Remarkably it’s nearly eight years since we had a concerted taste through New Zealand red wines. But even then, our panel concentrated on reds other than pinot noir. Now, deservedly, we are turning our attention to the pinots in our two-part series. In part one, we look to the David and Goliath regions of Marlborough and Wairarapa, while our June/July issue, we’ll focus on Central Otago and other regions.

For many years, any other grape variety in Marlborough played second fiddle to sauvignon blanc. Finally pinot noir is being taken very seriously. Previously, I had thought Marlborough pinots lacked intensity and were often green, with the occasional stronger wine tough and trying too hard. But just as the region’s producers have tamed excessive herbaceousness in sauvignon blanc to deliver passionfruit and citrus, their pinot noirs are now more sweet-fruited, with finer tannins.

Marlborough has 27,808 ha of vineyard, 70% of New Zealand’s total, but there’s a limit to much more expansion as the region gets more frost-prone as you go inland. Many pinot noir vineyards, the serious ones, have gained quality by moving to the southern valleys.  

At 1,039 ha, Wairarapa is a much smaller region than Marlborough, but half of that area is pinot noir. There are around 40 producers, the principle reason being the big companies are not impressed by Wairarapa’s low yields. On my last trip, it was clear the region had outstanding wines, but its reputation seemed to rely on a few top performers and there was a long tail. Vine age, experience and perhaps a little help from climate change have brought wider improvement and, unlike in Marlborough, pinot noir sites in Wairarapa have remained largely unchanged.

That’s not to say there’s no variation. The Masterson area in the north is well sheltered by the Tararua Range but, being further inland, is more frost prone in spring and hot in mid-summer. Gladstone is cooler, offering a range of gentle slopes and flats interrupted by river beds. The most southern vineyards largely surround the small town of Martinborough.

It can be easy to overlook the strength of New Zealand pinot.
It can be easy to overlook the strength of New Zealand pinot.

While Marlborough is reasonably protected from cold southerly winds, Wairarapa lies wide open to them, a problem in spring and during flowering. In winter, the region’s frosts generally come from the inland cold air that follows the river bed many metres below the top of the escarpment and, when it spills over the edge, there’s danger. A winemaker friend flew helium balloons in the early hours to track the path of the air.

Our regular tasters were educator and writer Peter Bourne, fine wine consultant Andrew Caillard MW, Sophie Otton, proprietor and sommelier at She Loves You wine bar, writer and wine judge Toni Paterson MW and me, winemaking consultant Nick Bulleid MW. We were joined by the semi-regular David Murphy, proprietor at One Penny Red restaurant. I must apologise to David, and to Sixpenny restaurant in Stanmore, for confusing two Pennies in my introduction to the Nebbiolo tasting last year.

We tasted the wines in descending vintage order from 2020 to 2013. This had the unintended but welcome result of separating multiple wines from the same producer. Unknown to us, the regions were grouped within each vintage but, as far as I was concerned, the blocks were not obvious, obscured by the quality and stylistic differences of individual wines. They are here in alphabetical order within their regions for ease of navigation.

Fate struck a blow when Otton’s computer had an unrecoverable meltdown. The other panel members stepped up giving me notes on her high-pointed wines. She did, however, send me notes on two wines that she already knew well.

A final comment on the qualities of the two regions comes from the statistics. We reviewed 65% of the Wairarapa wines we tasted, while the Marlborough reviews amounted to 64%. Enough said. So enjoy what we report on below. In the meantime, our panel is looking forward to tasting the pinots from New Zealand’s remaining regions.

Marlborough

2017 Ara Wines Resolute Pinot Noir (A$22/NZ$35) shows considerable depth of fresh raspberry on the nose. There’s lovely balance and line through the mouth, with the lively red fruit flavours enhanced by a nice touch of acidity. Caillard was a strong supporter: “Fresh strawberry, red cherry and chinotto aromas with herb garden, aniseed notes. Well-balanced, supple wine with generous red cherry, cranberry fruits, plentiful silky tannins and vanilla oak complexity. Builds up firm and juicy at the finish with underlying linear acidity.”

