Georges Michel Pinot Noir ‘La Reserve’, Marlborough, New Zealand 2010

Georges Michel La Reserve.jpg
Georges Michel La Reserve.jpg

Georges Michel Pinot Noir ‘La Reserve’, Marlborough, New Zealand 2010


"Everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you." - Crowded House

Georges Michel is a winemaker from Burgundy, who moved to New Zealand in 1997, lured by rumours that grapes were actually a type of fruit. After years of picking tiny, sour berries that birds would spit out in disgust, he went in pursuit of plump, juicy grapes that had aroma, succulence and charm.

The odd thing is that although he has moved halfway around the world, he somehow manages to bring a French sensibility to the Pinot Noirs he makes in New Zealand and this ‘Reserve’, made in the spirit of a true reserve wine and deliberately released late (note the vintage is 2010), tastes like a serious red Burgundy. I’ve underlined that because I stand by it. I know wine merchants make unquantifiable claims like that all the time, but it’s not a throwaway line or a piece of lazy marketing, I have tasted it numerous times, often in the company of keen Pinotphiles, and it has shown itself to be an utterly convincing dôppelganger for a delicious, gently-maturing red from one of the lighter village appellations in the Côtes de Nuits.

It makes you wonder how far the hand of the winemaker can influence the taste of a wine compared to the much-venerated ‘terroir’, so when you taste Burgundy, are you tasting the land and the microclimate or the traditions and taste preferences of the winemakers? Discuss. Not now.

It may not appeal to everyone, because New Zealand Pinot Noirs have their own unique charm, a style we love too, but don’t buy this expecting a classic, primary-fruit Kiwi Pinot, because it’s in a different paradigm altogether.

The colour is immediately attractive, a mellow, pale ruby core that tapers away to show a little bit of age on the brick-coloured rim, but the real joy lies in the aromas, which evoke raspberry tea, tomato skins, forest floor, strawberry, sandalwood and cold embers. It’s Chambolle-Musigny all over! You just want to keep swirling your glass, it’s so inviting - the classic Sunday lunch red, so light, so pretty, so complex. It really impresses on the palate too with its superfine, silky elegance and the gorgeous inner perfume of a really great Pinot Noir. Make sure you pour it into a wide-bowled glass, to give the aromas room to operate, and I look forward to hearing what your Burgundy-loving friends think it is when you serve it to them blind. As for food-matching, those gentle, softly-ageing red berry flavours are crying out for some roast pigeon or venison. 13.5% alc. Drink now-2020.

Customer comments:

"A revelation!" - Mr. A.M, 4th February 2016

"Great choice on the George Michel!" - Mr. K.N., 10th May 2016

The wine is lovely!" - Mr. M.B.

You were right about the NZ pinot. We loved it. It had a bit of Gevry-Chambertin spice, as well as the Chambolle florality about it. Great wine. You do spot them." - Mr. L.E.

"I have tried the 'George Michael' - excellent" - Mr. R.A. 

"I am having a glass of the Michel and dreaming of old burgundies and visiting NZ. Great and well balanced wine which just continues to grow in the mouth...... must have another sip." - Mr. T.M.

The NZ Pinot Noir is lovely - a real maturity to it" - Mr. G.F.

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