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Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
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Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.
2003 – 2005 PINOT NOIRS FROM NEW ZEALAND & FRANCE,  MOSTLY RELEASED IN MID – LATE 2006


Pinot noir continues its exciting development march in New Zealand,  with more pinot winemakers making more effort to bring the New Zealand rendering of the grape into line with international expectations for the variety.  Pinot noir is now by far the dominant red wine grape,  being roughly twice merlot in area,  and eight times the third most planted red,  cabernet sauvignon.  These figures are much distorted by the percentage of pinot noir ‘disappearing’ into methode champenoise wines.  In the business year just concluded,  pinot noir has moved into second place for wine exports (at 7%),  ahead of chardonnay at 6.7%.  This is an extraordinary achievement,  which few would have predicted so soon.  Sauvignon Blanc at 72% is still far and away the leader.  Pinot noir is also likely to become the second-most planted grape this year,  again ousting chardonnay.  

And with all the excitement,  there is some glamour too,  with international personalities such as Sam Neill (Two Paddocks) and Roger Donaldson (Sleeping Dogs) owning Central Otago vineyards,  and maybe challenging present leaders such as Felton Road and Ata Rangi.  Certainly when it comes to presenting wine tastings,  in Wellington it is easier to fill a New Zealand pinot noir tasting than almost any other winestyle.

For recent vintages,  2003 was one of our best pinot vintages so far,  near-ideal in most districts.  2004 was difficult over much of the country.  There were late spring frosts in many places,  which curtailed crop levels,  and then the season itself was modest.  New Zealand-wide,  many of the wines are a little on the acid side,  with leafy / stalky notes in some districts,  and particularly Martinborough.  This worked in favour of Hawkes Bay,  where some good pinots were made in a district not thus far noted for it.  2005 was better nearly everywhere,  including Central Otago.  Many report small crops in ’05,  and concentrated wines as a result.  2005 was great in Nelson,  perhaps the best ever – exciting anyway.  Marlborough stands aside from the generalisations,  with good wines in both years.  This district too is still finding its feet for quality pinot noir,  despite some popular opinion to the contrary.  Martinborough in 2005 may be more difficult to summarise,  with significant rain in the fourth week of March.  Pinot is usually picked later than that,  so tasting will tell.

Leaving aside good pinot wines made by Mission Vineyards in the 60s,  and Nick Nobilo in the 70s,  both ahead of their time,  it is now 25 years since the first good New Zealand pinot noir of the modern pinot movement was made – 1982 St Helena Pinot Noir.  Tasted recently,  it is still clearly in style,  and pleasing with light food,  but needs drinking.  Now,  however,  if we are to succeed more fully in achieving the classical pinot noir style New Zealand's temperate climate in places facilitates,  the key pinot noir issue needing focussed viticultural research attention in New Zealand is:  how do we achieve the flavours of full physiological maturity in pinot noir,  at lower alcohols ?  Pinot noir is after all,  par excellence a food wine.  And in general,  provided the wine smells and tastes ripe,  the lower the alcohol,  the better the wine is with food.  But,  in our temperate climate,  we have far too many wines at an inelegant 14% and more alcohol,  yet still retaining leafy and sometimes stalky green notes in them.  Good empirical information is already available.  Neil McCallum at Dry River routinely achieves the flavours of sur maturité,  in wines with given alcohols much lower than that.  I do not know if technology is employed to that end,  or not,  and nor am I holding up his style of pinot as one worthy of emulation.  But there are interesting questions there.  

Apologists for some of the more outlandish pinot noirs in New Zealand support their case via the argument that we should be striving to make New Zealand pinots,  not copying elsewhere.  When however 'elsewhere' means one of the greatest winestyles the civilised world knows,  we would be prudent to first strive to understand and match that,  rather than immediately seeking to justify something eccentric.  Any number of blind tastings I have presented show that good mature New Zealand pinot can in fact slot in very happily with the French model,  with skilled tasters hard put to tell which is from where.  In my view there is no justification for this spurious argument.  Too often,  it is employed merely to justify vested interests,  the style of wine some individual's winemaking practices creates,  for example,  or something limited by climate or cropping rate (or both).  The parallel case of body-odour sauvignons from Marlborough comes to mind.  Or earlier generations of New Zealand cabernets.  

The Wines:  this batch of pinot noir reviews is not based on one tasting.  Instead they arise from cumulated tastings,  from the middle of 2006 to the end.  Some of the wines could be cross-calibrated as the year proceeded.  Key amongst these tastings was the excellent presentation of 20 New Zealand pinot noirs from the 2004 vintage by Raymond Chan,  at Regional Wines and Spirits in June,  and a great review of the 2002 Rousseau red burgundies at the same venue.  [ Incidentally,  Rousseau is one of the great classicists for real pinot varietal style in his burgundies,  and close study of his wines should be part of every aspiring pinot maker's tasting programme.  They are distributed in New Zealand by Peter Maude Fine Wines.]  In both cases I have made extensive use of Raymond's masterly background material,  which I acknowledge with pleasure.  In September I presented a tasting of another dozen New Zealand pinot noirs to a group in Wellington.  This included some of New Zealand's top examples of the variety.  Each of these tastings was enjoyed by 20 or so people in a serious sit-down blind presentation format,  and the write-ups have benefitted from comments offered by participants.  Wines in those tastings can be roughly recognised by the reviews bearing the same date – 6/06,  7/06,  or 9/06.  Other wines have accumulated from trade and incidental tastings.  Clearly therefore,  not all wines have been assessed together,  so this must lead to some inconsistencies in relativity / scoring.  In several cases the same wine has been seen more than once.  

For the Rousseau wines,  Clive Coates reviewed the 2002s in his recently-terminated publication 'The Vine' (No. 228).  It is intriguing to have the viewpoint of a Burgundy classicist to refer to,  after one has made up one's new-world-influenced mind.  His appraisals are included.  Coates does not score,  but uses some sets of words consistently,  so very fine plus is always better than very fine,  fine,  then very good.  It gets hard to follow at the upper end,  though.  He has used numbers in earlier days (when the 20-point scale used the full 20 steps),  and has over the years presented cogent arguments about the fallacies of numerical scoring.  Some are presented on his website www.clive-coates.com

Given that all the wines are pinot noir,  the interleaving of the burgundy results with the New Zealand wines is designed to convey one person's view of the relative level of achievement of each wine as pinot noir,  rather more than as burgundy the 'exact' winestyle.  The style of burgundy itself is changing,  with the advent of many younger winemakers.  So,  notwithstanding my earlier caveat,  this is,  I believe,  a legitimate approach,  given some decades experience.  The style of pinot I aspire to will become apparent from the reviews.


PINOT NOIR – THE WINES REVIEWED:

2005  Ata Rangi Pinot Noir
2004  Ata Rangi Pinot Noir
2005  Auntsfield Pinot Noir Hawk Hill
2005  Babich Pinot Noir Winemakers Reserve
2003  Bald Hills Pinot Noir
2004  Belmonte Pinot Noir
2005  Carrick Pinot Noir
2004  Carrick Pinot Noir
2004  Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir
2004  Coopers Creek Pinot Noir Reserve
2004  Daniel Schuster [ Pinot Noir ] Omihi Hills Selection
2005  Delta Pinot Noir
2005  Dog Point Pinot Noir
2004  Dry River Pinot Noir
2004  Earth’s End Pinot Noir
2003  Earth’s End Pinot Noir
2004  Escarpment Pinot Noir
2003  Escarpment Pinot Noir Kupe
2005  Felton Road Pinot Noir
2005  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 3
2004  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5
2005  Felton Road Pinot Noir Cornish Point
2004  Forrest Pinot Noir John Forrest Collection
2004  Foxes Island Pinot Noir
2004  Framingham Pinot Noir
2005  Gibbston Highgate Pinot Noir Soul-taker
2005  Gravitas Pinot Noir
2004  Greenhough Pinot Noir Hope Vineyard
2003  Greenhough Pinot Noir Hope Vineyard
2003  Domaine Jaquiery Pinot Noir
2004  Kaituna Valley Pinot Noir Canterbury
2005  Koura Bay Pinot Noir Whalesback
2005  Lonely Mountain Pinot Noir
2004  Main Divide Pinot Noir
2004  Main Divide Pinot Noir Selection
2004  Margrain Pinot Noir River’s Edge
2004  Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir
2004  Maude Pinot Noir
2004  Mills Reef Pinot Noir Reserve
2004  Mountford Pinot Noir
2004  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir
2004  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Pipeclay Terrace Single Vineyard
2004  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Roaring Meg
2005  Nanny Goat Vineyard Pinot Noir
2004  Neudorf Pinot Noir Moutere
2003  Olssen’s Pinot Noir Jackson Barry
2004  Ostler Pinot Noir Caroline’s
2004  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir
2003  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir
2003  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir Prima Donna
2003  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir Prima Donna
2005  Peregrine Pinot Noir
2004  Peregrine Pinot Noir
  2004  Pisa Range Pinot Noir Black Poplar Block
2003  Pisa Range Pinot Noir Black Poplar Block
2005  Pohangina Valley Estate Pinot Noir
2004  Pohangina Valley Estate Pinot Noir
2004  Pyramid Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir Eaton Family Vineyard
2004  Quartz Reef Pinot Noir
2005  Richardson Pinot Noir
2004  Richmond Plains Pinot Noir
2003  Richmond Plains Pinot Noir Reserve
2002  Rousseau Chambertin
2002  Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze
2002  Rousseau Charmes-Chambertin
2002  Rousseau Clos de la Roche
2002  Rousseau Clos St Jacques
2002  Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin
2002  Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin les Cazetiers
2002  Rousseau Mazis-Chambertin
2002  Rousseau Ruchottes-Chambertin
2005  Saddleback Pinot Noir
2004  Saint Clair Pinot Noir Doctors Creek Reserve
2004  Saint Clair Pinot Noir Omaka Reserve
2005  Saint Clair Pinot Noir Pioneer Block 4
2005  Saint Clair Pinot Noir Pioneer Block 5
2005  Seven Terraces Pinot Noir
2005  Sileni Pinot Noir EV ( = Exceptional Vintage )
2005  Sleeping Dogs Pinot Noir
2005  Soma Pinot Noir
2004  Staete Landt Pinot Noir
2005  Stoneleigh Pinot Noir
2004  Surveyor Thomson Pinot Noir
2004  Te Kairanga Pinot Noir Martinborough
2003  Te Kairanga Pinot Noir Reserve
2004  Te Kairanga Pinot Noir Runholder
2005  Te Mania Pinot Noir Reserve
2004  Terrace Heights Estate Pinot Noir THE
2004  TerraVin Pinot Noir ‘T’
2004  TerraVin Pinot Noir ‘T’ Hillside Selection
2004  3 Terraces Pinot Noir
2005  Tiwaiwaka Pinot Noir
2004  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir First Paddock
2005  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir Picnic
2004  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir The Last Chance
2004  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Marlborough Cellar Selection
2004  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Reserve
2004  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Rutherford Single Vineyard
2004  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Taylors Pass Individual Vineyard
2003  Waitiri Creek Pinot Noir
2004  Waiwera Estate Pinot Noir
2004  Wild Earth Pinot Noir
2004  Wither Hills Pinot Noir
2005  Wooing Tree Pinot Noir
2005  Wycroft Pinot Noir Old River Terrace


