Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to spend two packed weeks racing around New Zealand and tasting wines. As could be expected, there was plenty of Pinot Noir among the wines presented at various events, and I have to say I am certainly impressed by the overall level of quality many of these wines exhibited.

There’s a fairly broad brersity of styles on offer from the north to the south of this long, skinny pair of islands, a long with some famous regions with identifiable styles as well.

Take for instance Martinborough in the southeast of the North Island. Martinborough is known for its rather funky style of Pinot, many would say it is almost Burgundian. 

If you travel down to the south of the South Island you’ll end up in central Otago, home to a completely different style of Pinot: fruit forward and smooth and rich. Not that the wines from Martinborough lack richness, they just tend to be a bit more angular.

I like that angularity, so it is not surprising that some of my favorite wines, and particularly those from Central (as the Kiwi’s refer to Central Otago), featured plenty of obvious stem inclusion. All that green, both in tannin and flavor, offered a wonderful contrast to the rich, ripe fruit that most of the wines seem to effortlessly exhibit.

Before we bre into some tasting notes, and there are plenty, it’s worth mentioning some of the factors that play to New Zealand’s advantage when it comes to Pinot Noir, as well as some of the handicaps life down there offers up.
Wind 

New Zealand as a whole is one of the windiest places on earth to grow grapes. Many vineyards have sustained winds over 20 miles an hour for extended periods of time. What does that mean for the vines? 

For starters the wind helps cool the vines as it quickens respiration, which can be good if the vines are overheated or bad if the water supply available to the vines is inadequate to allow for this boost.

The wind also has a distinct effect on the structure of the vines. I spoke with viticulturalists and while I was not able to find any evidence to support my theory, it was meet with some approval. With this sort of wind, the plants have to provide stronger support for canes, shoots and cluster. More of the energy that might otherwise go into the growth of leaves and then grapes themselves must be devoted to the production of woody stems that can withstand the gusting winds.

This may be a marginal factor in what is already a big story in New Zealand, low yields, but it seems so basic to me that it shouldn’t be neglected. You see there is somewhat of an exponential effect here as less vegetation naturally supports a lower crop, then as the wind blows on swelling grape clusters, more energy needs to be brerted to help support the fruit. The wind on the vines is a ubiquitous season-long stress that is unique to New Zealand.

Sun

If you travel to New Zealand you find out pretty quickly about the sunshine down there - it is relentless and strong. UV light plays an important role in the grapes’ life cycle: quickening ripening, increasing the production of polyphenols (flavoring and coloring compounds) within the skins, and perhaps most importantly helping to degrade pyrazines, the compound that gives Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc their green pepper and herbal characters. 

Now anyone who has ever had a Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc can tell you that they are full of pyrazines, but that’s a character that the producers look for, so they simply make sure that the grapes remain well shaded from sunlight.

But there is more. New Zealand’s southern reaches are among the southernmost wine producing regions on the planet and with that comes a certain distinction: long hours of sunlight. 

All of that sunlight is put to good use by the vines, building leafs and berries that are richer and riper in flavonoids and anthocyanins than one might typically expect from such a cool climate. Make no mistake about it, New Zealand is one cool climate region.

Climate

Speaking of climate, with the cooling influences of the Tasman Sea and the Antarctic never more than some 125 miles away (New Zealand is only 250 miles wide at its widest point!), you can count on moderate temperatures throughout the country, even in the middle of summer. Now this past year was particularly cool, but waking up in Central Otago to temperatures in the low 40s is simply unheard of in most growing regions.

It would be easy to argue that the only reason New Zealand is able to produce the wines it does is because of the long days of sunlight and high UV exposition. I for one have rarely felt unremitting coolness in any other wine region quite like that I encountered in New Zealand.

What that means is simply that acid will be preserved in the grapes on the vine as they ripen, and thus the wines which will eventually be made from those grapes. Freshness and crispness, abundantly illustrated by the character of the Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs from New Zealand, are typical under these conditions.

Soil

The land that vines grow in tends to be a point of much discussion. Wines derive their minerality from these soils, or so we are lead to believe. The type and quantity of rocks and minerals is always highlighted as a positive attribute in soil discussions, but of course there is the possibility of it being too much of a good thing.

Many of the soils in New Zealand are barely soils. They are very young and have quite low quantities of organic matter to them (dirt). In many cases, they are more akin to gravel beds due to the retreat of rivers powered by glacial melt waters that recently covered much of New Zealand.

So what does that mean? It depends who you ask. For one thing, the soils provide exceptional drainage here, which is always a good thing since vines do not like to be sitting in water. On the flip side, with little organic matter the land doesn’t retain water, which coupled with the typically low rainfall in New Zealand means that virtually all vines are irrigated.

Some might argue that this is inherently a bad thing, a topic on which I am currently agnostic, but what you can’t argue is that it naturally has the power to lower yields, stimulate root growth and give growers quite a bit of control over the stress they can submit their vines to. 

