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Wine Reviews - Pinot Noir
2013 & 2012 vintages
by Sue Courtney
Last updated 6 May 2015

Although some of these tasting notes may be found elsewhere on this site, this page brings together most of my Pinot Noir notes, listed alphabetically by Producer. Click here for rating systems and abbreviations.

Click here for a fact file of Pinot Noir in New Zealand.

Click on year to go to reviews for that vintage
[2013] [2012] [2011] [2010] [2009] [2008] [2007] [2006] [2005] [2004] [2003] [2002] [2001] [2000] [1999 and older] [index]

2013 Vintage [top] [index]

Akarua Central Otago Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2013 Ruby violet in hue with a lustrous sheen, this is perfumed with woodsmoke, violets and plump red cherries. The taste is bright and spicy with a woodsmoke infusion to the generous chocolate-coated cherry fruit that's been macerated in aromatic spices with a touch of anise and a hint of mocha on the bright lifted finish. Deliciously succulent and savoury with fine silky tannins, a creamy feel and a plush velvety flow. 14% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 9Sep2014.
Youthful ruby black with pinky-crimson edges, the smoky savoury bouquet is inviting with the succulent scent of black cherries and the taste is big, bold, spicy and savoury with amazing juiciness, structure and depth. The fruit is strawberries and cherries with supporting oak in the background, the tannins are plush and velvety and the powerful finish is full-bodied, creamy and rounded. Sexy and seductive. 14% alc. $35.99. 29Apr2015.

Akarua RUA Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) Rich ruby red with violet flashes, this youthful-hued wine has a savoury bouquet with black cherries and hints of dried rose petals, and the taste is full-bodied and creamy with a lush, plush texture, a touch of anise, smoky oak, juicy red and black cherries and hints of mushrooms. Lots of seductiveness in this value-packed noir from the Bannockburn sub-region and an interesting contrast to the finer-textured Marlborough wine tasted alongside it. 14% alc. $22.99. 26Nov2014.
Bright ruby-purple-red. Invitingly spicy and aromatic with aromas of plums, black cherries and blueberries that are quite divine. Firm on first tasting with creamy oak, mulled wine spices, a touch of mint, and anise-infused plum and cherry fruit, this is a gorgeous wine that, despite the initial tannins, finishes concentrated, plush and seductively velvety. 14% alc. $22.99. 11Feb2015.

Alan Scott Family Winemakers Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) Ruby purple in hue with bright cherry and raspberry jelly baby aromas infused with enticing woodsmoke and floral notes. The taste is succulent and juicy with firm silky tannins, spicy oak, red berries and herbs and a bright zesty flourish to the long savoury finish. 13% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 9Sep2014.

Charcoal Gully Sally's Pinch Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) The colour is a medium dense black cherry and the aromatics are earthy and sensuous and while it seems like quite a dry savoury wine with a fine and still firm tannin structure, there is a fabulous juicy thread running through. Medium bodied for Central, but ticks all the boxes with its cranberry and bittersweet cherry fruit, a touch of chocolate and an anise note to the spices. A wine with satisfying length and presence at this stage it needs to be enjoyed with food to offset the tannins – I’m thinking whole mushrooms slowly braised with thyme. 14% alc. $27.99. 28Jan2015.

Felton Road Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) Ruby marone with a sweet perfume of rosehips and cherries with nuances of smoky bacon. A sultry savoury wine, rather seductive from the outset, with spiced cherries, caramelised oak, hints of anise-like spices and a sweet earthy depth. Persistent and flavoursome on the lingering finish but quite primary at the moment, leaving behind a dry, slightly puckery mouthfeel. An age-worthy wine that needs more time and will definitely reward with cellaring. This label is superb with a little age. 13.5% alc. $51.99. 16Jul2014.

Freeland Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) Bright ruby. Smoky savoury aromas are infused with cherries and cake spices and the red berry flavours have well-honed spicy oak, hints of thyme and bright acidity imparting and edgy brightness and freshness to the firm but finely textured finish. 14.2% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 9Sep2014.

