Amisfield Central Otago Pinot Noir 2003
You can certainly write too much about this wine, so it's best to start with the simple phrase,
“this is one of the loveliest Pinot Noirs I have experienced in quite some time,” before going
on to the usual details. New Zealand's Central Otago is in the process of making Pinot Noir
history, and Amisfield is dedicated to being one of the great specialists in this temperamental
grape. There is so much in this wine, that it was a shame to have to share the bottle. On the
nose, the fruit is black cherry, strawberry, raspberry with a little tangy background of dried
apricot, sour cherry, plum and a hint of banana. The presence of earth, grass and wet leaves
gives a Burgundian touch (though we may come to recognize this very combination as the
Central Otago signature).
In the mouth the wine is dry, and yet tastes sweetly rich because of the ripe fruit. Fruit tang hits the palate from a number of directions. I must trust my notes here (and they are interesting): sour cherry, black currant, ripe plum, sweet prune, apricot, watermelon, orange, banana, candied fruit, jam, super-ripe blackberry. Speaking in a broader sense, and admitting that some of the reverie this wine causes can create a note or two that cannot be chemically proved to have been there, this boils down to ripe berries and tree fruit, tropical notes, and a pleasant caramel overlay.
The Amisfield is thick with substance, viscous, concentrated, and tactile. The finish is a
cavalcade of long ripe fruit. At the very end, as the final tang dissolves, the minerality that
has been holding it all together shows its face and sews up the piece.
Verdict: Drink This
Wine reflects so many diverse products of the earth that it seems unfair that it should also lay claim to the celestial regions. Wine asks so much.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman