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Wine Reviews - Pinot Noir
2008 vintage
by Sue Courtney
Last updated 12 Aug 2014

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
[current] [2009] [2008] [2007] [2006] [2005] [2004] [2003] [2002] [2001] [2000] [1999 and older] [index]

2008 Vintage [top] [index]

36 Bottles Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Bright, crimson-tinged, translucent red. Smoky, aromatic, herbal aromas lead into a full-flavoured palate. Initially quite meaty, savoury and toasty with a juicy deliciousness, it has cherry fruit with an appealing sweetness and a hint of violet adds to its allure. It's spicy, smoky and silky textured with a hint of mocha and a zesty infusion to the long lasting finish. 14% alc. $34.99. 6May2009.
Burgundy-hued in colour with a transparent appearance. Savoury aromatics of earth and herbs lead into a much fruitier palate. A medium-bodied style with bittersweet cherry fruit, silky tannins, well-balanced oak and hints of violets, it has a deep earthy savouriness to the lingering finish. 14% alc. $34.99. 11Nov2009.

Akarua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc)Youthful ruby in hue with richness and intensity. Fragrantly aromatic with chocolate, nutty oak, mushrooms and spice. A young wine with a little bit of grip, but seductive never-the-less. Dark and rich with juicy plum and black cherry fruit merging into the earthy savoury backbone. The essence of New World pinot. Very good, very delicious. 14% alc. $37.99. 10Nov2010.

Alexis by Jane Cooper Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Deep ruby garnet with moderate saturation and purple tints adding brightness to the youthful hue. Savoury and just a little smoky on the nose with an intriguing dried rose perfume and rich red bittersweet cherry and plum-like fruit. In the mouth the fruit sings. The texture is supple and grainy. Sweet oak supports the juicy fruit, there's an earthy savoury undercurrent while dried herbs, violets, a touch of chocolate and anise-like spices complete the package. 13.5% alc. $24.95. 30Jul2009.

Bald Hills Single Vineyard Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Showing depth and richness to the deeply translucent wine-red hue, this is a lovely medium-bodied savoury wine with a fine, silky texture and a youthful freshness. Floral aromas with herbs, spice and cherries and spicy, savoury flavours with cherries and mushroom and a vinous sweetness that makes it so charming on the finish. 14.5% alc. $48.99. 16Feb2011.

Boundary Vineyards Kings Road Waipara Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) A bright ruby purple of moderate depth. The brightness of colour carries through to the savoury palate with a hint of fruitcake spice and layers of bittersweet Chilean guava and tamarillo fruit. A lighter style of Pinot, just a little sharp on the finish - it is more of an aperitif or to match to lighter food. Did not match to my Tamarillo and Thai Basil Beef. 13.5% alc. $22.95. 10Jul2009.

Brackens Order Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) An intense wine with a ripe fruit sweetness, juicy black cherries and a layer of strawberry welling up over a savoury backbone and an intriguing gamey character infused with dried Italian herbs (the ones you buy with 'Italian herbs' on the label). With a smooth impression on the palate and a long full finish, this wine is recommended. 4 stars. 14% alc. $34.95. 24Apr2010.

Burnt Spur "Russian Jack " Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) A deep ruby garnet. Savoury and just a little smoky on the nose with a fruit of the forest infusion, this is a richer and seemingly 'sweeter' wine with abundant red and black cherry fruit and fruit cake spices. Lots of flavour and a texture that just flows. 13.7% alc. $18.99. 26Aug2009.

Cape Campbell Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Translucent in colour - a bright purple-tinged garnet red. Savoury on the nose with hints of chicory, dried herbs and spiced cherry. Neil says he smells a damp fallen leaves and it definitely has that forest floor connotation in the palate. Smoky and earthy with savoury herbs, a slightly grainy texture, tea-like tannins and bittersweet strawberry fruit, it has a long finish for its light body weight and a Chianti-like fascination. $24.95. 13% alc. 15May2009.

Catalina Sounds Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Bright garnet in the sunlight. Seems a bit stalky upfront but in a nice sour cherry, Pinotesque way. It's quite savoury with an earthy depth, a vinous rich mid palate and a hint of chocolate on the finish. Seems very dry without food. Much better with, duck for example. 13.5% alc. 10Mar2010.

Churton The Abyss Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 (D) Named for the part of the vineyard the fruit comes from, this is a dark coloured, funky, muscular wine, with brooding earthy leathery aromas. Textural and tich in the palalte with fruit that's concentrated and ripe amnd mementarily heading towards jammy. It's intensely savoury with firm tannins and if I had tasted blind I wouldn't pick as from Marlborough. 14% alc. $75.00. 22Jun2011.