Grasshopper Rock Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 Deep but still translucent ruby / purple hue. The bouquet is aromatic and inviting, redolent of antique polished furniture with a sweet/sour cherry richness and vinous complexity – it smells smooth and sensual. Spicy, bright and fresh to the taste with a mouthfilling savouriness accented with citrus peel and thyme. It’s satisfying right from the first sip with a succulent maraschino / silken chocolate veneer and while the tannins are firm, the succulence of the fruit creates harmony. Fantastic match to lamb shanks cooked with tomato, rosemary, thyme and olives with a little cranberry jelly added to the sauce at the end, and exceptional with braised shallots – the shallots have a sweetness that is the perfect foil for the savouriness of the wine. Tasted over two nights, the second night the tannins had lost their slightly grippy edge and the whole package now more ‘rounded and smooth. 13% alc. $32. 9Apr2015.
Translucent in its light ruby-violet appearance with a bouquet that is fruity and inviting. A fine textured wine with a savoury richness, sweet and sour cherries, dried cranberries, nuances of rosehips, hints of mocha and touches of lemon thyme. There's a great vinous flow after the initial grip is chased away and a beautifully expansive finish. A wine to put in the cellar right now and enjoy the foresight you had to do this in 3 or 4 years time. 13% alc. $29.99. 29Apr2015.

Greystone Waipara Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) The colour of this wine is vivid, purple-tinged ruby with reasonable denseness. The bouquet is so evocative of woodsmoke, polished oak, mulled wine spices, black cherries and plums … all these traits following through to the rich, juicy palate that has a silky edge to the smooth velvety tannins. Underlying acidity inputs freshness to the finish and lingers with a tingly brightness. 13.5% alc. $32.99. 14Jan2015.

Jules Taylor Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013 This deep ruby red wine smells full-bodied, succulent and fruity from the outset and the taste is indeed full and luscious yet underlying acidity packs a zesty punch and there is intriguing pepper-like spice. A darker, more brooding style of wine with firm tannins, a nuggety savoury undercurrent and a long full finish that’s full of generous, plumped-up dried cranberries and plums, then on the lingering aftertaste a touch of chocolate comes through. 13.5% alc. $26.99. 29Apr2015.

Lawson's Dry Hills Marlborough Reserve Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) Black cherry red. Savoury yet juicy on the nose – the characters I smell are fruit cake spices and cherries with smoky savoury oak in the background. It's a vibrant, spicy, fruit driven Pinot Noir, tannins have a rubbed velvet feel, nice touch of toasty oak in the savoury background and the finish is soft and juicy and fairly dry. 13.5% alc. $23.99. 4Feb2015.

Lowburn Ferry Home Block Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) This rich ruby-purple hued wine is enticingly fragrant with a delightful floral note infusing the spiced cherry aromatics with a pleasing earthy aura and a touch of dried thyme. There’s considerable depth to the flavours with the savouriness an upfront highlight together with spiced mushrooms, an edgy touch of herb and juicy bittersweet fruits of the forest bringing the long succulent finish all into balance. Firm with fine tannins, an outstanding wine. 14% alc. $47.99. 3Dec2014.
Light ruby red with moderate colour depth. There's a pretty perfume of savoury oak with hints of strawberry chocolate and wild thyme flowers adding a pleasing floral allure. A fine textured wine in the mouth with still some youthful grip to the tannins and a deeply savoury undercurrent yet has lovely red cherry / cranberry / wild strawberry fruit that balances the savouriness beautifully and woody herb notes. Hints of chocolate emerge on the finish and the lingering mouthfeel is creamy and rounded. Gets better and better as it opens up in the glass. 14% alc. $44.99. 29Apr2015.

Matua Single Vineyard Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 Ruby with flashes of maroon, and although a year newer than the Lowburn wine it is more translucent and not as deep in hue. The bouquet is perfumed and savoury with hints of cherries and a waft of thyme flower, and it’s fine and silky in the plate with warmth spicy oak and a sensual feel to the flow - it may be lighter in colour but certainly delivers in taste. Fruit is intriguing, almost blue fruit says Nikolai, with delightful savouriness and a long dry finish layered with succulence and intrigue. A resplendent example of harmony. 14% alc. $49.99. 15Apr2015.

Maude Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) Bright ruby in hue with a creamy oak and red fruit aroma. Fine textured with a silky flow, vibrant fruit impressions of strawberries and black cherries with smoky oak, a deep earthy savoury undercurrent and a bright spicy finish. Subtle mint/herbal notes too. Concentrated, big, opulent, succulent, generous, complete. 14% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 9Sep2014.

Mondillo Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) Gorgeous aromatics, violets, dried herbs, sweet oak and red berries. Similarly seductive in the smooth creamy palate with a lovely smoky savoury oak undercurrent, earthy nuances, cake spices, hints of rose petals, fragrant herbs and anise. Lovely use of oak and a pleasing grip to the long, juicy, succulent finish. 14.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 9Sep2014.

