The Bird Big Barrel Pinot Noir 2012 is sourced from the Dayvinleigh Vineyard on the Wairau River in Marlborough on New Zealand’s South Island. Steve Bird is the winemaker and he is the first to produce Pinot Noir with Vernou roll fermentation. He uses huge 238 gallon oak barrels (Tonnellerie Vernou is a French cooperage who make the barrels), the normal oak barrels holds 31 gallons. The Pinot Noir is both fermented and aged in the same large barrel. They typically ferment a wine in one vessel for fermentation and transfer to another for aging. During fermentation they perform pump over, (most likely using gravity and not an electric pump to be as soft as possible and not bruise or disturb the wine too much) which takes the wine on the bottom of the vat or barrel and pours it over the top on a regular basis, this enhances and equally distributes the flavor. With Steve Bird’s method the wine stays in the same large barrel almost the entire time and they gently roll the barrel to distribute the must (fermenting wine). The large barrel also have less surface contact with the wine, which is gentler in imparting the oak influence into the wine. The Big Barrel Pinot is considered a young wine and will continue to age for 3 to 5 years, but is ready to go right now. The alcohol content is 13.5%. A check of the web showed the average price to be $25 with a list price of $30, not bad for a single vineyard Pinot made with a unique process.
The color is a see-thru cherry red. The nose is ripe red berries, herbs and mushroom. The Big Barrel Pinot Noir is tart, long and lean. It tastes of cherry, cranberry, herbs, vanilla spice and savory mushroom. The mid-palate adds an astringent sensation along with ripe plum. The acidity gives this Pinot balance and length, The finish is smooth and long.
The Bird Big Barrel Pinot Noir 2012 has solid, delicious fruit flavors and an expert display of balance, this is a highly satisfying drink. The flavors have weight, but this is a medium to light bodied wine, so do not pair the Big Barrel with foods that have flavors that are too bold. Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up and turkey and ham are both in the Bird Pinot Noir’s wheelhouse. This is a classy, well-made, unique Pinot Noir at a price not that far above everyday Pinot Noir and a very good pick as a wine to share with family and friends.