edited by Sue Courtney
Wine Reviews - Pinot Noir
by Sue Courtney
Last updated 15 Jul 2010
[2008/2007]        [1999 and older] [index]
Alana Estate Pinot Noir 2000 (Martinborough) A slow evolving wine with a long powerful finish. It is a lighter style pinot with an herb and fruit tea aroma. If I had been trying it blind I am sure I would have mistaken it for a wine from much further south. There's quite delicate fruit at first, cherries, strawberries and plums with a pleasing oak intervention. Delicate and smooth, floral characters appear and then the sweet ripe finish lasts for ages. 18Sep2001. Plum and spice aromas. Bright, crisp, savoury fruit with ethereal pinot flavour. Looking very good with cherry, strawberry, a touch of savoury meat and a bright, long finish. 16Nov2001.
Alexander Vineyard Martinborough Pinot Noir 2000 Earthy, meaty, savoury pinot with inky notes and a touch of lifted spice on the finish. Fairly big tannins for a pinot. First crop fruit. 50% new oak. Savoury finish. Needs time. 17Nov2001.
Alpha Domus Pinot Noir 2000 Earthy, meaty oak in this ripe pinot with fleshy plum and peach, some crisp herb notes and sweet lifted cherry fruit lingering on the finish with velvety tannins. 15Mar2002.
Ata Rangi Pinot Noir 2000 (Martinborough) A lighter coloured wine compared to previous years, showing 'pretty' pink-ruby hues. Quite smoky when swirled and sniffed in a Riedel glass, however quite closed in the smaller XL5 tasting glass. Soft cherry and fruit cake spice aromas. Richly flavoured, smoky, earthy, spicy, bright, cherry and citrus. Very fine tannin and very drinkable in its youth with the charming fruit and satiny texture gliding across the palate. Just 25% new oak. A very elegant, subtle and charming wine. Tasted 27Aug2001 @ Ata Rangi release tasting. $57.
Ata Rangi Young Vines Pinot Noir 2000 (Martinborough) Aromas of cherry and spice with an earthy, mushroom note Lovely rich flavours immediately make you think NZ pinot. Perhaps too rich, too overpowering. A touch of herbs. Spice. A little black pepper. Something reminiscent of engine oil (not derogatory) Too overpowering on finish.- A little unbalanced for me. 16 6 June 2001.
Black Ridge Pinot Noir 2000 (Central Otago) from the most southern winery in the world, near Alexandra, had jammy aromas, a lovely richness and texture with a distinct herbal note. 18Sep2001.
Black Estate Waipara Pinot Noir 2000 A smoky meatiness on the nose then in the mouth the flavours of savoury spice, cherries, plums and the lovely lift of acid-free tamarillos. Soft, juicy, earthy, balanced and beautifully rounded with its silky and long lingering herbal savouriness. A most sensual wine so very complete and seamless in every way. WOTW14Apr2002.
Brajkovich Pinot Noir 2000 (Auckland) The colour of grape garnets with sweet cherry and mushroom aromas, strawberry and cherry flavours, toasty oak and a delicious lingering finish. $22-$23. July 2001.
Carrick Pinot Noir 2000 from Central Otago has a sweet array of fruit without too much oak influence. It's very good and I would like to try again. 18Sep2001.
Chard Farm Finla Mor Pinot Noir 2000 (Central Otago) Medium depth cherry red colour. I loved this wine with it flavoursome cherry and spice and lovely texture and balance. It's fruit and savoury with a nice touch of earthiness and good length. 18.5/20. 16Sep2001.
Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2000 Light hued pinot of medium density with tamarillo flavours to the fore. Good acidity and herbal characters with thyme, sweet cherry, strawberry while it is also meaty, and earthy with sweet mushrooms soaked in wine flavours with musk, cinnamon, cloves and other exotic spices. It is quite youthful and perhaps a little hard. I like the lingering savoury and vinous sweet fruit flavours that stay in the mouth for an age.
Nicely integrated oak, seemingly light at first but don't be fooled. This has great body and weight.