2002  Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze   19 +  ()
Gevrey Chambertin Grand Cru,  Cotes de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $308   [ cork;  30 – 35 hl/ha (1.5 – 1.8 t/ac);  10% whole-bunch,  c. 15 day cuvaison in s/s;  MLF and up 22 months in French oak 100% new;  Coates: Full, rich and oaky on the nose. This is really very special. Full-bodied, rich and opulent. Excellent grip. Very, very classy fruit. Quite magnificent. Very, very long and very, very impressive. Grand vin! From 2015;  Parker / Rovani:  94 – 96;  www.domaine-rousseau.com ]
Ruby,  a touch of velvet,  the deepest of the Rousseaus (apart from the village Gevrey).  Bouquet is just sensational,  a perfect evocation of deeply floral boronia and violets pinot noir,  backed by aromatic black and red cherries,  and subtle new oak.  Palate is velvet,  clear dark cherry fruit,  beautiful balance with fragrant oak not as assertive as the Chambertin or Clos St Jacques.  This is an infant beauty,  which in 10 years will be superb indeed,  revealing nearly all there is to know about the variety pinot noir.  Cellar 5 – 20 + years.  GK 07/06

2003  Greenhough Pinot Noir Hope Vineyard   18 ½ +  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  14%;  $43   [ screwcap ]
Ruby,  a little carmine and velvet,  a rich pinot noir.  Bouquet is magical,  with deep boronia-like florals and other dusky flowers on red and black cherry fruit,  clean,  pure and fragrantly varietal,  oak near-invisible,  no artefact sideshows.  Palate is crisp flavoursome cherry,  at a perfect point of ripeness,  avoiding plumminess,  beautifully aromatic,  the florals continuing through the flavour.  Classical world-class pinot noir,  one of New Zealand's finest examples of the grape yet.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 09/06

2005  Felton Road Pinot Noir   18 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $45   [ screwcap;  2005 a low-crop year;  not much wine info on website;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Ruby and velvet,  a fine big pinot colour.  Bouquet is soft,  rich and deeply floral,  excitingly varietal pinot noir,   in a deep rich phase.  Palate melds the dark roses and violets of the bouquet into black cherry,  blackboy and fragrant dark plum fruits,  with a magical texture which is 'crunchy',  as in fine burgundy (by analogy with perfect cherries).  And the florals continue in the palate.  This is marvellous pinot noir in a slightly fleshy style,  neither too oaky or too alcoholic,  which will build bouquet and become more sophisticated on palate as it fines down and matures in bottle.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 09/06

2002  Rousseau Clos de la Roche   18 ½ +  ()
Morey-St Denis Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $170   [ cork; 30 – 35 hl/ha (1.5 – 1.8 t/ac);  10% whole-bunch,  c. 15 day cuvaison in s/s;  MLF and up 22 months in French oak 25% new;  Coates: Good colour.  Lovely opulent, rich, gently oaky nose. This has splendid depth, class, harmony and vigour. Long and very promising. Very fine. From 2010;  Parker / Rovani:  90 – 92;  www.domaine-rousseau.com ]
Ruby,  not quite as deep as the Beze,  but the hue brighter,  less oak affected.  This wine takes a little longer to open than the Beze,  a trace of retained fermentation odours,  but finally reveals pinot noir beauty nearly as explicit as that wine,  and in the sense there is less new oak (later confirmed from website),  arguably even more varietal – darkest rose and boronia florals,  pinpoint varietal.  Palate is as rich as the Beze,  seemingly more succulent with less oak,  long and lingering exquisite dark cherry fruit,  very beautiful.  Neither of these two are big wines,  in the contemporary sense of that term.  Cellar 5 – 20 + years.  GK 07/06

2003  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir Prima Donna   18 ½ +  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $ –    [ screwcap;  hand-picked,  a low-cropping year;  c. 21 – 24 days cuvaison;  18 months in French oak c. 30% new (but since Prima Donna is a barrel selection within the Pegasus Bay wine,  the ratio of new oak may be higher);  www.pegasusbay.com ]
Ruby,  a little velvet,  a fine deep pinot noir colour,  much fresher than the standard 2003 Pegasus Pinot Noir.  This is a big and youthful wine on bouquet,  and freshly poured the volume of aroma and berry reminds of a fragrant Chateauneuf du Pape such as Charvin – not at all a bad thing to be compared with,  but scary in pinot.  But decant the wine and let it breathe,  and dusky florals suggesting boronia,  violets and darkest roses emerge,  on black cherry and bottled dark plums fruit,  plus a hint of bacon.  It is a pity about these high alcohols in some top New Zealand pinots,  but this is exciting wine,  big – yes,  but on the right side of the line for florals,  finesse,  aromatics and complexity.  Palate is very attractive,  truly velvety,  no other words for it,  all the descriptors you read about in grand cru burgundy,  plus – the florals can be tasted,  giving a lovely lift.  And the oaking is beautifully subtle,  more matching (for example) the Felton standard wine,  rather than the Block versions.  This is potentially one of New Zealand's finest pinots thus far.  It is a great step forward in the evolution of both Prima Donna and Pegasus Bay pinot more generally,  earlier vintages having been at times ponderous,  putting richness before varietal beauty.  Cellar 5 – 12 years,  maybe longer.  GK 07/06

2005  Wooing Tree Pinot Noir   18 ½ +  ()
Cromwell,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $35   [ screwcap;  cold-soak 5 – 7 days;  11 months in French oak 35% new including MLF in barrel;  www.wooingtree.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  deep for pinot noir.  Bouquet is magical,  essence of Cote de Nuits pinot,  with a deep boronia florals and dark roses note,  wonderfully enveloping.  Below this is gorgeous black cherry fruit,  full-flavoured yet not weighty,  unduly plummy,  or over-ripe.  Palate shows great concentration of fruit,  superb aromatics on the black cherry,  perfect acid,  subtle oak,  and great length in mouth.  This wine immediately steps into the top rank of Otago pinots.  See 2005 Delta Pinot Noir.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 11/06

2003  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir Prima Donna   18 ½ +  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $70   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  7 days cold-soak,  no whole bunch,  wild yeast;  18 months in French oak 30% new including MLF the following spring;  www.pegasusbay.com ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  colour at a maximum for rich pinot,  one of the deepest.  Bouquet is sweet and enticing,  elusively floral in a very dark way,  bottled dark plums more than black cherries,  but nonetheless marvellously pinot noir.  It is a little sur maturité alongside the Hope,  and thus has lost some vibrancy and floral lift on bouquet.  Palate however is marvellous,  both intensely rich yet supremely light and burgundian,  lingering wonderfully,  redolent of the variety.  The rich fruit does conceal a fair load of ripe tannins,  boding well for cellaring.  The whole wine is richer and more ample than the Hope,  but not quite so vividly varietal.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 09/06

2002  Rousseau Chambertin   18 ½ +  ()
Gevrey Chambertin Grand Cru,  Cotes de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $308   [ cork;  30 – 35 hl/ha (1.5 – 1.8 t/ac);  10% whole-bunch,  c. 15 day cuvaison in s/s;  MLF and up 22 months in French oak 100% new;  Coates: This is even more impressive than the Clos de Beze. Brilliant on the nose. Totally complete. Full-bodied, rich, backward and quite splendid on the palate. Excellent grip as well, and, if possible, even more depth and superior fruit. A really brilliant wine. From 2015;  Parker / Rovani:  94 – 96;  www.domaine-rousseau.com ]
Ruby,  lightened by more evident oak exposure,  below midway.  Bouquet shows intensely floral berry skewed by the vanillin of much new oak,  so the floral component comes across almost as freesia or similar.  Actual berry specific character is hidden by the oak,  at this stage.  Palate has a richness and power to it which is impressive,  but the beauty of the variety is not yet so apparent in this wine as in the Clos de Beze.  In its richness and length of fruit on palate,  and a delectable suggestion of Portobello mushrooms,  I suspect 10 years down the track,  this will be the most explicit and impressive of the three.  The texture on palate promises great future pleasure.  Cellar 10 – 25 + years.  GK 07/06

2003  Escarpment Pinot Noir Kupe   18 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $60   [ cork;  hand-harvested;  100% de-stemmed;  5 days cold-soak,  fermented in oak,  elevage 13 months in 50% new French oak;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Glowing rich ruby,  a little lighter than the Greenhough.  Initially opened the wine is reticent.  It really demands splashy decanting into a wide decanter or jug.  As it breathes lovely cherry fruit becomes apparent,  not as floral as the Hope nor is rich and ripe as the Prima Donna,  but beautifully ripe.  Palate is where this wine picks up speed,  revealing qualities which should become apparent on bouquet one day.  Fruit is red and black cherry beautifully integrated with oak,  with serious tannins for good ageing potential.  This will be an exciting bottle to have around in 5 – 10 years,  the oak being more subtle than the 1998 Martinborough Vineyards Reserve (also made by McKenna).  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 09/06

2002  Rousseau Clos St Jacques   18 ½  ()
Gevrey Chambertin Premier Cru,  Cotes de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $242   [ cork;  30 – 35 hl/ha (1.5 – 1.8 t/ac);  10% whole-bunch,  c. 15 day cuvaison in s/s;  MLF and up 22 months in French oak 100% new;  Coates: rather more closed-in on the nose. But the palate is very concentrated. Some tannin. Lots and lots of depth. Very good grip. This is a lot less advanced but it is very fine indeed. The wine goes on for ever in the mouth. Great class. From 2012;  Parker / Rovani:  92 – 94;  www.domaine-rousseau.com ]
Ruby,  identical to the Chambertin.  Bouquet is reserved at first,  midway between the Beze and le Chambertin in terms of the depth of oaking,  and at this stage the oak is tending to dominate.  With plenty of air,  quiet floral components and red and black cherries appear.  Palate is pure crisp cherry,  the fruit weight not quite as impressive as the Chambertin or Beze,  the acid fractionally higher.  But the cherry flavours and varietal beauty are still delightful.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 07/06

