edited by Sue Courtney
Wine Reviews - Pinot Noir
by Sue Courtney
22 Dec 2013
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.
[current]          [1999 and older] [index]
Akarua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Dense, red black and full of primary black cherry and plum fruit, this full-bodied wine impresses from the outset with its boldness, lushness and extraction. But beneath the polished oak, the big tannins, the nugget and the leather, there is good structure and acidity and the intrinsic earthy, spicy hallmarks of good Pinot Noir with a lovely anise spiciness lingering on the finish. 13.8% alc. $39.99. 14Feb2007.
Amisfield Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Medium Burgundy-red, not quite opaque, it's smoky, savoury and a little earthy on the nose and has an increasing vinous richness and power to the fine-textured palate with bitter cherry and cranberry fruit, hints of chocolate, earth and spice and a persistence of savoury cherry flavour. 13.9% alc. $45.99. 19Dec2007.
Anchorage Nelson Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Full on aromas of cherry, chocolate and spice, the bigness of the wine continues in the initially chunky palate. Full-bodied and complex with spiced cherry, an undercurrent of herbs and fine meaty tannins but coconut American oak detracts and the finish is overly acidic and spritzy. French and American oak were used for the12 months maturation of the wine. 12.2% alc. $21. 19Aug2007.
Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) What a big meaty style of pinot this is. Deep ruby, almost inky. Savoury and gamey with rich, luscious, dark fruit, mellow oak and silky tannins and a spiciness on the finish that tickles the tip of the tongue. With its structure and length, it definitely needs more time but this will be a wine of great longevity. 13.5% alc. $60. 18Sep2006. Deep in colour with purple-edges, this is savoury and gamey from the outset with floral nuances as well as smoky bacon mushrooms, cherries and plums and a spicy lift to the finish. It's very dry with a firm tannin structure and a silky texture with lots going on in the layers of flavours that ripple across the palate leaving a creaminess in their wake. A beautiful wine, one to pour into a big glass and muse over at this stage of its life or just put away in the cellar for several years and let it evolve. 13.5% alc. $67.99. 30Nov2006.
Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir 2005 - Martinborough (sc) Wow, this is like a mini version of the Ata Rangi Pinot Noir 2005 - full of savoury, meaty, gamey flavours, plenty of depth and concentration, just a little more approachable now. A star for the price. 13.5% alc. $28. 18Sep2006.
Auntsfield Hawk Hill Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Dense pinky red with youthful crimson/purple tints. Earthy, smoky, savoury aromas are underpinned by dense plummy fruit and hints of tar and a suggestion of mocha, spice and chocolate. It’s a big grunty style as its deep dense colour would suggest with an earthy, savoury backbone, cranberry and bitter cherry fruit, hints of anise and quite firm thick tannins. A rich mouthfilling style with plenty of flavour, I like the savouriness of the wine but it is young and muscular right now and needs a little more time to unfold. 14.5% alc. $45. 18/20. 30Dec2006.
Bannock Brae Barrel Selection Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep cerise with smoky, savoury scents imbued with spiced cherry and a smoky palate with a lovely spicy undercurrent and a savoury richness that reminds me of chocolate coated mushrooms and herbs. Smooth and succulent, long and tasty. 14% alc.$44.50. 9Oct2006.
Bannock Brae Goldfields Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Big rich chocolatey style with fabulous extraction of purple crimson colour and ripe succulent flavours full of cherry with hints of rose petal. Velvety smooth with spices emerging, an earthy savouriness to the finish and a touch of spicy anise as it lingers. Delicious, young and vibrant with more complexity to emerge over the next year. 14% alc. $29.99. 30Nov2006.
Carrick Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Dense ruby with purple garnet edges, it's finely textured in appearance. Savoury, smoky, spicy aromas fill the nose and dense, savoury, full-bodied flavours fill the palate. It’s a gutsy, deep, earthy pinot with firm velvety tannins, juicy red cherry and cranberry fruits, hints of Valrhona chocolate and a long sweet, spicy finish. It just needs a little more time to let the tannins integrate. 13.5% alc. $45.99. 6Jun2007.
Chard Farm 'the Viper' Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Alluring deep ruby red coloured, crammed with ripe fruit, sweet smoky oak and mouthfuls of black cherry fruit. It's rich, ripe and savoury on the nose and tastes ripe and luscious with upfront black cherry flavours and fruit cake spices, a broad fleshy texture, ilky smooth tannins and a long, supple savoury finish. Underlying acidity balances the sweetness, hints of rose petal add a floral lift to the finish and all the while the gentle sway of oak adds harmony. From Parkburn (near Lowburn), all Dijon clones matured in French oak, 20% new, for 11 months. 5 stars. 13.5% alc. $50. 15Apr2007.
