This is a four-part major series on New Zealand’s wines. Part I throws the spotlight on New Zealand’s hottest wine topicsPart II focuses on New Zealand’s North Island, part III visits the South Island.
I visited New Zealand in January/February 2006, when I was lucky enough to be invited as a guest of the Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration, an absolutely terrifc bi-annual event held in and around beautiful Queenstown (pictured right) and the Central Otago vineyards. The event celebrates Pinot not just from the local vineyards, but from around the world.The Celebration runs over two days, with tastings, dinners, seminars and a generally excellent time had by all. It is open to the public and there were visiting Pinot enthusiasts there from as far afield as the UK and the USA. You can read about the celebration at its web site. but it is a unique event with fantastic food and wine, lovely people, and the most beautiful setting.
The two days of the celebration were filled with tasting Central Otago Pinot, but on the day before things kicked off, the organisers very generously arranged a tasting of 100 New Zealand Pinots from other regions for the four invited press guests: myself, Joelle Thomson from New Zealand, Allen Meadows from the US and Huon Hooke from Australia. This tasting was totally blind, and arranged by region, in the order presented below. Around another 30 Pinots tasted at regional tastings and winery visits have been added to the list below.
Alpha Domus (New Zealand) “The Pilot” Pinot Noir 2004
10 months in French oak, with sandalwood and some spicy aromatics. There’s a nice cedary, earthy quality, with plenty of juicy cherry, and quite ripe earthy fruit. The mid-palate has a slight hollowness, and it could perhaps do with a little more flesh. Very spice and cedary in the finish.
Alpha Domus (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2002
Some really fudgy, fine qualities here, with a softly baked, refined quality, lots of softness and fleshy warmth. Fine vanillin and good cherry acidity. Fine quality.
Bilancia (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Hawke’s Bay 2004
Nice minerality here, with a deal of cherry fruit. Quite a lean palate, with a tight cherry quality. Perhaps a little lean.
Kim Crawford (New Zealand) Hawke’s Bay Pinot Noir 2004
Big mint toffee nose, with plenty of new oak showing through. The fruit on the palate is quite rich and ripe, with a nice plummy quality to it. There’s a liquoricy edge, but tangy finish.
Trinity Hill (New Zealand) Pinot Noir High Country 2004
Another slightly lean, metallic light cherry fruit. Perhaps just very young. On the palate some nice fruit sweetness and very decisive tannins.
Matariki (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2002
This has some charry, sweet toasty notes. A touch of gaminess here too. On the palate decent fruit and balance, with a reasonable quality, plenty of acid.
Matariki Reserve (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2002
Slightly more vegetal, beetrooty, perhaps rather more mature aromas with an earthy and herbal note. Nice fruit here, and plenty of background richness. Lovely finish with orangy acidity coming through.
Vidal (New Zealand) Stopbank Pinot 2004
Good nose, with a touch of earthiness and some wild, mushroomy notes, but solid fruit and chocolaty, creamy oak. On the palate slightly herbal, and a touch less fruity than I’d like, with good acidity and a little richness,
but not totally harmonious.
Sacred Hill (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Marlborough Vineyards 2005
Much nicer nose again, with earthy depth. A great deal of soft, fruity aromatics, with a touch of rose hip and cherry. Decent fruit here, quite firm and cherry edged, with a little liquoricy bite and perhaps a hint of over extraction
Triplebank (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2005
More cedary oak here, with a smooth, rich and mellow character and some depth and breadth. Slightly edgy palate, with a touch of liquorice and bittersweet fruit. Lacks a little light and space.
Whalesback (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2005
Sweet, bright, cherry-edged fruit. Lots of cherry and crisp red fruits. This has good mouthfeel. Quite rich, with a juicy mid-palate weight and nice roughening edge of tannins. VG
Wild South (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2005
Softer, more muted and slightly creamy nose. A little touch of baked plum pie. On the palate rather tight and firm at present, with very concentrated cherry fruit and a lick of espresso, then tight, quite incisive tannins and acidity. Very good, but dense.
Allan Scott (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Smoky, charry, quite toasted aromas with a nice earthiness and Pinot character. Palate is lovely here – lots of generous, cherry and softer strawberry fruit notes, with a rounding out of mellow oak and a firm tannic background, where sweet vanilla and toast play against firm acids.
Allan Scott (New Zealand) Prestige Pinot Noir 2003
Lots more fullness and fine, ripe, cedar-scented Sandalwood and really solid berry fruit. Lovely lightness about the palate, with sweetness of fruit and a generous acidity. There is a lovely quality here and fine fruit and silky, suede-like quality.
Cape Campbell (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Lighter, slightly medicinal cherry note. The palate is firm and fairly lean and linear, without much texture and with quite firm tannins.
Cape Campbell (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Reserve Limited Edition 2004
Slightly muted nose with a little backed quality. Just slightly plummy and dense. On the palate a big, expansive texture that is quite mouthfilling, with lots of juicy acidity and flavoursome, if a little compacted and too tight. Promising though.
Churton (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
A solid feel about the nose here, with a baked and plummy quality coming through. Sweet fruit, and pretty dense though, but has it enough charm?
Clifford Bay Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Some lightness about this, with a little bit of a floral nuance to solid cherry fruit. On the palate it has lots of tang and brightness, with good cherry and raspberry fruit, and a slick of vanillin oak to round it out. Nice finish on this
Cooper’s Creek (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2005
Dark, schisty, mineral nose, with schisty qualities but a touch of sulphur too. Some plummy fruit comes through. The palate has a little more elegance, with a juicy cherry edge, good acidity. Starts to open up, and a fruity,
plummy quality comes throughy. Definitey a richer style, but tangy, and successful.
