Internationally respected wine writers Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer who hail from the U.K. and Australia respectively have announced their ‘Seventh Great New Zealand Pinot Noir Classification. This is their annual rating of the New Zealand Pinot Noirs which is the culmination of their years’ tasting and assessment of hundreds of wines taking into consideration a producer’s continued performance. It’s a unique and active rating system that gives readers an interesting insight into this country’s most significant red wine style from the perspectives of independent and objective observers based in our most important markets.
The live nature of the classification is one of its most important features, as the rating is determined by a producer’s qualitative output over the last five vintages released. So the element of consistency becomes significant. This criterion also allows improvement or deterioration to show, as well as offering a buffering for aberrant, one-off releases. Thus a producer can be promoted or demoted in standing. Now with seven classifications made, the movements and consistent standings of estates can be easily seen.
The 2014 Classification
Jukes and Stelzer have a five tier system, the top being 5-stars. Here, Ata Rangi, Bell Hill, Felton Road, Mt Difficulty and Rippon are placed. For 2014, there are 13 estates at the 4-star level, with Burn Cottage, Dog Point, Envoy, Kusuda and Mount Edward joining Craggy Range, Dry River, Escarpment, Martinborough Vineyard, Mountford, Pegasus Bay, Peregrine and Pyramid Valley. The 1-star tier equates to producers with consistent silver medal Pinot Noir wines. For this year, there are 122 estates listed in the classification, and Jukes and Stelzer interpret this as a superlative showing of quality by this country’s industry, stating that New Zealand is “producing pinot noir more successfully at every price point than any other country in the world. Burgundy, California and even Australia cannot keep pace with New Zealand’s top estates…” There are 11 new estates in the classification for 2014, and 14 estates have been promoted one or more levels.
While there are a number of critics and wine lovers who do not like classification systems, for reasons such as their lack of comprehensiveness, subjectivity and inflexibility. I feel that Jukes and Stelzer’s does much to counter these objections. You don’t need to agree with the judgements, and I certainly don’t with a number of the ratings, but the Seventh Great N.Z. Pinot Noir Classification provides considerable food for thought. On this point alone, Jukes and Stelzer’s work is invaluable. www.matthewjukes.com www.tysonstelzer.com
* * * Click here to view the 2014 Seventh Great New Zealand Pinot Noir Classification and accompanying notes by Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer * * *