Bob’s Best Buys: Pinot picks at piffling prices

Neudorf Tom’s Block Pinot Noir 2007 – $29.95

As a fully paid-up, card-carrying member of the Pinot Noir Lovers Club I spend a lot of time searching for the sort of wine that rings all the bells without having to organise a second mortgage to lay my hands on it. While I accept that $29.95 is not the sort of sum everyone is prepared to spend on their daily tipple it’s a heck of a lot friendlier than the $49 sticker on Neudorf’s Moutere Pinot Noir (tastings) and the princely $69 they charge for their flagship Home Block Pinot (tastings).

Are the Moutere and Home Block wines better than Tom’s Block? Well yes, if you take development potential into account. I’ve got a bottle or two of both in my cellar and look forward to forgetting about them before re-discovering a couple of mature beauties in another eight to ten years. For current drinking Tom’s Block is my pick of the trio.

When I phoned the winery to order my case of Tom’s Block the lady on the other end of the phone practically admitted they’d underpriced it. The conversation went something like this. Me (after placing the order), “It’s delicious wine, and great value”. She, “Tim (winemaker/owner) reckons it’s worth a lot more than $29.95. It was a terrific vintage so the wine punches well above its weight”.

So there you are, even the people at Neudorf reckon they’ve screwed up the price.

My tasting notes, which could easily describe a $50 Pinot Noir, read: “Elegant, supple wine with surprising power as evidenced by its impressively lingering finish and teasing complexity. Plum, cherry, floral and wild herb flavours plus a suggestion of attractive spicy oak. Dangerously drinkable.” – view on

Spy Valley Envoy Pinot Gris 2007 – $28.90

I should start with the rather deflating comment that Pinot Gris is not my favourite grape variety. It’s not that I don’t like Pinot Gris it simply doesn’t make me want to climb the steeple and ring the bell. That’s despite the fact that Pinot Gris is a very close relative of my desert island grape, Pinot Noir.

Ampelographers (people who devote their life to studying grapevines) describe Pinot Noir as a “genetically unstable” grape. Over a number of years one branch of the Pinot Noir family morphed into the white grape, Pinot Gris, no doubt leaving one of its parents alarmed and suspicious.

Spy Valley has a reputation for making terrific wines and offering them at reasonable prices. A few years ago the company decided to create a limited edition flagship label called “Envoy”. They’ve now made a string of cracking wines under the Envoy label. Envoy Pinot Gris (tastings) is spectacularly good. It’s a wine that in my opinion would still rush off the shelves at a much higher price. Here’s what I wrote about it:

“Rich and creamy Alsace-style wine with a medley of tree and exotic fruit flavours plus an appealing lifted spicy character. Very intense and sophisticated wine that’s in danger of giving New Zealand Pinot Gris a good name.” – view on

First published in KiaOra Magazine – Aug 2009.

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