From 32 wines tasted for this class, 11 were awarded 5-stars, 3 were awarded 4 ½ stars and 6 wines 4-stars. Only one wine was not recognised with an award. The ‘Top 10′ Champagnes $100 and Under class, as judged by John Belsham, Ralph Kyte-Powell, Sarah-Kate Dineen and Andrew Parkinson were, in order: Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut NV, Delamotte Blanc de Blancs Brut NV, Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial NV, Beaumet Cuvee Brut NV, Ayala Brut Majeur NV, Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label Brut NV, Veuve Cliquot Rosé NV, Moet & Chandon Rosé Imperial NV, Ayala Brut Rosé Majeur NV and G.H. Mumm Brut Rosé NV. Panel member Sarah-Kate Dineen mentioned the impressive diversity of styles, stating “All were a joy to judge”.
As could be expected, the findings of the Champagne Over $100 were up a level. Of the 12 examples judged, 9 wines were awarded 5-stars, 2 wines 4 ½ and 1 wine 4-stars. In order, the ‘Top 10′ were: Laurent Perrier Brut Millesime LP 2002, Taittinger Brut Reserve NV, Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 2004, Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rosé NV, Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut NV, Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2004, Veuve Clicquot Vintage 2004, Taittinger Prelude Grands Crus Brut NV, Bollinger La Grande Annee 2002 and Dom Perignon 2003, the last wine earning 4 ½ stars. Panel chair John Belsham said “this tasting again confirms that Champagne producers, with their phenomenal expertise and centuries of fine tuning, deliver beautiful wines.”
Of the total judged, 25 wines were awarded 5-stars, 27 wines 4 ½ stars and 51 wines rated 4-stars. There were 150 wines, just under half of the 326, not awarded. The great consequence is that over 100 wines are given exposure, and this is important for our industry which has Pinot Noir as its most produced red variety. For those attending the Pinot Noir 2013 conference (click here to go to the website), this gives an indication of what to look out for! While Central Otago was the most successful region, Marlborough also featured, this being no surprise for those who have looked closely at the wines from there. The fact that Marlborough has by far the most plantings has no bearing on the level of quality that has been achieved by the leaders. As judge Alastair Maling MW said “we are seeing regionality factors more so than ever before. Otago might dominate from an image perspective, but more than one region is producing outstanding New Zealand Pinot Noir”. Unfortunately, wines from Martinborough, Waipara and Nelson were not well-represented, this probably more a reflection of what was entered into Cuisine for judging, rather than the regions’ poor performance.
The Top 10 New Zealand Pinot Noirs were, in order: Grasshopper Rock Central Otago 2010, Tatty Bogler 2010, Valli Gibbston 2010, Valli Bendigo 2010, Ceres Composition 2010, Gibbston Valley Central Otago 2011, Carrick Unravelled Central Otago 2010, Rock Ferry Central Otago 2010, Pasquale Hakataramea Valley 2010 and Yealands Reserve Central Otago 2011. While most of the awarded Central Otago wines were from the highly touted 2010 vintage, it is encouraging to see the lighter 2011 wines come through well, showing the attractiveness of elegance, and a number of 2009 vintage wines holding up very well.
With the Pinot Noir category so crowded, and competition exacerbated by the GFC, the number of good value wines has increased substantially. Cuisine’s ‘Best Buys’ in Pinot Noir number 15, and indeed the first on the list is the overall top wine, the Grasshopper Rock 2010, with a price of $29-$32. It’s a good time for consumers to enjoy Pinot Noir.