Mount Brown Estate Waipara Pinot Noir 2013 Rich dark red with violet purple edges. Sweet, rich and savoury smelling with a musky floral allure and hints of Turkish Delight – the fruit sweet impression from the nose carries through to the palate, where there is an intriguing grapefruit-like zestiness together with bittersweet red fruits, a savoury undercurrent and a mulled wine spiciness. Plush, smooth, velvet-edged tannins impart a soft mouthfeel and all together, it is a very rewarding wine. 14% alc. $19.99. 6May2015.

Mount Difficulty Roaring Meg Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) The bouquet is earthy and savoury with red and black cherry fruit, perhaps even a hint of fresh blueberry, all following through to the palate where a spicy richness comes through with a touch of chocolate and a crushed velvet flow. It seems a little stalky on the finish, which can be polarizing, but that's a winemaking decision to hone in the voluptuous nature of Central grown Pinot Noir grapes. 13.5% alc. $25.99. 7Jan2015.

Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) Bright ruby hued. Succulent cherries with sweet smoky oak and a sprinkling of thyme and rose petals waft on the bouquet. The taste is juicy and fine textured with a medium-bodied presence and velvety tannins emerging. Succulent cherries and red berries with underlying dried herbs, savoury oak and sweet floral notes, violets perhaps, and a long juicy, concentrated finish. A touch of bittersweet as the wine lingers. 13.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 9Sep2014.

Mud House Claim 431 Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) Perfumed and beguiling sweet smoky oak, vanilla, spices, brambles and black cherries fill the bouquet and it tastes concentrated and creamy textured with a juicy lusciousness to the cherry and purple plum flavours. There’s light grip to the tannins, a brooding smoky savoury undercurrent, a light dusting of chocolate and the finish has great length. 14% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 9Sep2014.
From the Bendigo sub-region, this has a wonderfully rich, dense, lustrous purple red hue. It’s a brooding smoky, savoury pinot in the glass tonight, the aroma is a little closed and the flavours initially a little varnishy with sumptuous tannins still firm and tight though they mellow as wine traverses the palate. Fruit is in the boysenberry and plum spectrum with hints of anise and the finish is bright. A wine to decant if drinking right now, otherwise put away for a while. 14% alc. $24.99. 25Feb2015.

Peregrine Saddleback Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) Smoky and savoury with a smooth silky flow, creamy oak and fruit that is reminiscent of raspberries and cherries, a little confectionary maybe, but there's a well balanced spiciness with a touch of pepper momentarily on the finish that balances it nicely. An easy drinking style for summer nights. 13% alc. $23.99. 7Jan2015.

Rockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) Bright ruby in colour and gorgeously fragrant with smoky oak, red berries and spices. Concentrated and layered in the palate with a sweet spicy oak flourish. Juicy cherry, hints of anise, an earthy mushroom-like complexity and violets. Gorgeous silky tannin structure and a velvety mouthfeel. A touch of chocolate emerging on the finish. One of my favourites. 14% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 9Sep2014.
Bright ruby red with flashes of crimson. Powerful red fruit aromatics are embellished with sweet smoky oak. Plump and spicy to the taste with raspberry chocolate, perhaps even Turkish Delight chocolate, a perfectly honed touch of fruit cake spices and sweet savoury oak in the background. A juicy, succulent Pinot with plush velvety tannins, delicious mouthfeel and flow. Another stunner from one of my favourite labels. 14% alc. $39.99. 29Apr2015.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 15 'Strip Block' Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) Rich ruby marone in colour with very attractive aromas of spiced plums and chocolate-coated cherries with a sense of savoury oak loitering in the background. Spicy and savoury and initially quite dry in the palate with firm silk-edged tannins yet there is a suppleness and fruit sweetness pushing through and leaves behind a rounded and pleasing mouthfeel, but in the taste department it is the savouriness of this wine that wins on the day - the lovely savoury earthy signature of Pinot the lasting impression. 13% alc. $28.99. 18Mar2015.