2016 Astrolabe Province Pinot Noir (A$35/NZ$35) appealed strongly to Paterson, who thought it, “A youthful, expressive wine with bright cherry aromas. The palate is concentrated, taut, snappy and gently warming. Youthful and fresh. Room to grow.” Youthful raspberry aromas were my first impressions. Fresh, sweet fruit flavours abound in a fine structure, with silky tannins to finish.

2018 Auntsfield Hawk Hill Pinot Noir (A$50/NZ$58) found Murphy the strongest supporter. “Wafts of amaro, Campari, rosehip, soft spice and violets proposes a savoury yet pretty bouquet. Exudes a sense of generous elegance. The nicely integrated oak allows the red and blue scents of morello cherry, boysenberry and pomegranate to take the lead. Lively acidity and dry finish complete a powerful wine.” That power resides in very ripe, plummy fruit and the alcohol warmth that I thought accentuated the tannins somewhat. It would suit full-flavoured dishes well.

2017 Blank Canvas Pinot Noir Upton Downs (A$58/NZ$49) impressed Bourne. “Delicacy is the key to this graceful pinot,” he explained. “Strawberry, cherry and red plums mingle with sweet Asian spices. The palate is fine yet there’s ample flavour. A refreshing zing of acid and gently persistent tannins extend the finish.” I liked its fragrant sweet fruit, offset by faint herbal notes. Good line and balance complete a poised, flavoursome wine.

2017 Clos Henri Petit Clos Pinot Noir (NZ$27) found a strong supporter in Otton. “Expressive lighter red fruits, with nuances of savoury spice,” she began. “Harmonious flavours, buoyed by fresh acidity and fine, supple tannins. Poised and composed, deliciously alive and vivid in the glass.” I particularly noted strawberry in the fragrance. It’s relatively light in weight, but the intense flavours give the wine deliciousness, as well as charm.

The Champagnes showed great body and texture.

2010 Clos Henri Pinot Noir (NZ$45) was particularly impressive for its age, I thought, showing how well good pinot noir can age. The colour’s now a mid-brick, garnet red, matching the complex leather and forest floor notes in the bouquet. The palate still has sweet fruit flavours, showing again that aged colour is no clue to quality in pinot. Those and the savoury characters linger well with fine tannins.

2018 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir (A$50/NZ$50) gained high points from Bourne, who found, “A complex amalgam of soft red fruits – strawberry, raspberry and red cherry – autumnal leaves and damp earth. The palate echoes the nose with a subtle/savoury profile and an acid etched finish.” Those red fruit aromas were deceptively light, as the flavours had good depth, while the overall impression was of suppleness and charming balance, with fine tannins.

2016 Corofin Churton Vineyard Clod Block Pinot Noir (A$59/NZ$49) was one of my favourites. It’s deceptively stylish, even light in body, but has considerable intensity, with raspberry, other sweet berries and forest-floor aromas. The flavours follow consistently, framed in a balanced palate, with fine tannins and good length. Bourne wrote: “Subtle red fruit aromas – cranberry and cherry – mingled with wood smoke and autumnal leaves. Quite fine on the palate with elements of umami and charcuterie dominating. Gentle finish with good acid/tannin balance.”

2017 Corofin Cowley Family Vineyard Main Slopes Pinot Noir (A$59/NZ$50) gained strong support from Otton, who noted, “Complex aromas in the darker fruit spectrum. Structured and quite deep-set with tightly layered fruit. Wonderful flavour depth and texture, finishing with length and savoury restraint.” The wine is certainly dense and complex, with oak and a touch of reduction adding to its amalgam of characters. It finishes with plenty of firm tannin, yet red cherry shines through. Otton concluded it “will unfurl beautifully with time”.

Sitting north of Cook Strait, Wairarapa is exposed to freezing cold winds.
Sitting north of Cook Strait, Wairarapa is exposed to freezing cold winds.

2019 Delta Pinot Noir (NZ$20) combines red berries, a little oak, reduction and suggestions of stems in its intriguing nose. The palate’s tight and intense, with those same impressions from the nose, yet the wine finishes balanced, with fine tannins. Bourne wrote, “Bold aromas of dark cherry, blood plums, with a clove-like spice in the background. These dark fruits are repeated on the palate with boysenberry and mulberry to the fore. That said, the overriding flavours are in the savoury/umami mode. Benefits from some aeration.”