Vine stress is another point of contention, with many winemakers saying that it is bad. Others favor it in varying degrees. I won’t belabor this point, I’ll only say that the poor soils in New Zealand afford growers a certain level of control over that stress.

Rain

I pretty much covered the fact that New Zealand’s wine regions have minimal rainfall, and how that affects the vines. You might want to know why the country’s growing regions have such little rainfall when you know that those lush, green landscapes you saw in the “Lord of Rings” trilogy where in fact in New Zealand. 

One look at the country and a bit of understanding about the weather patterns that surround offer a simple explanation. For the most part, New Zealand’s weather is dominated by what are known as Westerlies, winds from the southwest that carry up cool, moisture laden air from the Antarctic. 

Those Westerlies come barreling along and slam into New Zealand’s west coast, hit the mountain range that stretches the length of the South Island, travel up the flanks of those mountains and dump copious amounts of rain from Fjordland in the south right up the western flank of the island. That leaves precious little rain for the other four-fifths of the country.

This low rainfall is yet another factor that keeps yields naturally low in New Zealand. All these factors paint a particularly challenging picture for grape growers and wine makers, but when one plays his cards right, the results can be wines of exceptional quality. Beyond that simple notion of quality, these conditions create a unique expression of terroir that really seems to mark these wines from north to south. It’s an exciting distinction to see in the glass and one that I found fascinating while tasting so many Pinot Noirs in such a short period of time.

So what did I think of the wines beyond the simple observation that they have the potential to be delicious and distinctive?

One of the first observations I noted was that stem inclusion is working its way into the scene, much to my delight. I can say that some of the wines that really struck me did so because of their masterful blending of opulent fruit and complexity from the stems. It’s a sign, at least to me, of an industry that is ready to move beyond the mastery of delicious, fruit-driven wines and graduate to something much more compelling.

Back to the discussion of terroir though. The obvious examples are those that are best known: The Burgundian funk of Martinborough or the explosive red cherry fruit of Central Otago; though that leaves plenty of country to try and decipher. 

Wines from Canterbury and Waipara , of which I tasted many, offered up a blend of the two poles of the spectrum. There was plenty of fruit, often darker than that found in Central Otago’s Pinots. More black cherry and blackberry, but at the same time there was an earthy, lightly herbal complexity to the wines and a vivid sappiness in the best that really set them apart from the wines of other regions that I sampled. 

This is the only region that sees considerable hillside plantings of Pinot Noir, which may help in contributing that sort of complexity to these wines, also making for a rather beautiful emerging wine region. In many ways, I was most excited by the wines of Waipara because of this complexity and the fact that most were new to me.

Nelson is a relatively small wine producing region in New Zealand with relatively few wineries, but the warm, sunny conditions that makes this the water sport capital of New Zealand also make for awfully good wine. Perhaps the closest in character to what might be considered a Californian style, though there is ample competition on that front from some producers in Martinborough

Marlborough is Sauvignon Blanc country in New Zealand, though there is plenty Pinot Noir produced here as well. The Pinot seemed to my palate to be, as a group, among the most straight forward of the wines I tasted. Solid to be sure but lacking the distinctiveness of other regions.

And finally, Gisborne, New Zealand. Most humid and perhaps most challenging region for grape growing and winemaking. While I only tasted Pinot Noir from Millton in Gisborne, which can in no way be deemed representative of the region, I did find a lot to like in the ripe, briary style of wines.

So that’s it for edumacation. Now I want to share my tasting notes with you. I have to qualify the notes that are to come. Many were taken on large, walk around tastings. They lack the detail of many of my notes and as such do not have point scoring associated with them. In these large-scale tastings I really can only break wines down into about five categories at these tastings, no, maybe, sure why not, yes please, and wow.

I’ve compiled lists of each and grouped them below, with the notes from both styles of tastings interspersed. In all honesty, I am more sure of the long form notes than the short hand notes, but I am pretty confidant in the groups themselves. Where the wines stand within those groupings is another matter entirely.

The list below are the wines that really stayed in my mind, the cream of the crop as it were!






Wow


2009 Pyramid Valley Earth Smoke Pinot Noir North Canterbury

Smoky, mineral, musky, sappy dark fruit, almost a touch of chocolate, campfire, aromatic smoke, very smooth, nice mineral base, wild cherry fruit, mineral, stemmy herbal notes, fine limestone tannins, great transparent finish, good length.

2008 Pyramid valley Earth Smoke Pinot Noir North Canterbury

More fruit, brighter, nice mineral freshness, little fresh leather, a bit of meatiness, touch of flint, a bit calcareous, little stemmy, spicy nuances, super focus, bright, massive mineral backed raspberry fruit, then a huge cola, medicinal, spice not on the backend, finish is really savory, firm, a touch of black licorice bitterness, black cherry bitterness, brilliant.

