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180 New Zealand Pinot Noirs II

by Tom Cannavan, 06/06

See also part I of this feature, a tasting of 130 Pinots from other New Zealand regions. This second part of this feature is a tasting of 50 Pinots from Central Otago. The wines were not tasted blind, but at a big tasting in Bannockburn, and on winery visits.

Central Otago

Carrick Estate (New Zealand) "Unravelled" Pinot Noir 2004
Entry level, with an attractive and juicy nose, with good raspberry fruitiness and a fine, juicy palate with lively fruit and a savoury, balanced tannin and acid balance.

Carrick Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2002
Lovely ripe, soft, plush strawberry fruit with a berry richness. Very fine and elegant on the palate. Juicy black plum and black cherry, with good definition. There is real finesse here, with supple tannins and a mouthfilling silkiness, yet crisp acids giving a savoury finish.

Carrick Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
A brief tasting of this as time was against me, but really a lovely nose, brimming with vibrant, ripe black cherries and with a juicy, elegant, mouth-watering style on the palate.

Chard Farm (New Zealand) 2003
This has a rather muted nose, with some slightly baked aromas, and a sweetness and richness of fruit just coming through. On the palate this has really very nice fruit, though it doesn't quite sing the way the Mount Edward does for example, but has a fine, tangy finish and good fruit.

Chard Farm (New Zealand) Single Vineyard 2004
A more expressive, open, cherry-scented nose. Very fine aromatics her, with touches of briar and rich, dry tannins on the palate. There is a touch more dusty austerity about this, but it is a savoury wine, with some elegance and good fruit in to the finish.

Chard Farm (New Zealand) 2005
From the Sugar? Vineyard too, but may or may not make single vineyard bottling. Very concentrated, with quite closed, dark, glossy cherry aromatics. Very concentrated palate too, with lots of grippy acidity and a fair swathe of grippy, nicely roughening tannins. Promising.

Crown Range (New Zealand) "Wild Earth" Pinot Noir 2003
Creamy, dense, rich nose, with full rich fruit and a slightly baked quality. On the palate nice sweetness, with a good quality of ripe sweet fruit, and plenty of earthy, rich Pinot character. Good quality here, and a fine, quite generous acid tannic structure.

Crown Range (New Zealand) "Wild Earth" Pinot Noir 2004
A tiny bit of sulphur blows off to reveal spicy, quite rich fruit on the nose, with a richer more round and open quality than some 2004s. Palate has richness and generosity, but a slightly hollow mid-palate, with not quite the sweetness and fullness of fruit. Finish is slightly disappointing.

Crown Range (New Zealand) "Wild Earth" Pinot Noir 2005
Intense cherry with plenty of concentration, if a slightly raisiny, stewed prune quality. On the palate there is a mass of concentrated plum and prune fruit, with plenty of concentration and a damson-plum, bitter skins bite in the finish. Very impressive, but perhaps lacks a touch of the pinot character of the 2003 for example.

Felton Road (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Lovely cherry and charred wood melange, with some real elegance. A touch of rounded, creamy oak quality and sense of minerality. On the palate this has beautiful fruit. Lots of ripe, rich, rolling red fruits and a real juiciness and lightness of touch. Notes of chocolate and ripe tannins make for a precise but generous finish.

Felton Road (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Delightfully round, charming, soft earthy red fruits. Lovely aromatics, with plenty of rich, juicy, fine cherry quality and a great deal of savoury black cherry acidity. Lovely finesse and bittersweet plummy fruit in the finish. Delightful.

Felton Road (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2002
Much more mineral, schisty, earthy and cherry-skinned quality on the nose. Fine background of cedary oak beginning to show through. Beautiful palate-filling fruit, with terrific cut and verve, and a lovely juicy sour acidity. There is a fine acidity here and plenty of bitter plumskin tannin and acidity, adding just a chocolaty.

Felton Road (New Zealand) Block 3 Pinot Noir 2005
Very juicy, schisty, firm black fruit quality. Lots of concentration here, but an underlying sweetness of fruit. Lovely palate suggesting a bright future: fruit has really come through, with more sweetness and generosity than some.

Felton Road (New Zealand) Block 3 Pinot Noir 2004
Lovely tight, suave, polished aromatics here, with polished dark fruit qualities. Ripeness and richness here, with masses of good quality fruit on the palate. Very dense and creamy, terrific mouthfeel and very precise, creamy qualities with a backbone of tannins and supple, integrated acidity.

Felton Road (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Block 3 2003
A richness, with a depth of chocolaty, deep, bittersweet ripe, intensely sweet fruit. Fantastic mouthfilling opulence of fruit, silky tannins and a dense, chocolaty finish. Terrific.

Felton Road (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Block 3 2002
Huge raspberry and chocolate and coffee and chocolate note, with plenty of richness and a huge, sweet fruited with a fine

Felton Road (New Zealand) Pinot Noir Block 5 2000
Finely Burgundian nose, with some vegetal, undergrowth notes. Plenty of herbal qualities. This has a lovely sense of suppleness and density, with fine, racy tannins and acidity, but that supporting weight of fruit, chocolate and coffee-edged oak, and a plushness. Beautiful quality. Terrific wine.