2004  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Reserve   18 ½  ()
Awatere & Wairau Valleys,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $52   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  100% de-stemmed,  cold-soak up to 14 days;  11 months and MLF in French oak 40 – 50% new;  www.villamaria.co.nz ]
Beautiful pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is sensationally floral,  running the full gamut from red roses to boronia and violets,  plus also some of the lighter floral fractions such as buddleia.  Below are cherry and small fruits,  exquisitely pure.  Palate is first and foremost subtle,  crystalline-pure pinot fruit which at first sight seems simple red and black cherries,  slightly leafy.  In mouth however the fruit expands,  to produce layers of velvety texture on the later palate,  all gorgeously aromatic in the way good Cote de Nuits wines are.  It is still a little fresh in its acid balance,  which nibbles away at the texture slightly,  yet it freshens the wine – some of our pinots are too heavy.  But stylewise,  this could be good Gevrey-Chambertin premier cru wine,  loosely speaking.  Presumably the slightly cooler-district Awatere fruit is adding distinction to the wine,  and deepening the balance of flavours from buddleia / blackboy to boronia / black cherry cues.  If this trend can be augmented,  enriched,  and softened on palate just a little,  Marlborough will really be consistently producing world-class pinots.  Remedying the combination of high alcohol and high acid,  coupled with the retaining of a slightly leafy / stalky thread,  is really the key viticultural issue facing Marlborough pinot.  This Villa Reserve will cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 06/06

2004  Pisa Range Pinot Noir Black Poplar Block   18 +  ()
Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  12 months in French oak 33% new;  www.pisarangeestate.co.nz ]
Beautiful pinot noir ruby,  an ideal maximum depth of colour.  This is understated wine,  the bouquet not having built up much yet.  But already one can see deep florals reminiscent of violets and dark buddleia,  on appealing black cherry fruit.  It is in the mouth that this wine really comes into its own,  with a richness of highly varietal fruit which is layered on the tongue,  in oak a little more subtle than the 2003.  This will be marvellous pinot in 12 months time,  probably scoring more highly.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 05/06

2005  Sleeping Dogs Pinot Noir   18 +  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.4%;  $31   [ screwcap ]
Red cherry pinot,  somewhat lighter and older than most,  but attractive.  Bouquet is the triumph on this wine,  with superb florals defining pinot noir:  buddleia,  boronia,  and dark roses,  some daphne too.  Below is cherry fruit.  Palate is crisp and fresh,  a little more acid and leaner than the Felton,  but dramatically pure and varietal.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 09/06

2005  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 3   18  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $55   [ screwcap;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Good ruby,  just a shade lighter than the standard Felton.  Bouquet on this one is deeply floral as for the mainstream Felton,  but slightly more aromatic on the oak handling,  beautiful.  Palate is leaner and crisper,  understated at this early stage,  so it seems slightly acid and stalky alongside the fleshier standard wine.  This really needs a couple of years to mellow.  It may overtake the slightly more acid Sleeping Dogs in three years time – at least for those liking a burlier pinot style,  and will cellar for 5 – 12 years.  GK 09/06

2004  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5   18  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $60   [ screwcap;  18% whole-bunch in fermentation,  wild yeast;  11 months in French oak 30% new,  followed by 6 months in old oak;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Deep pinot noir ruby,  about the maximum desirable.  Bouquet is deeply red fruits,  with dark florals hinting at boronia,  but it is hard to dig them out from the spicy (five spice) oak overlay,  at this youthful stage.  The wine is clearly pinot noir,  though.  Palate is rich and round and very plummy,  almost to a fault,  which coupled with the overt spicy oak gives a burly granular quality to the wine,  making one think of subtle rich soft Australian interpretations of shiraz.  Acid balance is firm.  A blend of this nearly sur-maturite wine with the Villa Reserve is finer than either.  Roll on the Penfolds multi-regional approach to fine pinot,  in New Zealand.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 06/06

2005  Peregrine Pinot Noir   18  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $39   [ screwcap;  the winery describes the season as characterised by small berries and small bunches,  giving concentrated fruit characters;  10 months in French oak;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  deeper than the two Felton wines,  big for pinot noir.  Initially opened,  this is a deeper,  darker pinot bouquet,  lacking the beautiful floral excitement of the top wines.  Decanted and well breathed however,  it opens up to reveal attractively floral,  deep boronia-like and darkest rose aromas,  on red and black cherry fruit,  quite compelling.  Palate carries the florals into a well-fleshed cherry palate,  a little more succulent than the Gravitas,  but like it,  still tannic.  It is rich,  quite oaky,  good acid,  with plenty of components to develop on.  This will be an exciting bottle to cellar,  and should be scoring higher in a couple of year’s time.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 09/06

2003  Pisa Range Pinot Noir Black Poplar Block   18  ()
Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  12 months in French oak 33% new;  www.pisarangeestate.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  a little older and lighter than the 2004.  Bouquet is more developed in this wine,  but lighter in style,  with clear rose florals as well as buddleia,  on red and black cherry fruit,  plus some blackboy peach aromas too.  Palate is fine New Zealand pinot noir,  supple,  long,  aromatic on the oak,  not quite as rich as the 2004 but more flavour at this stage.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 05/06

2005  Carrick Pinot Noir   18  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $38   [ screwcap;  2005 not yet released or on website,  see 2004;  www.carrick.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  deep for pinot noir.  Bouquet is wonderfully varietal,  in the dark boronia and deep red rose and violets sweetly-fruited style that bespeaks fine Otago pinot noir.  Palate is dark fruits,  black cherries and some blackboy,  still unknit and youthful,  not quite the concentration the bouquet promises,  maybe.  The great thing in this wine is capturing the smells and flavours of full physiological maturity at 13.5% alcohol.  This could well score higher in 18 months.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 11/06

2004  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Rutherford Single Vineyard   18  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $57   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  www.villamaria.co.nz ]
Big pinot noir ruby,  a hint of velvet,  but still OK for pinot.  Great to see Villa retreating from their black pinots.  Initially opened,  there is an intriguing hint of farmyard complexity,  which breathes off with normal decanting.  Bouquet becomes wonderfully varietal,  showing complex boronia and dark rose florals let down slightly by this near-ubiquitous (in Marlborough and Martinborough) New Zealand hint of pennyroyal.  Below are red and black cherries.  Palate shows exact black cherry crispness and aromatics,  better acid balance than the Reserve,  with good texture neither too alcoholic or oak-affected,  and no obvious sur-maturité.  But against admittedly top French yardsticks,  there is the slightest leafy quality entwined with the cherries.  Considering the company this wine is being seen in,  this is an exciting outcome for a New Zealand pinot,  the moreso since it comes from Marlborough.  This district has until recently been struggling to capture the essence of the variety.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 07/06

2002  Rousseau Ruchottes-Chambertin   18  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru,  Cotes de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $206   [ cork;  30 – 35 hl/ha (1.5 – 1.8 t/ac);  10% whole-bunch,  c. 15 day cuvaison in s/s;  MLF and up 22 months in French oak 25% new;  Coates: Even more impressive on the nose. Profound, rich, full, concentrated and elegant. Very pure and very virile. Fullish body on the palate. Excellent balance. Gently oaky. Very long. A very lovely wine. Very fine plus. From 2011;  Parker / Rovani:  89 – 92;  www.domaine-rousseau.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  the average of the Rousseaus.  This wine stands out a little in the bunch,  with a very floral and fragrant bouquet pitched at a lighter level than the top wines:  buddleia as opposed to boronia and violets.  This is a quality of bouquet evident in many good but not top New Zealand pinots.  Palate is crisp red cherries,  subtle oak,  some succulence and weight,  thoroughly attractive burgundy in the lighter,  fragrant,  more typically Rousseau style.  Cellar 3 – 15 years.  GK 07/06

2005  Dog Point Pinot Noir   18  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $39   [ cork;  all de-stemmed,  up to 8 days cold-soak,  wild yeast;  18 months in French oak 50% new;  www.dogpoint.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is quiet,  showing an aromatic edge hinting at pennyroyal,  but stopping short of that,  with some dark florals,  all on attractive cherry-like fruit.  Palate is pure,  still the thought of mint,  real mixed cherry flavours,  attractively balanced to potentially cedary oak.  This wine is so understated,  that it initially ranks merely in the middle.  But in terms of total pinot noir style,  flavour,  appropriate acid balance,  and complexity and charm in the mouth,  one gradually comes to realise that it is lovely.  It could be rated higher than the more outspoken Villa Maria wines or the Felton Block versions.  Tasting them again in three years would be fascinating.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 06/06

2002  Rousseau Mazis-Chambertin   17 ½ +  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru,  Cotes de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $151   [ cork; 30 – 35 hl/ha (1.5 – 1.8 t/ac);  10% whole-bunch,  c. 15 day cuvaison in s/s;  MLF and up 22 months in older French oak;  Coates: Rather more virile. Altogether more depth and concentration. Lovely fruit. Very good grip. This is fullish bodied, long and complex and very lovely. Fine plus. From 2009;  Parker / Rovani:  87 – 89;  www.domaine-rousseau.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  the average of the Rousseaus.  This wine is explicitly varietal,  not quite as lightly floral as the Ruchottes,  instead a little deeper and more aromatic,  on red and black cherry.  Palate however is lighter,  appealing aromatics on good cherry fruit,  very subtly oaked.  This is attractive as far as it goes,  but is not inspiring compared with the top wines.  Cellar 3 – 15 years.  GK 07/06

2004  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir   17 ½ +  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $44   [ screwcap;  hand-picked,  hand-sorted,  wild yeast fermentation,  c. 21 – 24 days cuvaison;  18 months in French oak c. 40% new;  www.pegasusbay.com ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is beautifully floral in a buddleia and roses style,  a little deeper than buddleia actually,  with attractive red and black fruits below – very clear pinot noir.  Palate is crunchy cherry,  both red and black fruits,  lighter and crisper than the ‘03 Prima Donna,  but with similar varietal conviction about it.  Aftertaste is delightful,  lingering pinot noir,  attractive.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 07/06

2004  Greenhough Pinot Noir Hope Vineyard   17 ½ +  ()
Waimea Plains,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  14%;  $39   [ screwcap;  vines 11 – 25 years old;  100% de-stemmed,  cold maceration,  12 months in French oak 24% new including some large ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is initially a bit reticent (that is not a euphemism for reductive) and understated,  hinting at cherries and blackboy fruit.  Palate opens the wine up considerably,  with good rich blackboy flavours showing a black cherry component,  when compared with the Neudorf.  This may ultimately be the more interesting wine of the two,  if the bouquet develops pro rata to the palate.  Acid balance and palate weight are good,  potentially aromatic.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 06/06

