NZ pinot noir - Wine tasting 2011

Making pinot noir is often likened to the pursuit of the Holy Grail. How close to the sacred object are our producers getting, asks John Saker.

by John Saker | Cuisine issue #149 | Wednesday, 7 December, 2011

Coopers Creek SV Marlborough Pinot Noir Gibsons Run 2009 $27-$30 -4
A single-vineyard Marlborough wine, named after the stream that cuts
a path among the vines, this is another to consistently offer quality at a sharp price. “Rich and round, balanced,
beautifully structured – it’s a star,” noted Andrew Parkinson. It would
shine even more paired with a classic Cantonese orange beef.

Gibbston Valley China Terrace Pinot Noir 2010 (Central Otago) $55-$65 -6
A single vineyard offering from an
elevated site in Bendigo, this perfumed yet brooding wine fascinated the panel. Berryfruit flavours, along with a salty note, tread fine, long lines toward
an elegant finish. “It’s aware of its
origins and happy to display them,”
said Ben Glover. A wine to bring out with a slow-cooked beef bourguignon.

Gibbston Valley School House Pinot Noir 2010 (Central Otago) $55-$65 -5
Gibbston Valley’s other Bendigo single-vineyard pinot is equally intense and compelling, yet a little more feminine
in personality. Concentrated, dark
berryfruit flavours and a buoyant
juiciness provide a fresh, classy
mouthful. Have it with duck confit
with pickled red cabbage on the side.

Mondillo Pinot Noir 2010 (Central Otago) $40-$47 -5
Showing the fruit density that is a
feature of the 2010s from Central Otago, this handsome wine mixes the shyness of youth with a refinement
and composed demeanour that belies its newness. Boysenberry, cassis,
elegant oak spice, and a herbal note
all play a role.

Auntsfield Estate Pinot Noir 2009 (Marlborough) $38-$42 -4
A fine example of what a great southern
hills site and a dose of pinot devotion can do for this grape in Marlborough. The aromatics are intense and effusively floral; in the mouth it runs a lively line, a beguiling mix of red and dark fruits and savoury notes. A wine to savour.

Aurum Madeleine Pinot Noir 2009 (Central Otago) $85 -5
Burgundy-born winemaker Lucie Lawrence and her husband Brook made some standout pinots in 2009, among them this reserve wine named after their second daughter. Pure scents akin to jasmine, rosemary and thyme give way to a powerful, fleshy mouthful,
alive with clean fruit.

Bald Hills Central Otago Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 $44-$47 -4
The complex aromatics of this
wine, in part due to whole-bunch
fermentation, had the panel abuzz.
“The wine’s all in balance but it’s
too complex for its age,” said John Belsham. The vibrant young fruit,
black and green olive notes, and
lively acids and tannins, all got ticks.

Black Quail Estate Pinot Noir 2009 (Central Otago) $36-$40 -4
This textbook pinot noir is grown on
a Bannockburn site just above the Kawarau River. Following an overture
of wow florals – freesia and baronia scents – prepare for a lyrical, flowing theme featuring juicy, fresh fruit and structural elegance.

Folding Hill Pinot Noir 2009 (Central Otago) $37-$40 -5
Layers of flavour – a wisp of smokiness, inky dark red fruits, a hint of beetroot – are well supported by generous tannins. The overall impression of what is this boutique label’s second pinot release is one of richness and warmth. A wine to enjoy with rare beef fillet and kumara hash browns.

Northburn Station Bill’s Blend Pinot Noir 2008 (Central Otago) $29-$33 -4
One of the few 2008s to impress the panel, this is the issue of Northburn’s superb site (which includes a must-visit cellar door) beside Lake Dunstan. Pristine, brambly primary fruit flavours (red cherry to the fore) and focused tannins were admired by John Belsham: “Very pure and precise.”

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 14 Doctor’s Creek Pinot Noir 2010 (Marlborough) $31.50-$33.50 -5
Youthful, confident, elegant… traits that are typically Saint Clair are on display in this expression. A wave of
floral charm leads the air attack; lively acids and some spicy oak tickle the taste buds. A versatile wine to pair
with salmon steaks and salsa verde.

Saint Clair Vicar’s Choice Pinot Noir 2010 (Marlborough) $17.50-$19.50 -3
A fresh and fetching wine, alive with red fruit notes and lashings of plum pudding spice. Sound in structure, with fine tannins and racy acids, it grows in the mouth. A splendid buy, it’s the perfect pinot to serve with
a summer ham salad.

Soho McQueen Pinot Noir 2010 (Central Otago) $39-$40 -4
Many of the seductive qualities that propelled Grant Taylor’s 2009 version of this wine into the top spot last year, come through in the 2010 vintage. Dark rose perfumes, dark fruit flavours, juiciness and crunchy acidity contribute to a wine of substance and class. The perfect accompaniment for a Christmas turkey served with delicately flavoured truffle stuffing.

Spy Valley Pinot Noir 2010 (Marlborough) $29.50-$32 -4
“Its structure is like a set of train tracks,” noted Ben Glover in reference to the acidity that gives this wine definition, drive and real length. Floral perfume, red and black fruit flavours and a lick of spice fill the wagons.

Terrace Edge Pinot Noir 2009 (Waipara) $22.50-$27.50 -4
A soft texture and a core of sweet primary fruit make this wine very drinkable. A spicy cumin note adds a little verve and personality to this lengthy Waipara pinot at a very attractive price. Match it to something Asian like a mild Thai curry.

The People’s Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010 $22 -3
The people – well, those on our judging panel – have spoken and approved. Tamarillo, maraschino cherries and a hint of clove come together in a wine that is bright, sinewy in mouthfeel and easy to love. The price is a bonus. [B]

Valli Gibbston Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 (Central Otago) $55-$65 -5
Grant Taylor’s cast of single-vineyard pinots regularly puts in distinguished performances. In good years, like 2009, the Gibbston rendition is often the star. This is a wine of bold gestures: rich fruit, intense aromatics and real drive.



Stuck for ideas for dinner?
Check your fridge, enter up to 4 items into the Meal Maker and we'll find recipes from our files containing those ingredients.

* Tip: If your search is unsuccessful, try entering fewer      ingredients

2014-2015 recipe index


Connect with cuisine

Visit Cuisine Magazine's profile on Pinterest.


Subscribe now



Digital Edition

Buy digital subscriptions - delivered via email
subscribe now »

Buy Cuisine's How To Cook app
buy now on the App Store»