Clos Marguerite Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) A lighter-styled pinot and initially a bit stalky, perhaps the cooler temperature of the wine is a factor. So warmed in front of the heater. Garnet-hued, savoury on the nose, a little brooding with bitter cherry and chocolate. Savoury tasting too, but it has texture and richness that comes through. Lingers satisfyingly. 13.5% alc. $35.00. 8Aug2011.

Desert Heart McKenzie's Run Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc)A saturated deep Burgundy red colour introduces this plush, lush pinot with plentiful red and black fruit, earth and spice, velvety tannins and great depth of savouriness to the flavour with underlying acidity adding the brightness to the finish. It's one of the 'big wines' of the 2008 vintage in the mould of the 2007s. 14% alc. $49.99. 10Nov2010.

Domain Road Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) With brightness to the light ruby hue and a perfume reminiscent of Christmas cake, cherry, nougat and nuts, this is a full-bodied, gutsy, style with sweet fruit, sappy oak, and cake spices supported by classic earthy savouriness and a good acid spine. The mouthfeel is rounded and velvety and the finish is lasting. 14% alc. $35.99. 16Jun2010.
Savoury and spicy with a creamy texture, the flavours are full of chocolate and cherry with a herbal character adding nerve to the juicy sweet finish. Due to the vintage it is not as big as the multi-gold medal winning 2007, neither in colour or jammy fruit flavours, but with its rounded velvety tannins and long smooth finish, it sure does please. 5 stars Cuisine. 14% alc. $33.99 10Nov2010.

Dry River Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008 (c) Very deep vivid violet purple. Creamy oak on nose introduces a big, rich and very ripe wine - plummy and spicy with liquorice, leather and firm tannins. A structured wine in the Dry River style of a few years ago. 12.5% alc. $70.00. 5Mar2010.

Earth's End Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) A moderate to deep pinky garnet. Smoky, savoury, cherry 'fruit paste' scent. Earthy, funky, savoury flavours with palate richness, silky tannins, chocolate, smoke, herbs and a depth of cherry fruit. Tasty wine with a fun label that illustrates how to do the All Black haka. Made by Mt Edward. 13.5% alc. $28.99. 1Jul2009.

Ellero Central Otago Pisa Terrace Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Deep ruby, has richness and depth to the hue. Chocolate, mocha and an array of woody herbs on the nose. Succulent fruit in the palate. Quite creamy with a savoury backbone. Ripe and juice, sure to appeal to the masses but probably not to the wine judges, Big oak but powerful, juicy and succulent. Neil loved this, of course. 13.9% alc. $35.00. 5Nov2010.

Fairmont Estate Block One Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Plummy red in colour, this has a lovely savoury perfume with a smoky, meaty aura to the scent. Quite oaky and toasty in the palate with an earthy depth to the juicy, ripe, sweet plum-like fruit and super approachable right now. 14% alc. $23.99. 14Jul2010.

Fairmont Estate Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Showing a little more colour development, this is an earthy gamey wine with a grainy tannin structure, loads of funk, a touch of bacon, salty herbs like rosemary and thyme, Xmas cake spices and finishing with a chocolate sweetness. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 18Nov2009.

Felton Road Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Deep purple garnet - almost opaque. The bouquet is perfumed and floral with dried herbs and gorgeous fragrant spices and smoky toasty oak that hints of mocha. Concentrated (dense) in the palate with a smooth gentle attack that fills out with aplomb. It emanates a sense of purple with violets and morello cherry fruit, the tannins are silky and fine and texturally divine, the finish is long and spicy but the oak regime seems a little dominant right now. Will settle with a little more time - these wines cellar magnificently after all. 14% alc. $57.99. 22Jul2009.
Deep, dense purple / ruby, youthful in appearance. Deep aromas of black cherry, chocolate, spice and herb flowers. Spicy and savoury to the taste with black cherry and plum fruit, dark fruit, a hint of anise, underlying well balanced acidity, fine velvety tannins and an earthy richness. Deep and long. 14% alc. $57.99. 17Feb2010.

Fox Junior Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) A medium translucent colour, like a red cherry in its hue. Savoury on the nose and in the palate, more intense in taste than the colour would suggest. Very approachable, ready to drink, it offers soft silky tannins and loads of savoury flavours with underlying creamy oak and strawberry / black cherry fruit sweetness and a long, persistent and pleasing finish. Made by Foxes Island Wines. 17.5/20. 13.5% alc. $28.99. 1Feb2010.

Goldridge Premium Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Translucent cherry red colour. Savoury, earthy aromas with a hint of spice and tamarillo. Tamarillo and red cherry fruit in the palate over an earthy, gamey, savoury backbone. A smooth, light to medium-bodied style with underlying acidity and a vinous sweetness and a little funk on the lingering finish. 16/20. 13% alc. $21.95. 2Feb2010. 16/20.

