Home
Page
Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
independent
analytical
non-commercial
Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.
PINOT NOIR 2010 SOME CONCLUSIONS ON PINOT NOIR IN NEW ZEALAND,  PLUS WINE REVIEWS


Geoff Kelly  MSc (Hons)


INTRODUCTION
During the Pinot Noir 2010 Conference,  1 4 February 2010,  Terry Dunleavy the Editor of the wine industry journal New Zealand WineGrower asked me to think about identifying my top 10 wines of the Conference,  a personal view,  and then discuss the future of pinot noir in New Zealand in relation to those wines.  The article came out more as thoughts on the Conference itself,  and the wines I thought best in Pinot Noir 2010,  coupled with my idea of the kind of pinot noir New Zealand can make.

The first part of this review was published in the April / May issue of New Zealand WineGrower,  in the first week of April.  It is reproduced here only slightly changed.  Since time for preparation of the original was short,  there has been a little reflection and fine-tuning since.  In particular,  this time I have not presented my top 10 as a rank order,  but in alphabetical order.  All these wines are in my view gold medal wines in terms of serious Australasian Show judging,  and any judging has an element of 'on-the-day' arbitrariness to it.  Similarly,  I have appended two runners-up also of gold medal standard unlucky not to be included I was asked for a top 10.  The article is presented under the title submitted.  It appeared with an Editorial introduction in WineGrower.

Following the article,  the remaining sections are new.  There is a review of the Formal Tastings sessions within the Conference proceedings,  and then a couple of Discussion thoughts.  The article concludes with 120 wine reviews,  presented in one rank order spanning both the formal Conference wines,  and some of those shown additionally in the winemakers' booths.  





First published in New Zealand WineGrower,  April / May 2010,  now revised slightly:
SOME CONCLUSIONS FROM PINOT NOIR 2010

Introduction
Pinot noir is on the ascendant in New Zealand.  With 4,702 hectares (15.1% of the national vineyard) planted in 2009,  it is now second only to sauvignon blanc,  having overtaken chardonnay in 2006.  This is an extraordinary turnaround in one generation,  say 20 years,  when the 199 hectares planted in 1989 ranked in eighth place.

In terms of quality,  fine New Zealand pinot noir is now generally recognised as being on a similar marking to Oregon,  and which is second to Burgundy is a matter for debate.  For more affordable pinots,  particularly in the European market,  New Zealand has overtaken Oregon.  Matthew Jukes (writing in Decanter,  Feb. 2010) considers: "New Zealand can rightly claim to make the best good value Pinot in the world ..."

Since the inaugural 2001 Pinot Noir Conference,  this three-yearly event has become one of the great wine festivals of the world,  according to our overseas visitors.  Or perhaps that should be wine and food festivals,  since the latter is becoming a major part of the event.  Pinot Noir 2010 attracted 483 delegates from 14 countries.  The scale of the exercise can be judged from the largest of the Formal Tastings,  where in one room 486 places were set with a total of 6318 Zerrutti Ultimo tasting glasses on pure white linen.  This was a splendid sight.  

The challenge the editor set me,  in reporting on Pinot Noir 2010,  was to identify my top 10 wines of the Conference,  and to discuss the future of New Zealand pinot noir in the light of these wines.

Key issues affecting the quality of New Zealand Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir 2010 did not achieve quite the depth of wine understanding that the 2007 Conference achieved,  notably in the contribution from the Australian Wine Research Institute that year,  and also some overseas winemakers.  This year the emphasis was more on marketing.  This report deals only with wine matters.

One issue that needs comment this year is the relative reluctance of the bevy of overseas wine people including wine critics to in fact offer punchy wine comment including criticism.  New Zealand WineGrowers invites leading overseas commentators to attend both Pinot Noir 2010,  and the associated Syrah,  Cabernet/Merlot and Aromatic Varieties conferences,  but substantive debate on some of the topics raised below,  which I see as being pivotal to the continuing evolution of our pinot noirs,  was lacking.

To my mind,  this is a dilemma,  and the nett result is out of politeness,  the wine industry is in fact losing something.  In 2010 it is essential that the New Zealand wine industry grows out of this craving to be told how good we are.  Other sectors of New Zealand creative life,  notably the performing arts and literature,  architecture and no doubt others,  left this 'colonial cringe' phase behind them some time ago.  

If the wine industry is to continue its growth trajectory,  it needs a creative component just as urgently as a technical one,  if our wines,  and pinot noir in particular,  are to grow in intrinsic beauty and interest.  The evolution of the Montana group of wine companies,  now Pernod-Ricard,  in New Zealand illustrates this necessary enhancement and diversification to perfection.  There,  the various newly-created apparently stand-alone winery sub-labels plus regional diversification allow winemakers within the group to in effect compete amongst themselves,  as well as in the larger market.  Results have been spectacular.  Thoughtful outside evaluation and criticism is an essential part of that growth,  though some winemakers have difficulty with this concept.