Saint Clair Premium Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) Bright ruby hue. Bittersweet cherry aromas and flavours of juicy cherry fruits infused with spicy savoury oak with a silky smooth texture and a succulent medium-bodied finish. Easy drinking, lovely flow. 13.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 9Sep2014.
Attractive ruby hued with a gem-like translucency, this has a beguiling fragrance with subtle floral notes, toasty wood smoke and black cherries. Fine textured, silky, smoky and savoury in the medium-bodied palate with bittersweet cherry fruit and a smooth succulent finish. Fabulous wine for an under $20 price. 13.5% alc. $17.99. 15Oct2014.
There is some transparency to the light maroon hue which makes you think this is a lighter style but it totally delivers. The key here is don’t let the colour fool you because the bouquets offers up an earthy savouriness and there are all the typical hard to describe smoky, savoury flavours with bittersweet red fruits, Christmas cake spices, a smooth and silky flow and just a touch of grip to the tannins to endorse its class. Fabulous buying and perfect for entertaining the masses. 13.5% alc. $17.99. 26Nov2014.

Satellite Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) Seemingly a lighter styled pinot with its translucent ruby hue, but there is plenty of oomph in this silky fruit driven style. There an enticing smoky nuance to the light red fruits scent and a pleasing spicy savoury undercurrent to the cranberry and raspberry fruit with a touch of vanillin on the lifted finish. Made by Spy Valley. 13.5% alc. $18.99. 8Oct2014.
There's a translucency to the medium red hue of this lighter styled wine. It's a more herbal style of Pinot Noir with an edgy bite and while the smoky French oak seems a little dominant at first, as do the firm tannins, they both meld in nicely. Fruit is in the red guava, cranberry, tamarillo spectrum and the finish is juicy and bright. Made by Spy Valley. 13.5% alc. $18.99. 25Feb2015.

Sileni Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) Clear ruby with cerise tints. Very fragrant with violet candies and cherryish - quite a sweet perfume. The violets come through in the smooth succulent juicy red fruit palate with lovely savoury notes in behind, hints of cinnamon, fruit cake spices and it finishes dry. Nice expression on the finish for such an early release. Seems very quaffable but would go well with mushrooms, bacon etc. 12.5% alc. $17.95. 12Nov2013.

Soho McQueen Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) Bright ruby in hue. Smoky French oak infuses the juicy plum and cherry scents that carry through to the juicy and succulent palate where bright spicy notes complement underlying earthy savoury features. The tannins are fine and silky with a little bit of grip and zesty acidity adds flare to the finish with the savoury oak joining red guava as the wine lingers. 14% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 9Sep2014.

Super Nanny Goat Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) Bright ruby hued with a deep red centre. Fragrant and spicy with sweet smoky oak and red berries filling the bouquet. Velvety and opulent in the beautifully rounded velvety palate, this gorgeous mouth-filling wine just flows. There’s black cherries, plums, hints of chocolate, violets, rose petals, dried herbs and cake spices with savoury oak and underlying acidity providing the finishing flare. Great presence all the way through. 14.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 9Sep2014.

Te Kairanga Martinborough Pinot Noir 2013 Moderate dark red in colour, this has a beguiling savoury aroma infused with the fruit flavours of spiced bottled cherries and plums. The spice comes through more prominently in the palate – mulled wine spices like cinnamon bark with nuances of fresh lavender and dried thyme, a dried rose petal prettiness and a funky, gamey savouriness. Juicy with a firm tannin structure to support the finish, yet in the pinot noir realm it is a lighter style wine. 14% alc. $21.99. 29Apr2015.

Terra Sancta Mysterious Diggings Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) Bright and youthful in hue with purple plum highlights and the bouquet, infused with cracked red berry fruit, smells velvety and divine. Powerful in its palate presence, with flavours reminiscent of braised mushrooms in anise, smoky bacon, cherries and thyme, this is a big wine in the context of many pinots coming out of Central Otago recently, but it is silky and fine at the same time. Exceptional quality for the price. Delicious wine. 13.5% alc. $21.99. 27Aug2014.

Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013 Rich pink-edged ruby purple with some opacity to the depth. Red fruits, candied coated herbs and sweet oak aromas make the bouquet very opulent and appealing. Deeply savoury to the taste with a rustic, herbal edge, and a momentary touch of black pepper, but overall a plush, opulent wine with a succulent cranberry jelly finish and great depth and flow. 14% alc. $43.99. 29Apr2015.

Wooing Tree Beetlejuice Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 (sc) This youthful fruity number is shiny, crimson-tinged dark ruby with smoky cake spice notes on the nose and cinnamon-like nuances most dominant in the palate with juicy black cherries and a beguiling smoky savoury note in behind. Acidity is fresh and the tannins still a little firm - they will integrate nicely with a little more time. 13.5% alc. $24.99. 30Apr2014.
DDark,ricg abd bright in colour. It looks good and the aroma and taste immediately hit the spot. It's all black cherries, creamy oak, velvety tannins and spices with well-balanced earthy savouriness and a long, full finish with just the right amount of acidity imparting the peacock tail flare. Fabulous value for so much succulence and richness. 13.5% alc. $24.99. 7Jan2015.