2009 Muddy Water Hare’s Breath Pinot Noir Waipara

Floral, lightly stemmy, cocoa soil tones, wild berry fruit, ripe, black cherry, nicely balanced, bright, super tannins on fini, nice length, very complete.

2009 The Pruners Reward Waipara

Oily, slate, lingonberry, iron, perfumed spice. Cut red fruit, touch of pomegranate, spicy, balanced, zesty, pure delicate, super Sapid raspberry notes, wiry and light.

2010 The Crater Rim Pinot Noir Waipara

Very pretty, cola, black cherry, herb, spice, floral. Bright, super fine in the mouth, detailed fruit, black berry, herb, lovely nuanced oak and soil tones, this is a winner, lovely spicy fini, succulent tannins on finish.

2009 The Crater Rim Omihi Rise Pinot Noir Waipara

Nice, musky, low, some nutty oak, little stemmy herbs. Nice brightness, astringent tannins, round, kind of opulent but structured with a nice mineral tone on the back, then a touch of grapefruit oil in the red fruit, spicy, lightly minty finish, peppery.

2010 Craggy Range Te Mania Pinot Noir Hawkes Bay

Gorgeous red fruit, savory, a little stemmy, dried floral notes, dried herbs, fine, gentle, rather ephemeral. Ripe but spare tannins, soft integrated acid, a touch of wood early on the palate then savory, slight gamy blood, black pudding notes, wild cherry fruit, little wood spice, fine Sapid, gene, duty finish, good length.

2010 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir Martinborough

Tight, super fine, cool, crushed berry fruit, silky, supple, rather large scaled but deliciously well balanced, deep sappy fruit, fine bitter cherries huge mineral notes on the finish, a touch of toasty, nuts on the, bright and tense, huge real ours of deep, savory fruit, long and supper fine finish, dry and severe but not austere, , this is extract of bitter wild cherry.

2010 Escarpment Pinot Noir Martinborough

Perfumed, fine cur plum and crystallized raspberry fruit, lovely herbal back tones, fresh and fragrant, a little tight, tense, glossy black plum skin, black raspberry fruit, touch of cool spice nice solid core of spilt ones, Stony back fruit, super fine balance, has excellent tension, ice drive, this have knifepoint balance, huge extract of fruit but there is no fat here, fine black cherry fruit.

2010 Tiwaiwaka Pinot Noir Martinborough

Dense, lightly beefy, pressed flowers and cut cherry fruit, soil, almost chalky, bit of pencil lead, oak showing. Vibrant and bright, pretty large s led but this shows some blueberry up front, game, Sapid and fine dark plum notes, mineral cut, little cola, very complete, steely acids, nice aromatic spice notes on the finish, then this terns tight and. Bit stern, excellent length with. Right spice and a touch of heat on the finish, great juniper, green herbed strawberry seeds finish.

2010 Gladstone Pinot Noir Martinborough

Pretty on the nose, lightly floral, fresh plum, sappy astringent red berry, very light and layered, fine herb notes' sweet berry fruit on entry, bright, lovely herb toes, delicate and fresh, delicious wine, super inner mouth perfumes, refined and delicate, lovely drive to the fruit, puritans precision, finishes a bit short but succulent with red plum finale and spice notes.

2010 Martinborough Terraces Pinot Noir Martinborough

Tight, touch of powdered cherry sugar, wood, spice, hint of age, rich, broad and high, great inner mouth perfume, wild cherry, plum, herbs, a touch of meaty extract, superb tannin ripeness, powerful but still retiming a sense of delicacy, really fine drive to the cherry fruit on the backend, finishes with rich flavor and continuing delicacy of texture.

2010 Murdoch James Blue Rock Pinot Noir Martinborough

Intense and heavy on the nose. Firmly oaky, plummy, tobacco smoke, blackberry fruit, super savory dried herbstem notes, rich and very powerful but with impressive cut, there's really bright acid here, a deep core of savory fruit, super savory and layered with dried herb tones, a touch of salted plum, vanilla and incipient game notes, too big for me with. Touch of het showing but an impressive powerhouse, finishes with ample tannins.

2009 Margrain Home Block Pinot Noir Martinborough 

Pretty perfumes, earthy, lightly smoky, floral, rhubarb, strawberry and raspberry, a little wood, a touch blocky in the mouth but light and lively, really attractive freshness here with an edge of sage and spice topping the vivid raspberry fruit, very Oregon styled, rose pets in the mouth, plummy finish, vibrant and zesty, impressive fruit density.

2009 Schubert Block B Pinot Noir Martinborough

Leafy, dried herbs, aromatic, wild red fruit, nice soil tones, cooked lingonberry notes, smooth, round, nice and bright red fruit flavor, little plum skin, spicy, delicious, super ripe tannins, bright juicy acids, really clear fruit, shows great Stony soil tones, long, strawberry fruit n finish, this is firm and clear, still a touch tight perhaps.