Accordingly,  to a New Zealander,  the key issues Pinot Noir 2010 highlighted about our progress so far with pinot noir in this country are:

#  Our best pinot noirs are in truth burgundian,  in that they combine wonderful florality with ripe yet crisply fresh cherry flavours,  and a delicate,  sensuous,  yet satisfying texture in mouth.  Too many of our wines however lack body and concentration,  and therefore cannot display this desired textural quality.  Texture is a function of dry extract,  and dry extract is correlated with cropping rate.  Producers therefore must pay particular attention to the dry extract figure on their Export Certificates.  To achieve great pinot noir,  numbers approaching 30 g/L dry extract are necessary.  I use the concept 'grand cru cropping rate' to express this desirable textural quality.  

#  Too many of our pinot noirs lack the complex,  beautiful and satisfying smells and flavours of full physiological maturity.  Many display the spurious florality associated with under-ripeness / leafyness at best,  and in some cases carry through to stalky and even green flavours on palate.  In general,  it seems that viticultural regions without marked diurnal temperature fluctuation cannot produce the flavour precursors needed for sweet,  ripe floral aromas and berry flavours.  Good pinot noir epitomises cool-climate grape flavour complexity.

#  Likewise,  in seeking to avoid under-ripeness,  too many of our pinots display over-ripeness,  the sur-maturité and hints of berry-shrivel so disliked by perfectionist French winemakers.  Such wines are blackly plummy rather than cherry and blackboy peach in their fruit characters,  and all too often lack freshness,  florality,  and the vivacity and length on palate essential to great pinot.  Neither under-ripe or over-ripe wines have any hope of achieving that elusive quality of the greatest pinot noir,  the so-called 'peacock's tail' effect.  This taste sensation is a function of grape florality and perfume suffusing a satisfying palate (dry extract again),  so it is reprised in the aftertaste.

#  Too many wines show the mixed flavours of both under-ripeness and over-ripeness,  bespeaking inappropriate or insufficient viticultural care,  careless picking,  or later,  insufficient time in hand-sorting the fruit.  These are clumsy wines,  whereas fine pinot noir must be about beauty,  sensuality,  texture and elegance.  

#  Far too many wines show excess oaking.  Pinot noir is about subtlety,  and elevage must be designed to optimise both the floral component,  and the intriguing flavours of cherries and other fruits.  See the notes for the 2008 Martinborough wine,  below.  The 'New Zealand Pinot Noir Maturing Gracefully' Formal Tasting of 2003 wines highlighted the unsubtle use of oak

#  So it follows that higher alcohols work against optimal pinot noir beauty and delicacy.  The concept of florality on both bouquet and palate is a sensitive one,  needing tenderness in mouth,  not the bite of spirit.  Regrettably many of our appropriately flavour-ripe pinots are already 14% alcohol,  and every point above that detracts from the beauty of cool-climate winestyles.  Such alcohol levels are regarded as hot-year in Burgundy,  2003 for example,  but are not unknown.

#  Whether we like it or not,  France and Burgundy remain the spiritual home of pinot noir.  As a younger and more technically-informed generation of winemakers takes over there,  increasingly we are seeing that both technically and qualitatively,  Burgundy and burgundy the wine-style will for the foreseeable future remain the defining expression of pinot noir quality.  

#  All these points raise one further critical issue,  therefore:  too many of our wine people,  winemakers and wine-writers and commentators alike,  are simply not tasting enough great pinot noir.  If this were not the case,  we would not have been offered some of the wines presented in the Formal Tastings,  and we would be spared the fatuous praise too many New Zealand pinots receive in local media.  This problem inhibits our development as a producer of great pinot noir,  as opposed to being commercially successful with the variety.

If New Zealand is to continue on the growth and quality trajectory we have achieved so far with pinot noir,  the last thing we need is the kind of condescending praise of former times,  that:  New Zealand makes the best New Zealand Pinot in the world,  or:  Of course it's not Burgundy,  but it's very good.  Having thought about pinot in New Zealand since the pioneering Mission Reserve Pinot of the 1960s (in fact all Meunier),  and pinot noir from France since the 1964 vintage,  there is no doubt in my mind that we can make pinot noir in New Zealand which is truly burgundian in style.  That challenge must be accepted,  as an over-arching yet elusive goal.  Achieving great pinot noir expression is elusive in Burgundy,  after all !  

We have exactly the same dilemma with Syrah,  where patronising overseas wine-writers compare even our best wines with those of Crozes-Hermitage.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Our best Syrahs already speak of Cote Rotie,  Cornas and yes,  Hermitage itself.

Pinot Noir 2010: my Top 10 wines
In attending the sessions of Pinot Noir 2010,  and thinking about this article,  it quickly became clear that to secure a meaningful top 10 pinot noirs,  and draw appropriate lessons from them,  the scope of the review had to enlarge beyond the four Conference Formal Tastings,  and encompass as many as possible of the wines shown in the Producers' tastings.  These were styled as: '100 Great New Zealand Pinot Noir Producers',  and were excellent.  But with about 100 pre-2007 wines shown one day,  and then some hundreds of current wines shown (thankfully twice) later in the proceedings,  I could not critically taste them all.  My method of tasting differs from other New Zealand wine-writers.  It is described in a recent article on Waiheke Island wines,  on the website in the next paragraph.  I am physically limited to 60 samples a day.  I therefore regret I may have omitted some worthy candidates.  One winery refused supply.