2017 Dog Point Vineyard Pinot Noir (A$47/NZ$50) found Murphy enthusiastic. “Deep cherry red colour with soft scents of raspberry, strawberry and redcurrant ... mellowed by cocoa, almond and vanilla pod from the gentle oak. Some reduction may deter, but with a little decant, the palate is full of sweet/earthy red fruits like pomegranate and rhubarb. There’s a minerality or iodine-like finish to the palate, which keeps the structured wine on the edge, but intact.” Structured it certainly is, but the slightly chewy, firm tannins have concentrated, ripe red plum flavours to match. An impressive wine on several levels.

2017 Fromm Clayvin Vineyard Pinot Noir (NZ$85/$A99) has a mid-crimson colour that announces a very youthful nose. This has rich fruit with well-handled oak. The palate starts with suppleness and good flesh, but distinct, yet fine, tannins and acidity become more prominent, the flavours lingering well. Bourne said, “This is a powerful pinot with concentrated bouquet of dark plums and mulberries. ‘Bold but beautiful’ aptly describes the palate, with fruit and oak tannins sharing the stage. Needs time to show its best.”

2016 Giesen Single Vineyard Clayvin Pinot Noir (A$50/NZ$60) found strong support from Murphy, who wrote: “A youthful nose displaying red cherry, blue stone fruits, rhubarb, pomegranate and a splash of Campari for a perfectly bitter edge. Savoury palate heightened by herbal and rosehip notes. Continues with the excellent red fruit core finishing with fine chalky tannins.” I found the fruit distinctly ripe, nicely matching the opulent, fleshy palate. It’s barely showing development, suggesting it will gain complexity over several years.

2016 Giesen Single Vineyard Ridge Block Pinot Noir (A$50/NZ$60) won universal support, with Caillard speaking up. “Perfumed strawberry, apricot aromas, hints of marzipan and cola with vanilla notes. Generous and minerally with supple cherry, stone fruit flavours. Integrated vanilla, toasty oak, fine supple sweet tannins and fresh long acidity. Finishes sappy, al-dente firm. Some cola notes at the finish. Ready to drink.” I thought the freshness, suppleness and rich, sweet fruits were beautiful. Fine tannins complete the package.

2017 Giesen Limited Edition Organic Pinot Noir (A$40/NZ$40) also had widespread approval. Sweet fruits – red and black cherry – were again a strong feature, this time with oak making an attractive appearance. There’s excellent balance and line through the mouth, with fine tannins and a refreshing touch of acidity to finish. Caillard found, “Strawberry, redcurrant, raspberry aromas with herb notes. Generous and supple with fresh red cherry fruits, fine plentiful chalky tannins and well-balanced vanilla toasty oak complexity. Finishes al dente firm with persistent, fresh red fruits.”

2017 Greywacke Pinot Noir (A$55/NZ$49) has considerable depth of ripe, plummy fruit with complexity from oak and a little whole bunch funk. The flavours are similar – the richness offset by distinct acidity – and linger well, oak tannins contributing. Caillard thought reduction and oak were distracting, but Paterson had no doubts. “A delicious and expressive pinot noir which has a gorgeous mix of red and dark fruits,”she wrote. “Orange peel accents add interest. Oak is evident, though it is of high quality and adds a complementary accent to the fruit, though I expect it will integrate with time. Lovely.” Check out winemaker Kevin Judd’s photography skills on the Greywacke website.

2019 Jules Taylor Pinot Noir (A$35/NZ$33) also found Paterson enthusiastic. “Bright, snappy aromatics with pomegranate, cranberry and sour cherry aromatics. I like the coolness, the purity of the fruit. It has lighter intensity than some of the other wines, though this is a positive. There is an excellent core of sweet, red fruit and a rounded, open mid-palate. A well-proportioned wine with appropriate structure to see it develop with time.” I thought it a denser expression of pinot, with concentrated flavours and firm tannins, but agreed it had time on its side.

Undoubtedly cool, the regions are mostly protected from frost.
Undoubtedly cool, the regions are mostly protected from frost.

