Posted on 14.08.20 Wine of the Week

#WOTW: why this Kiwi Pinot really is a white sensation

Champagne lovers will know all about the wonders of ‘Blanc de Noirs’ (literally, ‘white of black’, the clear run juice of black grapes, in this case, Pinot Noir and/or Meunier), but white wines made from red grapes are still relatively rare, albeit increasingly fashionable.

It takes some proper bravado to launch such a wine when all you’re known for is your ripe, succulent, limited production Central Otago Pinot Noir, but if anyone could do it, Akitu could … If you don’t know the reds, named A1 and A2, beautifully branded, all the better in the glass, then you really should. I am an enormous fan, but I must admit that I really didn’t know what to expect when I twisted the screw cap on this new release. Was it a white? Was it a rosé? Perhaps an Antipodean vin gris?

When Akitu’s founder, owner and chief evangelist, Andrew Donaldson, first proposed it to his consultant winemaker, PJ Charteris, the response was less than rapturous: “you do realise this is just about the riskiest thing you can do?”

Well, Donaldson is clearly a risk taker, Charteris is clearly a genius, and the rest is about to be history, because this wine is, hands down, one of the best I have sampled in ages.

As Master of Wine Anne Krebiehl – a Pinot Noir specialist – points out in this excellent piece for The Buyer, this type of wine can often be an afterthought, sometimes a way of using surplus or unripe grapes. Not in this case. “This was definitely not a contingency”, says Charteris, “it required a lot of discussion, planning, a lot of thought”.

“I have blindfolded people and they get very confused about what it is”, says Donaldson, proudly.

Well, I’ll admit, I would have been confused too, had I not read the label. This is a wonderful wine: exhilarating, exciting, fresh, with beautiful ripe stone fruit, fragrant red apple all beautifully balanced by stunning cut through acidity. It is a white wine, for sure, but one that might take your breath away. Perfect for a summer’s night, it’s also really rather serious, so great for food.

Akitu Pinot Noir Blanc 2019 is a small production masterpiece (£31.99 at The Wine Reserve store in Cobham, Surrey and also at their online shop and it’s also at which is fitting as it’s the perfect wine for a Champagne lover.

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