My top 10 New Zealand pinots,  as shown in Pinot Noir 2010,  and the reasons why I think they contribute critically to the development of the variety in New Zealand,  are discussed below.  Unlike the WineGrower article,  they are here listed alphabetically.  Judging wine is too arbitrary a business,  on reflection,  and this approach is fairer.  For the same reason,  two additional wines are mentioned,  being unlucky to miss out on the day (and,  I was asked for a top 10).  All these wines are of gold medal standard (18.5 points or more) by Australasian judging standards,  when conservatively applied.  Note that such an 18.5 does not quite match Jancis Robinson's 18.5, but it is indicative.  The top 10 wines by definition reflect the best features of all wines,  so style-wise it is repetitive,  rather than illustrating the range of positive and negative attributes of pinot noir,  as discussed in this article.  Prices given are as at release some are no longer available (n/a).  More detail,  a discussion of the four Formal Tastings within Pinot Noir 2010,  and reviews for all 120-odd wines tasted,  will be available on:  www.geoffkellywinereviews.co.nz [ this article ].

2007 Bald Hills Pinot Noir Single Vineyard,  Central Otago,  $44  
Big pinot noir ruby,  above midway in depth,  not as youthful as some 2007s.  Bouquet is intensely floral,  leading into vibrant cherry fruit,  both red and black in hue.  A clue to the volume of bouquet is apparent in the slight suggestion of leafyness on palate,  but the total depth of varietal fruit is remarkable a lovely wine.  Cellar 2 7 years.

2006 Carrick Pinot Noir Excelsior,  Central Otago,  $85
Good pinot noir ruby,  right in the middle for depth of colour.  On bouquet this wine reminds a little of one of the Rousseau Grand Cru Chambertins,  where from the outset,  you can smell the new oak in the young wine,  yet there is the fruit to sustain it.  The balance of red fruits to black is delightful,  and as one studies the wine it is still complexly floral despite the oak.  Comparison of the oak component with the much more expensive 2006 Marie Zelie wine from Martinborough Vineyard is instructive,  the balance being better in Excelsior,  even though it is a lighter wine.  A key requirement in the development of New Zealand pinot noir is to first get the varietal expression right,  before striving to build longevity into the wine.  Carrick has achieved the former,  and this premium Excelsior wine tackles the second step.  It is an important step forward in building longevity into our New Zealand pinot noirs.  Cellar 3 8 years.

2007 Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5,  Central Otago,  $80,  n/a  
Good pinot noir ruby,  above midway in depth.  Bouquet defines the darker spectrum of pinot noir florals,  dark red roses and boronia,  leading to black cherry fruit.  There is a hint of Otago thyme (+ve).  Palate fulfils the promise of bouquet totally.  This wine stood out in the 'Great Pinot Noirs of the World' Formal Tasting as (at number five) the first to show any sense of the title's theme.  For many tasters,  it was the top wine of the bracket of ten.  On the New Zealand pinot landscape,  it is darker in its floral and fruit characters than might be ideal,  all black cherry,  just a hint of sur-maturité,  thus clearly representing the dark phase of Central Otago wines.  It is still fresh and tantalising,  though,  and lingers in mouth well,  the oak becoming noticeable.  Cellar 3 10 years.

2008 Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir,  Martinborough,  $58
Pinot noir ruby,  a very attractive middleweight colour.  This is one of the most important wines shown in the entire Conference.  It is so pure and simple it could easily be overlooked,  yet it captures the essence of pinot in the way a good Pommard does.  Unlike the same vineyard's prestige Marie Zelie,  which falls into the trap of 'Reserve' equals excess oak,  this wine charms with the absolute precision of its optimal fruit ripeness.  It illustrates good floral and varietal complexity,  red more than black cherry-fruit yet no leafyness,  gorgeous texture,  completely subordinated oak,  and no Martinborough mint.  Every New Zealand winemaker aspiring to make fine pinot noir needs a case of this wine to study,  and to watch simple but near-perfect pinot varietal expression change as it matures.  Cellar 3 8 years.

2007 Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Long Gully Single Vineyard,  Central Otago,  $90  
Pinot noir ruby,  in the middle for weight.  Bouquet is magnificent,  showing complete red roses and boronia florality,  on clear-cut red and black cherry fruit.  It tastes of red cherries as well as black,  and the oak frames its beauty,  without dominating the texture.  This wine confirms that New Zealand can not only make great pinot noir,  but totally burgundian ones too.  It is not too dark,  it achieves a near-perfect pitch of grape physiological maturity,  illustrating the key pinot noir requirements of freshness,  florality and ripeness.  There are reminders of the grand cru Clos de la Roche here,  rather than being obviously Central Otago wine lovely pinot noir.  Cellar 3 8 years.  