2004  Quartz Reef Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Cromwell,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $41   [ screwcap;  100% de-stemmed,  up to 8 days cold-soak;  11 months in French oak 24% new;  www.quartzreef.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  below midway in depth.  This is another reticent bouquet,  smelling and tasting very much as if the wine has been held on yeast lees in barrel,  to fatten it,  in the manner of Leoville Lascases (to jump fences for a moment).  Below however is clear cherry fruit,  even though florals are lacking.  Palate is much more attractive,  with a red cherry and Volnay-like fruit and mouthfeel,  which is distinctly burgundian,  on slightly fresh acid.  This is potentially attractive wine,  which needs three years or so in cellar to show its best.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 06/06

2005  Delta Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Waihopai Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $20   [ cork;  5 days cold soak;  40% of the wine in French oak,  60% s/s;  a new vineyard,  winemaker Matt Thomson,  producing pinots under the Delta Vineyards (off the flats) and more expensive Hatter's Hills labels;  www.deltawines.co.nz ]
Good ruby.  Bouquet is voluminous,  very floral at a buddleia / almost sweet-pea level more superficial than fine pinot,  but impressive.  Berry notes include blackboy and raspberry,  as well as some plum.  On palate,  mixed ripeness is evident.  The whole winestyle is more beaujolais / gamay noir than fine burgundy / pinot noir,  with suggestions of maceration carbonique,  but that said,  it is good cru beaujolais.  Mouthfeel has that exact lush yet crunchy supple fruit character,  yet with faintly stalky qualities too as in good beaujolais,  and the finish is simple berry,  perhaps not bone dry.  This is good in its style,  but it was wayward to choose it as the Champion and Trophy Pinot in the recent Air New Zealand judging.  Such a choice suggests a lack of familiarity with cru burgundy,  and the difference between beaujolais and burgundy.  The Wooing Tree is a much finer and more classical pinot,  whether from France,  Oregon or New Zealand.  Cellar the Delta 3 – 8 years.  GK 11/06

2003  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $44   [ screwcap;  hand-picked,  a low-cropping year;  wild yeast fermentation,  c. 21 – 24 days cuvaison;  18 months in French oak c. 30% new;  www.pegasusbay.com ]
Older ruby,  markedly older than the 2003 Prima Donna.  And in bouquet and style,  though it is equally as varietal as the Reserve wine,  this is much older,  with clear savoury notes on the nearly floral berry,  even a hint bacony,  with a touch of brett.  Palate is very burgundian,  the savoury complexity adding some Cote de Nuits aromatics to the wine.  This is already drinking very well,  and is great with food.  Cellar 3 – 10 years,  for there is a risk of it drying on the tail (re the brett).  GK 07/06

2005  Ata Rangi Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $60   [ screwcap;  some vines now up to 26 years old;  2005 low-yielding quality vintage;  5 – 8 days cold-soak,  10% whole berry,  cuvaison to 22 days,  12 months and MLF in French oak 25% new;  www.atarangi.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  marginally the deepest of the bracket,  and deep for pinot noir.  Initially opened,  bouquet is very youthful and slightly disorganised.  Decanted and breathed,  there is the tell-tale pennyroyal aromatic of Martinborough,  on daphne florals and red fruits,  clearly varietal.  Palate is rich,  ripe and juicy,  a little stalk to marry away,  in a plumper style than some recent Ata Rangis,  more aromatic than the Richardson.  This should cellar well,  5 – 12 years.  GK 09/06

2005  Felton Road Pinot Noir Cornish Point   17 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  no specific info on website;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Classic pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet on this wine is quite simply gorgeous,  a textbook illustration of the floral component pinot needs to be beautiful and varietal.  Palate is lighter and simpler than the bouquet promises,  with fresh acid and less oak complexity than the big brother Feltons,  but it is still good pinot noir.  Unfortunately it is no longer bargain-priced.  In the blind tasting,  the wine showed a pennyroyal complexity on bouquet that made me think it from Martinborough – intriguing.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 09/06

2005  Gravitas Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $32   [ supercritical cork;  hand-harvested;  cuvaison up to 20 days,  up to 12 months in French oak;  www.gravitaswines.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  full.  Bouquet is big pinot noir in the blind tasting,  showing quiet rose and violets florals on black cherry fruit,  inviting.  Palate is rich,  with good cherry flavour and dark plum,  still firm and tannic at this stage,  all a bit big.  I look forward to seeing this with three years mellowing.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 07/06

2004  Neudorf Pinot Noir Moutere   17 ½  ()
Moutere Hills,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  14.3%;  $54   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  100% destemmed,  cold-soak,  wild yeast,  cuvaison up to 32 days;  11 months and MLF in French oak 40% new;  un-filtered;  www.neudorf.co.nz ]
Light pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet on this wine is a perfect expression of the buddleia / blackboy style of pinot,  light and floral and fragrant.  Palate has an intriguing middle-palate weight,  suggesting lees-autolysis in barrel,  which promotes the wine up the ranks considerably,  even though the flavour remains in the blackboy / red cherry camp,  slightly acid.  This is a good expression of a warmer-climate pinot style than Otago,  which in warmer places again,  lapses into the strawberry pinots more commonly encountered in Hawkes Bay and much of Australia.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 06/06

2005  Saddleback Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Central Otago 81% & Marlborough 19%,  New Zealand:  13%;  $21   [ screwcap;  9 months in French oak;  a Peregrine label;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  not too different from the main Peregrine wine.  This second wine of Peregrine is remarkably comparable to the Cornish Point second wine of Felton Road,  and the two of them show just how far Otago pinot noir has come.  This wine has a boronia floral component to the bouquet,  with a citrus edge,  plus cherry fruit.  Palate is slightly more acid than the Cornish,  but it is richer too.  The quality offered at the price by this wine is remarkable.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  VALUE.  GK 09/06

2002  Rousseau Charmes-Chambertin   17 ½  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru,  Cotes de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $151   [ cork;  30 – 35 hl/ha (1.5 – 1.8 t/ac);  10% whole-bunch,  c. 15 day cuvaison in s/s;  MLF and up 22 months in older French oak;  Coates: This has a little less depth and grip. Charming and very stylish but a touch slight. Merely very good. From 2007;  Parker / Rovani:  88 – 89;  www.domaine-rousseau.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  about the average of the Rousseaus.  The style of this wine is virtually identical to the Mazis-Chambertin,  except there is a fragrant and savoury whisper of brett in the bouquet,  and the palate is fractionally lighter again.  Cellar 3 – 12 years.  GK 07/06

2005  Te Mania Pinot Noir Reserve   17 ½  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $28   [ supercritical cork;  hand-picked @ 2 t/ac;  cold-soak 7 days;  10 days post-fermentation cuvaison;  10 months in French oak 40% new;  www.temaniawines.co.nz ]
Good ruby,  a suggestion of velvet,  exactly the same weight as the 2004 Carrick,  but slightly older.  Bouquet is exciting,  with a tremendous floral nose that is almost dianthus / Northern Rhone,  and as soon as one thinks of that,  there seems a hint of cracked pepper too.  Palate has good red and black cherry fruit,  but at this stage some phenolics exacerbated by relatively more new oak than some wines.  As the wine mellows,  it is going to be a vibrant presentation of pinot noir,  which will be good with food,  and could score higher,  despite the touch of Rhone syrah about it.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 11/06

2004  TerraVin Pinot Noir ‘T’ Hillside Selection   17 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $55   [ screwcap;  6 clones,  with a variety of winemaking methods to ‘explore’ the site;  wild yeast fermentation,  high percentage whole-berry;  cuvaison varying to 28 days;  French oak;  neither fined nor filtered;  www.terravin.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  fractionally lighter than the standard TerraVin wine.  Bouquet is floral,  fragrant and gamey,  showing a lot of European style including some brett.  The florals are dark and mysterious,  boronia-like,  and below the brett there are black cherry fruits as well as red.  Palate has a similar burgundian texture to the 2004 Black Poplar,  the fruits a notch darker if anything.  With attention to the cooperage,  this could be one of Marlborough's most exciting pinot noirs.  Cellar 5 – 10 years,  though it will dry on the brett.  GK 05/06

2004  TerraVin Pinot Noir ‘T’   17 +  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  7 clones,  with a variety of winemaking methods to ‘explore’ the site;  wild yeast fermentation,  high percentage whole-berry;  extended cuvaison;  French oak;  neither fined nor filtered;  www.terravin.co.nz ]
Colour is deep pinot noir ruby,  about as deep as pinot needs to be.  Bouquet on the standard TerraVin is a little lighter than the Hillside,  a little less darkly varietal,  and perhaps more bretty,  making it also European in style.  Palate likewise is savoury / gamey on mixed cherry fruits,  with less weight of fruit and more drying on the finish from the higher brett.  Some would score it much lower,  on this factor.  It is clearly varietal,  and good food wine.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 05/06

2004  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Taylors Pass Individual Vineyard   17 +  ()
Awatere Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $57   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  100% de-stemmed,  cold-soak up to 14 days;  11 months and MLF in French oak 20% new;  www.villamaria.co.nz ]
Full pinot noir ruby,  a shade older than the Villa Reserve wine,  one of the deeper.  Bouquet is a simpler more robust kind of pinot on this wine,  with clear floral components suggesting buddleia and lilac (and pennyroyal),  on slightly stewed plummy fruit and a hint of smoked fish.  Palate is more the blackboy pinot flavour,  fleshy,  yet a little acid and stalky too,  needing time to mellow in bottle.  Plenty of fruit richness,  to cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 06/06

2005  Wycroft Pinot Noir Old River Terrace   17 +  ()
Matahiwi 67% and Martinborough 33%,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $37   [ screwcap;  the Matahiwi vines planted @ 8000 / ha;  100% de-stemmed,  3 days cold-soak,  11 days cuvaison;  9 months in French oak 33% new,  not fined or filtered;  www.pinotnoirnz.com ]
Colour is good youthful pinot noir ruby of classical weight.  Bouquet is a pleasure,  showing none of the stalkyness that has characterised Gladstone / Northern Wairarapa pinots in recent years,  instead suggesting carefully ripened physiologically mature pinot noir cropped at a rate appropriate to achieve these clear red and black cherry qualities,  with even some daphne florals.  Palate likewise is unequivocally pinot noir,  attractive and not obtrusive acid,  black as well as red cherry,  subtly oaked,  scarcely a leafy thought,  beautifully balanced.  [ At the time of writing these notes,  I was unaware there is Martinborough-sourced material in the wine,  which may well explain the delightful ripeness. ]  This is an exciting debut wine.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 09/06