Coney Pizzicato Pinot Noir 2000 (Martinborough). Lovely 'pinot' scents with soft cherry and berry fruits and a nice balance of oak. It is a toasty, yet elegant, wine with good length and flavour and a lingering spicy finish. 17Sep2001.
Crossroads Reserve Pinot Noir 2000 (Hawkes Bay) Deep ruby with flashes of pink. Smoky cherry and sweet spice aromas with an earthy, ever so slightly tarry, but intriguing feral nuance. Full and round with delicious ripe cherry, hints of tamarillo and plum and plenty of warm spicy oak. Strawberry lingers on the finish along with a meaty influence, honey cured smoky bacon, perhaps. WOTW 8Jul2002.
Dry River Pinot Noir 2000 (Martinborough) Cherry, light and floral. Meaty nuances and some herb-like characters and plenty of spice on the finish. Great length tending to velvety. From a cooler year and showing more restrained fruit in than in previous years, with raspberry notes lingering on the velvety-textured finish that is, of course, very long and fulfilling. $55. Dry River Release Tasting. 16Sep2001.
Felton Rd Pinot Noir 2000 (Central Otago) This wine definitely has more acid. Vinously fragrant. Very smooth, very silky. Doesn't immediately evoke that herb character I associate with this wine. Well maybe it lingers on finish. Very. Very long. Would like to review on a bigger sample. Texture and length are the qualities that stand out on this wine. 6 June 2001.
Floating Mountain Waipara Pinot Noir 2000 This wine is drinking beautifully right now. It so soft and mellow with florals, subtle spice, lovely cherry characters. Soft and well integrated oak (although in same proportions as previous vintages), softer and less grippy tannins. It comes from a tricky vintage with small, undersize berries, some which split and shrivelled up and disappeared altogether. This is the current release. It costs about NZ$30. Recommended. 9Jan2002.
Forrest Estate Pinot Noir 2000 (Marlborough) Pretty cherry aromas and flavours. Subtle oak lingers in the background with spice and forest floor influences. Lovely sweet and savoury finish with subtle spice. A marked improvement with 6 months bottle development since last tasted in January when it seemed a little stalky. 6Jul2001.
Foxes Island Pinot Noir 2000 - Marlborough Developed medium depth red black colour with good intensity, it seems an oxidative style at first on the nose but later reveals spicy, fennel flower and vinous pinot scents. This is a seamless, silky-textured pinot with subtle oak well balanced to the red and black fruits, sweet earth, ferns, mushrooms and hints of aniseed. Well-structured with supple tannins, there's a touch of acidity on the finish and the length is long and savoury. $37.95. 19Feb2003.
Fromm Pinot Noir 2000 (Marlborough). Rich cherry and floral nuances. It's a delicate style with underlying power and richness and a ripe finish. A most enjoyable wine. 18Sep2001.
Fromm La Strada Clayvin Vineyard Pinot Noir 2000 (Marlborough) is another lovely wine, very ripe and concentrated cherry fruit, juicy and balanced. I loved it. A drink now style. 18Sep2001.
Fromm Fromm Vineyard Pinot Noir 2000 (Marlborough) is a huge leathery style of pinot - big and tarry with a very tight structure. Quite different from most of the other pinot noirs in the room that were to me, typically New Zealand in style. Hatsch Kalberer likens this wine to a Pommard. The wine evolves in the mouth and once I get past that tightness I find an amazing finish with licorice and spice. I found it very hard to detect the fruit nuances, however. This wine is one that is made to evolve in the cellar and to enjoy in several years time. 18Sep2001.
Gibbston Valley Central Otago Pinot Noir 2000 Creamy aromas. Quite herbal, a little oily in texture. Smoky, spicy, meaty depth but cherry sweetness emerges to linger on finish. $37.95. 20Mar2002.
Gibbston Valley Reserve Central Otago Pinot Noir 2000 (sc) A bricking red colour, disintegrating on the rims, this is a deep concentrated savoury wine with plum, prune, redcurrant and spice on the nose and moderately developed flavours. Silky in structure yet still quite oaky, with stewed plum and tamarillo fruit, hints of chocolate and plenty of savoury earthy funk. As I muse over the wine I'm reminded of old fruitcake, dried roses, leather and smoking jackets. 13.5% alc. $NZ. 28May2010.