2009 Johner Pinot Noir Reserve Martinborough

A bit smoky, a bit of nuttiness, larger format wood? A bit sappy, some earthy, herbal rhubarb notes, very fine texture, a lovely richness with some peachy tones knit into the seamless bitter cherry, slightly jammy strawberry fruit, late arriving earth and wood spice add detail, floats away on the finish, lovely ripe tannins and well integrated acids, good length, lost red currants on the finish, fine wild red cherry.

2009 Brodie Pinot Noir Martinborough

Perfumed, very pretty, Burgundian, leafy dried herb aromatics, bright fruit, bit of wood backing it all up, delicate and clear, raspberry fruit, light red fruit, super lively in the mouth, touch too much wood perhaps but this is aromatic and vibrant in the mouth, nuanced herb and savory notes all over the place, a bit too much wood again on the finish but it should integrate, nice length, fine ripe tannins.

2010 Neudorf Moutere Pinot Noir Nelson

Tight. Fine, perfumed, a bit of obvious oak, very focused nose, fine dried herbs, almost a touch of lavender, tender one try, silky, fairly rich background note of blackberry, black raspberry, bit of mint, supple tannins, bright, firm classy finish, long fresh black raspberry fruit finish, very Burgundian bit of licorice on finish.

2010 Neudorf Home Vineyard Pinot Noir Nelson

More depth, dry, face powder, black cherry skin, soil, shale, a touch of herbal spice, a bit of wood sweetness, a. Optical le step up in density, getting very close to premier cry burgundy here, fine density, sappy, liquory fruit, dense but not weighty, long, very fine and refined.

2010 Saint Clair Block 16 Pinot Noir Marlborough

This smells fine, with real mineral notes spice, ash, toast, nice intensity of liquory yet not terrible sweet fruit, bit of medicinal. Power, density on the palate but super fine, short, skin tannins, closed but hinting t wonderfully perfumed quality, fresh yet big.

2010 Churton Pinot Noir Marlborough

Candied, earthy, forest floor, rhubarb, bit of cowpatty, peaches, rosebuds, bit of cheese and prosciutto savory ness, sage, sandalwood. Bright, lithe, pure Pinot, this shows wonderful lightness, sage and lingonberry accents, bit of rhubarb, the some wild raspberry fruit, spices flying through the air, a bit of lavender, lovely delicate but firm texture, a wine with real clarity's d fine complexity, retains its aromatic quality in the mouth.

2010 Akarua Pinot Noir Central Otago 

Intense nose slightly toasty, ripe balanced and rich. Rich but bright and transparent, fine black cherry fruit, spiced, fine supporting wood, big tannic follow through, needs time for the oak to integrate, little chocolate.

2009 Mud House Pinot Noir Central Otago 

Little mocha, red fruit, spicy stem, wonderful fresh herbal edge, very pretty aromatics. Super vibrancy in the mouth, ripe, red fruit, zesty and brilliant, succulent, exciting texture.

2007 Maude Mt. Maude Vineyard Pinot Noir Central Otago 

Lovely nose, beautifully perfumed, ripe stems, a little prosciutto, some herbal quality, great musky fruit, cinnamon. Bright, Sapid, naively balanced, good transparency, lovely freshness of fruit, good inner mouth energy between ripe fruit and fine texture, good length too.

2010 Maude Mt. Maude Vineyard Pinot Noir Central Otago 

Little beetroot, quinine, mineral tight nose. Round, intense and opulent, layered, fine layered texture, lovely mineral tinged black raspberry, black cherry fruit, this has an innate sweetness, fine length, spicy, rocking wine.

2006 Chard Farm The Tiger Pinot Noir Central Otago 

Perfumed, mineral, bay and mint , aggressive lean, slightly angry nose. Super fine, delicacy and elegance very clear and vibrant red fruit raspberry bit of red currant excellent ripeness good length about as elegant as things get.

2010 Felton Road Cornish Point Pinot Noir Central Otago

Fine tea, far fruit, bit of mahogany. Whoa, this is rich and bright, super fine balance, ripe with rel energy, clarity of fruit, ripe tannins, fine lifting acidity, succulent fruit, bit sweeter on the finish, tense with real cut, lovely brightness on the long finish, cut of raspberry fruit, warm berries.

2009 Felton Road Block 3 Central Otago

Fine tea, far fruit, bit of mahogany. Whoa, this is rich and bright, super fine balance, ripe with real energy, clarity of fruit, ripe tannins, fine lifting acidity, succulent fruit, bit sweeter on the finish, tense with real cut, lovely brightness on the long finish, cut of raspberry fruit, warm berries.

