The 2009 Clifford Bay Pinot Noir is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from vineyards (both Estate vines and contract growers) in the Awatere Valley and Wairau Valley in the Marlborough growing region on the South Island of New Zealand. All the vineyards practice sustainable farming . The vineyards are located near Clifford Bay, Cloudy Bay is just up the coast. New Zealand has the cool temperatures that Pinot Noir grapevines thrive on, with the cool breezes off the coast, just like Northern California and the rocky soils like those of France, New Zealand seems to be the best of both worlds. The Clifford Bay is a blend of Pinot Noir aged in French oak barrels and Pinot aged in stainless steel tanks, which give the wine a bit of oak flavoring along with the bright fruit flavors of the stainless steel. The alcohol content is 13.5%. Wine Enthusiast gave it 88 points.
The color is a very light see-thru rusty cherry red. The nose brings a bit of the Pinot funk, which is fairly rare in an under ten buck wine (I found it on sale for $7.99), herbs and mushroom dance around fresh cherry aromas with a late hit of menthol cough drop. This is a medium to light bodied Pinot Noir, lean with good length. It starts with balanced and slightly subdued raspberry and herbal tea with an attractive counterpoint of curry spices.The mid palate adds a touch of strawberry shortcake with whipped cream on top along with a slap from the tannins. The flavors are all light and toned down, but there is a very appealing mix of the soft and sweet with the rougher elements. The finish is also light and subdued, but it does not go away, you are still licking your lips a couple of minutes after your last sip.
The Clifford Bay Pinot Noir is a pretty snazzy inexpensive version of the expensive Pinot Noirs. A lot of what makes the expensive Pinots desirable shows up in the Clifford Bay. If you talk to any winemaker from Burgundy they will say Pinot is all about balance and length and the Clifford Bay gets the balance and length thing right