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The problem is: which pinot.
We are spoilt for choice when in New Zealand but the price of most puts them in the "occasional" category.
First-string pinots are usually priced anywhere between $35 and $50.
Some of the "reserves" will be even higher.
I confess to being geographically biased, but for me the best come from Central Otago and Waipara: Wooing Tree, Mt Difficulty, Rippon, Chard Farm or Peregrine from Central; or Muddy Water and Pegasus Bay from Waipara.
Martinborough is an excellent producer of pinot and Marlborough has come ahead in leaps and bounds.
Look out for Nautilus, Dog Point and one or two of the Villa Maria reserves, which win gongs regularly.
And from Nelson, try the Neudorf or a Woollaston.
It's when you come down a price point that the fun begins, because once you have acquired a taste for a top pinot, second-best is a disappointment.
The best bet is to find a winemaker with integrity and hope their second-tier is better than most.
Main Divide is the mass market, non-estate label of the Donaldson family at Pegasus Bay.
The Main Divide Canterbury Pinot Noir 2008 is about $24 and an excellent compromise.
Yes, still a lot more expensive than a quaffable Aussie shiraz, but well worth it.
It's a well-rounded wine, full of berry flavours and soft tannins.
Try also the Mt Difficulty Roaring Meg pinot or the Peregrine Saddleback.
Don't bother with pinot noir under $18 - it'll bear little resemblance to the real thing.
- Simon Cunliffe