2008 Quartz Reef Bendigo Estate Pinot Noir Central Otago

Muscular, deep fruit, a bit more obvious oak, sweet violet a touch medicinal. Delicacy, purity, finely ripe fruit, intense but not hugely rich or dense, inner mouth perfume, sage, touch of citrus pith, dusty but ripe tannins, really nice jump in quality here.

2010 Quartz Reef Bendigo Estate Pinot Noir Central Otago

Tight, rosebud very floral, heathery, very well integrated oak treatments, dry, almost austere, very refined, a touch compressed, very layered, lovely almost Burgundian density of fruit, deep, wiry, slightly amiable though no fat, lean and muscular, fine tannin structure, nice length, wood aromatics peak out on finish. 

2008 Bell Hill Pinot Noir Canterbury

Dark, muscular, mineral, juniper, fine edged fruit. Rich, perfectly ripe, precise, muscular, firm, focused, lively, touch of its pith, excellent length and fresh, Sapid.

2009 Kaimira Pinot Noir Nelson

Lovely, earthy, herbal, wiry toasted spice nose, green and ripe, strawberry tops. Bright and vivid in the mouth, very spicy herbal quality, plenty of sage, soft ripe tannins, integrated acids, finishes a touch short but still aromatic, spicy, green peppercorn.


Yes Please

2009  Milton La Cote Pinot Noir Gisborne

Sweet briar, touch of cola, spice, feral,, a bit of iron, sweet fruit bit of herb, fennel flower, rich, ripe and bright with slightly austere, slightly woodsy tannins, ripe berry fruit, touch currants with a bit of lingonberry,  root beer, rather medicinal.

2011 Pyramid Valley Earth Smoke Pinot Noir North Canterbury Barrel Sample 

Mineral, slightly jammy raspberry fruit, this smells downright Burgundian, almost Beaujolais like, very light on the palate, has a nice mineral stemmy, almost herbal quality, slightly medicinal on the moderately long finish.

2009 Ataahua Pinot Noir Waipara

Lovely cherry, cola, herb and stem fruit, touch of musk. Lush in mouth, fruity with a nice perfumed, stemmy backdrop, good length, touch of medicinal candy.

2009 Black Estate Pinot Noir Waipara

Sweet, touch of herb, raspberry Kind of sweet, rich raspberry fruit, nice edge of herb, lovely spicy edge of sweet orange. 

2010 Greystone Pinot Noir Waipara

Musky, rich, notably dark color, smoky, black raspberry, light black cherry skin. Bit of green sapwood. Round and polished, soft tannins, lots of grapes kin character, wild black raspberry, touch short, bit of chocolaty dry extract.

2009 Mountford Village Pinot Noir Waipara

Smoky, soil, iron, beef, cinnamon spice, almost a touch of ginger, smoky wood. Nice raspberry bright acids, mineral base, good complexity, nice tannin ripeness.

2008 Mountford Estate Pinot Noir Waipara

Fine blend of wood and musky fruit, ashy, dried black cherry. Smoky, fine clarity and balance, wonderful mouthfeel, light yet sleek with a touch of glycerin, a bit oaky, nutty, finishes very strongly.

2010 Pegasus Bay Prima Donna Waipara

Light mocha, hickory, Sapid, wiry fruit, blackberry, a little Co2 , round, a little dense and slightly chocolaty, nice herbal and black currant, black raspberry on back end, very smooth, fine ripe tannins on the finish.

2009 Pegasus Bay Prima Donna Waipara

Brownie, touch of plum, blackberry. Bright, juicy, fresh, black raspberry, ripe tannins, good length, juicy, touch of stem.

2010 Rock Face Pinot Noir Waipara

Candied lightly, meaty herbal spice, quinine. Light, nice cut, lovely mouthfeel, much fresher on the palate, clean, focused, good depth of fruit, excellent length, good astringent red fruit and mineral spice.

2010 The Crater Rim Canterbury Waipara

Quinine, stems, capers. Round, lush, rather exuberant texture if restrained flavors with black raspberry, black cherry pit, and a touch of burnt brownie, a sweet spice on the long finish.

2010 The Crater Rim From the Ashes Pinot Noir Waipara

Very pretty, spice, lightly stemmy nose, earthy, forest floor Burgundian. Red fruit, cranberry, hints of beef, white mushroom and herbs, green peppercorn, very well balanced, pure and transparent with a lovely sweetness of ripeness.

2009 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Hawke's Bay

Sapid, mineral, varietal, spiced, slightly cooked, cooled cranberry jelly, touch oaky. Broad and large scaled in the mouth, nice Sapid wild berry fruit, very ripe tannins, spicy oak is very well integrated, finishes a bit short, tight.

2008 Brodie Pinot Noir Martinborough

Bright aromatics, a bit of stem perhaps, perfumed, rhubarb, bit vegetal root tones, slightly medicinal, soft but pure feeling, light with a sense of delicacy but no shortage of power, big rhubarb, raspberry and black cherry  fruit, finely ripe tannins, some savory, dark notes to the core but this finishes with freshness, even if there is a bit of remaining wood sweetness.