2003  Te Kairanga Pinot Noir Reserve   17 +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $51   [ cork;  small crop due to frost,  all pinot in ’03 considered to be of Reserve quality;  www.tekairanga.co.nz ]
Older ruby,  quite rich for pinot.  Bouquet is very fragrant and clearly varietal and floral pinot noir,   though in the floral component is both a suggestion of leafiness and excessive oak.  There is also a light savoury component,  adding complexity.  Palate is fragrant,  winey,  with attractive varietal fruit including cherry suggestions,  good length,  pleasing low alcohol,  all just a little oaky.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 08/06

2004  Daniel Schuster [ Pinot Noir ] Omihi Hills Selection   17 +  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14%;  $56   [ cork;  vines 20 years old,  hand-harvested;  5 day cold-soak;  15 months in French oak 30% new;  www.danielschusterwines.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  in the middle for depth,  older than most as if more oak-influenced.  The volume of bouquet on this wine is great,  with exciting aromatics straight out of the Cote de Nuits,  from a more traditional producer.  As well as cherry fruit with a suggestion of whole-berries fermentation fragrance,  and clear violets florals,  there is spicy oak suggesting nutmeg,  which is characteristic of this winemaker.  Palate is floral in mouth,  clearly spicy,  highly varietal and winey (with a hint of brett).  But the wine is also a little acid and stalky,  which lowers the score.  Cellar 3 – 8 years,  maybe more.  GK 06/06

2002  Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin les Cazetiers   17 +  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru,  Cotes de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $125   [ cork;  30 – 35 hl/ha (1.5 – 1.8 t/ac);  10% whole-bunch,  c. 15 day cuvaison in s/s;  MLF and up 22 months in older French oak;  Coates: A bit more colour. A bit more weight. Very good grip and depth. Very lovely, succulent fruit again. Laid-back. Vigorous. Fresh and very complex. Fine quality. From 2004;  Parker / Rovani:  86 – 88;  www.domaine-rousseau.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  lighter than the average.  This Rousseau was a little out of line with the rest,  the bouquet being a little reductive and slightly bretty (at academic levels),  but reminding of the characters so much burgundy used to show – let's call it farmyard.  It quickly breathed off to fragrant red cherry pinot,  with about as much berryfruit as the Charmes-Chambertin.  Cellar 3 – 12 years.  GK 07/06

2005  Richardson Pinot Noir   17 +  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $50   [ screwcap;  the label lately established by the high-profile Michelle Richardson,  formerly chief winemaker at Villa Maria;  hand-harvested,  cold soak,  small part whole-bunch,  MLF following spring the burgundy way,  French oak 40% new,  less than 12  months;  fined with organic eggs ! ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  one of the deepest,  pretty well the maximum for pinot noir colour.  Bouquet is rich,  but deeper and more massive than the Felton or Peregrine wines,  scarcely hinting at the beautiful florals good pinot demands.  Oaking is subtle,  and the wine could be a subtle merlot –  there is a suggestion of violets.  Palate is bottled black doris plums,  rich and concentrated,  with quite a lot of good oak.  In the blind tasting this wine comes across as a little heavy and ponderous,  much like the earlier pinots Richardson made at Villa Maria.  In 5 years time it may have fined down to something more elegant,  and it will cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 09/06

2004  Main Divide Pinot Noir Selection   17 +  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $29   [ screwcap;  the Selection label is Waipara fruit only,  including bought-in;  wild yeast fermentation;  18 months in French oak including MLF;  Main Divide is a kind of second or more commercial label for Pegasus Bay,  sometimes offering exceptional quality for the price;  www.maindivide.co.nz ]
Ruby,  fractionally deeper than the Marlborough wines.  Bouquet is understated on this pinot,  but there are floral notes of a deeper and more boronia-like and intriguing quality,  on red fruits.  Palate is clearly red and black cherry,  fresh,  crunchy,  markedly richer and plumper than the Marlborough wines.  Aftertaste is firm in youth,  beautifully clean,  the whole wine a model New Zealand pinot noir of medium weight.  This should improve markedly over a couple of years,  and cellar 5 – 12.  GK 07/06

2004  Peregrine Pinot Noir   17  ()
Cromwell,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $39   [ screwcap;  100% de-stemmed,  up to 7 days cold-soak;  10 months in French oak 40% new;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Big pinot noir ruby,  some velvet,  getting dark for quality pinot.  This is a difficult wine to write up in a French-dominated tasting,  being a mix of varietal and overt New Zealand characters.  On the plus side,  the bouquet is deeply floral with suggestions of boronia,  on black cherry fruit.  But it is also spirity,  and even on bouquet,  one wonders about stalkyness – despite the massive alcohol.  On palate,  in this company,  the wine is both weighty and stalky,  with noticeable acid,  and an aggressive flavour awkwardly combining the flavours of both over-ripe and under-ripe grapes,  losing the concept of what pinot should be about.  There is plenty of concentration,  and good purity,  but a lack of vinosity or charm at this stage.  So it is not burgundian:  rather it is very much new world pinot noir.  Be worth cellaring though,  to see if in 10 years time this wine has mellowed out,  and shows more finesse.  It may well.  2004 was not an ideal season in Central Otago.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 07/06

2002  Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin   17  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin,  Cotes de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $94   [ cork;  Coates: Medium to medium-full weight. Soft and stylish. Full of fruit. Balanced and elegant. Long and subtle. Lovely finish. Very good indeed for what it is. From 2007;  www.domaine-rousseau.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  the darkest of the Rousseaus.  This wine exemplifies a message that is only slowly getting through to some New Zealand pinot producers.  In Burgundy,  depth of colour is often inversely correlated with quality – quite the opposite of the supermarket sense of values.  Bouquet is clean and very correct in a reticent way,  with an almost floral fragrance on clear cherry fruit.  Palate is leaner and more aromatic than the classed growths,  however,  but the flavour is still explicitly cherry-varietal.  This is good village wine,  but one worries at paying $94 for it.  It will cellar 5 – 12 years,  and mellow attractively.  GK 07/06

2005  Saint Clair Pinot Noir Pioneer Block 5   17  ()
Brancott district,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $29   [ screwcap;  clone 10/5 mostly;  4 – 5 days cold soak,  some wild yeast;  MLF and 9 months in French oak some new;  www.saintclair.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  one of the deeper wines,  about the maximum for pinot noir.  Benefits from decanting,  to reveal a rich and deep bouquet,  but not so deep as to obscure suggestions of a dark boronia-like floral component,  on black cherry fruit.  Palate is rich,  fine-grained,  concentrated,  the kind of weight thus far more usually associated with Otago,  but heavier.  Flavours are black cherry and dark plum,  carefully oaked.  At this stage the wine is youthful and massive,  borderline for the charm and subtlety pinot noir needs  – but there is a lot in the components to like.  As it fines down in cellar,  this wine could surprise.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 06/06

2005  Sileni Pinot Noir EV ( = Exceptional Vintage )   17  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $80   [ cork;  not on website;  www.sileni.co.nz ]
Classic pinot noir cherry red.  This is an interesting wine,  not exactly showing immediate varietal or floral character on bouquet,  but nonetheless displaying finesse and style.  It could be based on either pinot noir or syrah (in a Cote Rotie sense).  Palate suggests the secret of this wine is concentrated fruit offering great mouthfeel,  perhaps even a barrel-ferment component,  in superb oak with subtle cedary qualities,  all sensitively assembled.  It is more a beautifully ripe red wine than a beautiful pinot,  but in five years time with food it will be a delight.  This is one of the best pinot noirs out of Hawkes Bay so far,  but for this district on the northern rim of quality pinot in New Zealand,  the pricing is ambitious.  New plantings in the elevated and in places calcareous country to the south of Hawkes Bay must arouse interest in the future for this variety in the broader district.  Cellar 5 – 10 years,  perhaps to surprise.  GK 09/06

2005  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir Picnic   17  ()
Central Otago & Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $24   [ screwcap;  www.twopaddocks.co.nz ]
Ruby,  minutely deeper than the 2004 Last Chance.  Bouquet is sweetly floral,  in a buddleia style,  with mixed red and black cherry fruit,  seemingly more alcohol than the given 13%.  Palate is softer,  riper,  less oaked and more easy-going than the more serious wine,  but with lovely pinot flavours bespeaking a riper year than the 2004 examples.  It is almost as if there were 3 g/L residual sugar to soften it.  This is attractive ‘picnic’ pinot,  as 'burgundian' as the 2005 RedMetal Merlot / Cabernet (seen alongside) is bordeaux-like.  Cellar 3 – 6 years.  GK 11/06

2005  Babich Pinot Noir Winemakers Reserve   17  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $29   [ cork;  10% whole-bunch fermentation,  13 months French oak some new;  www.babichwines.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some velvet,  big for pinot noir.  Bouquet is richly blackboy peach,  with light buddleia-like florals,  and some under-pinning bottled plum,  all slightly stewed / over-ripe.  Palate has plenty of berry and fruit,  a little more oak than the bouquet suggests,  and flavours combining bottled blackboys and dark plums.  Finish goes a little oaky / spirity.  A new style for Babich pinot,  as if both over-ripe and saignée.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 11/06

2004  Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir   17  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $38   [ screwcap;  100% de-stemmed,  several days cold-soak,  wild yeast;  15 months in French oak 50% new;  www.cloudybay.co.nz ]
Classic pinot noir ruby,  just below midway in depth.  Bouquet is a little pinched at this stage,  slightly veiled red cherry and varietal fruit,  with an interesting cedary note from the oak.  Palate fattens the impression,  with red cherry fruit,  the tendency to acid so many of these 2004 wines show,  understated yet clearly varietal.  Cloudy Bay pinot has much better palate weight nowadays,  so cellar 5 – 10 years,  though that acid may become more prominent as the berry dries.  GK 06/06

2004  Carrick Pinot Noir   17  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $38   [ screwcap;  pre-ferment cold soak 5 days, 70% wild yeast,  whole bunch 15 – 20%,  c. 9 months in French oak c. 30% new;  www.carrick.co.nz ]
Good ruby,  a hint of carmine and velvet.  This wine does not open quite as sweetly as the 2005,  but with breathing,  buddleia and lilac florals emerge,  offset by a touch of stalks too.  There is good cherry fruit,  but as much red as black,  and the whole wine is a little stalky,  the degree of physiological maturity achieved being less than the 2005.  It is still explicitly varietal and attractively balanced pinot noir,  and the two wines make a neat study in degrees of physiological maturity achieved in the vineyard,  according to season.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 11/06

2004  Margrain Pinot Noir River’s Edge   17  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $24   [ cork;  intended for early drinking;  11 months in French oak;  www.margrainvineyard.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is soft,  sweet,  and floral and varietal in a way that makes it clearly pinot noir.  There are suggestions of boronia flowers,  and then red cherry and blackboy fruit.  Palate is clean,  fresh,  the faintest hint of stalks,  and subtly oaked,  not quite as rich as the TerraVin wines,  but much cleaner in the cooperage.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 05/06