2012 Vintage [top] [index]

Akarua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) This has a translucent ruby hue and primary black cherry fruit shines through both on the nose and in the spicy, savoury palate that has an earthy, savoury undercurrent with a bit of a woody edge. Tannins are fine but still firm and the wine is structured, concentrated and complex with excellent potential to age. 14% alc. $37.99. 5Mar2014.
Bright ruby in hue with fragrant aromatics, it’s full-bodied and concentrated in the spicy savoury palate with morellos, cranberries and perhaps a touch of red guava with dried herbs, rose petals and a nuance of wood smoke. Incredible succulence throughout with exciting brightness and length with a beautifully defined silky finesse. 14% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 9Sep2014.

Deep ruby maroon. Chocolate and cherries are in harmony with savoury oak on the bouquet and the silky textured taste is spicy and creamy with Morello cherries, cranberries, underlying woodsmoke and herbs. Lovely concentration, fruit succulence and length with a touch of orange zest as the gorgeous flavours linger. 14% alc. $37.99. 17Sep2014.

Akarua Rua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Magenta rimmed purple red. Earthy nuances to the (anise-infused) spicy oak scent, firm and just a little grippy in the palate, with a spicy, almost peppery flourish. Lovely fruit balance – spiced cherries, plums and even a suggestion of chocolate on the succulent, lip smacking finish. From Bannockburn, this is very tasty and one of the better Pinots tasted from 2012 so far. 14% alc. $21.99. 10Jul2013.

Ceres Composition Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Very deep dark and rich both in colour and flavour, this is a bit of a blockbuster as far as pinot noirs go, yet still retains essential and enthralling pinosity. It is fragrantly scented and rich and full-flavoured with a vibrant spicy zesty infusion to the bright red fruit flavours that are underpinned by a compelling gamey savouriness, and finishes with a dusting of chocolate dust and lingering mushroom notes. Bannockburn fruit. 14% alc. $33.99. 29Oct2014.

Charcoal Gully Sally's Pinch Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) There's a dark cherry colour to the hue of this beautifully fragrant and inviting pinot with aromas of smoky savoury oak, roasted herbs and spiced macerated red cherries. But it is intriguingly more savoury than fruity in the silk-edged velvety textured palate with a herb and citrus brightness to the finish that is embossed with wild rose hips and brambles with underlying hints of mocha. From Central’s Pisa sub-region. 14% alc. $27.99. 29Oct2014.

Chard Farm Finla Mor Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) This is a much fuller style of Pinot with a ruby colour, savoury aromas, velvety tannins, spicy oak and generous plum and black cherry fruit. Dry, spicy, earthy and a little gamey on the finish, you could call this a 'funky' style. 13.5% alc. $42.99. 8Jan2014.

Clos Henri Petit Clos Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) The nose of this medium-weight garnet red coloured wine is shy but reveals hints of cherries. It's very dry and has quite firm tannins in the palate, which is unusual for NZ pinot but probably a result of French winemaking influence. A lovely savoury beetrooty Pinot, which expands beautifully in the palate and leaves a lingering taste of cranberries and cherries. 13.5% alc. $23.99. 8Jan2014.

Felton Road Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Bright pinky red. Smoky and savoury on the nose with a subtle fragrance of Central Otago's wild thyme. Juicy and savoury with underlying acidity providing brightness and zing. Lovely tannin structure, it has some grip but that is part of this wine's charm. Full-bodied, sensual and savoury with spiced cherries on the long succulent finish. This and the Akarua tasted alongside it show great promise for Central Otago 2012. 14% alc. $51.99. 10Jul2013.

Gibbston Valley Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Vibrant deep ruby black hue. Very generous on the inviting nose with nuances of chocolate and cherries. Full bodied and juicy to the taste with creamy oak, opulent black cherry and plum fruit and a smooth harmonious flow with a spicy flourish to the finish and some lovely savoury notes as the wine lingers. Perhaps a little bit of grip too. Like the potential here for aging. 13.5% alc. $43.99. 27Nov2013.