Grasshopper Rock Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) A deep coloured wine from the Central Otago vintage where many lighter coloured wines were produced. Made from fruit grown in Earnscleugh, Alexandra, this has a dried thyme infusion to the perfumed aromatics and it's quite spicy to the taste with juicy red and black cherry fruit, a savoury depth and a tangy seam of underlying acidity with hints of chocolate on the lingering finish. A big wine with smooth dry tannins. 14.2% alc. $29.99. 4Nov2009.

Hawkshead Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) A lovely savoury Pinot with a youthful purple red colour, a smoky, savoury aroma and a smooth, silky texture. Getting richer and rounder with every sip, there's bittersweet cherry fruit, a slight hint of strawberry, forest floor nuances, hints of spice and a long, savoury finish. 13.5% alc. $46.99. 13Oct2010.
Rich ruby red with moderate density. Sappy, savoury oak scents combine with ripe black fruits – it smells concentrated and intense. Thick textured with spicy red and black fruits, underlying acidity adding a zesty brightness and a finish with a savoury veneer. Earthy and flavoursome, concentrated and intense with a sensuous texture. 13.5% alc. $48.00. 12May2011.

Hawkshead Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) With the slightest hint of bricking to the hue, the scent is chocolate combining with smoky oak spice and ripe, almost jammy red fruits. Quite rich in the palate with noticeable oak, bright acidity and an earthy, savoury undercurrent. The finish is lifted with a chocolatey feel and the lasting aftertaste has a deep savoury sense.. 13.5% alc. $39.00. 12May2011.

Hawkshead First Vines Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Translucent dark ruby. Smoky on the nose with a boiled cherry aroma, the boiled character carrying through to the palate. A bit soupy, beefy, herbal and even though there's a touch of anise; it lacks excitement for me. 13% alc. $43.50. 12May2011.

Huntaway Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Dark, chocolatey scents lead into a dry savoury palate with fruitcake cherry welling up deep from within, an intriguing herbal tone, firm tannins and a fruit-sweet finish. 14% alc. $23.99. 18May2010.

Hunters Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Ruby garnet colour. Smoky, ripe-fruited scent of macerated fruitcake cherries. Soft and smooth in the mouth, it's quite a light wine with a spicy finish and ripe, juicy cherry fruit lingering. A reflection of the lighter 2008 vintage. 13.5 % alc. $25.00. 6Jun2010.

Hyperion 'Eos' Matakana Pinot Noir 2008 (D) Light in colour but rich in flavour, this is savoury to the core with nutty oak and cherry fruit. A medium-bodied style with cherry and spiced subtle tamarillo fruit, it has fine tannins and a lingering finish with a vinous complexity reminiscent of a Villages style from Burgundy. As the wine is consumed over the course of an evening, it becomes more silky and supple and the finish compounds with a vinous complexity reminiscent of a Villages style from Burgundy. 13% alc. $29.00. 3Aug2010.

Julicher Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) A lovely savoury pinot with a sweet spicy disposition. Savoury aromas and rich luscious flavours with dark plum and black cherries, a hint of mocha, forest floor and underlying tannins adding a grainy feel to texture. Another delicious Pinot Noir from Julicher who have repeated their 2006 vintage trophy success. 13.5% alc. $35.99. 25Nov2009.

Julicher Te Muna Road 99 Rows Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Dark red in colour, the aromas are savoury, meaty, earthy and just a little funky while the rounded, gentle flavours are ultra savoury with bittersweet cherry and plum and a spicy flourish to the floral-infused finish while smoky oak plays a well balanced supporting role in the background. Excellent value and seductively juicy right now. 13.5% alc. $28.99. 22Jul2009.
Deep ruby garnet - quite dense for 2008. Smoky savoury aromas with a sweet cherry and plum infusion and woodsmoke in the distance. Quite velvety textured, gentle in attack with succulent red and purple fruit, hints of violets and a touch of mulled wine spices with a gamey, savoury undercurrent and a long, medium-bodied finish. Very enjoyable wine. 135% alc. $19. 1Oct2009.

Kiritea Te Muna Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Some purple to the deep red garnet hue. Plummy, perfumed, a little hint of musk, very ripe - almost overripe to my nose. Dry with quite thick dense tannins typical of the region yet approachable and juicy and full of plummy fruit, smoky oak and a hint of bacon. The second label of Te Hera Estate with vineyards in the Te Muna district of Martinborough and made following biodynamic protocols. 14% alc. $18.99. 22Jul2009.
A rich, deep smoky Pinot Noir with a light purple red colour; chocolate, black cherry and herb aromas and a silky smooth texture to the smoky, meaty, earthy flavours with underlying acidity to balance the very ripe plummy fruit. An uncomplicated wine that has evolved well since tasting several months ago. 14% alc. $18.99. 17Feb2010.
Deep ruby/burgundy coloured hue. Succulent aromatics of chocolate, cherry and nuts. A generous wine brimming with chocolate coated cherries, plums and violets, a deep savoury backbone endowed with spice and underlying grip adding structure while the finish has the characteristic earthiness of the variety. Value plus. 14% alc. $18.99. 19May2010.