Culley (New Zealand) Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005
Quite a dark, earthy colour. Quite a dense, slightly closed nose at present (bottled recently) with an earthy and plummy fruit quality coming through. The palate has a real richness and plenty of fruit and substance.
Drylands (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
More charm here, with softer, more open and textured appeal with earth and sweet fruit. Lovely fruit on the palate here that is tangy and bright, with not a lot of oak influence keeping it crisp. Perhaps a touch lean through the mid palate, then some spicy oak in the finish.
Fairhall Downs (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Vanilla and quite ripe fruit notes. A touch of earthier character. The fruit is very sweet and quite rich on the palate, with an edge of sweetness and plenty of acidity to counterbalance. There’s a red liquorice bittersweet quality and a rounding touch of charry oak.
Forrest Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Quite a herbal, leafy quality at first, with a touch of creamy oak. The palate has a nice solid quality of ripe berry and red cherry fruit. Nice quality, silky mouthfeel, perhaps a tiny metallic note in the finish.
Forrest Estate (New Zealand) Brancott Valley Pinot Noir 2003
Very fine nose of gentle truffle and earthy aroma. Nice animal qualities. The palate has chocolate and prune components. Chocolaty richness to the tannins and old vines concentration.
Framingham (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
More developed, gently truffly nose, with a sweet oak note and plenty of soft red fruits. The palate here has lots of juiciness and good sweet fruit. Nicely balanced finish.
Huia (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
More schisty and cherryish, with quite nice fruit that is rounded and quite fat and generous. Plums and ripe red fruits on the palate, with a nice bite of cherry skin acidity and fine tannins before a spicy, lightly cedary oak. VG
Kaituna Valley (New Zealand) Pinot Noir The Awatere Vineyard 2004
Lots of vivid fruit here, with cherry and red plum notes and a nice fruity forward character. There’s a hint of earthy minerality too. Really vivid and bright fruit on the palate, with a lovely punchy fruit quality and the sweetness shining through. Long, mouth filling and well balanced.
Kim Crawford (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2005
Nice toasty nose, with plenty of coffee and toasted oatmeally quality. Fine silky quality and good bangs per buck.
Kim Crawford (New Zealand) Comely Bank Pinot Noir 2005
Has very fine, rounded, sweet Lovely fruit on the palate, and terrific fruit sweetness. This has a nice ripe tannic structure behind it too.
Kim Crawford (New Zealand) Comely Bank Pinot Noir 2004
A little bit spicy and peppery, with a touch of dried herbs and sweet, ripe fruit. Sweet and ripe on the palate with plenty of fruit and goof acidity, before some toasty, espresso oak comes back through
Matua Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Slightly dull, slightly metallic note (tiny touch of brett?) On the palate decent fruit, though a little bit non-descript. Juicy enough, but spoiled by that slightly metallic edge.
Shingle Peak (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Nice nose here, with a tobacco and earthy, slightly schisty quality. I like the fruit quality here, with a rounded, savoury edge to sweet fruit, with plenty of acidity and a nice soft tannic structure.
Montana (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Classic 2004
Toasty and warming lightly fudge notes and quite sweet plummy fruit. On the palate this has a slightly dull character, with a Beaujolais like hardness and minerality.
Montana (New Zealand) Reserve Pinot Noir 2004
A touch of baked plum and some earthy notes. There’s a decent fruit quality o the palate too, though it doesn’t sing out
Montana (New Zealand) Camshorn Pinot Noir 2004
From Waipara, and quite young vines this has quite a silky, plush nose with spicy wood aromas and incense. There’s a strawberry softness to the fruit, but quite a crisp cherry quality on the palate, with a good texture and weight on the mid-palate.
Montana (New Zealand) “T” Terraces Vineyard Pinot Noir 2003
Firm, quite edgy and liquoricy cherry fruit – very firm fruit on the palate too, with touches of fennel and kirsch-like notes, if a little firm and ungiving.
Nautilus Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Big, toasty espresso nose, with rich red fruits, and plenty of oomph. The palate has fine fruit and an earthy, slightly chocolaty feel before quiet rough tannins and an edge along with crisp acidity. Tangy and spicy into the finish. Not absolutely harmonious, but lovely life and personality.
Nobilo (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Icon 2004
I like the toastiness and richness of the fruit here, with vanilla and a touch of coffee. On the palate it has very good fruit quality, with a solid core of fruit, and decent weight and length.
Odyssey (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Very vibrant, very youthful, with vivid cherry and rose hip and minerality. Appealing. On the palate a burst of very juicy, rich, burstingly fresh fruit baked up by a weight of charry oak. Not integrated, but should come together very well.
Oyster Bay (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2005
A touch of meat stock and gravy character on the nose, with a little bit of beetroot and a mild green note. The palate has quite a lean, herbal quality too, with some earthy, schisty quality. There is zest and zing, but has a little bit too much alcohol and possibly a little bit too much sugar.
Rose Tree Cottage (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
A more reserved, closed character. The palate has nice juiciness, but it is a bit lean with rather biting orangy acidity.
Saint Clair (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Doctor’s Creek 2004
Rather baked aromas. Fruit is decent on the palate, but doesn’t distinguish.