Chard Farm 'the Tiger' Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep ruby/violet coloured, it smells perfumed and savoury with black cherry and vanillin oak and tastes dry, dense and earthy with ripe cherries, guava, plum, smoky oak and anise-like spices. A wine of fascinating complexity, ripe and rounded, soft and smooth, a little meaty with sweet fruit and creamy oak filling out the lifted finish. Lowburn fruit with clone 5 as well as 666 & 777, matured in French oak for 11 months. 4 stars. 13.5% alc. $50. 15Apr2007.
Churton Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (c) Deep in colour with a perfumed aromas and earthy, gamey, savoury flavours with a creamy, velvety-textured backbone, juicy red fruit (guava & tamarillo, perhaps) and exotic spices with hints of anise emerging on the medium to full-bodied finish. 12% alc. $40. 9Oct2007.
Clayridge Excalibur Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Ruby red in colour, the bright cherry aromas have smoky savoury nuances and the taste is sweet and savoury, earthy and succulent with baked cherry, musk, spice, a firm tannined, savoury backbone and a floral musky note to the finish. The fruit is sweet and at first seems like biting into a black-fleshed peach with the skin on, following that with red guava and cranberries and finishing off with a bowl of sweet black cherries that linger on the long, mouthfilling, creamy finish. Well attuned acidity balances the sweetness and the finish is dry. 13.5% alc. $37.95. 17Nov2006.
Cloudy Bay Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Medium depth ruby hued with crimson flashes, youthful in its appearance. Sweetly perfumed with ripe cherry and spice; sweet, upfront, strawberry fruit fills the palate which has slightly grippy silky textured tannins, tingling acidity and a deep, earthy, savoury undercurrent. Long and savoury with hints of violet, rose musk and anise-like spices, it's medium bodied in style, fresh and youthful with a citrussy tang. 14% alc. $42. 15Apr2007.
Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005 A deep blackcurrant colour enhances the alluring aroma of chocolate, spice and tantalising oak before the velvety liquid flows across the tongue with creamy oak, tart cherry and plum fruit, a hint of chocolate and woody herbs. Dry, spicy, with slightly grippy tannins that add to its charm, the finish is deliciously seductive and the savoury aftertaste is rounded and long with sweeter cherry and chocolate emerging to linger. Low cropping fruit naturally fermented and matured in French oak, 45% new, for 9 months. 14.5% alc. $44.95. 31Oct2006.
Delta Vineyard Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep pinky red with a cerise glow. Savoury and a little smoky with a gorgeous silky texture, ripe plum, berry and cherry guava fruit, an intriguing underlying earthiness, woody herbs, an underpinning of anise-like spices and a dry, gamey, savoury finish. Seductive and succulent with a delicious lingering aftertaste, this is utterly tremendous value. 14% alc. $19.99. 27Sep2006.
Delta Vineyard Hatters Hill Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Dense, deep ruby red, reasonably dense, it exudes juicy ripe pinot noir scents. It's a gutsy style of pinot with crisp, juicy cranberry black cherry and blackberry fruit, a smooth velvety structure, creamy oak, spices and a long juicy finish that has a rather seductive savoury allure. 14.5% alc. $27.99 . 6Dec2006.
Domaine Georges Michel Golden Mile Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 Deep purple/black garnet with good saturation, this is an earthy, savoury style of full-bodied pinot with truffle-like aromas, soft silky tannins, red fruits, a fair dollop of acidity, hints of anise, a touch of tar, and rosemary and other savoury herbs on the long, savoury, meaty finish. Quite vibrant. 13% alc. $19.99. 23May2007.
Dry River Martinborough Pinot Noir 2005 The aromatics had totally seduced me but I also liked the colour, a bright ruby crimson, not totally opaque and not nearly as extracted and as deep as some of the Dry River pinots have been in the past, more on a par with the 2004. In the palate it's smooth and velvety with crisp cherry fruit being joined by blackberries and purple berries, an earthy, savoury, undercurrent, hints of leather, subtle spice and citrus emerging on the long, creamy, cosy finish - that lift of acidity boding well for long term cellaring. I sense a stylistic change, and I like it! 12.5% alc. $77. 19Mar2007.
Escarpment Martinborough Pinot Noir 2005 (D) Deep, dense, crimson red, almost opaque. Cherry-infused vanillin oak imparts a hint of mocha on the nose while the flavour of this thick textured wine is imbued with cherry and liquorice with a spicy savoury undercurrent and the tannins are quite grippy, which bodes well for its cellaring potential. Quite chunky and meaty with chicory notes, it' a big Pinot with a Syrah-like rose petal character and a long savoury aftertaste. It's a wine that will become far more graceful with a year or two, or more, in the cellar. 13.5% alc. $45. 28Nov2006.