2008 Te Hera Pinot Noir Wairarapa

Nice blend of sweet toasty wood spice, cocoa, and meaty, dark berry fruit, a bit plummy, really nice palate feel, soft tannins covered in cocoa dusted cherry fruit, a bit meaty, dark and story on the backend, then the fruit shows more of. Black raspberry note before the wood tannin, wood spice and dried met finish kicks in, long, savory and ripe, just a bit too much oak.

2009 Te Mania Pinot Noir Nelson

Darker, meatier, a bit more herb and earth, nice fine sage edge, pretty ripe feeling ripe tannins, savory n yet sweet at its core, very light on the palate even if this shows impressively ripe flavors, decent length, turns rather strawberries strawberry seeds on the finish, quite varietal, definite turns lighter and brighter on the palate though this shows oily herb stem and light coco notes right through the finish which picks up some Stony tones.

2009 Neudorf Tom’s Block Pinot Noir Nelson

Smells like a handful of freshly turned soil. Little pine nuts, floral, raspberry, a bit spicy, perfumed with fresh fruit and forest floor character, bright, fine cut, tense, nice sage accents up front, lingonberry, raspberry, fine tannins, succulent, slightly drying, little stern, not a fruity style but fruity aromatics, little flower stem romantics.

2010 Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Pinot Noir Marlborough

Intense, violet, black pepper, beefy, venison, green peppercorn, sweet, ripe yet astringent fruit, bit of citrus, huge intensity, liquory intensity, nice vivid citrus backbone Violet pastille  quality in the mouth, very smooth, super soft if abundant tannins. 

2009 Jackson Estate Pinot Noir Marlborough

Wow, fairly intense medicinal, root beer, stemmy character fades quickly, beefy, fine French oak aromas, toasted spice. Thick, rich, bright with acid, lovely cherry fruit, bit RRV like but with a nice floral, herbal backend, really fine ripe tannins, black cherry coal on the fini, then wood steeped tea.

2007 Surveyor Thomson Pinot Noir Central Otago 4

Very mineral nose, stem, smoke, floral, deep fruit. Soft and rich, nice cut, vibrant, rich yet transparent, fine mineral base, little black raspberry fruit, nice finish, super finish, nice spicy finale.

2009 Doctors Flat Pinot Noir Central Otago 

Sweet leather, little floral, quite floral. Lightly jammy, musk berry blackberry. Spicy, nice gentle stemmy notes, fresh fruit, bright, wild raspberry, a bit raw, a bit big cut.

2010 Doctors Flat Pinot Noir Central Otago 

Dark, oily stems, deep and aromatic, almost black fruit. Black currant, deep, powerful yet fine balance, super ripe tannins, acid a touch soft, a touch earthy, good grape skin intensity.

2009 Burn Cottage Pinot Noir Central Otago 

Pretty nose, flora and raspberry with a hint of meat, little pith and oak. Soft, juicy, open, nice fruit, little coulis character jammy, vanilla tinged raspberry sorbet fini, fruity style but well done.

2007 Prophet’s Rock Pinot Noir Pinot Noir Central Otago

Rich, silky, fine ripe tannins, bit of toast, nice spice notes, bit of Woody spice, super fine grinned tannins, nice savory acids, bit of spice for wood, quite elegant and fairly savory, log, bit o strawberry on fini, cool, sort of Oregonian, pretty ripe, nice mineral pomegranate seed stringent finale note, pretty big, brows wine, lots of ripe tannins, muscular, black fruit. 

2009 Prophet’s Rock Pinot Noir Pinot Noir Central Otago

Bright fresh, elegant, light, fresh red berry fruit, rose petal. Sweet fruit, precise, transparent, nice chiseled structure, sapid, mineral, gauze of fruit of if e detailed structure, s d soil, cut plum fruit, nice spice tones, restrained but not light, great intensity and fine juicy very red berry, red currant skin fruit, beautifully glassy fruit, clear, nice touch of herb adding freshness.

2010 Felton Road Bannockburn Pinot Noir Central Otago

Sweet but briary, savory, wild berry fruit, nicely balanced good intensity, touch of tea stem. Round, pretty lush, soft acids intense soft tannins mouth filling a juicy, syrupy quality, kind of lingonberry currant jamminess, spicy stem tannins on finish, pretty long.

2010 Felton Road Calvert Pinot Noir Central Otago

More oak driven, toasty spicy, cherry skin, deep but gentle. Bright, nice early it, fine anew nice, mw yet full palate feel, a burnished quality to the fruit, nice set of tannins a, layered on the backend, fine layered tannins, nice savory quality, good length, nice layered finish, sweet fruit yet not fruity.

2010 Soho Havana Pinot Noir Marlborough

Sweet red fruit, spice, floral, balanced and elegant, touch green. Bit of pith, lime, grapefruit, bright, fresh, good structure, nice mineral, bit of stem, nice freshness on finish, Sapid. 