Saint Clair (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Tiny note of brett, with cherry and slightly metallic fruit. The palate has rather a nice fruit quality. Bitter black cherry and damson fruit, and a liquoricy stripe of tannins. Quite long and spicy finish.
Saint Clair (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Vicar’s Choice 2004
Vinous nose, with some cherry aromas and again I just suspect a touch of brett, but nice vanillin sweetness. comes through Very tangy palate, where the fruit is good and there is firm, juicy structure. Should age nicely.
Selaks (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Founders 2004
Quite rounded and fruity, with a fair amount of rich, rounded fruit character.
Seresin Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir “Leah” 2004
Smoky nose, with an earthy, tobacco-tinged sweetness of fruit. Vivid black cherry on the palate is quite mouthfilling, with a dry tannin evolving in the finish, good acidity and pretty good length.
Seresin Estate (New Zealand) Tatou Vineyard Pinot Noir 2004
Very fine coffee-tinged nose of ripe cherry fruit, with a plummy roundess and plenty of earthy, quite mineral qualities. On the palate there’s a liquorice edge to the fruit, with plummy concentration. There is a rounded, full quality here, with very good concentration and a lovely acid structure.
Seresin Estate (New Zealand) Raupo Creek Pinot Noir 2004
Vanillin nose, with spice and a definite opulence: quite creamy, full fruit. Fruit sweetness in this wine, with plenty of weight and breadth on the palate, and a supportive pillow of oak, braced by quite edgy, roughening
tannins and balanced acidity.
Spy Valley (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
An earthy, quite sweet roundness and good fruit quality here. A little bit of light and shade about it. Juicy palate too, with long acids extending the finish. Spicy, promising.
Staete Landt Vineyard (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Quite fat, sweet fruit with good character. Tasty palate, with a savoury mineral and earthy note joining bright fruit.
Stoneleigh (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Classic 2004
Firm, quite Beaujolais-like qualities, with firm cherry and mineral aromas and more of the same on the palate.
Terrace Road (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Very light colour. Soft, expressive red fruit. Quite gently strawberry and raspberry character. Lightweight drinking, perhaps just lacking a little fruit?
TerraVin (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Brett bomb. Unapproachable.
TerraVin (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Hillside Selection 2004
Nice cherry fruit, but another with a touch of brett. Brett spoils otherwise beautifully ripe and pure, bright fruit.
The Crossings (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Rather insipid nose. A bit lean and ungiving, but does open up and becomes slightly more expressive. Decent palate, decent fruit.
The Jibe (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Really quite mineral, with firm cherry fruit qualities. This has decent fruit, though is perhaps a touch linear.
The Ned (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
More toast and espresso oak, with a touch of schisty, earthy quality. Palate is riper and richer, and some real fruit sweetness has a nice support of vanilla and spice, and juicy mid-palate weight. VG
Tohu (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
A little bit of baked plum, a little vegetal note. The fruit sweetness and ripeness is good on the palate, with a core of ripe cherry and red berries, though perhaps lacks a little generosity in the finish.
Waipara Hills (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Simmonds Vineyard 2004
Quite a tight, focused red fruit nose. Plenty of tangy, tight and juicy red fruits. This comes through well, with plenty of mid-palate ripeness and plenty of juicy, sweet fruit that is nicely balanced with spice, tight tannins and fresh acidity.
Wairau River (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Home Block 2004
Open, lighter, more expressive Pinot, with lighter colour and lighter, strawberry aromas. A little vanilla and toast adds interest. Lovely palate here, with charming fruit, nice espresso notes and fine acidity. Lovely.
West Brook (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Slightly dank, slightly stinky aromas. A little vegetal and Roquefort character. On the palate this has some decent liquorice and black cherry skin, slightly tart fruit, and a nice supporting acidity that is a touch lean.
West Brook (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Blue Ridge 2004
Perhaps a little touch of sulphur, but also a good minerality. The palate has good sweetness, and there’s a juiciness about this, with a real blast of tangerine acidity.
Wither Hills (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Vanilla and quite ripe fruit notes. A touch of earthier character. The fruit is very sweet and quite rich on the palate, with an edge of sweetness and plenty of acidity to counterbalance. There’s a red liquorice bittersweet quality and a rounding touch of cedary oak.
Babich (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Winemakers Reserve 2003
Earthy, mushroomy, quite vegetal, and a touch of brett. Palate is OK, with some decent fruit.
Cloudy Bay (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Vanillin oak and touches of fine, vegetal quality. Decent red fruit, with crisp acids. Perhaps a touch lean, but has a nice drying finish. Perhaps tiring slightly.
Forrest Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Vineyard Selection 2003
A little Dank and weedy, dill like character. Very sweet fruit on the palate, with a good deal of ripe, rich berry fruit. This is a nice wine.
Koura Bay (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Perhaps a touch closed, a touch sulphury, with a red fruity character coming through, and some juiciness.
Lawson’s Dry Hills (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Lovely herbal dill and thyme qualities. Good fruit, quite focused and bright, with enough juicy acids and plumskin to give an edge.
Matua Innovator (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Decent fruit, quiet crisp and cherryish, with a slick of vanillin and decent edgy, liquoricy acidity.
Montana Terraces (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Lovely nose here, with really nice ripe, rich, bursting cherry and red berry fruits. A touch of cassis. On the palate smoky and chocolaty notes are added to good fruit and this has fine bittersweet finish.
