Category Archives: New Zealand Pinot Noir

Oct 10 2014

Marlborough Pinot Noir wins Six Nations Wine Challenge

Posted on October 10, 2014 | By merrill@cellarit.com

New Zealand has a well deserved reputation for making some of the best pinot noir in the world. But until recently Marlborough on the South Island was far better known for its sauvignon blanc than its pinot noir.

A couple of weeks ago Marlborough’s Dog Point Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 picked up three very impressive gongs at the prestigious Six Nations Wine Challenge in Sydney – joint recipient of ‘Wine of the Show’ and individual awards for ‘Best Pinot Noir’ and ‘Best Red’ wine .

The Six Nations Wine Challenge is no ordinary wine show. An initiative of the Association of Australian Boutique Winemakers, wines are selected for entry by a leading wine writer from each of the six nations represented and then judged blind by the same wine writers. The six nations are the world’s top ‘New World’ producers: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Argentina and the United States.

Wine critic and show judge Huon Hooke described the Dog Point Pinot Noir 2012 “as arguably the greatest pinot noir yet seen from Marlborough, a wine that takes power and density to a new level in a region better known for white wines and lighter pinot noir.” (Six Nations Wine Challenge winners by Huon Hooke, Hooked on Wine, 15 October 2014)

The 80 hectare Dog Point Vineyard is run by winemakers James Healy and Ivan Sutherland. Working with their wives Wendy and Margaret, the team launched the Dog Point label in 2004 using fruit from the 2002 vintage. Rave reviews soon followed with the Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin describing their 2006 offerings of sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and pinot noir as “nothing less than exceptional.”

The partners have brought a wealth of experience to their very hands-on Dog Point Vineyard venture. Healy and Sutherland worked together for over a dozen years at Cloudy Bay, playing an integral role in bringing world-wide acclaim for the Cloudy Bay brand and international recognition for New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

Fruit for the 2012 Dog Point Pinot Noir was hand-picked from low-yielding estate grown vines… [Read More]

Mar 03 2013

Whose Pinot Reigns Supreme? Australia versus New Zealand

Posted on March 03, 2013 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Acqua Panna Global Wine Experience, Saturday, 9 March 2013

When New Zealand winemakers’ Blair Walter (Felton Road) and Nick Mills (Rippon) opened their address with a very loud and captivating rendition of the Maori Haku, the stage was set for a very lively debate about whose pinot reigns supreme? (Wished I taped it, but my photo of Nick Mills give you a bit of an idea!)

The audience was collapsing with laughter while the two Australian winemakers on the panel,.. [Read More]

Sep 09 2012

Felton Road: Why it’s rated one of the world’s best!

Posted on September 09, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

I recently read an article in Decanter by Blair Walter, the Chief Winemaker at Felton Road in Central Otago for the past 16 years, which got me thinking about the qualities that top wineries in the world have in common. Under Walter’s guidance, Felton Road’s reputation as one of New Zealand’s top producers of pinot noir has gone from strength to strength. (Welcome to my office by Blair Walter, Decanter, June 2011)

In the article Walter talked about how in his first two years at Felton Road he experimented with wild yeast and natural malolactic fermentation,.. [Read More]

Sep 09 2012

New Zealand Pinot Noir: What Sets it Apart?

Posted on September 09, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

I was intrigued to read Lettie Teague’s recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled What Happened to New Zealand Pinot Noir? Fortunately, the article was not about a decline in the quality of New Zealand pinot noir, but rather a lament about its disappearance from the shelves of many American wine stores. Teague cited a few reasons that I’m sure would also ring a bell with Australian wineries: not enough distributors, an unfavourable exchange rate and poor brand recognition. (WSJ, 1 September 2012)

Teague also shared Felton Road‘s head winemaker Blair Walter’s comment that “The USA is about the only place where New Zealand Pinot competes directly with the other New World Pinots.”.. [Read More]

Nov 11 2011

Can you tell if a wine is any good just by tasting it? Impressions from a Craggy Range Tasting

Posted on November 11, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Have you ever been unimpressed with a wine on first taste, but then fallen in love with it over the course of a meal?

Well, according to a very interesting article by Decanter’s Andrew Jefford “digestibility is as much a hallmark of truly fine wine as is sensorial intricacy and harmony.” Jefford goes on to explain:

Twenty-five years of reading wine assessments, as well as providing assessments of my own, have convinced me that tasting without drinking is, in fact, a monstrous (if inevitable) flaw in all wine criticism... [Read More]

Oct 10 2011

Masterclass with New Zealand’s Escarpment and Quartz Reef

Posted on October 10, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

On Wednesday night I attended a masterclass hosted by two of New Zealand’s leading winemarkers: Larry McKenna of Martinborough’s Escarpment and Rudi Bauer of Central Otago’s Quartz Reef. Organised by nzwineonline.com.au and held at the very picturesque Coast restaurant in Cockle Bay, the evening proved a wonderful opportunity to sample pinot noir from the two most acclaimed wine regions for the variety in New Zealand.

Both winemakers have drawn on Burgundy for inspiration for their pinot noir… [Read More]

May 05 2011

Tasting Highlights: From New Zealand to the South of France

Posted on May 05, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

The Cellarit Wine Blog took a bit of a hiatus over the Easter break due to family and other pressing work commitments. But that didn’t mean I didn’t have time to sample some great wines! Here are a few that recently impressed.

My love affair with New Zealand pinot noir continues. The best that I’ve tasted recently have a bit of age and a hint of that savoury earthiness that I think probably all the best makers of pinot noir strive for. A couple of highlights:

Te Kairanga Runholder Pinot Noir 2007

Te Kairanga was one of Martinborough’s founding vineyards… [Read More]

Dec 12 2010

Part 2: Ata Rangi, The ‘Grand Cru’ of Martinborough Pinot Noir

Posted on December 12, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In February 2010 the Ata Rangi Pinot Noir and the Felton Road Block 5 Pinot Noir were named  “Great Growths of New Zealand” at the New Zealand Pinot Noir Conference.

The honour, which is New Zealand’s equivalent to Bordeaux’s ‘Grand Cru’ status, wasn’t an audacious move on the part of the Kiwis to thrust their pinot noirs into the limelight. Rather, it was appropriate recognition that New Zealand pinot noir has come of age and is now the leading New World example of fine pinot noir… [Read More]

Dec 12 2010

Martinborough Pinot Noir: All about the Terroir

Posted on December 12, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In my last post, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc: Top Producers Create an Exciting Alternative Style, 14 December 2010, I mentioned that our friends served the sublime Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc 2004 with a magnificent roasted prawn dish. Well, the follow-up course and wine were equally spectacular. This time they chose another New Zealand wine, the Dry River Pinot Noir 2002, to complement beautifully steamed John Dory with Asian flavourings and lightly sauteed greens.

New Zealand’s success with sauvignon blanc is in danger of being eclipsed by the Kiwi’s formidable achievements in creating superlative wines from one of the world’s most difficult noble grapes: pinot noir… [Read More]