2009 Marisco Wrath Pinot Noir Marlborough

Wild cherry, earth and herb, nice base of nutty oak is well integrated. Bright, nicely precise for it size, big black cherry, black raspberry fruit, spicy fini with lovely if large scaled fruit, austere black fruit finish.


Sure why not?


2009 Millton Clos St. Anne Pinot Noir Gisborne

Here there is a touch of oak said soil tones, gentle autumnal spices, and floral aromas, touch rubbery, finer tannins, nice burnt cherry fruit, round, very nice fruit intensity on the mp, lovely elegant finish, orchard skins.

2009 Pyramid Valley Angel Flower Pinot Noir North Canterbury

Floral, gamy red fruits, touch dusty mineral, a hint of medicinal fennel pollen, cola nut, dusty tannins, bright, fresh fruit, a touch of orange rind, dusty, dried cherry, slightly medicinal, bright acids, really cuts the backend and the finish.

2010 Black Estate Pinot Noir Waipara

Ash, some blackberry, black currant fruit. Opulent, bright, fine, dry mineral tannins, iron, dusty, sophisticated if seemingly a touch extracted.

2009 Mountford Estate Pinot Noir Waipara

Lightly creamy coffee oak, spiced. Fine focus, wood sweetness rounds out the palate, creamy, lots of mocha on the palate.

2010 Muddy Water Pinot Noir Waipara

A bit of bay, vanilla, and dense black currant fruit. Light, fresh, easy and pure light red currant and light raspberry fruit.

2009 Pegasus Bay Waipara

Woodsy, hint of caramel sweetness, spicy, herbal slightly medicinal. Light, fresh, good berry fruit, fine stemmy herbal notes, nice balance, some dry tannin on finish.

2010 The Crater Rim Banks Peninsula Pinot Noir Waipara

Green, mineral, acorn, beans, stemmy, red currant. Lovely feel, seamless, nice richness, this is lean and a bit light, but shows fine ripeness of texture, lacks some depth of flavor.

2009 The Crater Rim Lot 7 Waipara

Pomegranate, mint, nutty oak, extracty, slightly medicinal, briar, quinine. Very round, deep, a little detail-less, rich, black cherry, cola, short, super ripe tannins.

2009 Waipara Springs Premo Pinot Noir

Cola nut, bit of wood. Nice texture, relatively full, smooth, rich, fruity style cherry vanilla, touch of musky flora. Candied red cherry raspberry finish.

2010 Kupe by Escarpment Martinborough 

Rhubarb, earthy, beet root, a little olive, definitely some astringency on the nose, savory, rich, a little sweeter and denser than the Escarpment, less cut and energy too, some black olive character, rhubarb and beet root in the. Big, rich, little powdery, dense and chewy almost cocoa like in the mouth.

2010 Paddy Borthwick  Pinot Noir Wairarapa

Earthy, a touch sweet, light aromatics, red berry and plum fruit, a touch of wood spice, this is soft, strawberry fruit up front, lost might have some RS, lovely easy slightly jammy plum and red berry fruit, bright acids, decent follow through shows more fresh fruit check, wild. Cherry undertones, fruity style.

2010 Te Kairanga Pinot Noir Wairarapa

Stemmy, earthy, big dried herbs up front on the nose, a bit of tea, some sweet, Tory oak. Well, lovely in the mouth, aromatic, fruity, slightly sappy, clear, fresh, fine balance, round tannins, bright, juicy acids keeping this raspberry toned, easy drinking, zesty, bistro styled. 

2009 Margrain River’s Edge Pinot Noir Martinborough

A bit smoky, minty, floral, a bit ashy, some thin mints, very light and zesty in the mouth with fine mineral cute,  touch of her. Stem, basil stem accenting the ripe cherry, berry fruit, nice earthy core here, fine clarity, finishes with more spice notes and a nice firmness and tension, eighty eight.

2009 Johner Pinot Noir Martinborough

Organic smelling, earthy, stony, dusty, some beet root, real complexity, little cola sassafras, delicate on entry, soft and broad, nice core of fruit, a touch of earthy bitterness adds detail to the red berry fruit, stony, lovely texture and richness of flavor, good length, very varietal, nice cherry pit finale, a touch short. 

2009 Te Mania Reserve Pinot Noir Nelson

Tight, floral, perfumed, fine seeds, green anise seed, earth, real green floral tone, a bit chamomile, opulent and lost velvety, rich seamless, fine raspberry fruit, bright and fresh gentle herbal accent, strawberry tops, super ripe tannins, bright acids. fine length, Little shy on the Nose.

2010 Richmond Plains Pinot Noir Nelson

Super stemmy, earthy initial blast on the nose fine soil tones, a nice flush, dry herbs, a bit sweet and fruity bit chunky, great acid savory coco tinged light black cherry fruit, bit of bacon, maple smoked bacon, tight little finish, honest feel to this wine.