Greystone Waipara Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Deep ruby red with an almost black core. Wonderfully attractive aromatics - fruity yet funky in an exciting and evocative way. Full bodied and creamy with black cherries and rose petals underpinned by a deep earthy savouriness and tannins that are remarkably silky and fine. Such a gorgeous texture to this wine. 13.5% alc. $27.99. 4Dec2013.
Dark red coloured with an earthy savoury aroma, and deep and savoury to the taste with creamy oak adding softness and hints of mocha and spice in behind. A plush little number with pillowy tannins, it brims with black cherry and cranberry fruit and there's a burst of freshness to the long seductive finish. 14% alc. $27.99. 15Jan2014.
Bright ruby purple with a beguiling aroma of cherries and plums infused with evocative funky tones but surprisingly quite savoury and earthy in the silky textured palate on first tasting. Then that lovely fruit profile wells up through the savoury layers with a sensual smokiness coming into play too. Smooth and fine with a firm touch to the finish and a flourish of oak spice lingering long, tasty finish. 13.5% alc. $27.99. 26Feb2014.

Gunn Estate Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Quite ruby in colour, this is immediately generous, fruity and mouthfilling with sweet, ripe fruit that's heading towards jammy. I taste plums and prunes and then ribena. A smooth, soft style of pinot with cigar box-like oak, a touch of leather and a hint of mushroom. Pinot for Merlot drinkers because it really doesn’t taste like Pinot Noir at all. Far too jammy and sweet for me. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 26Apr2013.

Jackson Estate Vintage Widow Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Rich ruby maroon with heady scents of crushed chocolate biscuits, dried thyme, dry roasted rosemary and black cherries. A meaty, savoury tasting pinot with smooth tannins imparting a creamy texture, a herbal infusion and juicy Morello cherry fruit all melding together for the rich, flavoursome finish. 13.5% alc. $28.99. 29Oct2014.

Julicher 99 Rows Martinborough Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) This has a vibrant ruby violet hue with an inviting sweet smoky scent encompassing aromas of bottled red cherries. Vibrantly fruity in the palate – again bottled red cherries come to mind – with a hint of vanilla, a lovely savoury inflection, a touch of salami and mushrooms braised in fragrant spices and thyme. The fruit is plump and juicy, almost luscious, but there is well balanced acidity while the tannins are silky with a firm edge and the wine finishes dry. 12.5% alc. $24.99. 11Jun2014.
This velvet-like deep ruby-hued pinot has an inviting gamey infusion to both the earthy savoury aromas and flavours that are interweaved with smoky oak, spiced plums, bottled cherries and thyme. The reasonably firm tannin structure and meaty depth is one clue to the region despite the perceived ripeness and plushness. The balance of fruit and savouriness is quite divine and the finish is silky and long. 12.5% alc. $22.99. 14Jan2015.

Lawson's Dry Hills Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Bright ruby hued with smoky savoury aromas infused with spiced berries and dried herbs and full-bodied and creamy to the taste with mouth-coating velvety tannins, succulent cherry and plum fruit, underlying dried herbs, hints of rose petal, spicy oak and a long smoky savoury finish. Very rich and generous. Firm structured with opulent sweetness. 13.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 9Sep2014.

Martinborough Vineyards Te Tera Martinborough Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Translucent purple red with a very inviting bouquet that's delicately spicy and floral with sensual gamey notes coming through. It has a gorgeous fine silky texture with flavours reminiscent of violets and juicy sun-ripened red and purple berries, and the finish is savoury and long. Very stylish and great buying at the price. 13.5% alc. $25.99. 6Nov2013.

Matua Lands & Legends Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 Translucent red garnet with flashes of ruby. The scent is a little meaty and gamey with bottled raspberries and dusty oak adding to the aromatic intrigue. Rustic and herbal in the palate, heading towards savoury, with succulent bittersweet dark red fruits, a fine texture, a dry finish and a little flourish of zest. Medium bodied style and an all round pleaser. 14% alc. $24.99. 15Apr2015.

Matua Single Vineyard Lowburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 Rich ruby maroon with moderate depth, youthful and bright in appearance. Powerfully aromatic with succulent red and black fruits, dusty oak and a little confectionary edge that in this example is very pleasing. Full-bodied, spicy and savoury tasting with body and soul – it's simply outstanding from the outset. Fruit is powerful but so in balance with the oak, herb and savoury components that make up the whole. Nice touch of salinity in the spicy oak finish that adds even more interest to this deep dark drop of deliciousness with subtle nuances of chocolate begin to emerge. 14% alc. $49.99. 15Apr2015.