Gypsy Dancer (New Zealand) Estate Pinot Noir 2003
Owned by Archery Summit, Oregon. Looking for UK distribution. Generous, vanillin-edged sweet fruit, with a little mellow earthiness and plenty of rich, ripe fruit aromatics. On the palate it is mellow with a cherry quality and slightly Beaujolais Cru. Morgon-like minerality and dry, slightly dusty character into the finish.

Gypsy Dancer (New Zealand) Estate Pinot Noir 2004
A touch pruney, with dark, raisiny character and slightly jammy aromatics. Lots of cherry skin and bitter0edged liquoricy character on the palate. There is good concentration here, and juicy cherry acidity with fine tannins. Concentrated and impressive, with lots of dark, savoury notes, if perhaps slightly dense.

Kawerau Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Certified organic since 1996. Rich, flavoursome, slightly meat-stocky aromas, with a baked quality to the fruit. Good quality to the fruit on the palate, though it too suffers from a slightly muted fruit expression.

Kawerau Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Far more charry, toasty oak on the nose, with decent cherry fruit and a touch of schisty minerality. The palate has decent fruit, with a sweet cherry quality and a fine, bitter, plumskin and liquorice edge. This has good fruit and balance, but perhaps needs a little time to mellow out a closed, quiet up-tight character.

Kawerau Estate (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2005
Rather sweet, acetone, perhaps Malolactic character. The palate suggests a good, rich, ripe quality of fruit and plenty of concentration.

Mount Difficulty (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Distributed by Ellis of Richmond. Lovely generous pinot character, with smoky, seductive oak and a generous strawberry and fine, earthy fruit character. The palate has lovely fruit, with very fine sweetness, and a delightful richness on the palate. The acidity is keen and grippy, which along with a roughening edge of tannin and fine concentration makes for a delightful balanced, yet concentrated wine.

Mount Difficulty (New Zealand) "Pipeclay Vineyard" Pinot Noir 2004
More closed and concentrated, with a firm, glossy, tightly wound cherry fruit. Background smoky oak is well judged. ON the palate a wrapping of sweet vanillin oak does note overpower the ripe, glossy fruit a that powers through, delivering plenty of cherry and kirsch, violet and aromatic Parma violet fruit and a long, concentrated finish with good tannin and acid structure.

Mount Difficulty (New Zealand) "Pipeclay Vineyard" Pinot Noir 2005
There's a smokiness and charry quality about this on the nose, with an underlying softness, but concentration of red fruits. A touch of dried herbs and earthiness adds complexity. Very nice fruit here, with elegance and power, and a lovely structure. Very promising.

Mount Edward (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Beautiful fruit sweetness, with haunting cherry aromas, soft floral nuances and a truffly, undergrowth quality. Lovely cherry fruit - very crisp and taut, with a minerality and a great deal of orange and clove, with little chocolaty hints and terrific length and sweetness. Beautiful Pinot.

Mount Edward (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Very nice schist and cherry, charcoally edged fruit. Quite kirsch-like. Far less generous than the 2003 aromatically. The palate has quite crisp, clean, delineated fruit with a touch of dry, lipsticky quality and the oak sitting rather on top. A good wine, with sweetness of fruit coming through, and quite a fine tannic quality.

Mount Edward (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2005
Barrel sample. Tight, schisty, quite concentrated red fruit aromatics, with a little rose-hip note. Good fruit and concentration on the palate, and the quality of the tannins seems good. Very promising indeed.

Nevis Bluff (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Some Bannockburn fruit, some Cromwell Basin, some Bendigo and plenty of Gibbston. There's espresso and charry oak, with some lovely ripe plum fruit. There's a mineral and quite schisty quality here. On the palate lots of grip and black cherry, with touches of damson skin and a roughening quality. Very good length.

Nevis Bluffs (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
There's a touch of minty sweetness to this. A fine chocolate mint quality. A bright, ripe blackcurrant and cassis quality. On the palate a very lip-smacking quality, with a lovely edge to the fruit. Lots of tannins that are fine and ripe, and a chocolaty quality. Very sweet fruit here, and a lovely fruit sweetness.

Nevis Bluffs (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2002
All Gibbston fruit. Definite touch of herbal quality here, with a herby, thyme quality. A touch of smokiness. Fine cherry fruit, with a fine, ripe, very nicely weighted fruit. Lots of glistening black cherry and plenty of ripe, smoky and chocolaty notes. Good acids, and plenty of ripe, chewy texture to the tannins. Very tangy fruit and concentration. Chocolaty and rich.

Peregrine Wines (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Morris & Verdin. Lovely charcoal and schist notes, with plenty of smoky notes and fine Pinot nose of earthy, slightly truffly red fruits. Beautiful cherry and ripe red berry fruit on the palate, with a fine quality of soft, generous sweet fruit and supple, quite chocolaty tannins. Excellent balancing acidity too in a long finish. Excellent.