2010 Brancott Terraces Pinot noir Marlborough

Lovely root beer shaded, bright bitter cherry pomegranate seed, clean and fresh, lovely fruit based spice, black cherry nose, rich and powerful but not fruity. Or sweet, long, has impressive palate starting flavor intensity but not weight, bit of heat on the fini, still very fine.

2010 Saint Clair Block 10 Pinot Noir Marlborough

More oak, woods, forest floor, bit of cola, round, tight, wood sweetness, 2010 best vintage for Pinot noir, dense, ripe fine bed of soft tannins, lovely density of fruit, nice stony fruit on the palate with rose petal notes on the finish, some wood tannins but covered with rich, glycerin rich fruit, a little pomegranate.

2009 Dog Point Pinot Noir Marlborough

Meaty, cut cherry, bit of tar and mint. Nice weight, decent clarity, a touch chunk, wild berry fruit, a nice bit of stemminess, touch loose and dilute though with fine flavor, not a great finish, a bit dry, lean, perhaps a little minerally but lacks brightness, flavors are excellent.

2010 Dog Point Pinot Noir Marlborough

Bright, ripe sweet, bit of cocoa, bit of animal, purer raspberry type fruit. Round yet direct, very fine fruit character, ripe raspberry, nice earthy, forest floor, a bit dense, tight, good length, earthy red berry fruit on the finish, fi e ripeness to the tannins good succulent, dark fruit, earthy, tight, nice fruit density.

2008 Highfield Pinot Noir Marlborough

Notable oak top notes, perfumed, fine use of oak, slightly warm, spiced cherry coulis, touch of cola. Lovely mouthfeel, richness and clarity with a nice spiced top note over clear, fresh red berry fruit, structurally very fine, a bit of faint herbal spice. 

2010 Jules Taylor Pinot Noir

Nicely aromatic, a savory quality, fruit, forest floor, dried herb, rather complete on the nose. Rich and a bit sweeten the palate, this is a crowd pleaser, with some attractive detail dinner mouth perfumes of ripe stem, dusty root. Eventual and medicinal hints accenting the rather intense, dark if rose petal and black curranty fruit, finish is a little compressed, this might turn out very well indeed, rather new world styled though.

2009 Ara Pinot Noir Marlborough

Gentle, floral, red apple peels, rather light, perfumed, astringent red fruit. Bright, clean, slightly candied wild cherry raspberry fruit, very Pinot, cleansing on the palate, cherry pit, finishes a touch short perhaps. It with more of this rather transparent if slightly candied raspberry wild cherry fruit, rather nice. 

2010 Rippon Mature Vine Pinot Noir Central Otago 3.5

Stem, herbal, medicinal, aromatic, super fine fruit. Gorgeous fruit, precise, fresh, floral and red berry, really nice mineral edge, lovely sort of musky, sort of wild berry fruit tone.

2010 Peregrine Pinot Noir Central Otago 3.5

Great aromatics, crushed berry red currant, spice sandlewood. Nice inner mouth perfume, fingered and litte back fruits ripe tannins good acids nice balance, bit tense, dries a bit on the finish.

2007 Northburn Station Pinot Noir Central Otago 3.5

Woodsy, nutty, a bit oaky but integrated. Rich, bright, good power, lacks some detail but delivers very well balanced integrated, slightly black, slightly candied fruit, little mocha on finish.

2009 Ellero Pisa terrace Vineyard Pinot Noir Central Otago 3.5

Little chalk, earth, funk, strawberry fruit. Soft and rich, nice bit of nuttiness in background on midpalate, simmered coulis, raspberry nice savory fruit bit of pork fat, liquory red fruit, pretty long.

2007 Desert Heart Pinot Noir Central Otago 

Aromatic, sandalwood dust great sawn wood notes. Softer than expected, burnished cherry fruit, nice weight and depth vibrant touch of dried herbs, sweetness of ripeness, tannins are a touch angular.

2009 Desert Heart Pinot Noir Central Otago 

Floral, little meat, beet root, astringent red fruit, hint of vanilla. Fresh, zesty and bright, raspberry, fine direct green herb notes, soft fruit, good acids, nice cherry fruit on finish.

2009 Aurum Madeliane Pinot Noir Central Otago 

Lean fresh raspberry fruit, clean and woodsy. Fine and delicate texture, pretty ripe, pretty fruity, nicely ripe tannins, barrel roundness, succulent finish, nice cut, good length.

2009 Clos Henri Pinot Noir Marlborough

Sweet wood, sweet fruit, sweet herb, bit of vanilla, tight and aggressive. Soft, supple, touch or herb, raspberry fruit, nice cut on mid-palate, low, musky, woodsy flavors, cranberry finish, slightly astringent.