Kurow Village Waitaki Valley Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Translucent garnet. Dull earthy aromas and savoury earthy flavours with rhubarb-like fruit and a texture that is a little hard. The wine is thin and boring with a short finish and simply lacks excitement. 12% alc. $26.00. 13Oct2009.

Locharburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) A beguiling aroma of herbs, delicate spice and florals. Still tight in the palate with dry tannins to the fore, it evolves beautifully and the flavours that linger hark back to the aromatics with sweet raspberry / cherry fruit. 14.3% alc. $36. 18Feb2010.
Savoury oak and chocolatey scents. A succulent yet savoury wine with fine tannins, a meaty backbone, black cherry and cranberry fruit, plenty of underlying acidity and a spicy zesty finish that leaves a succulent, sultry aftertaste. Great match to Turkish fusion cuisine - especially lamb shanks, spiced chicken and pilau rice. 14.3% alc. 3Nov2010.

Main Divide Canterbury Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Purple tinged cherry red. Perfumed with rose petal, musk, spice and cherry, it's quite dry and savoury in the palate with a rusticity to the dark cherry and plum fruit and plenty of herbal intrigue. Smoky, savoury, juicy and ready to drink. 14% alc. $23.99.4Feb2009.
Dark cherry red. There's a fruity depth to the savoury scent - sweet cherry fruit, hint of vanillin oak and tomato paste. A rich, juicy , medium to full-bodied style with spiced cherry fruit, tomato stalk, a sweet/savoury backbone, smooth velvety tannins and an earthy finish with underlying acidity adding brightness to the finish. Persistent. 16.5/20. 14% alc. $24.95. 2Feb2010.
Dark burgundy red in colour, the ripe, appealing bouquet suggests chocolate, leather and spice. In the palate there's chocolate, red fruits, sweet sappy smoky oak, velvet-edged silky tannins and herb infusion to the savoury, earthy depth. It's juicy, succulent and easy drinking with underlying acidity lifting the finish and extending the length. 14% alc. $24.99. 2Feb2011.
Plummy red with a full aroma reminiscent of forest floor, spice, guava and cherry. Soft and creamy in the palate, lovely touch of spice, an infusion of bacon with maraschino cherry, it has a long savoury finish and is drinking beautifully now. 14% alc. $23.99. 30Nov2011.

Main Divide Te Hau Reserve Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Fading garnet in hue, the bouquet is a little funky and savoury with herbs, spiced dried cranberries and a touch of smoke. Medium bodied palate weight and ripe fruit flavours of cranberry, bitter cherry and stewed tamarillo with a dry savoury backbone, powdery tannins and underlying acidity giving a bright fresh feel to the finish. 14% alc. $33.00. 25Aug2013.

Martinborough Vineyard Martinborough Terrace Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) (sc) Dark ruby, toasty oak aromatics with red berries to the fore. Savoury with vinous sweetness and florals. Rounded, full-bodied, deep, rich, savoury, floral and spicy with a little grip to the fine silky tannins then hints of chocolate joining the red berry finish while the distinct savouriness lingers. 2008's are more classically Martinborough, says Paul and they will age. 14% alc. $70.00. 5Mar2010.

Martinborough Vineyard Te Tera Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Dense in its Burgundy red colour with smoky, savoury aromas infused with dried herbs and a full-bodied savoury flavours with some grip to the tannins, dark fruits and mulled wine spices underpinned by fresh acidity with some orange pomander adding brightness to the meaty finish. 13.5% alc. $26.99. 16Dec2009.

Misha's The High Note Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) From Bendigo on the eastern side of Lake Dunstan is a deep, savoury smelling wine with a high note of red fruit penetrating the scent and a hint of anise. The savoury theme continues in the mouth presenting a wine that is earthy, funky, dense and textural with dark fruits and a more Martinborough-like tannin structure than most Central Otago wines. It has the benefit of wild yeast ferment to add to the textural complexity, oak is restrained and the finish is bright with a hint of cherry and those aromatic spices lingering beautifully. 14.3% alc. $45. 18Nov2009.

Moncellier Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) The colour of a purple garnet gemstone, it is fragrantly scented with savoury flavours of oak and bittersweet cherry fruit. There's plenty of acidity in this dry, tangy style with strawberry / raspberry fruit and a dried herb nuance, like the wild thyme of Central Otago. Becomes quite rich, savoury and earthy with fine tannins and bittersweet cranberry fruit - it may be light in colour but has vinous complexity and depth. $0.00. 13.5% alc. 15May2009.

