail is dishing up some sensational duck dishes matched with 2013 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir or 2011 Te Wahi Central Otago Pinot Noir. Good caught up with Cloudy bay estate director Ian Morden to quiz him about the winery – most famous for its Sauvignon Blanc – and talk pinot.
Why is Pinot Noir a perfect pairing with duck?
I think the pairing works on both the ‘opposites attract’ and ‘matching’ theories of wine pairing. The good acidity in Pinot Noir balances the flat in the duck and the gamey flavour notes also match the gamey flavour of good duck.
Cloudy Bay has focused on acquiring some of the best Pinot Noir vineyards in New Zealand. Where are these vineyards and what makes them special?
We have two Pinot Noir places in New Zealand. Marlborough, where Cloudy Bay originated and more recently, Central Otago, which is a very exciting new Pinot Noir frontier. In Marlborough, we have focused on the more clay based soils of the southern valleys. We have historically pioneered the Southern Valleys with our Barracks Vineyard. More recently we acquired the Delta Vineyard, which was actually the location of an old military airfield. Delta was special because it had been established as a singular Pinot Noir vision by the previous owner and had vines with a good age which gives better wine quality. The soils of the Southern Valleys are clay based glacial soils which suit Pinot Noir better than the alluvial soils of the Wairau Valley floor. As our Pinot Noir vineyards age in Marlborough, the wines are really starting to stand out on a global scale.
In Central Otago, we recently acquired the Northburn Vineyard. It was a rare opportunity to acquire a high quality Pinot vineyard with some vine age and a bit of scale. The Northburn Vineyard is unique because it as a range of aspects, soils and exposures – this adds complexity to the wines and makes them more interesting.
Why is Pinot Noir a very difficult grape to grow and make wine well from?
It requires precision viticulture and only grows well in a few places in the world. There are just not that many cool climate grape growing regions in the world capable of producing good to great Pinot Noir – especially with climate change. The South Island of New Zealand has the good fortune to be one of the them. The grapes and wine have to be handles with sensitivity in the winery. The extraction needs to be precise to provide a good tannin profile in the wine and the oak influence from barrels should not dominate the fruit. All of that requires patience and a very measured approach.
How does Cloudy Bay get the best out of the grape?
We are always aiming for balance and harmony in our wines – that is, as distinct from ‘statement wines’. In Marlborough that is fine interplay/tension between tannins and natural acidity which corsets the fruit expressions. In Central Otago that is restraint in the face of more generous tannis from smaller berries and thicker skins. We are about building interest and complexity into our wines (in a natural and not contrived way). We want wines with a sense of energy and drive across the palate. A Cloudy Bay wine must give pleasure above all – in it youth and with age.
You have said that Pinot Noir expresses itself beautifully in New Zealand in a unique way. What do you mean by that exactly?
There are just not that many cool climate grape growing regions in the world capable of producing good to great Pinot Noir – especially with climate change. The South Island of New Zealand has the good fortune to be one of the them.
In New Zealand, particularly in Marlborough, we are blessed with a benign climate that allows us to grow high quality Pinot Noir consistently at good commercially viable yields. So we can deliver high quality Pinot Noir at comparatively attractive prices to Burgundy. The wines drink well young and age well too, as the natural acidity in them keeps them fresh. This is not always the case with Old World Pinot Noir, where patience is required before pleasure and the wines need some age first. That is the opportunity and the unique joy of making Pinot Noir in New Zealand. We are very positive about the future of New Zealand Pinot Noir at Cloudy Bay.
The Cloudy Bay Pinot and Duck asting Trail runs until May 31. Participating restaurants are:
Auckland: Oster & Chop, The Pullman Hotel, Monsoon Poon, Vivace, The Grove, Baduzzi, NSP, Sails Restaurant, Harbourside, White and Wong, Botswana Butchery, Bellini at The Hilton Hotel
Christchurch: The Little Bistro, Baretta, Empire, JDV
Queenstown: Botswana Butchery, The Hilton, Pier 19, Rata
Wellington: Monsoon poon, Juniper, Foxglove Bar and Restaurant, St Johns Restaurant & Bar
Taupo: The Hilton Lake Taupo