Escarpment 'Kupe by Escarpment' Martinborough Pinot Noir 2005 (D) Deep, dense, opaque, bright velvety red with a fascinating floral aroma underpinned by spicy creamy oak - and as the wine evolves in the glass the oaky aromatics are flushed with hints of liquorice, anise, sweet red fruits and porcini mushrooms. In the palate the oak is overriding at this stage of its life and the tannins are thick and furry with the sweet red fruits screaming to get out from behind this velvety cloak. A dense wine with a varnishy overlay, underlying acidity, herbs, a savoury, earthy richness and a creamy finish that is a radiance of brightness with a perfumed muskiness. This is a very young wine and a little bit all over the place at this early stage of its life. It needs to come together a whole lot more than it shows on first opening and I recommend long decanting if the wine is going to be consumed this year. A better cellaring proposition right now. 13.4% alc. $85. 15Apr2007.
Fairmont Estate Admirals Hill Pinot Noir 2005 - Wairarapa (sc) Dense coloured with ruby hues, the savoury aromas hint of smoky bacon and stewed tamarillo and lead into a silky smooth palate full of savoury, earthy notes and powerful rich berry and cherry fruit underpinned by firm acidity. Funky with flair. 13.5% alc. $20.99. 27Dec2006.
Felton Road Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep plummy red with crimson edges, this shows great extraction of colour. It smells savoury with a floral (herb flower/rose) nuance and forest floor and it tastes full-bodied with a fine, silky tannin structure, plush black cherry and pinot fruit, polished oak, wild thyme, liquorice and anise-like spices. With lots of flavour and considerable length, it is reasonably big for pinot but not a fruit bomb, just class, class, class. 13.5% alc. $47.99. 18Oct2006.
Fromm Brancott Valley Pinot Noir 2005 (D) This is a rich, powerful, fruity, spicy, funky Pinot Noir. Deep and youthful in colour, it's quite a dense ruby red with the youthful purple garnet now gone. Savoury and earthy on the nose with oak quite noticeable, in the palate the spice presents itself as anise with a hint of pepper - there's a stalky herbal undercurrent and quite massive tannins - a beast of Pinot Noir with the rich plummy fruit and a hint of vanilla adding succulence to the finish. 14% alc. $42.90. 28Jun2009.
Gladstone 12,000 Miles Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Youthful, ruby garnet appearance. Savoury on the nose, crisp cherry fruit, ripe with hints of chocolate. Savoury to the taste, tart cherry fruit and grainy tannins become quite velvety and the finish is dense and earthy with a chocolatey overtone and crisp berry acidity emerging as it lingers. Good length and lots of pinosity. Just a little light compared to some of the others. 15.5/20. 13% alc. 30Dec2006.
Gladstone Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep purple-hued red, very youthful in appearance. Beet aromas lead into a medium-bodied palate with some acidity, a savoury undercurrent, earthy tones, raspberry fruit and creamy oak with herbal flavours lingering on the finish. 14.5% alc. $29. 15Apr2007.
Hyperion Eos Pinot Noir 2005- Matakana (D) Ruby hued with reasonable vinous depth. Smoky and savoury on the nose, there are hints of smoky bacon, it’s quite sweet in the palate with a spicy backbone to the juicy fruit. Plums, blueberries, cherries and a long, savoury, smoky finish with richness on the linger aftertaste. Upfront sweet, silky texture, warm and savoury, dry and rounded. A huge step up. From a cool season in Matakana, which obviously suited the variety. 13.5% alc. $25. 26Mar2007.
Jackson Estate The Vintage Widow Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep lustrous velvety red with a purple hue. There’s a very slightly bretty/farmyard/tarry/soapy character to the nose and the tarry flavours dominate the palate but emerging from the savouriness is big juicy blackberry fruit and layers of raspberries, cranberries and cream. Dense, rich and earthy with good length and a smoky, boot leather, dark fruit finish, as it lingers there’s a rounded savouriness with crisp berry fruits and vanilla. Perhaps a bit jammy, but there is lots of drinkability factor - and it is even better the next day. 17/20. 14% alc. $29.99. 30Dec2006.
James Love Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Quite expressive,savoury and spicy with hints of maraschino. Deep in colour with with purple tints to the crimson red hue, nutty oak, dry tannins, an array of oriental spices and earthy tones. Guava and cranberry fruit give way to ripe cherry and plum that emerge to linger on the finish, a deep, dark, savoury finish with a subtle, sexy, musky veneer. The wine has long term potential but right now it needs cheese or something soft and creamy to cut through the tannins. 13.2% alc. $29. 17Jan2007.
Julicher Martinborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Good depth of colour to the dark cherry, semi-opaque hue. Fragrant with smoky varnishy oak, this has the earthy, gamey, meaty signature of Martinborough with tart red fruits and a long dry finish. There are several clones in the wine which adds complexity and mouthfeel. 13.5% alc. $35. 3Sep2007.