Greenhough Hope Vineyard Pinot Noir 2000 (Nelson) Lovely sweet fruit with a rustic, wild berry character. There's cherry, black peach, a touch of musk, soft oak, savoury nuances, charry oak and a sweet ripe finish. 18Sep2001.
Grove Mill Pinot Noir 2000 (Marlborough) Very rich, full aromas of musk and smoky oak. Very concentrated without being over the top. Spicy, savoury, plenty of alcohol. Intriguing flavours, long with black cherry and ripe red guava, savoury oak, and powerful finish. Pretty moreish. Just the style of velvety NZ pinot that we like to drink. Bracken-like pinot flavours linger in palate. A blend of 3 clones. 31Oct2001.
Herzog Pinot Noir 2000 Med violet colour. Touch of berry spice on subtle oak nose. Herbal notes abound. The wine is tight, dry, reasonably oaky and a touch earthy with cherry fruit emerging. Again l can detect a slight (v.slight) oxidative character at first. The finish is long with a mouth coating texture and denser cherry, blueberry and some depth coming from the 14% alcohol. $50. 21Jan2002.
Highfield Pinot Noir 2000 (Marlborough) Smoky aromas then in the mouth there's ripe cherry, smoky oak, herbs and savoury notes. It's a silky wine - goes down real easy - with a gorgeous lingering finish hinting of anise on top of ripe cherry and strawberry fruit. 18Sep2001.
Huia Pinot Noir 2000 A blend of 8 clones. Light cherry red in colour. Herbal meaty scents. Rich truffle and cherry flavours on the palate. A lovely pinot finish with hints of flowers and herbs. $33. 24Sep2001.
Isabel Marlborough Pinot Noir 2000 Cherry red in colour. Spicy aromas made me sneeze. It is a little varnishy too. Fresh mushrooms, herbs, savoury-like wine. Long finish with flashes of citrus. Good colour. Good fruit. 8.5/10. 31Jul2002.
Kaituna Valley Canterbury Pinot Noir 2000 More developed in colour with fading reds to the more opaque black garnet colour. Slightly porty on the nose like cherries steeped in liqueur or port and developed characters in the palate with strawberry jam, sweet cherries, currants, leather, some old Christmas cake and spicy French oak that is well integrated into the fruit. Then on the finish that intrinsic pinot savouriness emerges to linger nicely. 13.7% alc. $48.95. 2Feb2005.
Martinborough Vineyards Pinot Noir 2000 Full of cherries and plums with savoury notes, charry oak and a dry backbone. This wine needs time to integrate and open up. $55. 18Sep2001.
Margrain Pinot Noir 2000 (Martinborough) Fairly oak dominant aroma. Sweet musky black cherry fruit fills the palate. 26Sep2001.
Matariki Reserve Pinot Noir 2000 Dense colour pinot with a brambly berry nose, a little black cherry and leather but more oak (45% new French) and less fruit aromatics than some of the more southern wines of this variety. A big, full-bodied wine in the mouth with opulent black cherry, spice, black leather and some gamey characters. The cherry characters come through with a touch of licorice and emerge on the sweetening finish, which has some tart cranberry and smoke. Good length with warm baked cherry, velvety oak and a hint of chocolate. Good potential as the finish is warm and promising and the wine improves with every sip. $48. 21Feb2002.
Matua Valley Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2000 Deeper colour with more red - into the ruby spectrum. Creamy oak and warm berry aromas. Earthy, cherry, plum savoury and spice flavours. GOod complexity. Perhaps a very slight oxidative character adds some intrigue. Very smooth and quite a complex style with a long warm savoury and baked cherry and spiced plum finish that hints of baked portobello mushroom. $27. 23May2000.