Nautilus Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Rounded, solid, big and sweet nose, with a certain solidity, but still some elegance. On the palate sweet-edged and juicy, and has a good acid balance. Very juicy and appealing.
Saint Clair (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Omaka Reserve 2003
Quite a decent schisty quality to the minerality here. This has a nice vinosity, and a nice palate of light, herb and cherry-edged fruit. Very appealing in a lighter, more elegant style.
Stoneleigh (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Raupara Series 2003
Custardy, ripe and full oak, with quite ripe, rounded fruit. Nice weight here, and nice sweetness of fruit, with elegant tannins, a bit of spice and good quality generally.
Neudorf (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Moutere 2004
Quite a nice cherryish fruit. The palate has some real elegance, with a grip of fine tannin and some ripe cherry acidity. Crisp and fruity.
Old Coach Road (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Much lighter colour, with very fine aromatics. This has nice chewy tannins and an elegance of fruit, and although it is fairly rustic, is very enjoyable.
Seifried (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Light, silky, gently earthy fruit. There is terrific fruit sweetness here, with a great deal of attractive, elegant finesse. The palate is perhaps a little light, but there’s tobacco and a nice smoky soft fruit and tobacco finish.
Te Mania (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Quite solid, fine fruit flavours, with a juicy orange character and a bright fruitiness. This has good fruit, and plenty of attractive, light but sweet and rounded fruit, and balanced acids with a fine, warming toasty character.
Woollaston Estates (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
A tiny hint of brett, and modest fruit, with some herbal qualities. On the palate it has good fruit, but that touch of mousey, metallic flavour creeps in and spoils it slightly for me.
Neudorf (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Moutere 2003
Quite subtle, but powerfully fruity nose, with a deep well of plum and damson fruit. Quite fine vanillin background. On the palate terrific fruit sweetness, with a dry, fine tannin structure and plenty of crisp tannins. Nice roughening edge.
Neudorf (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Moutere Home Vineyard 2003
Very composed and classy nose, with a touch of herbs, plum and sweet fruit. Sweet, full, very mouthfilling fruit, with plenty of ripeness and mid-palate weight. Lovely oak integration and length.
Richmond Plains (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Reserve 2003
Nice oak character on the nose here – really cedary, a touch herbal. Palate of juicy fruit, with a stripe of lean tannins and red fruits, licked with liquorice. Spicy and rich in the finish, is it perhaps a touch alcoholic?
Te Mania (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Reserve 2003
Quite charry and deep, with espresso notes and a dark fruit quality. Good concentration and weight here, and a nice chocolaty richness on the palate. Smooth, silky and quite powerful, with excellent fruit sweetness.
Waimea Estates (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Bolitho Reserve 2003
Quiet a high-toned oak component, and very sweet, ripe fruit. Delightful strawberry fruited ripeness, and the finish displays plenty of liquoricy bite and fine, plush tannic structure.
Waipara & Canterbury
Muddy Water (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2005
A touch of creamy, slightly toasty oak. A little bit earthy and schisty. Fine cherry fruit. Good length, and a soft vanillin finish.
Alan McCorkindale (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
A slightly lean nose, with not so much oak or depth of fruit. Ripe enough, and good acids, if perhaps a little astringent.
Camshorn (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Quiet schisty and fine, with a well-delineated mineral and cherry fruit. On the palate more of the same, with tight liquoricy tannins and a lean, savoury edge that makes this very moreish.
Giesen Reserve (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Barrel Selection 2004
Smoky, ripe and rich with a touch of tobacco. Sweet fruit, and has a richer, riper component than some, but very delicious. Big, soft, oaky finish.
Kaituna Valley (New Zealand) Pinot Noir The Kaituna Vineyard 2004
Chocolate and fudge notes dominate, in a very smoky, richly oaked style. Real fruit richness and sweetness, with plenty of fruit and good balance.
Kaituna Valley (New Zealand) Pinot Noir The Summerhill Vineyard 2004
There is something nutty, if a little muted and closed about his on the nose. The palate is rather lean and underfruited.
Muddy Water (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Quite a dank quality, and a touch vegetal and mushroomy. The palate does have a fresh, vividly fruity character, which is fine, with a bit of chocolate and a touch of zesty lemony acidity in quite an appealing wine.
Waipara Hills (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Very sweet, soft, vanillin-licked red berry fruit. The palate has spice and a nice peppery zest to it, with fresh fruit and a touch of earthy, quite chocolaty character. Very attractive.
Alan McCorkindale (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Porty, quite rich and alcoholic nose, with a little stewed prune. Similarly raisined and stewed fruit on the palate.
Bell Hill (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Big espresso bean and coffee nose, with solid red fruit beneath. On the palate this has good fruit that retains freshness and has good balance and a lightness about it. Long and elegant.
Pegasus Bay (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Plenty of ripe, warming, deliciously rich fruit. Plenty of weight and sweet, svelte texture on the palate. Good fruit, with sufficient acidity and fine, chocolaty tannins. Easy to drink, and delicious.
Waipara Hills (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Canterbury/Marlborough 2003
Doesn’t sing out, but nice soft fruit and moderate oak. Perhaps slightly dull and a little lean on the palate, lacking a little fruit. Elegant enough, and tangy and fresh. Really quite good.
Alan McCorkindale (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2002
Quite a menthol note to the nose here, with eucalyptus and quite herby notes. Very juicy and fresh, with plenty of bright, crisp, cherry and herb fruit and a light, crisp finish with lots of interest here.