Mondillo Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Deep marone with a youthful brightness. Fragrant, smoky, herb-infused, fruit-driven aromatics and intense, powerful flavours with deep, dark, plum and black cherry fruit, a spicy tingle, a touch of chocolate, dried herbs and a long savoury, silky, seamless finish and the much sought after 'peacocks tail' flair. Bendigo fruit. 14.5% alc. $38.99. 14Oct2009.
Deep purple ruby in colour with smoky, plummy, savoury, spicy aromatics and a hearty richness to the flavour. It's savoury, smoky and earthy with a plush softness to the mouthfeel, a deep sense of fruit, a suggestion of spice and a long, seamless finish. The fruit comes from the Bendigo subregion and Rudi Bauer is the winemaker. 14.5% alc. $38.99. 10Mar2010.

Mount Difficulty Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Youthful maroon-red. Fragrant, earthy and a little spicy on the nose, this medium-bodied pinot is quite savoury with a leathery undercurrent, sweet cherry and plum fruit, soft supple tannins, and a smooth finish. 14% alc. $42.99. 12Jan2011.

Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) A deep translucent bright ruby/violet. Crushed herbs and cherry on the nose and savoury fruit in the palate with a velvet-edged silky texture and concentration to the finish. Dried herbs and earthy notes balance the ripe red berry fruit with a spicy flourish and underlying acidity to the lifted finish. Long and savoury with a hint of musk. Nice length. 14% alc. $19.99. 4Nov2009.

Muddy Water Hare’s Breath Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) More translucent than the 2007 Hare’s Breath tasted alongside it and the bouquet and medium bodied palate weight reflects this lightness too. The subtle smoky oak scent is infused with cherries and chocolate which makes it seems very appealing. A lifted wine, a little VA apparent initially and while the tannins are fine in their texture they seem a little drying and grippy. But this is a beautiful wine and as it opens up in the glass it is sensual and refined with all the pinosity you want in Pinot, lovely floral notes (dried rose especially), herbs, spices, savoury oak, an earthy depth and a succulence accruing as the wine seduces the palate. 13.5% alc. $60. 10Aug2014.

Neudorf Moutere Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) A moderate deep, plummy red, this emanates sweet oak and juicy cherry and plum aromas. It's quite savoury to the taste and initially has a drying mouthfeel and a stalky undercurrent then the fullness of the wine takes over and the finish is amazingly long - it's like your mouth has been painted with a feather light coating of the wine. An unfolding earthy, bitterswet red fruits Pinot Noir, this could benefit from some more cellar time to let the subtle oak integrate. 14% alc. $49.00. 16Apr2010.

Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Moderately dense purple/ruby. Deep, rich, sensuous pinotesque aromatics of fruits of the forest and savoury oak. Full-bodied to the taste with a fine, silk-edged velvety texture, spicy oak, fruits of the forest and a touch of chocolate to the long smooth savoury finish. Very good. 14% alc. $33.99. 17Feb2010.

Rockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Ruby hued, translucent in appearance. Savoury on the nose and fruity to the taste with spiced, bittersweet red fruits, fruitcake spices and a long savoury finish with an earthy depth where lovely dark fruit brims through. 14.5% alc. $35.50. 18May2010.

Pond Paddock Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Distinctly pinot noir from the ruby/garnet hue and from the dried woody herb and cherryish aromas with hints of anise, this immediately attractive wine has juicy ripe red fruits, hints of cake spice, a toasty savoury undercurrent, earthy nuances and hints of game. Smooth and gentle in attack, long and persistent in flavour. 13.7% alc. $29.99. 16Dec2009.

Richmond Plains Nelson Pinot Noir 2008 (D) Translucent garnet with ruby tints. Savoury on the nose and some sweet red cherry / raspberry coming through in the palate. It seems quite light to start but there is lovely vinosity in this wine with smooth silky tannins and a depth and richness to the long, delicious finish. 13.5% alc. $22.99. 13Oct2009.

Riverby Estate Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Ruby red, more translucent than opaque. Savoury aromas of vanillin oak, spices and aromatic herbs. A plush wine in the mouth with smoky savoury oak, black fruits and a bittersweet red fruit undercurrent with a long lasting finish and a touch of that much sought after pinot funk. Plenty of flavoursome drinking here. 11 months in French oak, 20% new. 14% alc. $29.00. 13Oct2009.

Roaring Meg Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Purple garnet with a dense translucency. Slightly herb-infused red and black cherry aromas with a hint of spice and funky, earthy, savoury flavours with a plum and black cherry sweetness. A plush medium-bodied wine with smooth gentle tannins and a touch of underlying acidity that adds a pleasing tang to the finish. Made by Mt Difficulty Wines. 14% alc. $25.99. 6Jan2010.

Sacred Hill Halo Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) A translucent bright cherry red colour. Sweet fruited aromas of cherry fruitcake with a hint of spice and soft creamy oak. Spicy, almost peppery and quite herbal with a hint of mint sweetness and a stewed tamarillo fruity character. Texture is fine and the persistent finish is savoury, gamey, earthy and funky. 15/20. 14% alc. $25.90. 2Feb2010.