Mt Difficulty Roaring Meg Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Moderate weight purple ruby hue. Hints of macerated strawberry and cherry on the slightly restrained scent, then dry and savoury in the medium weight palate. Undeniably Pinot Noir with its soft smooth tannins, bittersweet red fruits and subtle herb notes, it's ready to enjoy now. 14% alc. $25.99. 12Feb2014.

Ruby garnet in hue with a candied cherry aroma that has a savoury aura and an enticing anise-like spiciness wafting through. Quite dry in the palate, it has sautéed mushroom and bacon notes and distinctive woody herb savouriness with bittersweet cherry fruit, rosehips and aromatic spices. There is just a touch of grip to the fine textured tannins and an underlying brightness that carries the finish but it is to be noted it needs a bit of cuddly warmth before serving at this time of year (i.e. winter in NZ). Gold Medal Decanter 2014. 14% alc. $25.99. 23Jul2014.

Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Ruby maroon in hue with a lovely smoky savoury cherry bouquet, it's spicy and a little gamey in the medium to full-bodied palate with hints of rosemary and musky rose petal characters, juicy berry fruit, a dry savoury backbone, velvet-edged silky tannins and a long bright finish. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 18Sep2013.

Mud House Claim 431 Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Dark pinky red. Perfumed with earth, game, fragrant spices and black cherries, this enticingly scented wine tastes immediately appealing with its super smooth texture, juicy red fruits and hints of chocolate beautifully supported by a spicy, savoury undercurrent with thyme-like herbs infusing the long silky finish. Soft, rounded and velvety all the way through, it’s an irresistible style of Pinot. 14.5% alc. $24.99. 25Jun2014.

Nanny Goat 'Super Nanny' Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Exciting woodsmoke on the nose, then in the palate it is lifted and spicy with beautifully balanced oak in the background together with hints of thyme, Xmas cake spices, plums and cherries and appealing smoky savoury flavours lingering. It seems soft, sensual and velvety but the firm, assertive finish shows its youth. 14.2% alc. $45.99. 6Aug2014.

Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Deeply translucent pink-edged ruby in hue. Inviting sweet cherry notes infuse the earthy savoury and lightly smoky scent - it smells almost confectionary / cherry jam in the most nicest of ways. Quite dry on entry into the palate, and a little meaty, but the fruit is just beautiful – fruits of the forest I’d say, and forest floor with cake spices lifting the rounded finish. Fine tannins still have a lightly furry feel. Seems more of a medium bodied style for the region but it has incredible savour and length. It needs to be served in a big glass or decanted as I can see it starting to evolve in the XL5 tasting glass but the next wine is waiting to be poured. 13.5% alc. $37.99. 25Mar2015.

Rockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Dark ruby with touches of purple. The bouquet emanates an exciting herbal savouriness with a spicy brightness and an earthy mushroom intrigue, these traits carrying through to the sensual silky textured palate where they are joined by bittersweet cherry and cranberry fruit with bright zesty orange citrus notes coming through. Compounding in power, with a lick of chocolate to the lovely smoky, savoury finish, this stand-out wine is made from Parkburn and Gibbston Valley fruit. 14% alc. $39.99. 29Oct2014.

Saint Clair Block 14 Doctors Creek Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Dark cherry red with sweet berry fruit on the nose and a rich, powerful presence in the palate. It's juicy, almost luscious, with gentle tannins, a spicy flourish and those almost funky, hard to describe bittersweet red fruits on the lingering finish. A show of hands proved this wine was very popular on the night. 13.5% alc. $30.99. 6Nov2013.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 16 Awatere Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Rich ruby hued. The enticing savoury aroma is infused with spiced cherries and woodsmoke then it’s full-bodied and velvety in the palate with anise-spiced mushrooms and juicy black cherries with a meaty undercurrent and a bright flourish to the long creamy finish. 13.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 9Sep2014.

Sileni The Plateau Hawkes Bay Pinot Noir 2012(sc) Dark ruby with dark cherry hints. The bouquet is floral with juicy cherry notes and a touch of spice. Ah, this is so much more complex (than the early release 2013) in flavour profile and bodyweight. A touch of spice, more citrussy, sumac-like spices. Dry and concentrated, lovely array of juicy red/black cherry. Some interesting stalky notes coming through on the finish keeps the sweet fruit in check. Lovely mouthcoating textural complexity and very desirable hints of anise. 13% alc. $34.95. 12Nov2013.

