By Rose Murray Brown MW   Published in The Scotsman 7 July 2018

New Zealand Pinot Noir is coming of age.  It is now easier to find affordable examples which are consistently high in quality thanks to the increasing maturity of the vines and winemaking experience, but there has also been a tendency to over-commercialise the style at the cheaper end of the spectrum.

There is a wide variety of Kiwi Pinot Noirs across the price ranges.  Under £10 you find few regional characteristics emerging (although most of them come from Marlborough).  You just get sweet easy drinking soft styles of Pinot Noir at this price which quite frankly taste as if they could just as easily have been made in Casablanca Valley in Chile, rather than in South Island, New Zealand.

What our tasting showed was that if you want to experience the distinction between New Zealand’s regional styles from the earthy savoury Martinborough style, the fragrant herby Nelson, sweet cherry fruited Marlborough to the rich plummy cassis-fruit of Central Otago you need to spend at least £15. 

And if you want to experience the best New Zealand Pinots from the top producers like Felton Road in Central Otago, Dog Point in Marlborough or Ata Rangi in Martinborough prices are now heading over £30. 

It is a good time to experience New Zealand Pinot Noir right now – as many of the wines on our shelves are from the good quality 2015 and 2016 vintages.  The next vintage to follow was wetter, cooler and more challenging in New Zealand – as it was elsewhere in the world – and so the 2017 wines will not have quite the same luscious succulent fruits.


(£6.69 Lidl)   

A very lightweight New Zealand Pinot Noir, but if you want something pretty, sweet, juicy and easy-going with an appealing freshness to the finish this is remarkably good value.

(£6.99 Aldi)

This has more fragrance, bright red fruits and a savoury undertone – slightly less sweet than Lidl’s version.  Whilst it lacks complexity, it is soft and easy going.

Marlborough: DEVIL’S CREEK PINOT NOIR 2015 (13%)
(£9.99/£11.99 Majestic Wine)

A very thin light Marlborough Pinot Noir, named after the gold diggings of the 1864 Wakamarina gold rush – our tasters found it soft and easy to quaff, but did not rate it as worth the money.


Marlborough: TINPOT HUT PINOT NOIR 2016 (13%)   ***STAR BUY***
(£14.99 – £15.95 Drinkmonger; Villeneuve Wines; Fine Wine Co Musselburgh, Gloagburn Fm Shop, Provender Brown, Valhalla’s Goat)

A clear favourite with tasters for its bright cherry fruit aromas, succulent ripe fruits, good finesse and linear structure with a generous plummy fruit to the palate and good length.

Marlborough: MOMO PINOT NOIR 2016 (13.5%)
(£11.50 The Wine Society

Made by Seresin, an estate at the forefront of biodynamic viticulture in Marlborough.  Although Momo means baby in Maori, this is not a soft easy Pinot Noir.  Slightly austere with more structure, tannin and acidity than you normally expect in Marlborough – better served alongside lamb or duck rather than on its own. 

Jackson Estate Homestead Pinot Noir New ZealandMarlborough: JACKSON ESTATE HOMESTEAD PINOT NOIR 2015 (13.5%)  ***STAR BUY***
(£13.99 Waitrose)

Soft ripe elegant Pinot Noir with gentle oaky undertones which was popular with tasters – coming a close second to Tinpot Hut (above). Jackson Estate are one of the original estates based in the golden triangle in the Wairau valley – a close neighbour to Cloudy Bay and Allan Scott.  

Nelson: NELSON PINOT NOIR 2016 Seifried (14%)
(£11 Marks & Spencer)

Some of Nelson’s Pinot Noirs can be wonderfully fragrant complex and earthy, but this is not one of them.  Our tasters found Seifried’s example disappointingly light and lacking in balance and ripe fruits.


Martinborough:  ATA RANGI CRIMSON PINOT NOIR 2016 (14%)
(£22.99-£25 Drinkmonger; Lockett Bros; Bon Vivant; Fine Wine Co; NZ House of Wine;

You get a more classical restrained style from Martinborough’s southern exposure, cool breezes and cool nights which gives red cherry fruits, lively aromatic, chocolate, tobacco and an earthy savoury Burgundian feel to it.

Dog Point Pinot Noir 2014 Marlborough New ZealandMarlborough:  DOG POINT PINOT NOIR 2014 (14%)   ***STAR BUY***
(£28.50 Luvians; NZ House of Wine; Majestic Wine)

Blackcherry and violet scents, lush mellow ripe succulent fleshy cherry fruits, hallmark spice and beautifully rounded soft smooth tannins with integrated oak; richness from clay soils.  I am a big fan of Ivan Sutherland and James Healey’s Pinot – one of Marlborough’s best.

Central Otago: AKARUA PINOT NOIR 2016 (14%)
(£17.99/£19.99 Exel Wines; The Cave Glasgow;  
When first opened the aroma was very closed, but with time it showed a very spicy fragrance, lovely juicy black plum fruit mid-palate with lots of spicy undertones.  It does have a hint of bitterness and a linear structure, but with lots of interesting character to make up for this.  It is made from a five vineyard blend from Bannockburn, established by Sir Clifford Skeggs in mid-1990s. 

North Canterbury: GREYSTONE WINES PINOT NOIR 2015 (13%)    ***STAR BUY***
(£17.95 Berry Bros & Rudd          
Berry Bros own label exclusive from Greystone has very attractive fragrant Pinot Noir with sweet cherry fruits, herby undertone and overall good balance.  Made from vines planted on hard limestone rock in the Omihi hills of Waipara.  Good value for this quality.

Central Otago:  DRUMSARA PINOT NOIR 2013 (14%)

With extra bottle maturity, this Pinot Noir has mellowed from its tight structure becoming quite attractive with spicy bright berry fruits.  Made by John Matheson who planted 8 hectares on an elevated gravel plateau near Clyde and Alexandra back in 2000, which shows in the wine with distinct minerality from this terroir.  Tasters scored this highly, but considered it overpriced in comparison to others.

Join Rose Murray Brown MW’s Burgundy v New Zealand wine tasting at Abode Hotel, 129 Bath Street, Glasgow on Friday 13 July £42


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