Saddleback Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Dark garnet, translucent in appearance, this soft juicy, medium-bodied wine has wild thyme and cherry aromas and bright, spicy, savoury flavours with a peppery, zesty tang. Those hints of Otago's wild thyme come through, the tannins are fine and silky and the red-blue fruits impart a fruity finish. Made by Peregrine Wines. 13.5% alc. $24.99. 6Jan2010.
Translucent, not inky, showing a little indication of age partly due to the lighter year. Earthy, savoury and mellow on the nose with a strawberry jam sweetness. Ultra silky and smooth with strawberry, cherry and herbs, the palate is lovely – reminiscent of Burgundy Villages wines. 13.5% alc. $23.99. 16Feb2011.

Saint Clair Pioneer Series Block 4 Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Dark garnet red with some translucency to its appearance. The bouquet is fragrant, spicy and earthy and while initially the texture seems a little hard – typical of Burgundy – it softens as the wine traverses the palate. It has the characteristic savouriness of the variety and is drinking beautifully right now. 13.5% alc. 13Jul2011.

Seresin Estate Leah Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Ruby coloured, not overly dense. Smoky with dried wood herbs and redcurrant jelly coming through. Even more smoky in the palate with charry oak, cherry fruit, and dry tannins. Succulent, ripe and velvety - what I'd call a 'chunky pinot; and it's rich and chocolatey too. Goes well with steak. 14% alc. $37.00. 5Nov2010.

Sileni Estate Selection 'The Plateau' HB Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Translucent ruby/garnet with some bricking to the hue. Smoky and savoury on the nose with hints of strawberry, cherry and dried herb. A little dry in palate with a slightly rough texture and earthy and savoury flavours with bittersweet, cranberry-like fruit. Distinctly Pinot Noir but with subtlety – and the lingering taste is quite pleasing. 13.5% alc. $32.95. 5Nov2010.

Sleeping Dogs Estate Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Light garnet red with a kind of a bath salts perfume, this is not a big fruity wine, in fact quite light in the realm of Central Otago Pinot Noir. It's very savoury, a little reminiscent of Beaujolais and perhaps reflective of the difficult vintage. Soft, smooth and drinkable now. 13.5% alc. $29.99. 25Jan2012.

Soho McQueen Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Deep and intense in colour, the rich savoury aroma has a luscious depth of ripe cherry fruit. A full-bodied style of Pinot, rich and plummy with fruits of the forest and an earthy savouriness coming through. There's some pleasing funk and underlying acidity adds orange peel notes to the bright spicy finish. Cromwell Basin fruit (Lowburn and Bannockburn) aged in French oak, 40% new. 13.5% alc. $40.00. 13Oct2009.
Deep in colour and perfumed with sweet mushroom and herb with some dark fruit notes adding to it aromatic appeal, the juicy sweetness of mostly red and some black fruit simply brims through the palate with a slightly stalky herbal backbone, hints of chocolate and leather. A nice bit of grip and underlying acidity hints of its potential to evolve and the savoury aftertaste lingers deliciously for ages. Made by Grant Taylor. 13.5% alc. $35.99. 10Nov2010.

Soho McQueen Couture Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc)Dark in colour with a funky, almost floral, perfume tinged with savoury oak and black cherries, and spicy and tangy to the taste with underlying acidity adding brightness to the red fruit and savoury flavours. While it seems a little 'old fashioned', it's silky and smooth in texture with an underpinning of earth and leather and vinous sweetness to the savoury finish. 14% alc. $42.99. 10Nov2010.

Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Savoury, earthy, rich cherry fruit. A rich, ripe, chocolatey and bittersweet cherry fruit style - it's earthy and savoury but beautifully proportioned with velvety tannins and a long, luscious and beautifully sensual and savoury finish. Mmmm. Yum. Next day - on the nose - dried herbs and earthy with underlying cherry and spice. Quite meaty in the palate - meaty and herbal with velvety tannins and an earthy depth then like the nose, the sweetness of the cherry fruit comes through. $30.95. 14% alc. 15May2009.

Te Mania Nelson Pinot Noir 2008 (D) A translucent garnet colour. Delicate, earthy, savoury notes and hints of cherries on the nose, this seems to be a sweetish style when tasted yet has intensity to the fruit and a savoury depth. There's a strawberry / cherry brightness and hints of mocha in this smooth, silky, easy drinking style. 14% alc. $21.99. 13Oct2009.

The Crossings Awatere Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Smoky, savoury and slightly leafy aromatics supported by ripe red and black fruits, this is smooth and rounded in the palate with ripe and seemingly sweet fruit playing a dominant role but the savoury earthy characters firmly stand their ground and the finish has a bright, spicy kick with the savoury flavours take the encore bow. A medium weight wine that should have wide appeal. 13 % alc. $25.99. 8May2010.