2004  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Pipeclay Terrace Single Vineyard   17  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $71   [ screwcap;  20% whole-bunch,  up to 6 days cold-soak;  90% wild yeast;  12 months in French oak 36% new;  www.mtdifficulty.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet on this wine is clearly in the plummy camp,  bigger altogether,  almost juicy.  Palate continues that thought,  young plum and cherry / berry flavours,  slightly spicy oak,  quite rich and well-balanced,  but not much integration and complexity,  a little raw as yet.  Needs several years in cellar to marry up and develop bouquet.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 06/06

2004  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir First Paddock   16 ½ +  ()
Gibbston Valley,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $40   [ screwcap;  cold soak and extended cuvaison to 4 weeks with wild yeast;  11 months in French oak 37% new;  www.twopaddocks.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  one of the lightest.  Bouquet is beautifully floral suggesting roses,  on light fragrant red fruits such as strawberry and red cherry,  for all the world like a Beaune village wine.  Flavours are similar but a little stalky and acid,  carefully oaked,  all clearly in style for a cooler year.  There is not the ripeness and richness of the delightful 2003 though.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 09/06

2004  Ata Rangi Pinot Noir   16 ½ +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $65   [ screwcap;  includes vines more than 20 years old;  up to 10% whole bunch;  up to 8 days cold-soak;  12 months and MLF in French oak 25% new;  www.atarangi.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is skewed by an overt pennyroyal character,  which is nearly euc'y (or even lawsoniana),  on red fruits again in a warmer climate pinot style.  Palate is richer than the Martinborough Vineyard,  plenty of red cherry,  redcurrant and perhaps strawberry fruit,  but with this minty thought all the way through.  Drinking this makes one feel the need to check exactly what is growing around these vineyards,  because something is seriously getting into the wine.  Otherwise,  fragrant easy pinot in a red fruits style,  which should cellar well.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 06/06

2004  Foxes Island Pinot Noir   16 ½ +  ()
Wairau and Awatere Valleys,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  long cold-soak,  then fermented in both oak and s/s;  14 months in tight-grained French oak 50% new;  bottled unfiltered @ RS 2.5 g/L;  www.foxes-island.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  one of the lighter,  and older than most.  This wine is rather like the Sileni,  with evidence of quality oak as apparent as the varietal fruit.  Palate is clearly red cherry,  but with an interesting barrel-ferment-like character,  almost like red chardonnay with the texture to match.  Finish is cedary oak as much as fruit,  slightly buttery (+ve – the chardonnay thought),  appealing,  burgundian in style,  but lacking a little in varietal precision.  Good food wine.  Cellar 3 – 6 years.  GK 09/06

2004  Maude Pinot Noir   16 ½ +  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $37   [ screwcap;  not Mount Maude;  website under development;  www.maudewines.com ]
Good ruby.  This is an understated wine alongside the Tiwaiwaka,  but there are neat florals inclining to boronia and depth,  on delicately black cherry fruit.  Palate has precise pinot noir varietal character,  the oak still to marry in,  all smaller scale than the Martinborough wine,  but attractive.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 11/06

2005  Tiwaiwaka Pinot Noir   16 ½ +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14.1%;  $38   [ supercritical 'cork' ]
Ruby,  a suggestion of carmine and velvet,  big for pinot noir.  Bouquet is rich and ripe and clearly varietal,  with buddleia florals on black cherry and dark plum fruit,  plus slightly smoky / spicy oak.  Palate brings up a somewhat stewed character in the fruit,  but the flavours continue rich,  youthful and  reasonably varietal.  Some marrying-up with the oak is needed.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 11/06

2004  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Marlborough Cellar Selection   16 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $32   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested,  up to 10 days cold-soak,  c 9 months in French oak 40% new,  and MLF in barrel;  www.villamaria.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is light and fragrant,  with florals concentrated in the buddleia spectrum,  rather than deeper notes.  Below is clean blackboy and cherry fruit.  In mouth there is youthful berry on a firm stalky backbone made more angular by alcohol and excess acid,  so the palate is not texturally ideal for pinot noir.  Nonetheless the wine is clearly varietal in this lighter floral style of relatively warmer climates,  and should mellow in cellar 3 – 8  years.  GK 06/06

2004  Ostler Pinot Noir Caroline’s   16 ½  ()
Waitaki Valley,  North Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $45   [ screwcap;  south of river;  calcareous SPMs;  www.ostlerwine.co.nz ]
Light pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is fragrant and clearly varietal,  with a suggestion of buddleia florals,  in fruit which combines red cherries,  red plums and a slightly less appealing note of raspberry essence.  Palate is red cherry varietal,  some blackboy,  no great concentration but attractive flavours,  slightly on the fresh and stalky side of mouth-filling,  but interesting.  Be good to see how this new district with its promising geology and climate evolves,  as the vines mature.  There certainly is the prospect of micro-sites much warmer than south Canterbury.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 05/06

2004  Te Kairanga Pinot Noir Runholder   16 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $30   [ cork;  www.tekairanga.co.nz ]
Ruby.  Bouquet is fragrant pure red cherry pinot noir,  some florals,  pleasing.  Palate is pinot in the red cherry and blackboy style,  good light varietal quality,  fragrant,  a better ratio of oak to fruit than the ‘03 Reserve,  but a lighter wine.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 08/06

2004  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir The Last Chance   16 ½  ()
Alexandra,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  some whole bunch,  cold soak and extended cuvaison to 4 weeks with wild yeast;  11 months in French oak 30% new;  www.twopaddocks.com ]
Cherry red,  a little deeper than the First Paddock.  Bouquet is more red fruits,  less floral than the sister wine.  Palate is firm red cherry,  with a suggestion of hardness like under-ripe red plums,  a little more concentrated than the First Paddock,  not as concentrated the ’04 Carrick,  needing to mellow in bottle a couple of years.  Like the First Paddock,  this too is remarkably akin to a minor Beaune or thereabouts wine,  in a cooler year.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 09/06

2005  Auntsfield Pinot Noir Hawk Hill   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  up to 80% whole-berry;  10 days cold-soak,  c. 9 months in French oak 33% new;  www.auntsfield.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  big for pinot noir.  This is very much a new world pinot noir,  with big blackboy and plummy fruit,  and obvious oak and alcohol – but still recognisably varietal.  Palate is soft and richly blackboy peach and cherry,  fleshy,  oaky,  needing to fine down.  Worth cellaring,  to see if it does,  but expensive.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 11/06

2004  Mountford Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14%;  $59   [ cork;  vines 6 – 15 years old,  hand-harvested;  7 day cold-soak;  15 months in French oak 35% new,  on lees with batonnage ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby,  older than many.  Bouquet opens modestly,  vaguely red fruits and some cardboard,  a slight hint of burnt custard presumably from vanillin oak.  This needs a splashy decanting.  Thus treated,  palate is much better,  a soft style of pinot noir like modest village Beaune,  red fruits and cherries,  some richness and texture,  markedly richer than the Martinborough,  easy drinking.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 06/06

2004  Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:   – %;  $62   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested from vines up to 25 years old;  10% whole bunch,  up to 8 days cold soak,  c. 3 weeks cuvaison with wild yeast;  10 months and MLF in French oak;  www.martinborough-vineyard.com ]
Colour-wise,  this Martinborough,  which is so light by New Zealand pinot noir standards,  was only fractionally below the average of the Rousseaus.  And in its fragrant buddleia florals and red cherry fruit,  it is a pretty wine on bouquet,  close to the Ruchottes.  As is often the case with New Zealand reds,  and not only pinot,  light florals on bouquet can betray a leafiness on palate,  as here in the red fruits,  and acid is a bit high,  counterbalanced by a finish which is not as dry as the Rousseaus – perhaps 3 g/L.  But there is no doubting the wine is burgundian, and 2004 was not an easy vintage in Martinborough,  exacerbated here perhaps by a higher than optimal cropping rate.  Cellar 3 – 6 years.  GK 07/06

2004  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $41   [ screwcap;  some whole-bunch,  up to 7 days cold-soak;  90% wild yeast;  11 months in French oak 30% new;  www.mtdifficulty.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  in the middle for depth.  Initially opened,  this wine is a little defective on bouquet,  and needs a good splashy decanting.  It breathes up to simple red fruits.  Palate is straightforward pinot,  slightly raisiny red cherries,  better mouthfeel than the Martinborough,  but rougher on the oak.  This will be better in a couple of years,  with mellowing.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 06/06

2004  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Roaring Meg   16 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $27   [ screwcap;  all de-stemmed,  5 days cold-soak,  11 days cuvaison,  9 months and MLF in barrel;  www.mtdifficulty.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is clean fragrant relatively simple pinot noir,  with some floral suggestions in blackboy peach and cherry.  Palate is relatively light,  fruity,  seemingly almost a hint of residual sugar (not so in specs),  acid to balance,  clear-cut light pinot in an earlier-maturing popular style.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 07/06

2004  Wild Earth Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $34   [ cork;  hand-picked from vineyards @ Felton Road and Lowburn;  wild yeast ferment;  10 months in French oak one third new;  consultant winemaker Dean Shaw;  www.wildearthwines.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  This wine benefits from vigorous decanting,  to reveal straightforward quite fragrant pinot berry,  with indeterminate floral components.  Palate shows red and black cherry,  suggestions of farmyard complexity,  fair fruit,  slightly fresh acid balance,  still a little clumsy and needing a year to marry up.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 07/06

2005  Saint Clair Pinot Noir Pioneer Block 4   16 ½  ()
Ure Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $29   [ screwcap;  Dijon clones;  4 – 5 days cold soak,  MLF and 9 months in French oak some new;  www.saintclair.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  too big for quality pinot noir.  Bouquet confirms,  with intense berry characters suggesting syrah,  as if the wine were double-skinned or otherwise had the skins to juice ratio increased – on inquiry,  not the case.  But well breathed,  in its opaque darkly plummy intensity there are suggestions of dark floral qualities,  in a peppery way.  Palate is more bottled plum than cherry,  weighty,  the suggestion of prunes pointing to sur maturité,  yet,  again,  there are pinot qualities hiding underneath.  Given 5 years or so to fine down and lose some tannin,  this may score higher.  Pinot noir is about more subtlety than these Saint Clairs so far show.  Meanwhile,  it will appeal to those who confuse darkness in pinot with quality.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 06/06