Terra Sancta Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Ruby in hue with a touch of purple, the slightly floral bouquet emanates earthy notes with fragrant spicy red berries. While initially it seems slightly grippy and edgy it becomes quite creamy with red berries, early season plums, smoky savoury notes, dried herbs and a touch of citrus that morphs into jaffa that is very appealing. Bannockburn fruit. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 29Oct2014.

Terra Sancta Mysterious Diggings Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Rich ruby red with a gorgeous aroma that emanates spiced cherries and plums with a lovely savoury note wafting through, the succulent fruit a feature in the juicy palate together with smoky, savoury, gamey notes and a spicy touch of anise. Smooth and just so easy to like. 14.3% alc. $21.99. 25Sep2013.

Terrace Edge Waipara Valley Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Deep purple ruby with a glossy sheen. Aromatic, smoky and savoury with spiced cherry, rose petal and musky scents and flavours that are bright and spicy with a floral allure, a hint of chocolate, underlying smoky bacon savouriness and thyme-like herbs. Firmly structured but very silky, lovely purity and a texture that is caressing and seductive – a young wine with a long way to go. 13% alc. $26.99. 2Oct2013.

Thistle Ridge Waipara Valley Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Medium weight ruby hue. Quite plummy on the nose with a smoky, savoury infusion. Spicy and savoury with fine silky tannins, dried cherry and cranberry fruit, underlying smoky oak and a bright, almost floral nuance to the long dry, smooth, rounded finish. 13.5% alc. $16.99. 27Nov2013.
The aroma of this wine is so seductive – black cherries, a touch of smoky savoury oak, perhaps even chocolate. And it's deliciously savoury with a super smooth flowing mouthfeel, a juicy sweetness to the black cherry and berry jam fruit and firmness to the lingering finish. Made by rising Waipara star Greystone, this has all of the qualities you look for in everyday drinking Pinot at a very tempting price. 13.5% alc. $18.99. 3Dec2014.

Thornbury Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Intense deep purple red with an inky depth, there's woodsmoke on the nose and it's quite dry to the taste yet has a very appealing smooth rounded texture. It's like Pinot Noir on steroids with its succulent cherry and plum fruit, bold savoury, gamey notes and bright spicy finish with hints of anise. 13.5% alc. $21.99. 9Oct2013.

Urlar Gladstone Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Rich, ruby violet hue. Lovely smoky savoury bouquet with spiced maraschino cherry notes coming through. Concentrated, spice, smoky and savoury with richness of cherry and spiced plum fruit with a slight tamarillo-like note and a citrussy edge. Underlying savoury oak, forest floor, bacon and herb stuffed mushrooms in the background bring the fruit sweetness into check. Tannins are fine but have a bit of a furry edge. Lovely fruit brightness on the finish. Excellent match to lightly peppered fillet steak accompanied with braised mushrooms and roast vegetables. 13% alc. $37. 1May2014.

Valli Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Deep ruby red in colour with a sensuous smokiness to the fragrant almost floral scent; firm in the palate, still quite youthful but fleshes out beautifully to become plush and generous with great depth and presence. Concentrated black cherry fruit, exciting spices, a touch of strawberry chocolate and smoky notes from the scent coming forth to linger on the deeply savoury finish. Emphatic, memorable wine. 13.5% alc. $66.99. 5Feb2014.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Southern Clays Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Dark cherry red. Fragrantly smoky with enticing woody spices and red and black cherries filling the bouquet and the taste is full-bodied, luxurious and plush with a beautiful fine silky texture, generous black cherry and juicy purple fruits, well balanced savouriness, a whisper of cake spices and a harmonious finish that just flows. From the Ben Morven region on the southern side of the Wairau Valley. 13.5% alc. $48.99. 29Oct2014.

Wooing Tree Beetlejuice Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (sc) Dark ruby red. Enticing woodsmoke scent with chocolate-coated spiced cherry nuances in behind, all those characters carrying through to the super succulent, velvety textured palate that has exciting sweet / savoury harmony. There's juicy black cherry fruit, underlying earthy savouriness and smoky oak with wonderful length and flow. 14.5% alc. $24.99. 5Feb2014.

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Index to Varietal Tastings
Chardonnay Gewurztraminer
Pinot Gris Sauvignon Blanc Other Whites
Bubblies Sweeties Pinks
Cabernet dominant Merlot dominant Pinotage
Pinot Noir Shiraz Other Reds

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