Pinot Noir is the most planted red varietal in New-Zealand. N-Z produces many styles of Pinot according to terroir locations. The obviously well known Central Otago with its rich and intense style is being challenged by Marlborough’s more delicate and refined Pinots. In recent years Pinot has been planted differently in Marlborough. Vines are now seen on slopes instead of plains, resulting in wines of greater character and finesse. This revamped Marlborough style might be preferred by the Burgundy aficionado!
At Les Conseillers du Vin, we decided to taste a selection of high quality producers that should help us better understand and appreciate the new expressions of New-Zealand Pinot from its many terroirs. A group of 15 experienced tasters analysed 7 N-Z Pinots plus a mystery wine in the usual blind tasting format.
Results: To establish the order of preference of the tasting panel, 3 points were awarded to a first place vote, 2 pts for a 2nd place vote and 1pt for a 3rd place vote.
It was very close, but three (3) wines stood out, the 2012 Felton Road Block 5 from Central Otago came in first with 19 pts, followed by two wines from Marlborough, Greywacke 2011 with 18pts and 2010 Seresin Sun & Moon with 17 pts in third place.
The last tasting of N-Z Pinots @ Les Conseillers du Vin dates back to 2005. For the several tasters who attended the previous tasting 10 years ago, quality is obviously on the rise! As a group, the wines displayed bright fruit flavours in a very elegant style with great balance and freshness. The wines also showed great promise with very good to excellent aging potential. Better site selection, older wines and better suited wine growing and winemaking techniques are proving that New-Zealand is one of the best terroirs for Pinot Noir. Many of the participants (8) identified wine # 5 as the mystery wine: the Norman Hardie Pinot from Prince Edward County (Ontario, Canada), was much paler in colour, lighter bodied with a shorter finish. It was still a very enjoyable wine, but did not display as much character. Only three tasters included it in their Top 3.
My top three : 1-Felton Road 2-Greywacke 3-Seresin. See my tasting notes below.
The wines : Order of blind tasting: prices are in Can $
1- Seresin Sun & Moon 2010, Marlborough (Group score: 17 pts) Price: 128$
In the Top 3 favourite wines of the tasting. Spicy dark berry scents. Lots of extract and colour. Fresh, quite full, with ripe pinot flavours. Great balance and length. Excellent structure for lengthy aging (4 to 7 years). My rating: 92+
2- Cloudy Bay 2012, Marlborough (Group score: 14 pts) Price: 43$
Spicy red fruit scents with hints of white pepper. In a lighter style, well balanced. An easy drinking Pinot for early consumption. Should be enjoyed over the next 2 to 3 years. My rating: 90
3- Schubert Block B 2011, Wairarapa (Group Score: 8 pts) Price: 56$
Light red with orange rim. Charming typical ultra ripe red berry nose. Tasting reveals a slight austere finish from dry tannins. Whole cluster vinification? Soft acidity. My rating: 88
4- Dog Point 2011, Marlborough (Group score: 3 pts) Price: 50$
Deeply coloured wine. Lovely nose brimming with fruity and floral scents. Lots of charming ripe fruit flavours. Good extract, slight bitter finish but remains balanced. Good length with some aging potential (3 to 5 years) My rating: 91+
5- Norman Hardie 2010 Prince Edward County, Canada (Group score: 7 pts) Price: 40$
Fairly obvious and different, eight (8) participants identified it as the mystery wine. Only three tasters voted it in their Top 3. Very pale colour. A very enjoyable light bodied Pinot. Just a bit short on the finish. My rating: 89
6- Felton Road Block 5 2012, Central Otago (Group score : 19 pts) Price: 90$
The top wine of the tasting, my favourite also! True to its reputation, the Block 5 delivers the goods: deeply coloured, light nose displaying red berry scents, with rich, ripe flavours while remaining elegant. Very good length and aging potential (5 to 8 years). Excellent Pinot. My rating: 94
7- Churton 2010, Marlborough (Group score: 4 pts) Price: 40$
Seems to be made in a traditional Burgundian style. This Marlborough Pinot offers some spicy red fruit with fresh acidity and a lingering bitterness. A satisfying medium bodied Pinot. Should be drinking well in the next 2 to 4 years. My rating: 88
8-Greywacke 2011 Marlborough (Group score: 18 pts) Price: 46$
From Kevin Judd previously winemaker at Cloudy Bay. Lovely nose displaying cherry and spicy scents. Lots of ripe fruit flavours with soft acidity and good length. Great Pinot with excellent potential (4 to 7 years). My rating: 93