2019 Mahi Marlborough Pinot Noir (A$40/NZ$35) received with the highest points from Otton, with Murphy summing up her notes. “A fully loaded bouquet of red berry, wild red cherry, anise, soft earth and some soft amaro/savoury like edges. You could say it has a little Sicilian style about it. Crisp red fruits such as currants and raspberry fill the palate with a fresh sour cherry tartness and some silky tannins. A fine mineral finish completes this lovely wine.” I liked its complex blend of cherry and oak flavours, the latter on the prominent side, but not detracting from the balance. It will develop well.

2015 Nautilus Estate Clay Hills Vineyard Pinot Noir (A$58/NZ$68) had wide support, showing sweet, raspberry and red cherry aromas with subtle oak. I thought the oak became more prominent on palate, but there’s plenty of fruit to match, with cedary development adding complexity. Bourne noted, “Bright red cherry and sarsaparilla aromas with a spicy lift of star anise. High-toned palate with great finesse, the finish refreshed by bright acidity.” Delicious now and nearing its best.

2019 Noble Fellows Colonel Kiwi Pinot Noir (A$20) appealed to Caillard, who told us: “Attractive dark cherry, cola aromas with some herb garden vanilla notes. Well
concentrated and slinky textured, with dark cranberry, chinotto and fine chalky tannins. Some attractive density and well-balanced acidity. Minerally and expressive.” I found plum and cherry notes, but thought the greener elements too prominent. Still, it’s good value and an unusual addition to the animal or ‘critter’ labels.

2015 Spy Valley Envoy Outpost Vineyard Pinot Noir (NZ$55) started a bit closed, but opened in the glass to show fresh raspberry and other fruits. Cherries appear in the flavours, with a matching cherry-stone grip to the tannins. “A fragrant pinot with intense and distinctive dark cherry and blood plum characters,” Paterson wrote. “Youthful and bright with snappy, high acid and chalky tannins. The structure is well defined and compelling flavours.” The wine is remarkably fresh and bright for a six-year old, suggesting it will develop complexity over several more years.

These standouts were beautiful examples of pinot.
These standouts were beautiful examples of pinot.

2019 Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Pinot Noir (A$29) shows good concentration in its aromas, with red and darker berries and oak spices. It’s full and round in the mouth, even full-bodied for pinot, finishing with dry tannins. Murphy wrote, “Deep ruby colour. Scents of pomegranate, raspberry, anise integrate nicely with the lift of musk and new season cherries. Red florals and a splash of cedary oak add to the generosity. These characters follow through the palate, which is nicely rounded off by some focused tannins and a subtle menthol lift.”

2017 Te Whare Ra TWR Pinot Noir (A$55/NZ$50) caught Murphy’s attention. “A complex wine with plenty of red fruit characters on the nose,” he started. “Cherry, strawberry and plum. A scent of red apple skin and some savoury edges keep the intrigue. The palate is round and continues on the savoury theme, with pomegranate, maraschino, dried herbs and a pine cone earthiness. Fine tannins complement this firmly structured wine.” I loved the strawberry fragrance and while this is quite a delicate wine, it ticks all the boxes: good balance, line and length, fine tannins and delicious flavours. It’s a wine of charm more than impact.

2017 Vavasour Felix’s Vineyard Pinot Noir (NZ$39) is highly perfumed, with cherry, other red fruits and sappy suggestions of whole bunches. The palate is supple and juicy, with raspberry flavours and a light grip to finish. Paterson noted, “Wild red fruits and spice. Excellent mid-palate succulence. It is a bold, intense wine with hints of spice, bright acidity and lovely length. Textured and delicious.”

Some of the wines were definitely produced with cellaring in mind.
Some of the wines were definitely produced with cellaring in mind.

2019 Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir (A$35/NZ$25) gained wide support. The nose shows intense red and black cherry aromas giving a sense of purity. There’s plenty of cherry flavour and good weight in the mouth, with flesh and balance. Fine tannins complete the picture. The wine’s range is one above Villa’s entry level and has clearly been finished well for immediate drinkability. It will take a little time in bottle with ease.

