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A pinot noir star rises in New Zealand's Martinborough

Special to The China Post --The Martinborough region of New Zealand, at the base of the north island, competes with Central Otago for the title of the best region for pinot noir in that country.

Martinborough has been making wine longer than Otago and I believe their wines have more character and intensity of flavors than their cousins from the southern end of the southern island.

The region is home to Ata Rangi Vineyard, which in 2010 received the inaugural “grand cru of New Zealand” award. Last year Decanter magazine declared Ata Rangi the “crowned king of New Zealand pinot noir.”

Now Vynfields is laying claim to being one of the region's best producers of pinot noir. Every one of the estate's pinots has received at least a five-star award or a gold medal since 2003.

Owner Dr. Kaye McAulay said the secret to Vynfields' success with pinot noir was her decision to cull much of the fruit. Martinborough vineyards typically produce about four tons to the acre.

Dr. McAulay, also the viticulturist, said to remove 88 percent of the fruit meant about 3.5 tons per acre were dropped to the ground, where they fertilized the vines.

This culling is done before veraison — the period when the grapes begin to ripen. The word “veraison” comes from the French term meaning the change of color of the grape berries and it represents the transition from berry growth to berry ripening.

The vines put all their energy into the remaining fruit, which produces an intense concentration of flavors. The process works. The 2009 Vynfields reserve pinot won a gold medal and was named best in its class at the 2010 International Wine and Spirits competition in London.

The reserve is quite simply a superb wine. It has excellent texture in the mouth, and a rich and perfumed bouquet that hints of ripe berry fruits and black plums. This is a sophisticated wine that could be cellared for a decade to demonstrate its full majesty, yet is drinking wonderfully now.

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