Giesen Reserve (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Barrel Selection 2001
More charryness, and a juicy fruit quality. Quite bold and forward, with a more developed character. The fruit is solid and has nice crisp, elegant balance.
Martinborough & Wairarapa
Ashwell (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
A nice pinot nose here, with gentle vegetal quality and some truffly qualities. On the palate it has good fruit, with lots of racy cherry and fine tannins.
Burnt Spur (New Zealand) Russian Jack Pinot Noir 2004
Lovely, savoury, spicy, herb tinged and peppery Pinot. Soft, herb-tinged raspberry fruit. Lovely fruit on the palate. A touch light on fruit through the mid palate, but maintains good sweetness, and a fine balance of lighter tannins.
Burnt Spur (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
A blend of estate and bought in fruit, though will be all estate from 2004. A subtle, gentle herbal and earthy, smoky quality to the cherry and rounded, plummy fruit. Very fine, ripe, fleshy plum and good texture.
Craggy Range (New Zealand) Wild Rock Pinot Noir Martinborough 2004
Very fine Pinot expression, with a soft, quite delicate strawberry nose. Nice perfume and earthiness, a touch of damp, autumnal leaves. Lovely smoky, gently juicy fruit on the palate. It has plenty of acidity, but a nice fleshiness.
Craggy Range (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Te Muna Road Vineyard 2004
Slightly riper, plummy character, but thick, sweet fruit. On the palate a bit of lightness and elegance, with a racy edge adding interest to a sweet, quiet full palate with good balance. Delicious.
Escarpment (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
A little bit closed at first, but some really lovely fruit comes through here. Fine, floral and truffle notes to svelte, creamy black fruit. Moderate oak. The palate has elegance and depth, with a sily texture and such a refined tannin structure. Soft, yet has presence. Terrific Pinot.
Gladstone (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Very nice pinot nose, with some truffle and undergrowth and soft red fruits. Lovely sweetness o the palate too, and there is an elegance about this and lovely fruit quality.
Lincoln Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Very dark, dense colour. Very spicy and earthy, with some meat stock aromas and hints of juicy cherry fruit. A very solid style of Pinot noir, with palate-filling soft fruit and plenty of texture and weight. Juciy and chewy tannins, in a big, but really quite complex style.
Kusuda (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
More plum pie and vanillin quality, perhaps a little baked. Rich, ripe berries, and a palate with licks of chocolate and sweet mocha coffee and solid, very ripe fruit. Lovely
Margrain (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Home Block 2004
Cool, slightly subdued nose. Fine, silky tannins on the palate and a touch of chocolate. There is an elegance about this, and a really finely wrought, elegant softness and sweetness.
Martinborough Vineyard (New Zealand) Te Tera Pinot Noir 2004
Lovely earthy, schisty, quite complex earthy and bracken quality. Some fine plummy fruit. The fruit is very clean and quite weighty, and the texture is good. Lovely long, savoury, juicy finish.
Martinborough Vineyard (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Good balance here, and the fruit on the palate is ripe and rich. The palate has an edge of cherry skin acidity that gives really grippy finish – might age well.
Martinborough Vineyard (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Very fine quality here, with a touch of mint and a fine, ripe fruitiness. Very fruity, though not too much. The fruit on the palate is ripe and juicy, with lots of plum flesh and a fine, rounded finish. Silky and tannins ripe.
Martinborough Vineyard (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2002
Definitely touches of more herbal, complex, undergrowth and mushroom notes. The palate is leaner, but really lovely quality of fruit with a great spicy depth of oak and fine tannins. Quite grippy and ripe, with plenty of
juicy fruit and well balanced.
Palliser Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Another lovely nose here, with notes of fudge and toffee over sweet, ripe red fruits. On the palate this has lovely weight and texture, with a silkiness and lovely sweet fruit playing against spicy oak and firm tannins.
Pencarrow (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Not quiet so generous, with an elegance and a minerality, and a in interesting style with some precision about the flavours and tannins. Would like to taste in 5 years.
Schubert (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Nice elegance and openness, with a fine-grained, sweet fruit and soft oak qualities. Orangy and open, with plenty of sweetness and a real edge of acidity too.
Schubert (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Marion’s Vineyard 2004
Sweet oak at first, with some good quality to the fruit, and a gently fudgy quality. Good fruit, and quite a lean, savoury edge of tannin ad acidity.
Sileni Estate (New Zealand) Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2004
From a very inland vineyard, about 100 metres higher than the coast. Very attractive, very Pinot nose – lots of strawberry, lots of truffle and earth, with a touch of vegetal quality. The dark cherry, Morello fruit is lovely.
Very fresh, but beautiful quality of fruit.
Sileni Estate (New Zealand) “The Plateau” Pinot Noir 2004
Crop load reduced. There’s a dark, glossy, cherry quality. This is denser, meatier, with plenty of oomph and plenty of sweetness and richness. Massive, velvety, but for me less fine and slightly less enjoyable than the Cellar Selection.
Te Kairanga (New Zealand) Estate Pinot Noir 2004
Quiet a schisty edge of herbs and spices to really nice cherry fruit. This has good fruit on the palate, where a touch of earthy quality comes through and there is a nice sour edge of acidity.
Te Kairanga (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Runholder 2004
Quite ripe, rich berry fruit, with a deal of acidity and cherryish qualities. On the palate firm and elegant – quite racy and fine, with plenty of vivid acidity and a spicy finish.
