Pinot Noir – November 2021

When you think of Pinot Noir, does any particular region spring to mind? Central Otago enjoys the strongest regional profile in New Zealand today for the great red-wine grape of Burgundy, but if you had asked that question 25 years ago, most wine lovers would have opted for Martinborough, in the southern Wairarapa.

So where do the majority of our Pinot Noir grapes come from now? New Zealand Winegrowers Vintage Survey 2021 has some revealing statistics. In the latest harvest, Marlborough produced nearly 45 per cent of the country’s total Pinot Noir crop, well ahead of Central Otago (36 per cent). Both regions – especially Marlborough – grow Pinot Noir not only for red wine production, but also as a key ingredient in premium, bottle-fermented sparklings.

Significant pockets of Pinot Noir can also be found in Hawke’s Bay (7 per cent of the 2021 crop), Wairarapa (4.5 per cent), North Canterbury (3 per cent), Nelson (2 per cent) and Gisborne (1.5 per cent). The 2021 survey also records that small Pinot Noir crops were harvested in the Waitaki Valley (0.2 per cent) and Auckland (0.1 per cent).

Marlborough is New Zealand’s most underrated region, in term of the quality of its Pinot Noirs. Those in the $20 price range, often seen on supermarket shelves, are typically vibrantly fruity and supple, with fresh, berryish flavours, moderate complexity and an easy-drinking charm.

Marlborough’s most memorable Pinot Noirs are flowing from clay-based ridges in the Southern Valleys. Vineyards planted on north-facing sites with low-vigour soils, good cold air drainage and long exposure to the evening sun, are yielding perfumed, dense, savoury reds of arresting quality.


Best Buys

Askerne Hawke’s Bay Pinot Noir 2020, 4 stars, $23

Carrick Unravelled Organic Central Otago Pinot Noir 2020, 4.5 stars, $28

Spy Valley Handpicked Single Estate Marlborough Pinot Noir 2019, 4.5 stars, $33

Thornbury Marlborough Pinot Noir, 4 stars, $25


Treat Yourself

Fromm Cuvée ‘H’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2019, 5 stars, $65

Nanny Goat Vineyard Super Nanny Central Otago Pinot Noir 2020, 5 stars, $62