Kim Crawford SP Comely Bank Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Ruby garnet in colour with purple-flushed edges. Cherry, berry and elusive pinot spice on the nose and juicy cherry fruit with chocolate and spice in the palate. With its silky tannins it increases in complexity to become savoury and earthy with some herbal notes coming through and a balanced seam of spicy orange-zest acidity to keep the long, succulent finish clean and focussed. 13.5% alc. $26.99. 18Oct2006.
Kumeu River Kumeu Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Transparent deep ruby red. Varnishy, smoky aroma reminiscent of smoky bacon and deli meats with a touch of rose petal, rose hips and cherry then in the palate there's tar, dried winter herbs, macerated cherry fruit and an earthy, sweet mushroom backbone while the merest touch of anise adds intrigue. Clean and savoury with rose petals and oak sweetness on the finish, like all the Kumeu River pinot noirs, this shows quite firm tannins in its youth and needs time for the tannins to evolve. Decant to let the floral components evolve. 13% alc. $33. 20Jul2006.
Lindis River Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (D) Deep ruby garnet with purple-red tints, the fragrant aromas are scented with smoky oak and ripe, spiced cherry fruit. Rich and ripe to the taste with black cherry and black fleshed stonefruit, this is a generous mouthfilling style with firm tannins and a long, rich savoury finish that hints of strawberry. 13% alc. Not yet released. 15Nov2006.
Lonely Mountain Taupo Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Ruby red, translucent. Sweet cherry on the nose and hints of vanilla, a little concocted and lollyish – like jubes or jelly babies. It’s sweet in the palate too, bitter sweet cherries and stewed plums underpinned by orange peel acidity and a prominent tarry savoury character as well. An interesting combo of sweet and savoury, but the savoury wins on the day and the finish is long and tarry with tamarillo emerging. The tannins are slightly grainy at first but have a silky afterfeel. A touch funky and a touch leathery, I quite like the waves of sweet and sour and the long savoury aftertaste but wonder whether it is slightly unripe.140 cases made. 12.5% alc. $34.95. 30Dec2006.
Lowburn Ferry Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep and bright with crimson purple hues to the pleasing dark red colour, there's a crispness to the berry fruit - like biting into a firm skinned ripe berry and letting the ripe, juicy flavours seduce the mouth. There's cherry and raspberry too with an earthy undercurrent, plenty of thyme-like woody herbs and well-balanced acidity emerging on the finish. Quite complex, smoky, savoury and earthy and though still very young, this was the best match to the food. 12.5% alc. $34.95. 28Nov2006.
Mahi Rive Vineyard Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) A big wine - spicy, savoury, herbal and earthy with an exciting aroma of truffle. It made me think of the top wines from Martinborough. After about 10 minutes a more floral perfume emerged and an array of interesting flavour characters developed in the palate. Spicy with thick velvety tannins, savoury oak and sweet fruit balanced by the acidity, this is a full-bodied, fleshy, generous pinot noir; a deep, satisfying wine. A blend of clones 666 & 777 with 15 months in French barriques. 14% alc. $37. 15Apr2007.
Martinborough Vineyards Te Tera Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Fragrant with rich, ruby red hues and soft, rounded, earthy, savoury flavours filled with spiced cherries and juicy plums with hints of tart red guava. The tannins are slightly grainy and there's a gamey richness mid-palate which gives way to hints of musk and succulent sweeter berries on the finish. Full-bodied and long. 13.5% alc. $27.99. 15Nov2006.
Mills Reef Reserve Hawkes Bay Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Light style, delicate, sweet cherry and a hint of truffle on the nose, it's earthy and savoury in the plate with a hint of anise and underlying acidity, medium-bodied in style but building to a dense finish where the herbal flavours of pinot noir linger. Tasted again the next day, it has become fuller and richer, and seems ripe and juicy with thick tannins, cherry and plum fruit, a touch of chocolate, and a velvety finish. Such a transition! 14% alc. $23. 15Apr2007.
Mount Difficulty Roaring Meg Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) A blend of Central Otago and Marlborough fruit, this light coloured wine has a smoky, wild 'woody herb' aroma and a light red fruits flavour with a savoury backbone, a smooth glycerol texture and a spicy flourish to the well-balanced finish. Lovely texture and very good length. 14.5% alc. $24.99. 23Aug2006.
Mount Difficulty Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep bright Burgundy red. It smells ripe and sweet with vanillin oak and plums, while ripe plum and berry fruit fill the palate with earthy, savoury herbal notes and a zesty, spicy finish. This is a big, bold style of pinot with a beautiful silky tannin structure and deliciously juicy fruit that melds into the long savoury, dry, spicy (anise -like) finish. 14% alc. $41.99. 8Nov2006.
