This year’s quest for pinot perfection yielded plenty of fine examples, writes John Saker.
We call it the “annual pinot safari”, our three-day quest to find some of the best pinot noir recently produced in New Zealand. This year, as is customary, prior to setting out each expedition member shared their views on the qualities they were seeking. For panel chair John Belsham, ageability was a priority: “We have to identify wines that will age. Great wines all have a swagger, even when they’re young.”
Cameron Douglas was looking for what he described as ‘pinot noirness’ – “it’s not a flavour, but a heartbeat, a soul, poise and tension”. For John Saker, structure was all-important: “Wonderful fruit needs some serious scaffolding. Tannin management is the big challenge.” From a field of 172 wines, some fine examples emerged, with 11 receiving the maximum five stars.
This is a ripe, succulent wine, well-endowed with welcoming fruit and a warm, enveloping textural embrace. It arrives on the palate with a quiet, complex intensity, its red and dark fruit flavours laced with a herbal thread. “It has depth, flows beautifully and lingers,” noted John Belsham.
Grown on a superb sloping site in Marlborough’s southern valleys, this is …2
This is a fine example of Central Otago’s class of 2012, a …3
Everything you’ve come to expect of Akarua pinot you’ll find in this …4
Martinborough enters the frame with this seductive version crafted by John Kavanagh. …5
Grown on Waihopai Valley clay and nurtured by the warmth of the …6
This favoured Bannockburn site has produced another fine pinot, praised by Cameron …7
Giving Wairau River a top 10 double is this elegant expression. What …8
You expect balance from a wine called Equinox and that is exactly …9
Gentle dark floral scents presage a palate that is still quite tight …10