We have recently returned from the picturesque South Island where we tasted pinot noirs in Marlborough, Waipara and Central Otago. Pinot Noir (or any wine for that matter) reflects the soils and viticultural practices of the regions where it is grown. Of course, this is all overlaid by the weather and the wine making techniques of where the wine is produced. So there will be differences. However the inherent characteristics of the varietal should predominate. That is, pinot noir should be recognisable as pinot noir and not some other red.

Our 2010 Pinot Noir is nearing release and we were interested to find out how this wine compared with some of the premium wines we selected for tasting. We selected premium wines because our small volumes dictate that this is the only wine we should make.

Another benchmark that we had is the deliberations of wine writers. Because the release date for our pinot noir is almost always two years behind everyone else’s it is an interesting exercise to assess whether the wines we selected to taste did really merit the accolades, stars and medals that the writers and competition judges award them.

We were privileged to taste a Central Otago pinot noir which retailed at $150. It was sublime. We bought a bottle and are cellaring it because we think that, over time, it will move into the beyond reproach category. Most of the wines we tasted were competently made and, some quite lovely. We can collectively be justly proud of the premium pinot noir wines being produced in New Zealand.

So how does our Pinot Noir measure up? Well, we think we have produced a JOLLY, DAMNED, GOOD pinot noir!! Certainly worth that 1 point extra. Herein lies a story.

In the early days of our pinot noir production a comparative pinot noir tasting was arranged between Otago Region and Martinborough. Some 24 pinot noirs from each region were exchanged,  blind-tasted and scored by each winemaker.

If there was a wine which was assessed as being of Gold Medal standard in Otago, the same conclusion was reached by the Martinborough winemakers.

The marking was done out of 20. After this process was completed the average was calculated. When the wraps came off the wines, it was interesting that Martinborough winemakers marked the Martinborough pinot noir 1 mark higher than the Otago wines. Similarly the Otago Winemakers marked their pinot noir 1 mark higher than the Martinborough wines. This does indicate that there are regional differences which are appreciated by the winemakers of the respective regions.

So we both think our 2010 Pinot Noir is pretty good. Well let’s hope that is the case and not winemakers palate; a phenomenon where a winemaker becomes so attuned to their own wine that anything else they taste is not up to standard! This could also be said of the outcome of the pinot noir tastings above!!

On a more mundane level, pruning is finished, the vineyard is getting a spring clean and bud burst is upon us. PLEASE no late spring frosts! 

Monday 5th of October 2015

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