Mount Dottrel Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Spicy, bitey, vibrant style of Pinot with a slightly, grainy, silky texture, ripe black cherry fruit and tarter cranberries, a herbal, earthy undercurrent and hints of chocolate on the finish. This is very smart pinot noir - it's complex, it's powerful, it's ripe, it's tasty and it's yum.Very heavy Grande Burgundy bottle with a large punt. 14% alc. $31.50. 20Mar2007.
Mount Michael Bessie's Block Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep, bright purple-edged carmine red. Sensuous, savoury, forest floor aromas underpinned by spiced cherry and plum fruit lead into a complex and savoury palate with silk edged velvety tannins with enough crushed velvet grip to make you take extra note. Bright tamarillo and plush cherry fruit balances the earthy richness and the finish is long with a brightness as it lingers. Sultry with good acidity and structure. Very seductive now but with signs of cellaring potential. Matched to beautifully tender, strongly flavoured Asian spiced duck and black Doris plum broth served over lemongrass risotto brings out an extra dimension of peppery spiciness and fruit in the wine. 14% alc. $37. 2Nov2006.
Mt. Difficulty Long Gully Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep ruby black, quite dense in appearance, it's fragrantly scented with smoky spicy oak and tastes savoury and earthy with firm silky tannins, forest floor nuances, juicy red and black cherry fruit, a touch of chocolate, mulled wine spices and dried herbs emerging. There's a lovely lift to the finish where a floral, dried rose-like fragrance and a hint of orange pomander comes through. A long-flavoured, elegant, silky-smooth wine to savour. 14% alc. $74.99. 6Jun2007.
Nautilus Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Pinky edged, translucent red with a red-black core. Primary cherry fruit is balanced by more tart guava and cranberry with grainy youthful, crushed velvet tannins, sweet oak, a chocolate undercurrent and a floral note to the berryish finish where orange pomander notes lift the finish. The savoury aftertaste is long and satisfying. 13.5% alc. $39. 18Oct2006.
Northrow Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Still a good deep colour for its age. Perfumed and floral on the nose with earth and smoke. Savoury in its disposition with game, earth and herbal nuances together with dark cherry fruit and underlying spice. Rich and dry with firm acidity and slightly grippy tannins, it has a luscious complexity and a long full savoury finish. Over three years old and still developing beautifully with life ahead of it for a long time yet. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 4Feb2009.
Odyssey Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (D) Vivid purple crimson, dense in the core. Fragrant, full of berry fruit and savoury oak scents, it is fruity to the taste with raspberries and blackberries balanced by aromatic spices and smoky oak with dry silky tannins, a herbal savouriness and a tingling of fruit cake spice on the finish. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 20Sep2006.
Olssen's Slapjack Creek Pinot Noir 2005 - Central Otago (sc) The purple-flushed hue indicates youth and youth contributes to the bound up nose but swirling and shaking reveals the fragrant thyme scents so synonymous with Central Otago pinot noir. Youth also contributes to the tightness in the palate but the sweet cherry and berry fruit pushes through. There are lots of earthy / floral complexities and a touch of rose petal too. A wine with complexity, length and a long mellow flow, there's plenty to evolve before its release in June 2007. 14.4% alc. $NA. 9Sep2006.
Ostler Caroline’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep pinky red in colour, it smells rounded and smooth and savoury with hints of rose petal, an earthy, mushroom character and red cherry fruit. It’s spicy to the taste with lovely definition of tart cherry and red plum fruit under which a smoky savouriness emerges. There's some prickly acidity and lots of interesting funky (damp earth in the forest and mushroom) characters. A rich wine with firm tannins and a lovely silky texture. Couldn't be anything but pinot -the most Burgundian style in the tasting. 18/20. 13.5% alc. 30Dec2006.
Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Vibrant and rich in colour with a purple/violet edge. Expressive, smoky, savoury aromas are flushed with liqueur cherry and chocolate and fleshy, concentrated, mouthfilling flavours are crammed with black and purple fruit with a touch of anise, a hint of earth, seductive velvety tannins and a long, savoury aftertaste. A very pleasing and satisfying drop. If you loved the multi-gold medal and trophy winning 2004 version of this wine, then you just have to get some of this - it's possibly even better. Time will tell. 14% alc. $34.99. 30Aug2006.
Pisa Range Central Otago Black Poplar Block Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Dense pinky red, youthful crimson/purple tints - similar in colour to the Auntsfield, just a little lighter in colour than the Jackson Estate. It smells creamy and smooth with vanillin oak, sweet black cherries, hints of citrus and a myriad of fruit cake spices - it smells so good I can’t wait to get it in my mouth and it does not disappoint. With soft velvety tannins, spiced black cherries and creamy oak, this is a juicy mouthfilling style with a touch of chocolate emerging together with a smoky savouriness, hints of creamed mushroom and later, hints of spiced orange peel as well. Very ripe and quite drinkable. The tasting notes say that this is a ‘masculine’ wine, but how do you define ‘masculine’? I don’t get any masculine. I just get a succulent, full-bodied, flavoursome pinot noir. 18.5/20. 14% alc. 30Dec2006.