McCorkindale Marlborough Pinot Noir 2000 Aromas of cream, plum and spicy biscuits. Sweetish flavours with vanillin oak, tight tannins, citrus and plum skin. This is quite a rich concentrated, savoury, smoky wine with good flavour and excellent length but needs time to unfold. The finish is sweet and ripe. 17/20. 10Oct2002.
Mills Reef Cooks Beach Pinot Noir 2000 A quite developed browny red colour of light to medium depth. Earthy, mushroom aromas - quite typical for pinot - but a let down in the mouth. Quite developed cherry flavours, astringent acidity, harsh tannins, and a mocha-like cough medicine syrupy finish. This wine should have been consumed last year. $16. 2May2002.
Montana Marlborough Pinot Noir 2000 Pale garnet hue. Cherry scents. Cherry and savoury in the palate with herbs, subtle oak, fruit cake spice, cinnamon cloves, etc. Nice touch of balanced acidity (citrus) on the finish with an aftertaste of poached tamarillo. Soft, easy drinking - a great intro to Pinot Noir at an affordable price $15.95 July 2001.
Montana Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2000 Glowing bright cherry pink with a nice depth of colour. Sweet cherry, earthy and floral aromas. Creamy and balanced in the palate with cherry and tamarillo, mulled wine spices, meat, chocolate and savoury toasty oak on the finish. A big pinot at a little price. $24.95. 26Sep2001.
Mountford Village Pinot Noir 2000 A lightly coloured burgundy red. Caramel barrel aromas, light berry fruit and an earthy strawberry flavour. Very much like a Burgundian village wine with an interesting hint of apple on the finish which intrigues rather than hinders. Some hallmark cherries linger. The Mountford team found this lighter than their normal style so declassified it in to a 'second' label. I figure it just depends if you want the big fruit style of New Zealand pinot or a European look-alike. 25Mar2002.
Mount Riley Pinot Noir 2000 (Marlborough) Nutty dry wood aromas. Jammy, woody, Slightly stewed berry fruits. Not the greatest example of a PN. American oak. Creamy. $18.95 24Jan2001.
Mt Difficulty Central Otago Pinot Noir 2000Earthy style, some of that mulled citrus. Spicy, savoury, lifted finish. 15Aug2001.
Mudhouse Black Swan Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2000 There's a fragrant charm to this Pinot that has some bottle age now. Youthful in looks and taste; a clean, fresh wine with a smoky oak and forest floor aroma, a lovely fruit backbone, a savoury richness, a touch of rose petal and herb and an underlying chocolate cherry sweetness; a medium to full-bodied style with lovely mouthfeel and length. 30Jan2004.
Muddy Water Pinot Noir 2000 (Waipara). Light pinky-red, cherry colour of medium density. Sweet cherry fruit and oak with nice flavours emerging.. Lovely balance and flavour. Sweet finish. 18/20. 16Sep2001.
Muirlea Rise Pinot Noir 2000 (Martinborough) Fragrant with cherry, violet and subtle oak. A lovely elegant wine with some purity. Quite lifted after the denser 98 and 99. Clean, good varietal characters with cherry and spice and a velvety texture - a wee touch of earthy meatiness and a splash of musk. Delicious fruit sweetness and a gorgeous length. Brilliant! 16Nov2001.
Murdoch James Fraser Pinot Noir 2000 From the Marlborough Square vineyard in Cambridge Street, this wine has several traditional clones of pinot noir. It's rich ruby in colour and emits pepper and spice aromas with vanilla and a hint of rose. There's some lovely spice in the palate with lifted cherry, plums and more spice in the form of cinnamon. It is elegant and ripe with firm tannins, warm spice and a vanillin finish with a good length and a rich vinous mouth-coating texture. 14.5% alc. $55. 2Oct2001.
Murdoch James Reserve Pinot Noir 2000 Made from a single clone (the Abel clone) and 15-year old vines, this is a dense pinot with plenty of clove-like spices, ripe plummy fruit, savoury notes and well-integrated spicy oak. It has a very long finish with underlying power. 14% alc. $45. 2Oct2001.
