If this wasn’t a wine blog you might think that “LoveBlock” was a term used to describe an obstruction to my romantic interests. But THIS IS a wine blog and no matter what the status of my love life might be, we are talking about the winery in New Zealand run by Erica (Founder & CEO) and Kim (Winemaker) Crawford (yes, THAT Kim Crawford).
After selling the Kim Crawford name, and complying with a non-compete clause, they finally returned to their love of winemaking. Introducing their new label “Loveblock.” While focusing on Sauvignon Blanc (I did a review on that wine a while back), they do have other grapes that are grown throughout their vineyards. The vineyards are grown in accordance with the NZ Winegrowers adopted “Sustainable Winegrowing programme (SWNZ)”, a pioneering set of industry standards where 95% of New Zealand vineyards are now SWNZ accredited.
Focusing predominately on white varietals, they do make one red which just so happens to be the reason for this post. A Pinot Noir from the Central Otago region and a vineyard they call “Someone’s Darling.” It has taken me a while to write this post, not because I couldn’t find other Pinot Noirs from New Zealand but because I couldn’t find THIS Pinot Noir from New Zealand. In my pursuit of Sauvignon Blancs from the region, I made mention a while back of my intent to review a Pinot Noir from Kiwi Country. One of the higher-rated wines back then was this wine from the 2015 vintage that received a 92 Point score from Wine Spectator. Patience paid off as 2018 received 93 points from the same publication!
Settling in for an evening of food and drink (alone I might add – my own “love-block”) I decided on a favorite repast, Scallops. Knowing I’ll have LOTS of time to spare, I also decided on Risotto (the long version) adding mushrooms and green beans to the mix. To kick up the Scallops a little, I found (and I’ve never seen this before) Bloody Mary Bacon, using the rendered fat to sear the Scallops but also chopping the bacon and use in the Risotto. Rendered and chopped there was not an obvious Bloody Mary flavor. For the piece or two I didn’t chop but ate whole, there was a slight tomato flavor. It was “On Sale” so I think it was worth it. The mushrooms and the bacon helped drive the Umami flavor of the dish which I thought might enhance the pairing. It did!
Many years ago when New Zealand first started U.S. distribution of their Pinots, most came from the Central Otago region. Not to be too critical, but I felt that many a producer made wines that, while pleasant, flavors were a little disjointed. Fast forward a few years and now Pinots from the area tend to be real stand-out wines. Holding out for the highest-rated of the 2018 Pinot Noirs from New Zealand as rated by our friends at Wine Spectator was not easy but worth the wait.
The first item, it went great with the food! That woodsiness of the mushrooms and bacon combined with the creaminess of the Risotto and delicateness of the Scallops themselves melded with the wine. The wine, a smoky and rustic element mingled with a dark fruit element was first to bring forth the wine’s perfume. Those same nuances coming forth on the palate hinting at plum and slight cherry notes. I did detect a slight rustic quality but from my research there is no reference made to oak aging only that they do age the wines. I’m guessing there may be some moderate oak used in the wine. Along with the moderately long finish comes just a touch of pepper and spice. For comparison, it borders on Burgundy and California. Whatever, it’s delish!
I picked up the wine at $20 a bottle, on sale, suggested is closer to $30, so you may want to shop around. Either way, if you’re looking for an excellent Pinot Noir, you should give this a try.