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Easy To Be Thorough in Martinborough

New Zealand’s Martinborough wine region, an hour or so northeast of the capital city, Wellington, is considered to be the North Island’s “Burgundy.” The emphasis here is quality over quantity considering the region accounts for only 1% of the nation’s wine production. Sheltered from the cold winds that batter Wellington, drive along serpentine and hairpin turning State Highway 2 through the Rimutaki Range, and you will know what we mean. Standing in the town of Martinborough and looking westward toward this range, it looks like three up-turned canoes side by side, which legend has it, belonged to Kupe, the legendary figure in the mythology and oral history of the Maori people.

The compact town of Martinborough is built around a centrally located quadrangle of streets. Vineyards surrounding the town are planted primarily with the signature varietals of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. With some twenty-plus winery cellar doors within the town’s boundaries, it’s easy to maneuver them whether walking, cycling, or driving. Palliser Estate is a highly esteemed, pioneering, local benchmark Pinot Noir producer. It’s Pencarrow label, named after the vineyard of the same name, represents outstanding value. With a medium body and silky texture, the fragrant bouquet of ripe, red berry fruits invites us on to a flavourful finish with lingering notes of dark berries, a gentle smokiness and fine tannins.       

Sam Kim, of Wine Orbit, awarded it 93 points. Pair with grilled teriyaki salmon skewers.

2020 Pencarrow Martinborough Pinot Noir LCBO # 692301, $29.95