2007 Nautilus Pinot Noir Four Barriques,  Marlborough,  $60  
Big pinot noir ruby,  above midway in depth.  Bouquet is remarkable for Marlborough pinot noir.  It illustrates that in a district still characterised by incomplete pinots tending to excess florality and some leafyness,  and sometimes excess blackboy peach fruit,  achieving full physiological maturity with darker fruits as well as red is possible.  Florals include a hint of buddleia-like aromas,  but are centred on roses grading to suggestions of the boronia stage of physiological maturity.  Palate likewise grades from red fruits to black cherry,  and texture suggests a grand cru cropping rate.  In a district where pinot development thus far has been more quantitative than qualitative,  this wine is a key step forward for Marlborough.  It reflects vines grown largely on older terrace sites,  not young gravels.  As these higher-clay soils are explored in the Marlborough region,  there will be much more exciting,  complex and physiologically mature wines forthcoming an exciting prospect.  Cellar 3 10 years.

2005 Pisa Range Estate Pinot Noir Black Poplar Block,  Central Otago,  $40,  n/a
Pinot noir ruby,  some age showing.  Like the 2005 Waitiri Creek,  this Otago wine also shows that perfectly ripe pinot noir retains exciting roses and boronia florality as the wine matures.  Palate now displays delightful harmony,  the florality running into maturing cherry flavours spanning red and black fruits,  yet with good freshness and length.  This  Black Poplar vineyard has built up an enviable track record for consistency,  the wines usually being in the darker Otago style outlined for the Felton Road Block 5.  Cellar 2 5 years.  

2007 Valli Vineyards Pinot Noir Bannockburn Vineyard,  Central Otago,  $55
Big pinot noir ruby,  one of the deeper.  This wine illustrates the darker phase of Otago pinots.  There is sumptuous black cherry fruit on bouquet,  with a dusky florality centred on boronia,  but grading into the aroma of blackest plums in the sun.  Palate is wonderfully rich,  saturated,  tannic,  about as big as pinot can be and retain elegance.  It therefore represents about the outer limits of desirable ripeness in pinot noir,  if the wine is to retain florality,  freshness and varietal complexity.  Darker is not necessarily better,  in pinot noir.  Cellar 3 10 years.

2005 Waitiri Creek Pinot Noir,  Central Otago,  $40,  n/a  
Older pinot noir ruby,  middling weight.  The key to this wine is its wonderful floral bouquet,  illustrating the full span of floral indicators of ripeness,  from hints of buddleia through roses to deep boronia complexity.  It illustrates that in New Zealand as for Burgundy wines of good physiological maturity retain florality as the wine matures.  Palate is soft and rich,  developing some secondary characters now in its cherry fruit.  Like the Mount Difficulty Long Gully,  this is not a 'black' Central Otago pinot,  and is the better for it.  Cellar 2 5 years.

2007 Wooing Tree Pinot Noir Sandstorm Reserve,  Central Otago,  $85,  n/a  
Pinot noir ruby,  one of the attractively-hued not-too-dark Otago pinots.  Tasting this wine alongside the 2008 Martinborough highlights the phases of cherry-fruit character in pinot noir.  It has broadly similar and equally charming pinot noir varietal character,  yet is from Central Otago some 650 kilometres away what a fantastic thought,  compared with the small area of Burgundy.  It has the same wonderful boronia florals of the Long Gully wine,  but the balance of cherries is nearer black than red,  the reverse of the Martinborough.  But it is still beautifully fresh,  the oak is attractively in the background,  and it is highly varietal.  This is a gorgeous example of New Zealand pinot noir,  to cellar 3 8 years.

In addition,  2007 Peregrine Pinot Noir,  Central Otago,  $39,  n/a  and 2008 Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 3,  Central Otago,  $69,  n/a rank with these wines.  These are my stand-out wines from Pinot Noir 2010.  From the overseas wines,  only the 2006  Littorai Pinot Noir Mays Canyon,  California,  $125,  n/a was in consideration for this top bracket.  The wines from Burgundy were not sufficiently well selected to compete,  so no conclusions can be drawn.

Fruit character and ripeness in Pinot Noir
Finally,  a further comment on fruit analogies and pinot noir ripeness may be useful.  In the sense he has tasted more fine examples of pinot noir more carefully than anybody else in this country,  Lower Hutt lawyer John Comerford is New Zealand's most thoughtful commentator on the variety.  He has always emphasised the need for a ratio of red fruit aromas and tastes in pinot noir,  as well as black cherry.  The goal there is simply to capture the freshness that Jancis Robinson is so keen on,  which I also call florality.  