Nautilus Estate Pinot Noir 2000 (Marlborough) An earthy pinot with some cherry and spice and a leathery tarry note. A citrus lift on the finish. Very nice. To be released 1 Dec 2001. $33. 24Sep2001.
Neudorf Moutere Pinot Noir 2000 (Nelson). A magnificent wine with its lovely cherry fruit and quality oak . A textural delight in the palate. Rich and creamy, just so ultra-gorgeous. What more can one say. It really is the complete package as far as pinot noir goes. I loved it. 18Sep2001.
Nevis Bluff Pinot Noir 2000 Fairly dense burgundy red. Lots of earthy, rural, savoury flavours, with blueberries and thyme. Good fruit , good structure. A very good wine. Black olives, oil, tar, good acidity will make it last. Lovely wine with lingering savouriness. $38. 19Jun2002. 2 days later: Really earthy and oily. I would say drink now, don't hold.
Palliser Estate Pinot Noir 2000 (Martinborough) Closed bouquet. Rich and meaty upfront flavours in the palate but with nice underlying fruit and a balanced sweetness. Creamy texture but a tarry touch on the meaty, savoury finish. This is a tight wine that needs some time to evolve. $38. 16 & 24Sep2001. Very ripe, velvety, creamy wine with woody, brambly characters. It's a big wine. There's a touch of aniseed perhaps. Very warm in the palate. Pinot spice and toasty oak without any prominent fruit characters. There's a lovely richness, a touch of savoury herb and oak spice on the gorgeous lingering finish. 16Nov2001.
Palliser 'Pencarrow' Pinot Noir 2000 (Martinborough) Gorgeous ruby colour and sweet cherry and spice scents. A little hard in the palate at first then some nice cherry fruit and soft oak with some lovely spice emerging and lingering. Ripe finish. $27. 24Sep2001.
Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2000 Lightly coloured. Smells fruity at first with cherry and plum, then earthy savoury flavours that fill out well in the palate. Lovely ripe tamarillo fleshes out and the mouth is filled with tingling spice that lingers. 28Nov2001.
Peregrine Pinot Noir 2000 Spicy wine - lots of cinnamon. Spiced cherries. Lovely balance compared to last wine. Quite oaky. Rich, great texture. Very long. Richly flavoursome. Needs a little time for the oak to settle in. 18-> $32.95 6Jun2001.
Pisa Range Estate Black Poplar Pinot Noir 2000 Pinky-red colour of medium depth. A slightly feral nuance but swirl the glass and a floral fragrance is revealed. This is gorgeously smooth in the palate with delicate spice, savoury and underlying power. Mushrooms, black cherry and cranberries combine together with a lift of mulled wine-like citrus, indicating plenty of long term potential, then a powerhouse finish comes on leaving citrus and violet characters to linger in the mouth with that elusive savoury character that pinotphiles the world over seek. WOTW 10Mar2002.
Porters Pinot Noir 2000 (Martinborough). A dark coloured, powerful wine with spicy fruit, cherry and musk. It's a touch oxidative on the nose but with lovely underlying fruit, oak and spice, a shake of pepper and a very long finish. I enjoyed this very much. 17Sep2001.
Pukawa Lake Taupo Pinot Noir 2000 Deep and dense carmine colour and a nose that is distinctly pinot noir but with a nuance that is almost European in character. There's possibly a little volatile acidity on the nose but this just adds to the intrigue of the wine in my opinion. Then in the mouth, rich black cherry flavours, ripe fruit, big bold meaty tannins and a lovely savoury character. This is a dense and powerful wine, interesting and complex with some floral nuances and a crushed velvet texture while sweet black cherry, plum and black peach flavours linger. $30.10Jan2002. WOTW for 27Jan2002.
Quartz Reef Pinot Noir 2000 Light cherry red in colour with a shy nose. Later, in a big glass, lovely ripe cherry and floral scents. In the palate is cherry, a little meaty earthiness, herbal notes and dry tannins on the finish. It's slow to evolve with a very long long lasting finish. 16 & 18Sep2001.
Rippon Pinot Noir 2000 Cherries, earth, spice. Quite mouthfilling style. Lots of acidity however. Ripe fruit and savoury spice linger on finish. 23Sep2002.
