Top 6 Pinot Noir (Under $50)
New Zealand is a Pinot country, and we sure have many great Pinot Noir; hence I decided to split the category into 'Under $50' and 'Over $50'. The Top 6 of Pinot Noir under $50 are nothing short of quality and age-worthiness.
Grasshopper Rock Earnscleugh Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 from Alexandra, beautiful expression of Central Otago Pinot Noir with higher acidity and floral elegance. Maori Point Pinot Noir 2017 has similarity, showing sour cherries and lots of beautiful subtleties. 2017 was a cooler vintage with low yield in the region; the concentration intensified the flavours, makes a great quality for long term ageing.
Misha's The High Note Pinot Noir is from vintage 2019, high rainfall in spring and a severe frost in Oct affected flowering in many parts of Central Otago, with moderate temperature throughout the growing season and again late frost in April near harvest. Luckily Misha's Vineyard is set on steep slopes, and a frost-drained site managed to get through it and picked in late April, so the grapes have enough time to develop flavours. You will find the wine has beautiful balance and silky tannin palate.
2019 in Martinborough had early spring frost, following that good rainfall until Christmas then a dry summer; warms days and cool night with a long ripening period. Matahiwi Estate Holly South Series Pinot Noir 2019 is elegant and typical Martinborough with incredible minerality and fineness.
Te Kano Pinot Noir and Neck Of The Woods Pinot Noir are both 2018, a hotter vintage. They were picked earlier to ensure there's good acidity balance and managed to show off delicate floral complexity, both with great balance and power.
It seems that I'm favouring Central Otago in this Top 6 selection, there were a couple of wines from other regions in the original Top 6 were no longer available, that's a reminder for us that there are so many smaller producers in this country, the stock doesn't last, so get them while you can.
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Grasshopper Rock Earnscleugh Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017, Central OtagoPinot Noir from New Zealand - OtagoReview Date : 12-Oct-2020Deep, ruby-red with a black hue and some transparency, lighter on edge. The bouquet is concentrated, gently penetrating aromas of dried Bing cherries, plums, entwined with complexing savouriness, liquorice, forest herbs and dried florals. Medium-full bodied, red plums, dried Bing cherries have a good core, interwoven spices, along with liquorice, dried herbs and florals are well-proportioned; savoury developments, forest floor nuances unfolded as it aerated. The wine has great intensity of flavours and balance; the almost sour fruit is lively and buoyant, with brilliant concentration. Integrated oak contributed to a spicy palate and silky tannin mouthfeel. This is an age-worthy Pinot Noir with concentrated aromas of plums, dried Bing cherries and complex interests on a silky fine tannin palate. Match with cured venison and lamb loin over the next 6-8 years. Fruit from Earnscleugh vineyard, one of the world's southernmost vineyards, planted in 2003. Fermented to 13% alc, aged in French oak barriques for 10 months, 28% new oak. 19/20 pts Oct 2020 RRP $40
Misha’s Vineyard The High Note Pinot Noir 2019, Central OtagoPinot Noir from New Zealand - OtagoReview Date : 16-Oct-2020Deep, transparent ruby-red with a deep purple hue, lighter on the rim. The nose is elegantly presented, gentle aromas of violet, herbs, interweave Doris plums, cherries and delicate spices. Medium-full bodied, the palate is refined, nuances of dark plums and cherries are pure with intensity and freshness, violet fragrant and soft spices are well proportioned, dark tone of herbs lingers on the finish. Tannin extraction is fine and silky, leaves a polished mouthfeel supported by lacy, integrated acidity. Floral violet and herbs linger on lending a lengthy, elegant finish. This is a dark-fruited Pinot Noir with violet and herbs details, shows good intensity and finesse, already delicious, will develop well. Match with venison loin and duck over the next 6-8 years. The fruit was fermented with an average of 6% whole bunch to 14% alc; the wine spends on average 27 days on skins, aged in French oak hogsheads, 25% new 300-litre barrels. 19-/20 pts (95 pts) Oct 2020 RRP $48