Perfect ripeness in pinot noir is a knife-edge.  On one side are the tending-black aromas and flavours of over-ripeness plus excess alcohol.  But with every step back towards red fruits,  there is the pro rata risk of increasing the spurious florality associated with leafyness,  or worse.  Given a climate that precisely allows it,  the key to great pinot noir is the perfect equipoise of full physiological aroma and flavour maturity,  without noticeable leaf on the one hand,  or noticeable black plummyness of fruit on the other.  The word 'noticeable' is important here,  for subliminal amounts of both are essential to complexity and beauty in the final wine.  A great sense of smell is essential in both the making,  and the tasting,  of fine pinot noir.  The wines in this review illustrate these requirements well.





PINOT NOIR 2010 THE TASTINGS

There were two kinds of tasting during the Conference.  Within the Conference proceedings,   there were four Formal Tastings sessions as below.  At the end of the day,  there was an adjoining large space with 100 small booths set up,  for walk-around tastings under the general heading:  100 Great New Zealand Pinot Noir Producers.

FORMAL TASTINGS
The presentation of the Formal Tastings was the highlight of the conference.  Under the direction of Ric and Michelle Little,  for each tasting a team of 27 volunteers poured 40 cc samples from 30 bottles of each wine into a total number of glasses varying between 3402 to a maximum of 6318 (depending on the number of wines in that tasting),  with no delays to participants beyond having morning tea,  or similar.  One of the tastings had 13 wines,  which for 486 participants results in that staggering number of glasses,  all poured complete as one flight for that session.  As noted earlier,  the sight of this huge Conference and tasting room fully laid out in white linen with such a number of sparkling 208 mm tall glasses on high-quality white paper placemats larger than A3,  and fresh and appropriate to each session,  was sensational.  Further,  the backroom team managed to screen all corked wines,  though as always,  a few grumbles about bottle variation were heard.  It seems to be one of the frailties wine tasters are prone to,  that all too often someone will seek to establish their sample differs greatly from the generality.  In my own tastings,  I note that even when two bottles are assembled into one wine beforehand,  still somebody may invoke bottle variation to justify their deviant view of the wine.

Though the organisation and logistics of presenting the tastings was exemplary,  the tastings themselves did not meet with such success.  The single goal of discovering pinot excellence via memorable tastings was not exactly achieved.  I suspect this was due to no one single guiding hand with a clear (and accurate) vision of what constitutes fine pinot noir,  and a mandate to achieve that,  coupled with a lack of sufficient pre-screening of candidate wines.  

Achieving a successful tasting requires a clear and strong intellectual framework to the presentation,  plus a clear vision of the desired outcome on the part of the organiser.  Where imported wines are used,  they must be pre-tasted even if this includes distressing expenditure on air-freighting samples.  It is hard to believe the French wines in Pinot Noir 2010 were bought on the basis of tasting.  Checking those wines against information presented by British wine-merchants (who still have the same wine on sale in the UK today) shows that it is simply impossible to get reliable technical appraisal of red burgundy from their trade,  MWs on staff notwithstanding.  Likewise,  in both the Cabernet / Merlot and the Syrah Conferences,  as well as Pinot Noir 2010,  we observed the overseas wine authorities seemingly missing key technical factors in the wines.  So there are interesting issues there,  in terms of who we rely on in terms of appraising our wines.  A little more comment follows under the Pinot Noirs of the World tasting report.

Format for the tastings was completely blind presentation of all the wines,  some introductory discussion,  a sufficient silent period for careful written examination of the wines (this was very well judged),  then discussion and identification followed by the distribution of a data sheet giving detailed tabulated info for each wine,  in 23 columns.  For nearly all the New Zealand wines,  the info was remarkably complete,  for overseas wines variously less so.  Two extraordinary omissions from the tabulation were the nature of the closure,  and the retail price in the country of origin wine does not exist in a scholarly vacuum.

Formal Tasting 1:  Our New Zealand Pinot Noir Regions 7 wines
Chairman:  Patrick Materman,  Chief Winemaker,  Pernod-Ricard New Zealand,  Marlborough
Handbook Introduction:  In the first of our formal tastings we look at regional expressions of Pinot Noir from the 2007 vintage.  This vintage is regarded by many as being the very best and will provide a real perspective on the diversity of expression from our premier Pinot Noir regions.  

Thumbnail climate and topography outlines for each region were provided by the panellists as follows:  Olly Masters (consultant winemaker,  ex Ata Rangi) Wairarapa / Martinborough;  Tim Finn (Neudorf) Nelson;  Brian Bicknell (Mahi Wines) Marlborough;  Lynnette Hudson (Pegasus Bay) Waipara / Canterbury;  Blair Walter (Felton Road) Central Otago.  Outlier districts such as southern inland Hawkes Bay, and the south bank of the Waitaki River,  North Otago,  received only passing mention.