Prophet's Rock Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep red with a ruby glow. Spiced black cherry and plum aromas with savoury smoky oak and hints of mushroom and initial savoury flavours with a concentrated red and black fruit depth, hints of tar, fruit cake spice, and a smidgen of liquorice adding complexity. A well-structured, full-bodied pinot noir with smooth velvety tannins and a sweet succulence to the lasting finish. 15 months in French oak. 14% alc. $38.99. 11Jul2007.
Porters Martinborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep in colour with ruby hues, this is powerfully scented, full and ripe with a touch of leather and game scents too. An opulent wine that broadens in the palate - yeast, spice, plenty of oak and leather but break through the powerful exterior and you will find abundant fruit richness with hallmark red fruits mingling with black fruit and a long lasting finish. More to come with cellaring. Matured in French oak, 1/3 new, for 12months. 13.5% alc. $45. 14Oct2008.
Quartz Reef Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Dense and dark with a black core and boysenberry-red edges, you don’t immediately think 'Pinot Noir' from the colour. It's a massive wine with wild berries and pie pastry on the nose and creamy oak, sweet plums, juicy brambles and liqueur cherries in the palate with allspice, subtle anise, fine grained dusty tannins and a long, full-bodied finish.14% alc. $43.99. 14Feb2007.
Richardson Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) With a polished, smoky aroma and a smoky, earthy, savoury taste that has just a little of that elusive pinot funk and a nuance of Central Otago's wild herbs, this is a rich, warm, seductive style of Pinot Noir. It's beautifully balanced, rich and long with luscious velvety tannins, spicy cherry fruit that has a fruit cake richness, smoky spicy oak, a hint of bitter chocolate and a touch of orange that imparts a vibrant tangy note to the lingering aftertaste. made from a blend of Lowburn and Bendigo fruit with 40% new oak. 14% alc. $50. 15Aug2006.
Richmond Plains Nelson Pinot Noir 2005 (D) Transparent Burgundy red. Earthy, savoury and funky with dark red fruits like guava and morello, the savoury wins over the fruitiness and even thought the tannins are dry and the flavour is quite tight and the finish is full of earthy, Burgundian funk the wine wins you over with its fine, silky texture. It opens up beautifully on the second day with an underlying earthy richness and similar flavour traits. Decanting recommended. 13.5% alc. $25. 15Apr2007.
Rippon Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (D) Rich and dark in its Burgundy colour, it's so ripe, so clean, so integrated. It's savoury and chocolatey with a bright spiciness and underlying earthiness with a quite grippy tannin structure and anise and florals emerging on the lingering finish. A big style, but it will definitely age. I rate it 'excellent'. 12.8% alc. $54. Diam. 9Oct2007.
Riverby Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Medium weight cherry red. Savoury smoky aromas and ripe cherry fruit flavours - sweet fruit cake cherry and spice, not overly complex but very drinkable with soft smooth tannins. There's underlying acidity which adds a spritzy character to the finish and the aftertaste is long and savoury. The wine becomes more and more complex as the night goes on. Good drinking now but will develop a little more complexity with more bottle age. 13.5% alc. $27. 28Nov2006.
Rose Tree Cottage Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep magenta red in colour with smoky, savoury red fruit aromas that hint of cherry and tart red fruits that combine well with the creamy richness of the savoury spicy oak and crushed velvet tannins that build in the palate to a lingering finish. There are hints of sweeter strawberry mid palate and cranberry surges on the finish. Lots of interest and drinkability for the price. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 1Nov2006.
Saddleback Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) A blend of Central Otago and Marlborough fruit, this second label of Peregrine has good extract of fleshy red plum colour and a smoky, floral, cherry jam aroma. It's a big, weighty, gamey, savoury style with slightly coarse tannins, quite pronounced berry acidity, smoky oak, a touch of tamarillo and the floral notes coming through again to linger on the finish. 13% alc. $23.99. 23Aug2006.
Saint Clair Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Good colour of medium depth. Smoky, savoury, spiced cherry aromas and earthy savoury flavours with some depth, a herbal note and a touch of sweetness on the finish. A blend of several sub regions, Try it with pan-fried salmon. The savoury flavours and smooth texture of the wine work well with the strong flavour and texture of the fish. 13.5% alc. $19.95. 12Apr2007.
Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep hued, youthful, with a ruby garnet brightness. Sweet oak, vanilla, cherry and earth flood the nose, it's a dense rich wine, earthy and savoury to the taste with smooth, velvety tannins, a touch of liquorice and a hint of chocolate - earthy, dry, complex, classy and fleshy - consistent all the way through. 14.5% alc. $30. 15Apr2007.