2015 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Southern Clays Pinot Noir (A$70/NZ$60) pleased Murphy. “Some signs of bottle age, but a pretty bouquet of red berry, pine cones, raspberry liquorice. Fragrant spices with dried herbal edges keeping everything in order. On the palate, savoury rosehip and lifted floral scents that contribute to a silky finish with some soft velvety tannins.” I thought it a wine of two parts, finding the nose quite closed and showing a little reduction, but it blossomed in the mouth, with plenty of red and black cherry flavour, the reduction adding merely a savoury edge. It’s full-flavoured and bodied, with fine tannins.

2015 Villa Maria The Attorney Organic Pinot Noir (A$70/NZ$70) shows redcurrants and a little raspberry in its aromas, with hints of garden herbs. The palate’s quite tight, with attractive red fruits and a cherry-pip grip on the finish. Bourne found, “Vibrant perfumes of fresh cranberry and redcurrants with an equally juicy red-fruit flavoured palate. A real sense of balance here, with acid and tannin playing an equal role. Highly drinkable.” The flavours barely reflect the wine’s age and it should develop further.

Climate change has delivered benefits for the Wairarapa.
Climate change has delivered benefits for the Wairarapa.

Wairarapa

2018 Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir, Martinborough (A$40/NZ$38) has fresh red plum and cherry aromas with a light stemmy edge. The palate’s round, showing nice flesh and a light tannin grip. Paterson thought it, “A gently structural pinot noir with good varietal character. Subtle fine oak, attractive spice and pleasing length. Good mid-palate fruit surrounded by a gentle herbal frame. I enjoy the gently puckering nature of the tannins on the close.”

2017 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir, Martinborough (A$100/NZ$75) has, according to Murphy “a wonderfully perfumed nose”. He found “cherry, red stone-fruit, raspberry liquorice and wild herbs. Oak is deftly handled and doesn’t detract from the zippy palate which is alive with maraschino and juicy red plums. Finishes with a fine, flinty minerality and offers plenty of room to grow”. I agreed on the lively, fragrant nose and distinct, high-quality oak, but found the palate tighter and unevolved. It’s not unusual for the ‘junior’ wine, in this case the Crimson above, to show better when young. I have seen this so often with Yarra pinot noir and chardonnay. But the fruit here has clearly been selected for the long haul, so give it time.

2018 Craggy Range Aroha Pinot Noir, Martinborough (NZ$150) found Paterson almost overcome. “Sweet, alluring vanilla and cherry aromatics with a scattering of green herbs and a touch of spice,” she told us. “Great pinosity. The palate is layered and intense with spice being a defining element of the wine’s character. It has the initial perception of lightness, though builds with time in the glass. Attractive, herbal flecks add interest and they add to the distinctly savoury nature of the palate. I like that the wine is not laden with fruit and I expect it will shine brightly with food.” I loved the sweet fruit and complexity, lifted by whole bunch fragrance. The sweet/savoury combination is excellent as is the balance of tannins and acidity. It will age brilliantly.

2017 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Pinot Noir, Martinborough (NZ$55) shows intense raspberry and hints of stems on the nose, complexed by fragrant oak. The palate is quite taut, but sweet fruit builds in the glass beautifully. Paterson thought it,
“A composed, harmonious wine with dried cranberry, cherry and redcurrant fruits. Integrated spice adds interest. The palate is laden with juicy, soft red fruits making it a rather more-ish drop. Silky tannins on the close.”

All of the wines would work well with generously flavoured food.

2017 Dry River Pinot Noir, Martinborough (A$115/NZ$100) had strong approval from Otton and Bourne, the latter telling us, “Concentrated red fruits – cranberry, cherry and plums with a whiff of star anise. The palate is perfectly poised with an attractive tension between racy acidity and fine-grained tannin. Time will add another layer of complexity.” I was struck by the pot-pourri fragrance that intensified the raspberry notes. I also liked the cedary oak adding complexity. It takes a brisk path through the mouth, yet the overall impression is one of finesse.

2018 Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir, Martinborough (A$100/NZ$115) won top points from Murphy and Caillard, the former finding, “A bright and rich bouquet with rhubarb, ripe cherry, raspberry and a splash of juicy redcurrant. The silky nose is enhanced by some well-handled use of oak, offering a subtle and balanced addition of vanilla and chestnut. The palate continues with a soft approach followed by fine tannins and elegant structure. Caillard added: “Complex aromas of Negroni, ripe strawberry and apricot. Mouth-filling and generous with plentiful sweet fruits and expansive tannin plume”. Remarkably, he also mentioned vanilla and roasted chestnut oak. I’ll merely add that I loved the sweet fruits, fine tannins and lingering flavours.