2005  Soma Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $26   [ screwcap;  first release from the winery of Steve Gill (formerly Asst. Winemaker,  Dry River) and Sally Albrecht (winemaker,  Kaimira Estate,  previously Burnt Spur),  both with Burgundy experience;  fruit cropped between 1 and 2 t/ac;  matured in one-year old French oak ]
Pinot noir ruby.  This is another wine which,  initially opened,  seems a little disorganised,  as if recently bottled.  Well breathed,  it displays pleasant lightish red fruits,  which on palate combine redcurrants and red plums,  not quite the excitement of cherry.   Balance and oaking are subtle and in style.  This should look better after another year in bottle,  and will cellar for 3 – 6 years.  GK 09/06

2004  Dry River Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $81   [ cork;  includes vines up to 28 years old;  22% whole bunch;  up to 10 days cold-soak;  12 months in French oak 20% new;  www.dryriver.co.nz ]
Very deep ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  dubious for pinot noir.  Bouquet is distinctive in the set of 20 wines,  darkly bottled omega plums with over-ripe pruney notes too – but they are best moist prunes.  There is also a maceration carbonique suggestion (which the background notes confirm),  making one think of cru beaujolais in a good ripe year,  but the total impression is all a bit porty.  Palate is very fleshy,  the pruney sur maturité character obtrusive,  true to the established Dry River style,  but not pinot noir as I seek it,  or Burgundy is known for.  Interesting wine though,  always a talking point,  for different reasons rather like the Danny Schuster – in the sense their wines are very distinctive,  and each style has its devotees.  The skinny (in comparison) Martinborough Vineyard is more refreshing to drink,  but the Dry River is the more satisfying as a big red.  Hence two wildly differing wines carrying much the same score.  Needless to say a blend of the two is very pleasant !   Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 06/06

2005  Seven Terraces Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $24   [ screwcap;  a Foxes Island label,  but not on the website ]
Cherry red,  a lovely pinot colour,  fresher than the parent Foxes Island.  Bouquet is more clearly varietal than the Foxes Island too,  with an attractive floral lift on red cherry and red fruits.  Palate is however crisp,  shorter and fresher and less oak-influenced than the main wine,  in one sense more varietal,  but less stylish.  Cellar 3 – 5 + years.  GK 09/06

2005  Gibbston Highgate Pinot Noir Soul-taker   16 +  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $33   [ screwcap;  no detail on website;  www.gibbstonhighgate.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is sweetly floral,  at a buddleia point of depth and complexity,  in mixed cherry fruit.  Palate is noticeably acid at this stage,  with red cherry and plum flavours,  clearly varietal and serious,  but the acid is a worry.  There is not quite the fruit richness to cover it,  I suspect.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 07/06

2005  Nanny Goat Vineyard Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
Gibbston,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $30   [ screwcap ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  big for pinot.  This is another pinot that has plenty of interest,  but doesn't quite capture the heartbeat of the variety.  Bouquet has components of blueberries,  pepper and herbes,  and palate is roundly plummy,  a little cherry,  good richness but at this stage almost lacking in complexity,  as if scarcely any oak.  There are some awkward flavours,  as if some of the fruit were over-ripe,  and some under-ripe,  all finishing a little sour.  Should marry up and develop better complexity in bottle.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 08/06

2004  Pyramid Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir Eaton Family Vineyard   16 +  ()
Omaka Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.2%;  $44   [ screwcap;  2 t/ac,  hand-picked;  cold-soak to 1 week,  cuvaison to 4 weeks;  18 months in French oak 36% new;  ‘organic’ viticulture / winemaking as much as possible;  www.pyramidvalley.co.nz ]
Ruby,  older.  Bouquet is understated and complex,  showing some cherry fruit,  some herbes,  a touch of brett,  and oak.  Palate is clearly varietal,  and quite European in one sense,  but the second mouthful is not as good as the first,  a stalky thought creeping up into the cherry.  Cellar 3 – 8 years,  but expensive.  GK 11/06

2004  Staete Landt Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $36   [ cork;  4 clones hand-picked @ < 2 t/ac;  7 days cold soak,  up to 25 days cuvaison following,  MLF and LA in French oak 25% new for c. 11  months;  RS < 2 g/L;  www.staetelandt.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Initially opened,  bouquet is a little varnishy.  It clears to a red fruits and blackboy peach bouquet,  not as floral as the Villa Cellar Selection wine.  Palate however is similar to that wine,  red cherry fruit clearly varietal,  again a stalky or even peppery phenolic component which is intrusive,  but the Staete Landt might be slightly richer and the total acid slightly lower.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 06/06

2004  Terrace Heights Estate Pinot Noir THE   16 +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $25   [ screwcap;  hand-picked,  French oak ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is light,  clean,  straightforward pinot noir hinting at red cherries.  Palate confirms the wine is pinot,  clear cherry fruit,  a suggestion of acid and stalks,  older oak,  all pleasingly balanced.  Good to see Marlborough pinots achieving these firmer cherry fruit flavours.  Cellar 3 – 6 years.  GK 05/06

2004  Main Divide Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14%;  $21   [ screwcap;  Waipara and Waimakariri fruit in 2004,  mostly bought-in;  an early-drinking style;  French oak;  www.maindivide.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  clearly a little redder and fresher than the Waipara Selection version.  This is a simpler wine,  still clearly pinot noir,  but with less floral complexity,  and clean reddish berryfruit.  Palate shows pleasant red fruit flavours,  all a little less ripe and concentrated than the Selection wine,  and slightly more stalky.  This is straightforward but still serious pinot,  in an affordable price range.   Cellar 3 – 6 years.  GK 07/06

2005  Stoneleigh Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $19   [ screwcap;  cold-soak 5 – 6 days,  MLF and 9 months in French oak;  RS < 2 g/L;  www.stoneleigh.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  good.  Bouquet is clearly fragrant and varietal,  delightfully floral in a light buddleia style,  on red fruits.  Palate is not quite as good,  the fruit in the lighter blackboy and some red cherries level of flavour,  a little acid and leafy in the traditional Marlborough style,  which doesn't go with food as well as the rounder wines.  It is very clean,  and should mellow attractively,  and cellar 3 – 6 years.  GK 07/06

2004  Saint Clair Pinot Noir Doctors Creek Reserve   16  ()
Brancott district mostly,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $24   [ screwcap;  Dijon clones;  4 – 5 days cold soak,  some wild yeast;  MLF and 12 months on lees in French oak 30% new;  www.saintclair.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is sweetly floral in this pinot,  in the buddleia spectrum,  but berry richness to complement the florals seems lacking.  And the palate is indeed a little stalky and acid,  confirming this is the exaggerated bouquet of relative under-ripeness.  Clearly varietal,  though.  Cellar 3 – 8 years,  in its lighter fragrant style.  GK 06/06

2004  Saint Clair Pinot Noir Omaka Reserve   16  ()
Brancott district,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $29   [ screwcap;  4 – 5 days cold soak,  some wild yeast;  MLF and 11 months on lees in French oak some new;  www.saintclair.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet benefits from decanting,  to show slightly leafy pinot noir florals at the buddleia / lilac level,  with good cherry and blackboy fruit below.  Palate is tending light,  red fruits,  oak in balance,  a little acid,  but clearly varietal,  lingering on fair cherry ripeness and concentration.  Cellar 3 – 6 years.  GK 06/06

2004  Earth’s End Pinot Noir   16  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $26   [ screwcap;  a Mount Edward label;  www.mountedward.com ]
Pinot noir ruby.  A light bouquet,  ripe fruits suggesting red plums and cherries,  with slightly varnishy or older oak.  Palate is not quite so attractive,  the fruit a little acid and the oak continuing a little varnishy.  Flavours are ripe though,  and this will be pleasant food wine.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 05/06

2004  Escarpment Pinot Noir   16  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $43   [ supercritical cork;  5% whole bunch;  2 – 3 days cold-soak;  12 months in French oak 30% new;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  middling in depth.  This wine opened unattractively,  farmyard going on a farty character.  Vigorous decanting is needed to dissipate this,  but in the sense that that practice is almost unknown in restaurants,  and elsewhere,  and certainly never entails pouring the wine from jug to jug maybe 10 times,  from as great a height as one can confidently manage,  scores in a review like this have to reflect how the wine opens.  Below,  there is good fruit,  showing more depth of cherry and some black cherry compared with the Martinborough Vineyard and the Ata Rangi,  and hence potentially greater quality.  Would be worth cellaring a few 5 – 10 years,  and hoping it grows out of the pong,  for it is not severe in the sense of complexed H2S.  The base wine is well ahead of the other three Martinborough wines in this review,  in terms of underlying varietal quality and balance.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 06/06

2005  Koura Bay Pinot Noir Whalesback   16  ()
Awatere Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $24   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  MLF and 4 months on lees in French oak,  with batonnage:  RS 4 g/L;  www.kourabaywines.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is fragrant in a leafy way,  with suggestions of red currants and raspberry,  but all tending simple and one-dimensional,  with a hint of retained fermentation odours.  Best decanted splashily.  Palate is aromatic on the red fruits,  tending stalky / peppery and beetrooty,  carefully oaked and the acid attractively balanced to the residual sugar,  but not quite capturing the magic of good pinot.  More QDR than cellaring pinot,  though will mellow over several years.  GK 06/06

2003  Domaine Jaquiery Pinot Noir   16  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $39   [ screwcap;  pinot noir only wine made;  11 months French oak;  www.domainejaquiery.co.nz ]
Older ruby.  Bouquet is a wilder style of pinot,  clearly varietal,  but also clearly bretty,  like some bourgogne rouges.  Palate mixes suggestions of boronia and dark florals with cherry fruit and savoury / gamey notes,  rather European,  and old-fashioned on the brett.  Will be drunk with pleasure,  though,  except for the price.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 11/06

2003  Olssen’s Pinot Noir Jackson Barry   15 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $40   [ 2 + 2 cork;  hand-picked;  whole-berry cold soak 5 days,  14 – 17 days cuvaison,  MLF and 10 months in French oak 33% new;  www.olssens.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet on this wine is quite full,  but tending flat,  a little baked or oxidised,  with the fruit smelling a bit leathery and stewed.  Palate is broadly in style for pinot noir,  and is quite rich,  but apart from a brown mushroom character it tastes much the same as the impressions on bouquet.  Sturdy straightforward pinot,  if this bottle is representative,  unlikely to improve much in cellar,  though it will hold 5 – 10 years.  Alternatively,  this laminated cork may have provided an imperfect seal,  and this bottle is in fact somewhat oxidised.  GK 06/06

2003  Bald Hills Pinot Noir   15 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $37   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  11 months in French oak 40 – 45% new;  www.baldhills.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is lightly fragrant and varietal in a simple slightly strawberry way,  as if (in the blind tasting) the wine were from Hawkes Bay.  Palate doesn't quite fit though,  lacking berry appeal,  with stalky and slightly old-oaky flavours,  finishing acid.  In style,  but evolutionary.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 08/06