Saint Clair Doctors Creek Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep in colour with crimson pink hues, earthy savoury aromas lead into a slightly tart, savoury palate with a gamey backbone and a little bit of grip to the tannins. There are some floral notes and good fruit balance and more savoury gamey complexities creeping into the finish. 13.5% alc. $25.95. 28Nov2006.
Saint Clair Pioneer Block 4 'Sawcut' Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Saturated deep Burgundy red. Brooding, savoury aroma with later a hint of mocha together with earth, floral and smoke. Ripe-fruited, chocolatey and full of luscious black berries with well-balanced spicy oak and a touch of grip to the thick velvety tannins - quite complex with a funky mellow character coming through and a touch of anise. Savoury, full-bodied, grainy, funky and intriguing - but fell over in the bottle on the second day. 13.5% alc. $29.95. 29Jul2008.
Seven Terraces Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Its draws you in with its fragrant aroma and sates you with its medium-bodied weight and depth of flavour where a touch of guava joins sweeter cherry fruit. 13.5% alc. $25. 23May2006.
Spy Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Vivid purple-flushed deep red, savoury, smoky, cherry and musk scents and delicious flavours of chocolate, cherry, spiced plum. Reasonably bold but not too big with gorgeous plush tannins and a lingering spicy, smoky finish. Deserving gold medal winner. 13.5% alc. $27.99. 4Oct2006.
Spy Valley Envoy Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep, dense, ruby purple in colour, there's a funky, savoury, pinot character to the nose with a pretty waft of rose petal and the taste is bright and spicy with a gorgeously balanced acidic core and deep purple/black fruits, like plum and blackberry. It's inky and extracted, concentrated, earthy and spicy with a yeast lees-influenced thick creamy undercurrent and a long dry finish. A gorgeous evocative pinot noir that needs a little more time. 14% alc. $55. 7May2007.
Te Hera Martinborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Vibrant plummy red with good extraction. Savoury aromas and ripe fruit flavours of wild raspberries and plum with a hint of fennel come from the spicy undergrowth of the forest floor. Silky tannins have a little bit of grip, oak is integrated and well-balanced and the fleshy finish is long. 25% new oak. 14.5% $29.50. 9Oct2006.
Te Mania Nelson Pinot Noir 2005 (D) Savoury, earthy, dense aromas of funky wild yeasts, earth and hints of leather lead into a deep, earthy, savoury palate full of herbs, mushrooms, crisp red and fleshy black cherry fruit that combine together in such a way to make an intriguing wine with depth and character. I like the way it opens up in a big glass to become rich, savoury and creamy with an underlying herbal fascinationand a flourish of spice. A sleeping giant. 13.5% alc. $19.95. 15Apr2007.
Terrace Heights Estate (THE) Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep ruby, opaque in the core with carmine rims, it's savoury and spicy with ripe black cherry and plum fruit, creamy oak and fine tannins with a slightly damp earth undercurrent. Smooth and harmonious with excellent length, it's a juicy wine with good acidity that adds the peacocks tail flare to the finish. Matured in French oak. 13.5% alc. $26.99. 21Mar2007.
Thornbury Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Ruby hued of medium depth, it's smoky and savoury with spiced cherries on the nose and earthy and savoury to the taste with smoky bacon, sweet mushrooms and wild thyme. The fruit is tart (morello, red guava) rather than sweet and there's firm acidity underpinning the velvety texture. A medium-bodied wine, the finish is long and savoury with fruit cake cherries and spice leaving a pleasing aftertaste. 13.5% alc. $24.95. 20Mar2007.
Three Miners Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Rich dark red, sweet berry scents fuse into earthy complex aromas and the dense, rich palate is spicy and savoury, smoky and herbal with concentrated ripe plum and tart cherry fruit. A big wine, reflective of the vintage. 13'% alc. $33.99. 8Nov2006.
Triplebank Awatere Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep ruby purple with ripe cherry and creamy oak aromas and hints of red guava amongst the succulent blackberry and plum flavours, there's a tarry savouriness that underpins the full-bodied, fleshy palate that has great mouthfeel from the velvety tannins, and good length. 14% alc. $20.99. 15Nov2006.
Twin Islands Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Translucent ruby. Smoky, earthy, and lightly 'pongy' aroma. A little sweet and frivolous in the palate with plum and cherry fruit, a light tannin structure and a more savoury undercurrent to the slightly herbal finish. "Made in a light, fresh style". 13.5% alc. $20.00 19Aug2007.
Valli Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) A much, more generous wine that the Valli Gibbston - bigger, fatter, riper - with ripe cherry fruit, a touch of chocolate, lovely velvety tannins and a long, classy finish. 13.5% alc. $45. 28Jul2006.