2018 Escarpment Te Rehua Pinot Noir, Martinborough (A$75/NZ$85) again won praise from Caillard, who noted, “Sweet stone fruit, strawberry and vanilla aromas with herb garden, anise notes. Well-concentrated and generous with deep-set dark cherry, apricot fruits, integrated roasted chestnut oak. Superb mid-palate viscosity and fine, silky tannins. Finishes al-dente firm and long with plentiful ripe fruits.” I liked the raspberry fragrance and while the wine is relatively light in weight, the flavour builds well. Murphy and I thought the tannins a bit abrupt.

2018 Gladstone Vineyard Pinot Noir, Gladstone (NZ$45) has a complex nose that’s already showing forest floor development. There’s good flesh on the palate, but I thought the tannins showed a green edge. Bourne had no doubts, writing: “Ripe plum and boysenberry with a whiff of mocha. Concentrated fruit in the blue/black spectrum with a firm structure and decisive tannins. Deserves some time in a cool cellar.” Paterson added, “lovely fruit with a cool note”.

2018 Martinborough Vineyard Home Block Pinot Noir, Martinborough (NZ$75) is starting to show development, with forest-floor complexity lifted by estery fragrance. The palate is beautifully balanced, combining sweet, red cherry flavours and fine tannins. Nice length, too. Paterson found, “Aromatic red fruits with hints of tomato leaf and rhubarb. The palate has juicy cherry fruit on the mid palate with appropriate acid and integrated tannin. Subtle spice adds interest. A juicy, generous pinot.”

2019 Martinborough Vineyard Te Tera Pinot Noir, Martinborough (NZ$35) shows sappy, fragrant redcurrant and raspberry aromas nicely married with oak. A supple palate, with sweet fruits and a suggestion of whole bunch use, finishing with good length and fine stemmy tannins. Caillard noted, “Intense red cherry, strawberry aromas with herb garden, chinotto and vanilla notes. Classical wine with fresh ripe cranberry fruits, underlying roasted chestnut and vanilla oak notes and fresh
integrated mineral acidity. A beautiful example of pinot noir.”

All of the wines would work well with generously flavoured food.

2018 Paddy Borthwick Left Hand Pinot Noir, Gladstone (A$70/NZ$58) brought different opinions. I thought it showed sweet, red cherry and raspberry aromas with nice intensity, more savoury notes appearing in the glass. The palate seemed to lack flesh, but has flavour and finishes with firm tannins. Caillard noted, “Fresh strawberry herb garden, dark chocolate aromas. Generously flavoured strawberry, dark cherry fruits, plentiful grainy textures, underlying savoury hint, chocolaty notes and integrated crunchy acidity.”

2017 Russian Jack Pinot Noir, Martinborough (NZ$29) also split the panel somewhat. Caillard found, “Attractive developed strawberry cherry, aromas. Hint of chocolate. Surprisingly supple and richly flavoured with strawberry red cherry fruits, fine lacy textures and underlying savoury oak. Finishes firm with fine lacy plume. Lighter style but well balanced.” Murphy and I were less enthusiastic. I liked the forest-floor fragrance and touch of black pepper, but thought the palate was a bit lean and dry.

2016 Schubert Pinot Noir Block B, Gladstone (A$90/NZ$70) also brought mild disunity. Paterson loved it: “A youthful wine with excellent energy, density and composure. Lovely, juicy red fruit on the mid palate plus impressive length. Blood plum, sarsaparilla and rhubarb plus a little brioche and freshly baked pastry. Great flavour, intensity and most importantly, balance.” I agreed, liking its combination of sweet red fruits, cedary development and hint of vanilla. The oak flavours are certainly apparent, but the balance is good and the tannins fine.