The wines tasted,  here in alphabetical order:
2007  Alan McCorkindale Pinot Noir Waipara Valley
2007  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna Aroha
2007  Neudorf Vineyard Pinot Noir Moutere
2007  Peregrine Pinot Noir
  2007  Te Whare Ra Pinot Noir
2007  Valli Vineyards Pinot Noir Bannockburn Vineyard
2007  Villa Maria Estate Pinot Noir Single Vineyard Taylor's Pass

This tasting worked well,  partly because it included two of the best wines of the whole Conference (2007 Valli,  2007 Peregrine).  These two wines illustrated the two main phases of Central Otago pinot noir beautifully,  the Valli being more black-fruited,  the Peregrine redder.  In broad comparison,  the other wines showed variously red-fruited phases of New Zealand pinot noir from the other districts.  Within Marlborough,  the important distinction between the older-style light and pretty pinots of the younger alluviums (Te Whare Ra),  and the more substantial and promising wines from the older,  higher-clay,  older-terrace and lower hill-slope soils was well made (Villa Maria),  though perhaps insufficiently talked about.  The future of quality Marlborough pinot noir lies on the latter soils.  The Nelson and Wairarapa  / Martinborough wines spoke well enough for their districts,  leaving only the Waipara district with a less-well-selected representative.  More information on the individual wines follows in the reviews concluding this article.

Formal Tasting 2:  New Zealand Pinot Noir:  Seven Years On 10 wines
Chairman:  Blair Walter,  Felton Road,  Central Otago  
Handbook Introduction:  Using the theme of regionality,  this will be a much smaller but very special tasting focusing on expressions of New Zealand Pinot Noir at peak maturity.  We have selected several rare wines from the very good 2003 vintage to illustrate this fascinating theme.  A tasting that is unlikely to be repeated  ever.  

The wines tasted,  here in alphabetical order:
2003  Ata Rangi Pinot Noir
2003  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna
2003  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5
2003  Mount Difficulty Pinot Noir Single Vineyard Target Gully
2003  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir
  2003  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir Prima Donna
2003  Rippon Pinot Noir
2003  Staete Landt Pinot Noir Estate
2003  Te Kairanga Pinot Noir Reserve
2003  Wither Hills Pinot Noir

The idea of presenting this tasting,  which I assume was based on the delightful way the 2003 New Zealand wines opened for the Pinot Noir 2007 Conference,  was logical and praiseworthy.  In the event,  however,  regrettably this tasting did not live up to the promise of the Programme.  Having checked out the 2005s in the Great Producers tasting,  hindsight suggests the organisers should have reluctantly scrubbed the 2003 vintage idea after pre-tasting,  and opted for 2005.  I still applaud the notion of trying,  though,  for we have not thought enough about the beauty of mature wine in New Zealand yet.  No wine was memorable,  but several were pleasing.  Even wines of impeccable pedigree, such as the top wine of the 2007 Pinot Noir Conference,  2003 Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Single Vineyard Target Gully,  did not show as well as I would have hoped indeed predicted in my 2007 review.

As later,  the actual selection process from candidate wines was not rigorous enough,  but reality is that few wineries would have three cases of their best 2003 wine still available,  in 2010.  We do not need to beat ourselves up too much about this outcome however (I heard the words 'embarrassing' several times),  for New Zealand is still a young wine country, and cellaring wine is not currently a priority,  even amongst wine people.  The best outcome from this exercise would be the resolve to actively inquire into how we can make our New Zealand pinot noirs more cellar-worthy.  It is high time,  for example,  that the Air New Zealand and Royal Easter Show Wine Competitions introduced Library classes,  starting at a minimum of five years (reality needed),  and once producers accept the notion,  extending pro rata to the capabilities of the variety.  

As a fan of older wines (please note my scores for these wines will be higher than the general view),  and one who recommends longer cellaring times (based on good cellar conditions in Wellington)  than other local commentators,  I would have expected these wines to show quite differently,  and very much better.  They all showed the kind of maturity I expect from wines cellared in warmer conditions than I am used to.  I wondered therefore about some misadventure in their storage,  or if they had been warehoused in Auckland say,  but on inquiry I am assured that each wine remained in the proprietor's cellar until shortly before the Conference.  I have tended to think of 8 years as a safe cellaring span for competent medium-weight New Zealand pinots.  The 1982 St Helena Pinot Noir made largely from clone 10/5,  and a quite vigorous wine it its youth,  is still opening as a pleasing but very mature bottle,  from my stock.  Cellar conditions are moist and equable,  averaging 13 degrees C.,  hardly Glamis Castle.  All inexplicable,  at this stage.  

So,  if this tasting is representative,  and I'm not totally convinced this is the last word,  New Zealand pinot noir seriously lacks ageability,  by classic burgundy standards.  For consumers at the moment,  cellaring 2 3 years for lighter wine,  and 4 6 years for more substantial wines,  would give most pleasure.  For wine aficionados,  five years for lighter, and 7 8 rarely 10 years for richer,  would be more appropriate.  

Formal Tasting 3:  Sustainable Practices and Wine Character 13 wines
Chairman:  John Belsham,  Foxes Island,  Marlborough
Handbook Introduction:  An intriguing and somewhat challenging formal tasting in which we explore if there is any character thread which relates to various technical and philosophical methods of sustainable wine production.  A selection of Pinot Noirs created from a variety of sustainable viticultural practices to confirm, confuse or clarify your current thinking.

