The Best of the Best 2003: International Red Wines - 2001 Dry River Pinot, Martinborough

Dry River is one of New Zealand’s most talked about, yet least accessible, wines. Quantities produced are small—about 3,000 cases in the most abundant vintages—and available stock sells quickly to those on the winery’s mailing list. Only a few bottles have ventured as far as the United States, but that predicament may soon change. Napa Valley vintner Reg Oliver (of El Molino Winery) and New York investment manager Julian Robertson recently purchased Dry River and, although winemaker Neil McCallum intends to remain in charge of production, more of these wines should soon be available in the States.

The dusky 2001 Dry River Pinot, Martinborough, with velvety texture and smooth, bright cherry fruit, provides ample indication that Pinot Noir may someday supplant Sauvignon Blanc as New Zealand’s best varietal. Its thick, toasty, meaty flavors show why Kiwi Pinots are poised to dazzle the world.

El Molino Winery, 707.963.3632; NZ $75

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