2018 Te Kairanga John Martin Pinot Noir, Martinborough (NZ$48) shows intense sweet red fruits in the raspberry/red plum spectrum. The tannins are nicely balanced. Paterson
found, “A mesmerising, wafting aroma with the intoxicating elements of a fine perfume. The palate has fabulous energy and intense flavour packed into a medium weight frame. Most importantly, the wine has impressive length with the red berry flavours persisting well after swallowing. It is bold and intense with good palate tension.”

2016 The Elder Pinot Noir, Martinborough (A$60/NZ$65) is on a big scale. The nose shows very ripe fruit, savoury development and a little chocolate. Full-bodied palate, with rich flavours and slightly chewy tannins, but it comes together with overall balance. Bourne thought it, “A full flavoured pinot of great depth and complexity. Dark berry fruits lead the way with an abundance of sweet oriental spices. Concentration is the key with a raft of gently persistent tannins to extend the finish.”

A common feature of the pinots was their outstanding acidity.
A common feature of the pinots was their outstanding acidity.

Top New Zealand Pinot Noirs

★★★★★
96 2019 Martinborough Vineyard Te Tera Pinot Noir, Martinborough, NZ$35
96 2017 Ara Wines Resolute Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$22/NZ$35
95 2017 Giesen Limited Edition Organic Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$40/NZ$40

★★★★
94 2016 Astrolabe Province Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$35/NZ$35
93 2018 Martinborough Vineyard Home Block Pinot Noir, Martinborough, NZ$75
93 2017 Greywacke Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$55/NZ$49
93 2016 Giesen Single Vineyard Ridge Block Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$50/NZ$60
93 2018 Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir, Martinborough, A$40/NZ$38
92 2018 Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir, Martinborough, A$100/NZ$115
92 2015 Spy Valley Envoy Outpost Vineyard Pinot Noir, Marlborough, NZ$55
92 2019 Mahi Marlborough Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$40/NZ$35
92 2018 Te Kairanga John Martin Pinot Noir, Martinborough, NZ$48
92 2017 Fromm Pinot Noir Clayvin Vineyard Pinot Noir, Marlborough, NZ$85/$A99
92 2017 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Pinot Noir, Martinborough, NZ$55
92 2015 Nautilus Estate Clay Hills Vineyard Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$58/NZ$68
92 2019 Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$35/NZ$25
91 2019 Noble Fellows, Colonel Kiwi Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$20
91 2018 Craggy Range Aroha Pinot Noir, Martinborough, NZ$150
91 2017 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir, Martinborough, A$100/NZ$75
91 2016 Giesen Single Vineyard Clayvin Pinot Noir Marlborough, A$50/NZ$60
91 2018 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$50/NZ$50
91 2017 Vavasour Felix’s Vineyard Pinot Noir, Marlborough, NZ$39
91 2019 Jules Taylor Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$35/NZ$33
91 2017 Dog Point Vineyard Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$47/$NZ50
91 2016 Corofin Churton Vineyard Clod Block Pinot Noir, A$59/NZ$49
91 2016 The Elder Pinot Noir, Martinborough, A$60/NZ$65
91 2010 Clos Henri Pinot Noir, Marlborough, NZ$45
90 2017 Te Whare Ra TWR Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$55/NZ$50
90 2015 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Southern Clays Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$70/NZ$60
90 2019 Delta Pinot Noir, Marlborough, NZ$20
90 2018 Auntsfield Hawk Hill Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$50/NZ$58
90 2017 Dry River Pinot Noir, Martinborough, A$115/NZ$100
90 2019 Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$29
90 2016 Schubert Pinot Noir Block B, Gladstone, A$90/NZ$70

★★★
89 2018 Paddy Borthwick Left Hand Pinot Noir, Gladstone, A$70/NZ$58
89 2017 Clos Henri Petit Clos Pinot Noir, Marlborough, NZ$27
89 2018 Escarpment Te Rehua Pinot Noir, Martinborough, A$75/NZ$85
89 2018 Gladstone Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir, Gladstone, NZ$45
89 2017 Corofin Cowley Family Vineyard Main Slopes Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$59/NZ$50
89 2017 Blank Canvas Pinot Noir Upton Downs, Marlborough, A$58/NZ$49
89 2017 Russian Jack Pinot Noir, Martinborough, NZ$29
89 2015 Villa Maria The Attorney Organic Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$70/NZ$70