Sam Neill Extols NZ Pinot Noir
New Zealand actor Sam Neill pioneered pinot noir in his homeland. In 2012, Neill’s pinot noir won gold at the London International Wine and Spirit Competition. ‘In a matter of about 30 years, we’ve come an enormously long way’ Neill is reported as saying in the Bangkok Post. ‘We have great confidence in our own pinot; it has its own unique qualities.’ Neill opened his Two Paddocks winery in Central Otago in 1993. He readily agrees that pinot noir is the most difficult grape to grow. ‘They don’t call it the heartbreak grape for nothing…but pinot is the only grape that generates such enthusiasm,’ Neill said. Neill thinks New Zealand growers are regarded as ‘the illegitimate child’ of pinot noir by their French burgundy-growing counterparts. The French, Neill says, may be ‘a little anxious’. But ‘there’s no need to be because we don’t want to make burgundy, we want to make our own wine.’ Neill said that producing even small amounts of top pinot noir would only enhance international reputation of New Zealand wines. ‘It doesn’t matter how much wine [there is] in the world…There’s never enough great wine’, Neill concluded. New Zealand pinot is now New Zealand’s second largest wine export. Between 2006 and 2012, export volumes trebled to almost 10.6 million litres.