New Zealand Pinot Noir: Reviews of Current Releases

Pinot Noir is one of our favorite grape varieties and New Zealand is one of the top sources. Since issuing our  Report #7 New Zealand’s Exciting Pinot Noirs,  we have admired the progress made by local producers in improving the quality of Kiwi Pinot Noir on the market.

In this article, we review current releases of Pinot Noir from 15  excellent New Zealand producers whose wines are highly competitive in terms of quality and price.   In the coming months, we hope also to be able to acquaint our readers with the full range of top Pinot Noirs being produced in Martinborough, Central Otago, Marlborough and elsewhere in New Zealand.  Stay tuned.

Wine Reviews

Brancott 2016 Pinot Noir Marlborough ($12) 88 Showing red berry and cherry aromas with a touch of earthiness, the Brancott Estate has a pleasant attack and an easy drinking palate with a light weedy character. Brancott 2016 T Pinot Noir Letter Series Marlborough ($32) 92 Medium dark ruby. Attractive raspberry and cherry nose. Lovely, soft silky texture with excellent balance and good acidity. Quite delicate in character and delicious with well integrated oak. 11 months in 30% new French oak barriques. Importer: Pernod Ricard Purchase, NY

Cobblestone 2011 Pinot Noir Te Muna Martinborough ($36) 91 Hints of toasted oak and earth complement dark cherry fruit on this nicely balanced, pleasant drinking wine. Notes of underbrush show on the palate. Cobblestone 2014 Pinot Noir Te Muna Martinborough ($36) 92 The 2014 vintage is a littler riper and fresher than the 2011. It has an elegant, silky mouth feel with dark cherry and distinct underbrush notes.  Great value!

Greywacke 2014 Pinot Noir Marlborough ($39) 91 This wine reveals spicy, toasted oak scents with earth and dark red cherry notes. The palate shows heavy oaking with vanilla and tobacco complementing underlying, rich red cherry. It has a nice silky texture and lingering flavors.   Importer: Old Bridge Cellars Napa, California

Huia 2014 Pinot Noir Marlborough  88 Made with organic grapes, the Huia Pinot Noir offers plenty of spicy, dark cherry fruit aromas and flavors. It’s an easy drinking wine with notable purity.

Hunky Dory 2016 Pinot Noir Marlborough 86   Medium ruby red. This is an easy drinking wine showing red cherry with an under-ripe herbal edge both on the nose and palate. Earthy and herbal, it finishes on a crisp note.

Innocent Bystander 2015 Pinot Noir Central Otago ($25) 89 Medium red. Showing a perfumed nose of red berries and cherry, this easy drinking wine is quite light on the palate with a delicate, feminine note.   Importer: Old Bridge Cellars Napa, California

Loveblock 2014 Pinot Noir Central Otago ($30) 90 Medium ruby red. The Lovelbock Pinot has appealing upfront red cherry fruit. It’s packed with flavor, showing dried red cherry on a softly textured palate. Finishes dry and a bit short. Importer: Terlato Wines

Maori Point 2012 Pinot Noir Central Otago ($35) 89  A pleasant drinking wine, dry on the attack with notes of red raspberry and cherry. It’s medium bodied with vibrant, fresh fruit flavors complemented by a forest floor note.  Matured 11 months in 25% new French oak.  Maori Point 2013 Pinot Noir Central Otago ($35) 90+ Medium scarlet ruby. Showing earthy red fruit on the nose, this is a full-flavored wine with a dry finish. Sees 11 months in 22% new French oak.   Importer: Pacific Rim Wine Logistics

Martinborough Vineyard 2014 Pinot Noir Home Block Martinborough 93 A fruit forward, medium bodied wine with dark cherry fruit, excellent acidity and very good balance. A delicious wine with rich concentrated flavors and beautiful balance.
Importer: Foley

Peter Yealands 2016 Pinot Noir Marlborough ($19) 90 Medium ruby red.  Displaying a spicy dark red cherry nose with a touch of licorice, the Peter Yealands Pinot has a nice silky mouthfeel and dense flavors with just a touch of bitterness on the back palate.  Very nice, with good balance and lots of flavor.  Importer: Palm Bay

Scott 2016 Pinot Noir Marlborough 89  Revealing stemmy, earth, and red cherry scents, the Scott Pinot Noir has dense fruit on the attack, offering red cherry with earth and a lingering finish. It’s pleasant, easy drinking.

Seresin Estate 2014 Leah Pinot Noir Marlborough ($30) 91 Nice bright, fragrant, fresh red berry and cherry nose. This is a firmly tannic Pinot Noir that shows good flavor and a somewhat rustic texture. Hand-picked and fermented with ambient yeast and aged 11 months in French barriques, 15% new. A blend of fruit from three vineyards. Seresin Estate 2015 Momo Pinot Noir Marlborough ($19) 89 Medium ruby red. With nice scents of fresh red cherries, the Momo Pinot reveals firm tannins on a medium weight palate. An easy drinking wine. Importer: The Sorting Table Napa, CA

Tiki 2015 Koro Pinot Noir Central Otago ($18) 90 Medium ruby. Showing an appealing fragrant nose of red berries, the Tiki Pinot Noir reveals a soft attack and a vibrant, medium weight palate of fresh red fruit. It’s nicely balanced and well structured. Imported by Tiki Wine.

Villa Maria 2016 Pinot Noir Private Bin Marlborough 88 Light red. This is a light, nicely balanced wine showing red cherry from the first whiff to the final, lingering flavors on the finish. Pure, simple, clean, and fun to drink. Importer: Ste Michelle Wine Estates Woodinville, WA

VinUltra 2016 Little Beauty Pinot Noir Marlborough ($30) 90 Showing scents of red cherry and pomegranate accented by earthy licorice, this is a very easy and pleasant wine to drink. It has good acidity, plenty of cherry and plum flavors, and a round, pleasant finish with just-right tannins.   VinUltra 2015 Little Beauty Black Edition Pinot Noir Marlborough Southern Valleys ($55) 91 Showing a spicy, toasted oak and black cherry nose, this single vineyard Pinot Noir has a palate that follows suit. Twelve months of aging in 18% new French oak barriques lends complexity, texture, and a dry, albeit long, finish. It’s a wine meant to be aged longer before consumption, but if you must drink early, do so with food. New Zealand venison would be a good pairing. Single vineyard fruit, destemmed, cold soaked, open top fermented and matured 12 months in 18% new French oak.

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