Te Tera (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Good fruit here, with a herby, lightly truffly note and a brackeny quality. Very nice sweet fruit on the palate; a real raspberry and sweet plum character. Vivid, with delicate acids and tannins adding a fine structure
Wycroft (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Old River Terrace 2004
More toasty and rich, and the nose has a coffee and rich red fruit quality. The palate is fine and very nicely fruited, with a vanillin lick to sweet fruit and a warming toasty and spicy finish.
Martinborough Vineyard (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Light bright, a little orangy note and a touch of damp undergrowth. Good sweet fruit here, with plenty of crisp, juicy cherry acidity and an enriching vanillin and sweet fruit palate.
Nga Waka (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
A little dank edge to solid cherry fruit. Slight dankness carries through on palate but with a sweet fruit quality and plenty of zest and bite.
Pond Paddock (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Hawks Flight 2003
Rich, a touch of mint and fine meaty fruit. The palate has lovely sweetness – really intense fruit sweetness, and a chocolaty fine tannic structure.
Te Kairanga (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Reserve 2003
Fairly subdued nose, with just a touch of juicy, quiet sour cherry acidity on the palate, and very good vinosity. Lean without being mean, and very attractive Pinot.
Saratoga Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Finlay’s Field 2005
Light fruit, slightly beetrooty. Rather lean. On the palate some sweet fruit, but a touch stewed.
John Forrest (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Waitaki Valley 2004
Fine, quite mineral nose, with a delicacy about the fruit. A little bit of floral perfume, and nice fruit. Great quality again, if a little tiny bit hollow in the mid-palate.
Carrick Estate (New Zealand) “Unravelled” Pinot Noir 2004
Entry level, with an attractive and juicy nose, with good raspberry fruitiness and a fine, juicy palate with lively fruit and a savoury, balanced tannin and acid balance.
Carrick Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2002
Lovely ripe, soft, plush strawberry fruit with a berry richness. Very fine and elegant on the palate. Juicy black plum and black cherry, with good definition. There is real finesse here, with supple tannins and a mouthfilling silkiness, yet crisp acids giving a savoury finish.
Carrick Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
A brief tasting of this as time was against me, but really a lovely nose, brimming with vibrant, ripe black cherries and with a juicy, elegant, mouth-watering style on the palate.
Chard Farm (New Zealand) 2003
This has a rather muted nose, with some slightly baked aromas, and a sweetness and richness of fruit just coming through. On the palate this has really very nice fruit, though it doesn’t quite sing the way the Mount Edward does for example, but has a fine, tangy finish and good fruit.
Chard Farm (New Zealand) Single Vineyard 2004
A more expressive, open, cherry-scented nose. Very fine aromatics her, with touches of briar and rich, dry tannins on the palate. There is a touch more dusty austerity about this, but it is a savoury wine, with some elegance and good fruit in to the finish.
Chard Farm (New Zealand) 2005
From the Sugar? Vineyard too, but may or may not make single vineyard bottling. Very concentrated, with quite closed, dark, glossy cherry aromatics. Very concentrated palate too, with lots of grippy acidity and a fair swathe of grippy, nicely roughening tannins. Promising.
Crown Range (New Zealand) “Wild Earth” Pinot Noir 2003
Creamy, dense, rich nose, with full rich fruit and a slightly baked quality. On the palate nice sweetness, with a good quality of ripe sweet fruit, and plenty of earthy, rich Pinot character. Good quality here, and a fine, quite generous acid tannic structure.
Crown Range (New Zealand) “Wild Earth” Pinot Noir 2004
A tiny bit of sulphur blows off to reveal spicy, quite rich fruit on the nose, with a richer more round and open quality than some 2004s. Palate has richness and generosity, but a slightly hollow mid-palate, with not quite the sweetness and fullness of fruit. Finish is slightly disappointing.
Crown Range (New Zealand) “Wild Earth” Pinot Noir 2005
Intense cherry with plenty of concentration, if a slightly raisiny, stewed prune quality. On the palate there is a mass of concentrated plum and prune fruit, with plenty of concentration and a damson-plum, bitter skins bite in the finish. Very impressive, but perhaps lacks a touch of the pinot character of the 2003 for example.
Felton Road (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Lovely cherry and charred wood melange, with some real elegance. A touch of rounded, creamy oak quality and sense of minerality. On the palate this has beautiful fruit. Lots of ripe, rich, rolling red fruits and a real juiciness and lightness of touch. Notes of chocolate and ripe tannins make for a precise but generous finish.
Felton Road (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Delightfully round, charming, soft earthy red fruits. Lovely aromatics, with plenty of rich, juicy, fine cherry quality and a great deal of savoury black cherry acidity. Lovely finesse and bittersweet plummy fruit in the finish. Delightful.
Felton Road (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2002
Much more mineral, schisty, earthy and cherry-skinned quality on the nose. Fine background of cedary oak beginning to show through. Beautiful palate-filling fruit, with terrific cut and verve, and a lovely juicy sour acidity. There is a fine acidity here and plenty of bitter plumskin tannin and acidity, adding just a chocolaty.
Felton Road (New Zealand) Block 3 Pinot Noir 2005
Very juicy, schisty, firm black fruit quality. Lots of concentration here, but an underlying sweetness of fruit. Lovely palate suggesting a bright future: fruit has really come through, with more sweetness and generosity than some.
