The Pass NZ Pinot Noir 2014 is a $9.99 Trader Joe’s import wine sourced from vineyards in the Martinborough region on the southern tip of New Zealand’s North Island. Most of the New Zealand wines you find your local wine shop shelves come from Marlborough (most of the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir) located on the northern tip of South Island. Martinborough tends to be the place for boutique smaller production Pinot Noir wine, so it is an unexpected pleasure to find a 10 buck TJ’s wine hailing from here. This is also a 2014 vintage, I don’t know if this has sat around the warehouse for a year or two or if 2014 is the current vintage. Wineries hold back wines until they are ready, most wines in the $10 range are young and fruit-forward and you will see 2016 or 2015 as the current release. So, a 2014 Pinot Noir released in 2017 may indicate that this is a more complex wine that took longer to come together or it could have been released a year or two ago and has not sold out. There is no information available on the web, so I am speculating. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is a see-thru garnet red. The nose is interesting, cherry, spice, smoke, light floral scent, bacon fat, and pepper, not your typical 10 buck Pinot nose. This is a silky, smooth, balanced Pinot with an interesting grip from the acidity on the mid-palate. It starts with cherry, a little Dr. Pepper, black pepper, and plum. The mid-palate shows ripe raspberry, exotic spice, and a little cream. The tannins and the acidity team up to give a slight tug on the back of your palate, it’s an interesting sensation, not a bad one. The finish is subtle, but long.
The Pass NZ Pinot Noir 2014 gets the job done as a ten buck Pinot Noir. It looks, smells and tastes like a real-deal Pinot Noir. It has the silky texture that good expensive Pinot has and value priced Pinot only occasionally has. If you drink it side by side with a $45 Pinot it may not hold up, but I have no plans on doing that and am quite happy sipping this $9.99 Pinot.