Peregrine Wines (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Slightly more closed and meaty character on the nose. There's a suggestion of dryness and inkiness about this. Rather dry quality on the palate. A certain toasty, espresso quality of oak comes through, and dry, rich fruit. Actually, this is very well managed, with the fruit coming through a little more and a nice, rich, supple tannin quality in the finish.

Peregrine Wines (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2005
This has a tight, mineral, schisty quality to the fruit at first, and has very fine character. On the palate a definite minerality, and the concentration here is good, with a deal of fine, ripe tannic structure. Very promising indeed.

Pisa Moorings (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Trying to get more organic activity into the vineyards, earthworm activity and so on, as the land has been planted before. 30% new oak, blend of coopers, but all medium toast. A touch of vegetal, beetrooty flavour, and plenty of black fruit and a fine cedary, gently chocolaty oak coming through. Lovely mouthfeel, with fine, very pert black fruit. Good fruit quality and mouthfeel, with a fine Pinot character, and plenty of cherry and plummy, black flavours.

Pisa Moorings (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
20% new oak. Lovely nose here, with a very Pinot nose, lots of smoky, chocolaty toast, and earthy, quite soft red fruits. Fantastic sweet fruit on the palate, masses of juicy, but rich, sweet fruit, and a fine, soft quite fudgy oak quality. Very lovely silky quality. Very good fruit here and long, and full of finesse.

Prophet's Rock (New Zealand) Rock Rocky Point Pinot Noir 2003
20% whole bunch. 40% new all French oak. Made with some bought in fruit from Bannockburn, whilst own vineyards came on stream. Beautifully sweet fruit on the nose, with a dominant character of softer strawberry notes and a little red cherry. The palate has a nice freshness and richness of fruit, with quite mouthfilling fruit, an edge of spice, and plenty of juicy acidity.

Prophet's Rock (New Zealand) Rocky Point Pinot Noir 2004
No whole bunches in this vintage, A little bit more peppery, herbal and with a touch of schisty minerality. Rich, concentrated, savoury style. Much more toasty and rich, with a slightly drier palate, slightly less juicy, with a bigger concentration and lovely spicy length and weight, with fairly big tannins and spicy wood.

Prophet's Rock (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2005
Barrel sample. Wine will spend 15 months in oak. Extremely dark, crimson-edged colour, but not dense. Nice juicy cherry and rich, red fruits, with a wrapping of toasty oak already sitting nicely beneath the fruit. The palate has a very fine, ripe, but crisply defined fruit quality, with a real juiciness and pert cherry and kirsch-like fruit. Lovely grainy tannins and clean, bright acidity add up to a very appealing picture and a very promising wine.

Quartz Reef (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Lay & Wheeler. Very fine minerality about this wine, with delightful schisty aromatics, damp earth and haunting Pinot character. On the palate this has lovely elegance and sophistication, with a balanced palate of dry, herb-tinged red fruits, silky tannins and a fine acidity into a long finish.

Quartz Reef (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Slightly more baked and plummy quality, with a touch of schist and cherry brightness to the fruit coming through. On the palate quite a fine black fruited palate, with some cherry and plum skin bitterness that sits nicely with the fruit. Good acid structure, but perhaps suffers from a slightly drying fruit quality.

Quartz Reef (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2005
Dark, very concentrated chocolate-tinged nose, with a dark damson skin quality. Excellent ripeness and richness on the palate, with obvious concentration and a liquorice-edged, juicy cherry fruit quality. This is very promising.

Rippon Vineyards (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2003
Patrick and Charles distribution. Nice coffee and warm fudge oaky notes at first, with a solid, vanillin and ripe fruit generosity to the fruit. On the palate a good solid core of cherry and focused, slightly lipsticky fruit, with very dry tannins and a warming wrapping of mellow oak.

Rippon Vineyards (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2004
Very nice nose - earthy and soft, with a gentle strawberry fruit and a wrapping of tobacco and mellow oak. On the palate there is a nice red plum and orangy fruit and acid quality, with a rounding out of quite toasty, coffee oak and silky, dark tannins.

Rippon Vineyards (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2005
Slightly closed, dark, ungiving nose at present, with very dark, vivid purple colour. Tightly wound, concentrated cherry fruit - very muscular and compact, with excellent concentration. Fine, quite supple and dark tannins, and dry acidity in a dry, serious style. Promising

William Hill (New Zealand) "Shaky Bridge" Pinot Noir 2003
Quite a tight, fine nose, with good quality of fruit, and a certain brightness and elegance. Good cutting acidity o the palate, with a touch of chocolate and fine tannins, and leads into a solid, well-balanced finish.

William Hill (New Zealand) "Shaky Bridge" Pinot Noir 2003
Little bit of coffee and char, with fairly solid, ripe red fruit. The palate betrays a little lack of flesh, with very good fruit and decent sweetness, but the total package is a little lean.

William Hill (New Zealand) "Shaky Bridge" Pinot Noir 2003
Intense mineral and cherry, with a concentrated lean, savoury cherry fruit and plenty of crisp, slightly paintboxy Cru Beaujolais quality, with a plummy dry fruitiness.