Felton Road (New Zealand) Block 3 Pinot Noir 2004
Lovely tight, suave, polished aromatics here, with polished dark fruit qualities. Ripeness and richness here, with masses of good quality fruit on the palate. Very dense and creamy, terrific mouthfeel and very precise, creamy qualities with a backbone of tannins and supple, integrated acidity.
Felton Road (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Block 3 2003
A richness, with a depth of chocolaty, deep, bittersweet ripe, intensely sweet fruit. Fantastic mouthfilling opulence of fruit, silky tannins and a dense, chocolaty finish. Terrific.
Felton Road (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Block 3 2002
Huge raspberry and chocolate and coffee and chocolate note, with plenty of richness and a huge, sweet fruited with a fine
Felton Road (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Block 5 2000
Finely Burgundian nose, with some vegetal, undergrowth notes. Plenty of herbal qualities. This has a lovely sense of suppleness and density, with fine, racy tannins and acidity, but that supporting weight of fruit, chocolate and coffee-edged oak, and a plushness. Beautiful quality. Terrific wine.
Gypsy Dancer (New Zealand) Estate Pinot Noir 2003
Owned by Archery Summit, Oregon. Looking for UK distribution. Generous, vanillin-edged sweet fruit, with a little mellow earthiness and plenty of rich, ripe fruit aromatics. On the palate it is mellow with a cherry quality and slightly Beaujolais Cru. Morgon-like minerality and dry, slightly dusty character into the finish.
Gypsy Dancer (New Zealand) Estate Pinot Noir 2004
A touch pruney, with dark, raisiny character and slightly jammy aromatics. Lots of cherry skin and bitter0edged liquoricy character on the palate. There is good concentration here, and juicy cherry acidity with fine tannins. Concentrated and impressive, with lots of dark, savoury notes, if perhaps slightly dense.
Kawerau Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Certified organic since 1996. Rich, flavoursome, slightly meat-stocky aromas, with a baked quality to the fruit. Good quality to the fruit on the palate, though it too suffers from a slightly muted fruit expression.
Kawerau Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Far more charry, toasty oak on the nose, with decent cherry fruit and a touch of schisty minerality. The palate has decent fruit, with a sweet cherry quality and a fine, bitter, plumskin and liquorice edge. This has good fruit and balance, but perhaps needs a little time to mellow out a closed, quiet up-tight character.
Kawerau Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2005
Rather sweet, acetone, perhaps Malolactic character. The palate suggests a good, rich, ripe quality of fruit and plenty of concentration.
Mount Difficulty (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Distributed by Ellis of Richmond. Lovely generous pinot character, with smoky, seductive oak and a generous strawberry and fine, earthy fruit character. The palate has lovely fruit, with very fine sweetness, and a delightful richness on the palate. The acidity is keen and grippy, which along with a roughening edge of tannin and fine concentration makes for a delightful balanced, yet concentrated wine.
Mount Difficulty (New Zealand) “Pipeclay Vineyard” Pinot Noir 2004
More closed and concentrated, with a firm, glossy, tightly wound cherry fruit. Background smoky oak is well judged. ON the palate a wrapping of sweet vanillin oak does note overpower the ripe, glossy fruit a that powers through, delivering plenty of cherry and kirsch, violet and aromatic Parma violet fruit and a long, concentrated finish with good tannin and acid structure.
Mount Difficulty (New Zealand) “Pipeclay Vineyard” Pinot Noir 2005
There’s a smokiness and charry quality about this on the nose, with an underlying softness, but concentration of red fruits. A touch of dried herbs and earthiness adds complexity. Very nice fruit here, with elegance and power, and a lovely structure. Very promising.
Mount Edward (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Beautiful fruit sweetness, with haunting cherry aromas, soft floral nuances and a truffly, undergrowth quality. Lovely cherry fruit – very crisp and taut, with a minerality and a great deal of orange and clove, with little chocolaty hints and terrific length and sweetness. Beautiful Pinot.
Mount Edward (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Very nice schist and cherry, charcoally edged fruit. Quite kirsch-like. Far less generous than the 2003 aromatically. The palate has quite crisp, clean, delineated fruit with a touch of dry, lipsticky quality and the oak sitting rather on top. A good wine, with sweetness of fruit coming through, and quite a fine tannic quality.
Mount Edward (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2005
Barrel sample. Tight, schisty, quite concentrated red fruit aromatics, with a little rose-hip note. Good fruit and concentration on the palate, and the quality of the tannins seems good. Very promising indeed.
Nevis Bluff (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Some Bannockburn fruit, some Cromwell Basin, some Bendigo and plenty of Gibbston. There’s espresso and charry oak, with some lovely ripe plum fruit. There’s a mineral and quite schisty quality here. On the palate lots of grip and black cherry, with touches of damson skin and a roughening quality. Very good length.
Nevis Bluffs (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
There’s a touch of minty sweetness to this. A fine chocolate mint quality. A bright, ripe blackcurrant and cassis quality. On the palate a very lip-smacking quality, with a lovely edge to the fruit. Lots of tannins that are fine and ripe, and a chocolaty quality. Very sweet fruit here, and a lovely fruit sweetness.
Nevis Bluffs (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2002
All Gibbston fruit. Definite touch of herbal quality here, with a herby, thyme quality. A touch of smokiness. Fine cherry fruit, with a fine, ripe, very nicely weighted fruit. Lots of glistening black cherry and plenty of ripe, smoky and chocolaty notes. Good acids, and plenty of ripe, chewy texture to the tannins. Very tangy fruit and concentration. Chocolaty and rich.