The People's Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Light translucent ruby hue. Smoke, cherries and hints of chocolate on the nose. Savoury to the taste with sweet from the fruit kept in check by the herbal gamey undertones. An easy-going, lush, Central Otago style with a silky texture and a long smooth finish. 13.5% alc. $17. 15Nov2010.

Three Paddles Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) A light ruby garnet coloured hue, perfumed savoury spicy aromas and a bright spicy flavour with harmony to the texture. Nicely integrated oak that hints of vanilla with juicy fruit in the bittersweet red spectrum - at first it seems a lighter style but is persistent and long, filling out with savoury pinot flavours of earth, mushrooms and game. Made by Nga Waka. 13.5% alc. $22.99. 26Aug2009.

Thornbury Estate Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) A familiar tasting wine - and very typical of Central Otago with its dense but bright colour, velvety texture, lush red and black fruits, underlying earthy savouriness, spicy brightness, smoky oak and that touch of chocolate mingling with violets on the long plush finish. 13.5% alc. $27.99 special 18Nov2009.

Tiki Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Translucent in its ruby hue, this has quite a full, chocolaty aroma to balance the savoury, notes that come through. Smooth and appealing with a lovely balance of juicy bitter and sweet fruit, layers of chocolate, an herbaceous (thyme) undercurrent and a pleasing cakespice infusion. Instantly appealing. 13.5% alc. $40.00. 3Jul2011.

Torea Oystercatcher Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Deep garnet ruby. Perfumed, cherryish, a little Gamay-like. Bright fruit flavours of strawberry and raspberry with a smoky herbal backbone and a roundness to the finish. Young and fresh. Very drinkable. Brancott Valley fruit. 14% alc. $14.99.11Feb2009.
Bright ruby red, quite deep. Ripe cherry, blackberry and hints of pepper on the nose, this is a juicy style with a jammy sweetness supported by an intrinsic Pinot Noir smoky savouriness. Made by Fairhall Downs, it's a smart drop at the special price 14% alc. $14.99. 3Jun2009.
A lighter wine in every respect from its translucent red garnet hue and shy perfume with hints of strawberry and rose petal. Young and fresh with a little bit of spritz in the palate with strawberry and raspberry fruit, fine tannins and a gentle finish. 14% alc. $14.99. 26Aug2009.

Urlar Gladstone Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Deep Burgundy in colour. Fragrant chocolate and fruitcake aromas. Rich and fruit sweet to the taste, quite sumptuous, in fact, with plenty of earth and woody funk, a touch of bacon and a potpourri of herbs infused with lavender and rose petals. Full-bodied in character (for PN) with a mouthfilling richness and gentle tannins coated with velvet. Fruit is dense and reminds me of plum tinged with bittersweet red guavas. Vineyard is farmed under organic and biodynamic principles. I had high expectations after tasting the whites and those expectations were fulfilled. 14% alc. $35. 14Nov2009.

Valli Bannockburn Vineyard Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Ruby and bright with a perfumed, sweet-fruited aroma that's infused with subtle floral and musk and promises much. Juicy and flavoursome with black cherries, spicy oak, silky tannins, forest floor, mushrooms and a chocolatey richness, it has developed some lovely characters with time in bottle. It's soft, subtle, silky and very clean with the juiciness well balanced to the underlying acidity. Outstanding expression from the so-called 'difficult' 2008 season. 14% alc. $56.99. 4May2011.
A rich pink ruby red with an earthy savoury aroma infused with cherry. A ripe juicy pinot, as we’ve come to expect from Central Otago, with moderately firm and slightly grippy tannins that hint this wine has a long way to go. Juicy cherry and strawberry fruit, underlying woody herbs, a tantalising hint of anise, a fine seam of acidity and a cedary nuance to the spicy finish. Drinking beautifully now with development potential. 18.5 14% alc. $55.00. 12May2011.

Valli Gibbston Vineyard Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) A rich pink ruby red. Forest floor and wild mushroom scents. Savoury and gamey tasting with a mushroomy depth, concentrated cherry and guava fruit and silky tannins that have a slightly grainy nap. Seems quite young with it's acidity quite vibrant but the lingering aftertaste is totally in balance. 13.5% alc. $55.00. 12May2011.

Valli Waitaki Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Translucent dark ruby. Savoury, earthy, smoky and cedary on the nose and rich, spicy, concentrated and intense to the taste with velvety tannins and a long succulent finish. The gamey savouriness is the key to this wine, while woody herbs and red fruits abound. Very intriguing as it keeps changing in the glass but all the while it has textural finesse. 13% alc. $55.00. 12May2011.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Beautiful pink ruby hue. Savoury aromas with cracked berries, subtle toasty French oak and a hint of truffle. The savouriness carries through the to flavours which have a plum, cherry fruit sweetness and a bittersweet red fruit tamarillo-like fascination with slightly grainy tannins and anise-like herbs coming on the long savoury finish. Has gentleness and finesse. 14% alc. $29.99. 20May2009.

