Wine of the Week

Kiwi Pinot is a best buy

Wine of the Week

Kiwi Pinot is a Best Buy

No, I'm not talking about one of these new fruit-flavored wines. I'm talking about New Zealander Kim Crawford's latest assault on the cost-quality ratio: his Kim Crawford 2006 Marlborough Pinot Noir ($16).

Crawford's life has been filled with serendipity. He just happened to meet his future wife, Erica, at a wine tasting in South Africa in 1987. Three years later, Kim had worked up to being winemaker at Coopers Creek in Auckland, so he asked Erica to marry him and move to New Zealand. Starting in 1994, Erica gave birth to two children in 13 months! At the same time, Kim was named Winemaker of the Year, twice, in New Zealand's top competition.

The two decided it might be time to branch out, so they opened a virtual winery. That means they bought grapes and used others' facilities and handled administration and shipping from their home. They literally had to find their way through toddlers' toys to get to the wine.

Within 10 years, Crawford sold his company to Vincor, making him a wealthy man. What sets him apart from all the other struggling wineries in the world that he could make so much money so fast? He puts a lot of quality in every bottle, then sells it for a fair price. In fact, even after the sale, he remains as the winemaker and spokesman because he cares about getting it right.

I've tasted his wines for most of that decade and since, and this is his best Pinot Noir ever. He gets huge flavor extraction without ever getting any over-the-top sweetness. The flavors and aromas are black cherries, plums, and raspberries, with a big hit of peppery spiciness. And it has the mouthfeel of a wine costing two or three times as much.

Kim's wines are widely distributed, but they don't last forever, so I would encourage any of you who are Pinot lovers – and those who are curious about the grape – to give this wine a try. It's available all over town at fine wine destinations.

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Kim Crawford 2006 Marlborough Pinot Noir

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