2004  Wither Hills Pinot Noir   15 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $47   [ screwcap;  100% de-stemmed,  up to 10 days cold-soak,  14 months in French oak 40% new;  www.witherhills.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  one of the lighter,  seemingly more oak-affected than most.  This is an old-fashioned winestyle,  showing both some oxidation characters at some stage,  and then opening reductive.  Splashy decanting cleans it up,  but also shows the prematurely aged component.  Palate has good red cherry fruit,  with toasty oak quite noticeable.  The nett result is recognisably varietal,  and it drinks quite well,  once decanted.  Dubious in terms of total achievement,  however,  or for cellaring 3 – 8 years.  GK 06/06

2004  Te Kairanga Pinot Noir Martinborough   15 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $20   [ cork;  www.tekairanga.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  lightish.  This is pinot noir clearly in a Martinborough style,  with a clear pennyroyal lift nearly strong enough to hint at eucalyptus,  detracting.  Behind are red fruits and a floral component,  all lightly varietal.  Palate is pleasant but light QDR pinot,  tending stalky and short.  Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 08/06

2004  Framingham Pinot Noir   15 +  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $28   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  5 – 8 days cold-soak,  short cuvaison;  9 months and MLF in barrel;  www.framingham.co.nz ]
Rosy pinot noir ruby,  the lightest of the bracket.  Bouquet is simple pinot in the strawberry and redcurrant spectrum,  almost as if it were from a warmer climate.  Palate is crisp,  almost bitey, with a peppery phenolic / stalky streak,  again in simple red fruits.  More a light QDR than varietal,  but it will cellar for several years,  and soften.  GK 09/06

2003  Waitiri Creek Pinot Noir   15 +  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $33   [ screwcap;  www.waitiricreek.co.nz ]
Older pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is clean,  with a fragrant component hovering between leafy and floral,  on red fruits.  Palate points to the leafy side of the equation,  showing crisp,  red-only fruits with some underlying acid and stalkyness,  but still pleasantly varietal in a short way.  Lacks phenolic maturity / ripeness.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 07/06

2004  Forrest Pinot Noir John Forrest Collection   15  ()
Waitaki Valley,  North Otago,  New Zealand:  14.2%;  $50   [ screwcap;  south of river;  calcareous SPMs;  www.johnforrest.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot ruby.  Bouquet shows a lot of pinot character,  but in a simple strawberry and leafy floral style.  In the blind tasting it looks remarkably comparable with where Marlborough pinot noir used to be.  Palate has weak fruit with some blackboy,  but also a stalky and distinctly acid mid to late mouth-feel,  not at all flattering.  Straightforward pinot to cellar 2 – 5 years,  in the hope the acid may soften.  GK 05/06

2004  Mills Reef Pinot Noir Reserve   15  ()
Gimblett Gravels,  Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  14%;  $18   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  9 months in French oak with LA and batonnage;  www.millsreef.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is completely in the warm climate strawberry style of pinot noir,  and fragrant,  along with light VA and a little brett.  Palate shows good fruit,  but it is one-dimensional in flavour,  slightly leafy,  and with the oak creeping up a little.  Useful food wine as QDR pinot,  attractively priced,  but not a good style of pinot noir.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 05/06

2004  Surveyor Thomson Pinot Noir   15  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $33   [ cork;  11 months in French oak 33% new;  second vintage;  www.surveyorthomson.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet shows light red fruits made plainer by slightly grubby oak,  but all clearly pinot.  Palate develops the red cherry side,  but is very acid which draws attention to a stalky component.  Might be hard to drink several glasses of this now,  but it should mellow in cellar 3 – 6 years.  GK 06/06

2004  Kaituna Valley Pinot Noir Canterbury   14 ½ +  ()
Kaituna Valley,  Banks Peninsula,  Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $44   [ screwcap;  some vines 27 + years old,  hand-harvested;  up to 7-day cold-soak;  up to 15 months in French oak 35% new ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  the colour of McLaren Vale Shiraz,  inappropriate.  Bouquet bears no relation to pinot noir as an international concept,  being euc'y,  porty,  dense red wine,  Australian in style.  Palate tastes as if the wine is double-skinned,  and while attractive as massive red wine along the lines the colour suggests,  as pinot it is over-ripe,  beyond sur-maturité to raisiny and dense,  non-varietal,  and in this tasting is out of class,  and scored accordingly.  It will cellar for many years,  in its style,  10 – 20 + probably.  GK 06/06

2004  Coopers Creek Pinot Noir Reserve   14 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $28   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  13 months in French oak;  Reserve a barrel selection;  gold medal @ International Cool Climate Wine Show 2006;  www.cooperscreek.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  not a natural pinot noir colour.  Bouquet is not varietal,  but is clean soft round red,  vaguely plummy.  Palate is more informative,  with clear pinot flavours ranging from dark cherry to dark plums,  but all in a velvety fat tending porty context,  implying double-skinning or similar.  Oak is low,  and the style is old Australian ‘burgundy’,  soft finish.  It could equally be made from blauburger.  A stalky note creeps into the late palate.  A created wine,  I suspect,  not illustrating the variety appropriately.  Cellar 5 – 8 years,  in its style.  GK 05/06

2004  Waiwera Estate Pinot Noir   14 ½  ()
Golden Bay,  NW Nelson,  New Zealand:  12.9%;  $27   [ screwcap;  vineyard totally on Motupipi limestone;  French oak some new c. 10 months;  website not yet functional;  www.waiwera-estate.co.nz ]
Attractive cherry red,  a lovely pinot colour.  Bouquet initially opened is tending estery and unstable,  as if recently bottled,  with underlying red fruits.  Breathed,  it develops better red berry but with a curious malt whisky character,  presumably barrel-related,  which detracts.  On palate the actual fruit ripeness,  acid balance,  and texture are good,  but the flavour is still hidden.  Needs another year in bottle,  to marry up [and since drafting,  I understand the wine has been withdrawn from sale until next summer].  I presented a glowing report on this wine January 2006,  explicitly tagged as from a barrel sample.  The assembled and bottled wine does not yet reflect that,  but hopes must be high,  for the vintage was exceptional and the calcareous site can only be described as magical.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 09/06

2003  Richmond Plains Pinot Noir Reserve   14 ½  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13%;  $26   [ screwcap;  an organic winery;  website not yet functional;  www.organicwines.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is quite strong,  and clearly varietal,  with some buddleia florals,  but it is also the fragrance of leafy under-ripe fruit,  more red currants than red cherries.  Palate confirms,  a reasonable concentration of leafy fruit,  all tending acid and not ripe enough to be good pinot.  Pleasant enough QDR (price aside) which would cellar for several years.  GK 07/06

2004  3 Terraces Pinot Noir   14 ½  ()
Masterton,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $30   [ screwcap;  10 months French oak;  vineyard name is shown as 3 Terraces on the label,  and more info is retrievable searching for that,  rather than Three ]
Pale drab pinot noir ruby.  This wine is varietal and fragrant in the style of some of the Schuster Canterbury pinots,  but not for the right reasons.  There is a strong leafy more than floral component,  on slightly varnishy old oak.  On palate it does not have the fruit ripeness to carry the stalky and slightly peppery flavours.  In an under-ripe way it is in style,  however,  and could be acceptable QDR pinot,  at half the price.  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 05/06

2003  Earth’s End Pinot Noir   14  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $26   [ cork;  no info on website;  a Mount Edward label ;  www.mountedward.com ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  not a pinot colour.  And bouquet is not a pinot bouquet,  being porty and concocted,  more like Australian shiraz.  Palate is rich in one sense,  as if double-skinned,  with plenty of skin tannins,  and subtle oak.  It is possible this could fine down in bottle,  once the tannins crust on the glass.  Meanwhile,  it is perfectly pleasant and wholesome big QDR,  but not good pinot.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 05/06

2004  Richmond Plains Pinot Noir   14  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13%;  $21   [ screwcap;  an organic winery;  website not yet functional;  www.organicwines.co.nz ]
Light pinot noir ruby.  A rosé-weight pinot noir,  showing sweetpea and buddleia florals,  on faint red currants and strawberry-like aromas.  Palate is similar,  perfectly pleasant and varietal in an under-ripe,  leafy / stalky and acid QDR pinot style,  and with a little less oak than the Reserve.  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 07/06

2005  Pohangina Valley Estate Pinot Noir   13 ½  ()
Pohangina Valley,  Manawatu,  New Zealand:  11.5%;  $35   [ supercritical cork;  14 months in French oak;  www.yellow.co.nz/site/pohanginavalleyestate ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  not a pinot colour.  The level of VA is unacceptable,  and the wine appears double-skinned or otherwise dubious.  There is good rich plummy fruit in there,  in its style,  but whether varietal or not,  cannot easily be told.  Over-all,  an improvement on the ’04,  but not worth cellaring.  GK 08/06

2004  Belmonte Pinot Noir   13 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ screwcap;  a near-organic vineyard within the John Forrest group of vineyards,  info on Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand on www.forrest.co.nz ]
A pretty but light pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is watery,  stalky and dull,  and not quite clean,  like some MIA bulk wines.  Palate is red fruits and stalks,  tending acid,  old cooperage,  all giving a modest QDR pinot.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 05/06

2005  Lonely Mountain Pinot Noir   13  ()
Taupo,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $35   [ screwcap;  first vintage from a new pinot noir-only nearly 1 ha vineyard at Taupo;  hand-picked 7 May;  wine made in Hawkes Bay;  10 months in 40% new French oak;  140 cases;  a Wishart Estate label;  www.wishartwinery.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is non-varietal,  with various taints mingled with a bay-leaf-like character,  not attractive.  Palate has some redcurrant fruit,  but is acid and stalky,  with the bouquet taints continuing.  Ripeness is going to be critical at Taupo's elevation.  This edition not suited to cellaring.  GK 09/06

2004  Pohangina Valley Estate Pinot Noir   12 ½  ()
Pohangina Valley,  Manawatu,  New Zealand:  13%;  $35   [ 2 + 2 cork;  c. 10 months in French oak;  www.yellow.co.nz/site/pohanginavalleyestate ]
Quite big ruby,  good.  Initially opened,  bouquet is redolent of homebrew / fruit-wine / estery aromas,  and uncontrolled yeasts.  Palate was hard to assess at that stage,  the wine unstable.  Well breathed,  the fruit is reasonably varietal in a plummy way,  quite rich,  but tending acid and stalky,  finishing sour.  Bottled prematurely,  maybe,  or with residual sugar.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 08/06