This tasting was part of an extended all-morning session titled:  "Sustainability New Zealand's Position in a Global Industry".  It was very successful,  chaired by Clive Weston of Negociants New Zealand,  and with excellent contributions from panellists:  Steve Smith MW of Craggy Range;  Jamie Goode PhD from the UK,  wine-writer and author (Wine Science) and Editor of www.wineanorak.com;  Doug Bell from California,  corporate wine-buyer;  Nick Mills from Rippon Estate;  Max Allan from Australia,  wine-writer and Editor of www.redwhiteandgreen.com.au;  Tim Atkin MW from The Observer,  UK,  wine-writer;  and Andrew Jefford from Decanter,  UK,  wine-writer and author (The New France).  The tasting successfully concluded the morning session,  the wines ranging from eccentric to competent to amongst New Zealand's better pinot noirs,  though none were standouts.  Both in introducing the wines,  and discussing them afterwards,  panellists made many highly relevant observations.  I urge readers to sample them on the audio @ (www.pinotnoir2010.co.nz/media/audio-video)

The wines tasted,  here in alphabetical order:
2007  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Calvert Vineyard
2007  Dry River Pinot Noir
2007  Felton Road Pinot Noir Calvert Vineyard
2007  Montana Pinot Noir Terraces T
2007  Mount Edward Pinot Noir Morrison Vineyard
2007  Muddy Water Estate Pinot Noir
2007  Palliser Estate Pinot Noir
  2007  Pyramid Valley Pinot Noir Calvert Vineyard
2007  Pyramid Valley Pinot Noir Eaton Vineyard
2007  Rippon Pinot Noir
2007  Seresin Estate Pinot Noir Raupo Creek
2007  Seresin Pinot Noir Home Vineyard
2007  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Reserve Marlborough

The three Calvert Vineyard (Otago) wines stimulated most excitement.  This vineyard is owned by Owen Calvert,  but has been managed by Felton Road since 2001. How exactly the marvellous idea of dividing the fruit amongst three leading pinot producers arose,  I am not sure,  but the results from Craggy Range,  Pyramid Valley,  and Felton Road are of great interest.  Close attention is paid to each getting an equal and representative sampling of clones etc.  The fruit is vinified in their home wineries,  by Felton Road locally,  by Pyramid Valley at Waipara,  and by Craggy Range in Hawkes Bay,  modern trucking and freighting technology making this feasible without significant fruit impairment.  In these three wines,  the input of the winemaker is clearly seen in the percentage whole bunch each chooses at the fermentation stage.  The wines were all of equally high technical standard,  and make a fabulous reference set for all consumers to invest in and study.

More generally,  winemakers worldwide are embracing more sustainable viticultural and winery practices,  and moving closer towards more 'organic' growing principles.  As dependence on industrial / agricultural chemicals falls,  improved vine health and flora and fauna diversity is being reported in the vineyard,  and winemakers are finding cleaner musts easier to ferment,  and often with less chance of off-odours.  The role of copper in both traditional winery hardware and vineyard practice is of great interest particularly in New World countries,  because of its association with inhibiting hydrogen sulphide production in fermentation.  The screw-cap closure exacerbates any reductive tendencies in the final wine.  Discriminating consumers are increasingly less tolerant of reductive wines,  so this will be of continuing interest.  

Formal Tasting 4:  The Great Pinot Noirs of the World 10 wines  
Chairman:  Larry McKenna,  Escarpment Vineyard,  Martinborough
Handbook Introduction:  To follow the theme of the day and also the theme illustrated at Pinot Noir 2007,  we will have a tasting of benchmark international Pinot Noirs alongside the very best of New Zealand.  This grand finale tasting will leave an indelible impression on delegates' minds (and palates) of the quality,  character and place that New Zealand Pinot Noir has carved out in the vinous world.

The wines tasted,  here in alphabetical order:
2006  Comte Armand Volnay
2007  Ata Rangi Pinot Noir
2006  Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Isabelle
2007  de Bortoli Pinot Noir Reserve Release
2006  Elk Cove Vineyard Pinot Noir Reserve
  2007  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5
2006  Domaine Camille Giroud Chambertin Grand Cru
2006  Littorai Pinot Noir Mays Canyon
2007  Muddy Water Pinot Noir Hare's Breath
2006  Domaine J F Mugnier Nuits-Saint-George la Marechale Premier Cru

This tasting was eagerly awaited,  fully booked,  and in the event turned out to be over-promoted and under-achieving,  to the point of some embarrassment.  Whilst one of the New Zealand wines was among the top wines in the whole Conference,  and one of the Californian wines was remarkable for its purity and varietal accuracy (so many American red wines being both over-ripe and bretty),  the French wines ranged from merely competent to awful.  