Waimea 'Barrel Selection' Nelson Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Deep garnet with some ruby tints. The bouquet has a lovely deep early funky savouriness – there is some sexy vinosity and dried rose petal – all so appealing, I cant wait to taste it. And boy does it deliver with a textural complexity, some brightness there. I simply love the flavours of tamarillo stewed in red wine and orange juice with dried peel, cinnamon stick and cloves (ok, mulled wine spices). Quite dry with some pleasing grip. Age does become it. 14% alc. $24. 9Dec2013.

Waipara Hills Waipara Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) A translucent light coloured garnet. Perfumed herb and briar rose scent with a savoury overlay. Light to medium bodied soft attack with subtle bittersweet cherry, strawberry and red apple fruit, a delicate savoury earthy backbone and fruit sweetness on the finish. 13% alc. $17.99. 1Jul2009.

Waitaki Braids Waitaki Valley Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) It has a translucent and slightly bricking cherry juice hue and the bouquet is like aged strawberry jam. It's savoury and gamey with berry fruit sweetness and although the texture is fine and silky, there's a little feeling of grip to the finish. A complex food wine at this stage of its life – mushrooms are coming to mind. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. $54.99. 30Oct2013.

West Brook Waimauku Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Moderate depth to the translucent red hue. Sweet and savoury nuances mingle in the perfume, a hint of vanilla too. It's spicy and savoury to the taste with a little grip to the tannins indicating youth. Bitter cherry fruit, stewed tamarillo, and wild strawberry with a long persistent savoury finish and a tuch of fruitcake sweetness. This is so laden with funky, earthy, savoury pinosity and for under $25, it offers excellent Pinot Noir drinking. 3rd crop from home block. 17.25/20. 12.5% alc. $24.95. 2Feb2010.

Wild Earth Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Purple red of moderate depth. Earthy, savoury aromas with a fruitcake, ripe-fruited sweetness follow through to the palate with cherry and spice and a savoury gamey undercurrent. It's medium-bodied in style with firm, svelte tannins and a fullness to the lingering finish - where it really shows it class. Slow to unfold but it has incredible length - the lovely cherry-infused savoury flavours lasting for minutes. 14.2% alc. $31.99. 5May2010.
Deep ruby in hue. It is concentrated, spicy, savoury, earthy and fruity meaning there is plenty of interest in the wine and I really like the little grippy hug. All sorts of intrigue to the flavours with smoky oak, bacon, herb and fruit in the plum redcurrant spectrum. But most exciting is the lingering aftertaste - more than a memory of what went before. 14.2% alc. $38. 5 stars. 18May2010.

Wild Rock "Strugglers Flat" Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Deep maroon garnet coloured with a perfume of sweet cherry and strawberry fruit on a bed of spiced smoky oak, it is earthy and savoury to the taste with velvet-like tannins, rich cherry fruit and a bittersweet finish. There is no doubt that this is NZ Pinot Noir and while a little youthful and gangly at the moment it definitely has the foundation on which to build. 13.5% alc. $21.99. 15Apr2009.

Wild Rock Cupid's Arrows Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Translucent tamarillo red. Perfumed aromatics and earthy, savoury, jammy bittersweet fruit flavours. Medium-bodied in palate weight with a floral-like muskiness and a bright spicy finish, there's a delicacy to the wine - almost a fragility - but definitely Pinot Noir as we know it. A Craggy Range label. 13.5% alc. $20.99. 6May2009.
Light maroon red. Deep, sweet pinot scents - spicy, earthy, savoury, fruity. Great persistence in the palate with firm svelte tannins, bittersweet fruit, chocolate and earth. Rounded and easy to drink. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 3Mar2010.

Winegrowers of Ara Pathway Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Deep garnet red. Earthy, smoky, and a little cakey. A more mellow, cheesy and somewhat steely aroma. That steeliness carries through to palate. Struck match perhaps. A medium-bodied wine and quite drying on the palate with grainy, slightly chunky tannins, fruitcake cherry and spice. Quite a gamey wine and very good with the food. $19.95. 13% alc. 15May2009.

Wooing Tree Beetlejuice Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) A medium red in colour with maraschino cherry, earth and smoky vanillin oak scents, this soft medium-bodied style is dry and savoury to the taste with classic Central Otago herbs and plummy fruit padding out the finish that's sweeter than the start. 14.5% alc. $26.99. 10Mar2010.

Wooing Tree Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 (sc) Quite savoury with infusion of wild thyme and a chocolate, cherry sweetness to the scent. Concentrated, rich and full-bodied with soft velvety tannins, chocolate, spice, cherry and fine-grained French oak. A big mouthful of soft juicy wine that is sure to please. 14.5% alc. $45. 18May2010.

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

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