Valli Gibbston Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Very attractive aromas of polished oak with tangy, bitter red fruits and mushroom, later the aromas become intriguing with its perfumed spice. Dry and savoury to the taste with an underpinning of herbs, mushroom and bitter cherry, tamarillo, polished oak and slightly grainy, silky tannins. A young wine with a lot of evolution ahead of it but perhaps the better wine of the two. 13% alc. $45. 28Jul2006.
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Bright ruby garnet. Perfumed and spicy with soft smooth, full-bodied flavours full of juicy, ripe cherry and plum fruit, chocolate and fruit cake spice with guava balancing the sweet fruit and an alluring, dark earthy undercurrent with hints of savoury herbs. Spicy cedar lingers on the bright zesty finish. Will appeal to Shiraz drinkers. 14% alc. $29.99. 15Nov2006.
Villa Maria Private Bin Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Ruby hued, translucent with medium depth. Aromatic, smoky, savoury aromas and a silky textured, savoury palate infused with exotic spices and smoky oak with layers of succulent cherry and spicy berry fruit. A very smart wine for the price. 14% alc. $22. 17Aug2006.
Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Youthful purple red with ruby edges, aromatic, smoky and savoury with a generous palate of ripe cherry fruit and plum fruit, a touch of chocolate, a fine silky texture, a spicy backbone and a suggestion of fennel-like herbs. With plenty of structure and oomph, there's lots going on. Exciting. 14% alc. $49.99. 20Sep2006.
Waipara Springs Premo Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) A lovely savoury wine with richness of smoke and spices and delicious red guava, black cherry and tamarillo fruit. There's an earthy, savoury undercurrent and a hint of chocolate on the bright, spicy finish. Medium to full-bodied in style with a silky structure. Drinking very well now. 13.4% alc. $40. 9Oct2007.
Waitiri Creek Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Opaque in its depth of colour, but a little developed and browning with fading edges. On the nose it's savoury with smoky bacon and stewed fruit and the taste is deep, earthy, smoky, cedary, gamey and mushroomy, almost Burgundian. A complex, interesting, full-bodied wine with a smooth, silky texture, fine tannins and more mature flavours, it's drinking beautifully now. 14% alc. $36.99. 21Mar2007.
West Brook Blue Ridge Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Soft and supple with perfumed, savoury smoky bacon aromas and strawberry, chocolate, berry and savoury forest floor flavours with spicy oak and rose petals emerging on the concentrated finish. Well balanced and tasty. 14% alc. $28.95. 7Jan2007.
Wild Earth Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Deep cherry red with flashes of violet. Heavenly aromas of cherry, rose petal and hints of zest. Ripe and juicy with chocolate, oak and spice, cherry, cranberry and hints of guava. Fine and silky, earthy and intriguing with orange zest emerging again with chocolate and spice on the persistent finish. A blend of 55% Bannockburn and 45% Lowburn fruit with 10 months in French oak barriques, 45% new. 14% alc. $38.00 19Aug2007.
Wild South Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Translucent garnet ruby, just opaque at the core, Smoky, perfumed , spiced cherry aromas and nicely balanced, earthy, savoury flavours, with bitter cherry and blackberry fruit, a warmth to the finish and a long persistent aftertaste. A light, generous, easy drinking Pinot Noir. 13.5% alc. $16.95. 1Mar2006.
William Thomas Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (c) Deeply coloured with hints of black to the extracted dark red hue. Lovely aromatics, fleshy and full with hints of chocolate, creamy berry and a savoury, smoky intrigue. Generously flavoured with a savoury complexity, an earthy richness, a herbal edge and underlying acidity with a touch of orange zest to brighten the slightly sweet finish. Hard to pick as Marlborough, this rich, velvety textured wine performs best in a big glass. 13% alc. $32. 1May2007.
Winegrowers of Ara Resolute Pinot Noir 2005 (D) Deep ruby, almost opaque; initially quite brooding when opened but on the nose alone you immediately sense it is a full, lush style. It's crammed with ripe black cherry and plum fruit, chocolatey oak, fruit cake spice and cedar and with its dominant oak and big tannins it loses the subtlety of the delicate pinot noir grapes. I was disappointed. However, the next day this wine had morphed into something both fine and refined and intensely savoury with similar red guava fruit to the Composite but richer and rounder throughout. Worth cellaring but decant to coax out the pinosity if you are considering opening one now. 13.2% alc. $49. 24Jul2008.
Wooing Tree Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Savoury, spicy, very tight in its structure, great backbone of balanced acidity and oak with bright cherry fruit, an underpinning of herbs and a sweet flourish to the bright, long finish. 14% alc. $34.99. 22Sep2006.
Woollaston Nelson Pinot Noir 2005 (sc) Good extraction of colour, musky nuances among the savoury aroma, and a spicy oak influence to the earthy savoury flavours with dark plummy fruits and hints of cherry. Ripe, concentrated and gutsy. Drinking well now but will cellar. Upper Moutere fruit. 14% $36. 9Oct2006.