Neck of the Woods Pinot Noir 2018, Central OtagoPinot Noir from New Zealand - OtagoReview Date : 27-May-2020Bright, ruby-red colour, lighter on the rim. The nose is coy with gentle notes of dark ripened cherries and sweet plums, unveiling perfume and oak spices. Dry on the palate, sweet scent of black cherries and plums balanced by the right amount of acidity; medium-bodied hauled by silky fine tannin, melded herbaceous fragrant with nutty notes from barrels and seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg spices and a subtle tone of liquorice. This wine shows a sense of place with restrained alcohol, serene acidity and underlying fine-grained tannin extraction. The wine is youthful with plush, sweet-scented ripe fruit with a lightness, serene acidity; firm but silky fine tannin contribute to the weight and texture, providing backbone, layered with herbaceous fragrant, nutty oak and spices. Enjoy with game meat over the next 5+ years. Fruit from Bendigo flat and Chinaman's Terrace, 23% whole bunch, aged 11 months in French oak, 28% new. 18.5+/20pts May 2020 RRP $37
Maori Point Pinot Noir 2017, Central OtagoPinot Noir from New Zealand - OtagoReview Date : 28-Jul-2020Deep, medium ruby-red with depth, sightly lighter on edge. The nose is softly-full with aromas of red plums, sour cherries, melded with sweet liquorice and deep florals, subtle notes of gamey, savoury underlay, unfolding oak spices element. Medium-full bodied, there's a core of savoury notes of wet leaves, game and earth, integrated with red plums and cherries, along with oak spices, sweet liquorice lingers to a sustained finish. The flavours have concentration, supported by powdery fine-grained tannin structure and lacy acidity. The savoury development and sweet liquorice element are well-integrated with the fruit, leaves a comforting sensation on the palate. This is an integrated Pinot Noir with flavours of red fruit and savoury developments on a fine-grained texture line. Match with lamb and duck over the next 3-5 years. Handpicked, native yeast fermented to 13.6% alc. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 22% new. Minimal sulfites, unfined and unfiltered. Vegan friendly. 18.5+/20 pts July 2020 RRP $38.95
Matahiwi Estate Holly South Series Pinot Noir 2019, WairarapaPinot Noir from New Zealand - Wairarapa & WellingtonReview Date : 14-Aug-2020Deep, medium ruby-red with some depth, lighter on the rim. The nose is elegant, gently filled the glass with the richness of dark cherries, red plums, sweet florals, melded with an amalgam of oak spices, herbs and crushed rock mineral notes. Medium-full bodied, concentrated flavours of plums and cherries, along with herbs and floral detail, lingers with savoury detail, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper and rocky mineral to a sustained finish. The fruit is concentrated with a dense mouthfeel, packed full of fruit flavours and savoury notes of game meat, sea salt and crushed rocks; fine-grained tannin extraction is silky and smooth, contributed to the mouthfeel and weight. Lacy acidity gives balance and freshness to the palate, carries powdery spices and mineral to a lengthy finish. Match with venison loin and duck over the next 6-8 years. Clones 667, 5, 777 from their Home vineyard with extra care and low yield. Fermented to 13.5% alc, some whole-bunches. Aged in barrels for 12 months, 23% new. 18.5+/20 pts Aug 2020 RRP $46.99
Te Kano Pinot Noir 2018, Central OtagoPinot Noir from New Zealand - OtagoReview Date : 10-Jul-2020Bright, light ruby-red colour with depth, slightly lighter on the rim. The nose is elegant with fragrances of lifted florals, red cherries, red berries, along with savoury, earth and iodine. Medium-bodied, the palate is focused with a strong presence of herbs, thyme and spearmint, red fruit of cherries, berries, entwined with savoury, earth and perfume. There is a concentration of fruit weight on the palate, interweaved powdery fine-grained tannins. The acidity is smooth and well-balanced, carries the herbs and fragrance with elegance, flows with delicate spices to linearity. This is an elegantly fragrant Pinot Noir with flavours of red berries and cherries, along with herbs and powdery, fine-grained tannin structure. Match with duck and lamb over the next 5-8 years. 100% Pinot Noir, clones Abel, 115, 777, 667, 943, 6. Handpicked, destemmed, 15% whole bunch. Fermented to 14% alc. Aged 12 months in new and older French oak barriques. 18.5+/20 pts July 2020 RRP $49