Saint Clair Doctor's Creek Pinot Noir 2000 (Marlborough) Spice, cherries, warm oak, round and balanced. A touch of that elusive pinot character. Long, perfumed finish. This is Saint Clair's first pinot noir and a reserve is coming from Omaka fruit. 2/3 Clone 115 and 1/3 Clone 5 (Pommard). $25.95 13Jun2001.
Stratford Pinot Noir Martinborough 2000 Lovely cherry red in colour, deeper than the Central Otago wines. Spicy, with a nice balance of fruit and oak. Creamy almost, with plenty of richness, texture and depth. Rich and full on. Lovely intensity and flavour. 18.5/20. 16Sep2001.
Stoneleigh Pinot Noir 2000 (Marlborough) Meaty and earthy with strawberry fruit. A light style with plenty of flavour. A little hard on the finish. 16Sep2001.
Tasman Bay Pinot Noir 2000 (Nelson) Lovely sweet cherry and strawberry fruit with a smoky nuance and a sweet ripe long finish. This wine, at around $19-$22, will be popular for its flavour and price. 17Sep2001.
Te Kairanga Reserve Pinot Noir 2000 Earthy at first and then lifted, fragrant citrus and spice scents. Chocolatey, flavours, sweet fruits, spice and musk. Some varietal characters linger with elegance and an intriguing pinot fruit character. Perhaps a little chunky. 16Nov2001.
Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2000 Deep red with good colour density, this is a much more savoury pinot on the nose. It's slightly feral with funky, gamey, tarry, salty, pruney aromas and deli meat, gamey flavours - and just a touch of Brett to give it that barnyard character found in so many French pinots. It's a rich powerful wine with liquid chocolate flavours emerging to join concentrated black cherry and plummy fruits. Wonderfully structured with very fine silky tannins, it's a wine that gets better and better with every mouthful as it starts to open up. It actually becomes quite seductive. I wanted more! What would be a good food match? Venison sausage. 14% alc. $52.95. 2Jul2003.
Voss Estate Pinot Noir 2000 (Martinborough). A rich full-bodied pinot with plenty of punch, showing toasty oak and earthy cherry notes. This seemed to be one of the 'bigger' pinots in the room at the NZ Wine Fair tasting. $33. 18Sep2001.
Waipara Downs Pinot Noir 2000 Relaxing on the patio after a hard day's tasting, there's nothing like a good wine to refresh the palate. And this was the wine. Excellent colour with a smoky nose, cherries, plums and tamarillo lift the brew. It's quite chocolatey with a hint of mint and lovely lingering warmly textured bright fruit with savoury things. 24Mar2002.
Waipara Springs Reserve Pinot Noir 2000 (Waipara) Lovely, spicy cherry and smoky oak and sweet ripe fruit. Good value at around $30. 16Sep2001.
Waipipi Masterton Reserve Pinot Noir 2000 Red cherry colour. Gamey nose. Spicy, cherry and strawberry fruit. Warm oak and a touch of herbs. Very good. 17Nov2001.
Walnut Ridge Pinot Noir 2000 (Martinborough) Spicy and savoury with tamarillo cherry and an earthy woody note with a touch of herb. Plenty of savoury complexity on the medium bodied finish. Lovely elegance and balance. Oct2001.
Wither Hills Pinot Noir 2000 (Marlborough) Deeply coloured pinot with a smoky savoury nose with a baked fruit nuance. An intricately complex fresh and vibrant wine with cherries, wild berries, spiced plum, then a bright flash of citrus. There's a creamy velvety texture and firm spicy tannins with hints of caraway herb that lifts the palate on the finish. A couple more sips and a sweet meat character starts to emerge. It's a delicious ripe & serious pinot with an amazing length that lingers sweetly in the palate with a full yeasty richness. Later the same day the wine emits ripe cherry flavours and earthy and a slightly feral character. This very young wine just keeps evolving in the glass. I can see this developing into a lovely earthy complex wine. 3Dec2001.