Peregrine Wines (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Morris & Verdin. Lovely charcoal and schist notes, with plenty of smoky notes and fine Pinot nose of earthy, slightly truffly red fruits. Beautiful cherry and ripe red berry fruit on the palate, with a fine quality of soft, generous sweet fruit and supple, quite chocolaty tannins. Excellent balancing acidity too in a long finish. Excellent.
Peregrine Wines (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Slightly more closed and meaty character on the nose. There’s a suggestion of dryness and inkiness about this. Rather dry quality on the palate. A certain toasty, espresso quality of oak comes through, and dry, rich fruit. Actually, this is very well managed, with the fruit coming through a little more and a nice, rich, supple tannin quality in the finish.
Peregrine Wines (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2005
This has a tight, mineral, schisty quality to the fruit at first, and has very fine character. On the palate a definite minerality, and the concentration here is good, with a deal of fine, ripe tannic structure. Very promising indeed.
Pisa Moorings (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Trying to get more organic activity into the vineyards, earthworm activity and so on, as the land has been planted before. 30% new oak, blend of coopers, but all medium toast. A touch of vegetal, beetrooty flavour, and plenty of black fruit and a fine cedary, gently chocolaty oak coming through. Lovely mouthfeel, with fine, very pert black fruit. Good fruit quality and mouthfeel, with a fine Pinot character, and plenty of cherry and plummy, black flavours.
Pisa Moorings (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
20% new oak. Lovely nose here, with a very Pinot nose, lots of smoky, chocolaty toast, and earthy, quite soft red fruits. Fantastic sweet fruit on the palate, masses of juicy, but rich, sweet fruit, and a fine, soft quite fudgy oak quality. Very lovely silky quality. Very good fruit here and long, and full of finesse.
Prophet’s Rock (New Zealand) Rock Rocky Point Pinot Noir 2003
20% whole bunch. 40% new all French oak. Made with some bought in fruit from Bannockburn, whilst own vineyards came on stream. Beautifully sweet fruit on the nose, with a dominant character of softer strawberry notes and a little red cherry. The palate has a nice freshness and richness of fruit, with quite mouthfilling fruit, an edge of spice, and plenty of juicy acidity.
Prophet’s Rock (New Zealand) Rocky Point Pinot Noir 2004
No whole bunches in this vintage, A little bit more peppery, herbal and with a touch of schisty minerality. Rich, concentrated, savoury style. Much more toasty and rich, with a slightly drier palate, slightly less juicy, with a bigger concentration and lovely spicy length and weight, with fairly big tannins and spicy wood.
Prophet’s Rock (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2005
Barrel sample. Wine will spend 15 months in oak. Extremely dark, crimson-edged colour, but not dense. Nice juicy cherry and rich, red fruits, with a wrapping of toasty oak already sitting nicely beneath the fruit. The palate has a very fine, ripe, but crisply defined fruit quality, with a real juiciness and pert cherry and kirsch-like fruit. Lovely grainy tannins and clean, bright acidity add up to a very appealing picture and a very promising wine.
Quartz Reef (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Lay & Wheeler. Very fine minerality about this wine, with delightful schisty aromatics, damp earth and haunting Pinot character. On the palate this has lovely elegance and sophistication, with a balanced palate of dry, herb-tinged red fruits, silky tannins and a fine acidity into a long finish.
Quartz Reef (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Slightly more baked and plummy quality, with a touch of schist and cherry brightness to the fruit coming through. On the palate quite a fine black fruited palate, with some cherry and plum skin bitterness that sits nicely with the fruit. Good acid structure, but perhaps suffers from a slightly drying fruit quality.
Quartz Reef (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2005
Dark, very concentrated chocolate-tinged nose, with a dark damson skin quality. Excellent ripeness and richness on the palate, with obvious concentration and a liquorice-edged, juicy cherry fruit quality. This is very promising.
Rippon Vineyards (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Patrick and Charles distribution. Nice coffee and warm fudge oaky notes at first, with a solid, vanillin and ripe fruit generosity to the fruit. On the palate a good solid core of cherry and focused, slightly lipsticky fruit, with very dry tannins and a warming wrapping of mellow oak.
Rippon Vineyards (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Very nice nose – earthy and soft, with a gentle strawberry fruit and a wrapping of tobacco and mellow oak. On the palate there is a nice red plum and orangy fruit and acid quality, with a rounding out of quite toasty, coffee oak and silky, dark tannins.
Rippon Vineyards (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2005
Slightly closed, dark, ungiving nose at present, with very dark, vivid purple colour. Tightly wound, concentrated cherry fruit – very muscular and compact, with excellent concentration. Fine, quite supple and dark tannins, and dry acidity in a dry, serious style. Promising
William Hill (New Zealand) “Shaky Bridge” Pinot Noir 2003
Quite a tight, fine nose, with good quality of fruit, and a certain brightness and elegance. Good cutting acidity o the palate, with a touch of chocolate and fine tannins, and leads into a solid, well-balanced finish.
William Hill (New Zealand) “Shaky Bridge” Pinot Noir 2003
Little bit of coffee and char, with fairly solid, ripe red fruit. The palate betrays a little lack of flesh, with very good fruit and decent sweetness, but the total package is a little lean.
William Hill (New Zealand) “Shaky Bridge” Pinot Noir 2003
Intense mineral and cherry, with a concentrated lean, savoury cherry fruit and plenty of crisp, slightly paintboxy Cru Beaujolais quality, with a plummy dry fruitiness.