I heard cynics suggest not totally in jest that the overseas wines were chosen to highlight the quality of the New Zealand wines.  Unkind.  More likely,  they reflect the selectors not assembling and pre-tasting the right wines in the first place,  as a result of insufficient familiarity with both quality burgundy and the current leading-edge practitioners in Burgundy.  It is the new younger generation of Burgundy winemakers who embrace both competence with modern technology,  and an acute understanding of the beautiful smells and flavours of centuries-old burgundian tradition,  so that the former can optimise the latter,  who will be setting the pace.  The aesthetic dimension remains critical to fine wine.  In all this,  science and technology must be the servant of wine quality,  not the master.  The latter approach is where the Australians went wrong.  Given this prescription,  Burgundy will continue to set the pace in fine pinot noir,  even for us on the opposite side of the world.  

On the evidence therefore,  the organisers for this particular tasting simply did not have sufficient grip of pinot noir the variety and its performance in Burgundy to pull this challenging tasting off.  Even the selection of the New Zealand wines appeared to be based more on regional representation than sheer excellence achieved.  As has been noted in the wine reviews,  in preparing tastings such as this,  the organisers must be prepared to fly in samples and taste all the candidate wines carefully and objectively,  well beforehand.  As elsewhere in Pinot Noir 2010 (next section) sometimes attending to political and representational niceties can get in the way of achieving a quality result this is a dilemma the organisers need to face up to.  

100 GREAT NEW ZEALAND PINOT NOIR PRODUCERS
In addition to the four Formal Tastings within the Conference  proceedings,  which everybody participated in,  there were optional complementary end-of-day offerings by the 100 producers perhaps too grandly styled in the title.  There were two separate components:  the first full-day evening producers showed wines from vintages prior to 2007;  the second evening,  and thankfully repeated on two days,  exhibited wines from 2007 and 2008,  plus a few 2009 barrel samples.  For the first,  producers had one or sometimes two wines,  but for the second,  two or three wines were common,  and some had more.  Tasting them all was for most people not practical,  but these were excellent and not-quite-too-crowded sessions.  

Whilst the notion that there are 100 "great" pinot noir producers in New Zealand is a conceit,  and more would have been achieved,  and a better impression created,  with fewer more critically selected wineries,  nonetheless,  it was at these tastings that most of the top New Zealand pinots in the whole Conference could be found.  It is a pity more of these wines were not actively selected  for the Conference Formal Tastings.  






DISCUSSION

Stalks:
 [ Revised 28 Apr 2010 ]  One of the most exciting questions in pinot noir winemaking in New Zealand in 2010 is the question of retaining some whole-bunches with their associated bunch stalk / stem components in the primary fermentation,  versus 100% de-stemmed.  The evidence points only one way,  for me.  If one seeks fragrant and floral beautiful pinots in the style that made Burgundy famous,  then given a season warm enough and dry enough to ripen / lignify the tissues,  judicious use of at least a percentage of whole bunches is almost imperative.  The goal is the enhanced florality and complexity associated with this approach,  while avoiding leafyness / stalkyness.  Leafyness must be subliminal.  Both Jacques Seysses of Domaine Dujac and Blair Walter of Felton Road emphasise that it is not so much the stems per se,  but the extended / slowed-down fermentation in whole berries,  and the complex aroma chemistry that results,  that matter.  Walter further comments (pers. comm) that he sees an enhanced textural element in such wines.  This may well correlate with increased glycerol production,  which Robinson reports as a co-benefit of whole-berry fermentation in The Oxford Companion to Wine (2006,  Third Edition).

In my report on Pinot Noir 2007 on this website,  I listed some verbatim observations from key speakers which seemed to me critical  to the development of fine pinot noir in New Zealand.  Amongst them were thoughts relevant to the issue of whole-bunch fermentations:
#   Stems add a certain noblesse to the aroma,  you get this floral content as in DRC,  in Dujac or Arlot when deftly used they give you an extra sense of complexity both aromatically and on the palate but,  they reduce early accessibility,  they add longevity,  you have to cellar for longer.  Allen Meadows,  Burghound.com,  USA
#   For us French people,  floweryness in a pinot noir is a more noble aroma than fruit it is in the upper dimensions of the wine  Michel Bettane,  France
#   Whole bunch,  it is central to our style.  We know we would get a very different style if we de-stemmed,  but without it the wines lack something  James Halliday,  Coldstream Vineyard,  Victoria

In contrast to those perspectives,  if the winemaker seeks more to please a market and its representatives who judge things rather more on the basis of size and ease of access,  than beauty,  then the 100% de-stemmed approach is more likely to produce the desired results.  Those who have a sense of smell can only regret the latter.  

Caveats:  Not everything was great in Pinot Noir 2010.  For the introductory ra-ra session,  there is a fine line between being proud of 'our place',  and being crass and gratuitous.  There are perils in seeking inspiring speakers from places too closely allied to the television industry,  which has little in common with striving for excellence in pinot noir.  Happily,  on this occasion,  some good horse-sense came through.  The major let-down of the Conference was the 'feature' contribution to the Gala Dinner.  The inclusion of a local so-called comedy act was simply an embarrassing mistake.  This lowest-common-denominator vulgarity reflected values so outside the concept of creating fine pinot noir,  or even quality commercial pinot noir,  as to be cringe-making.  We had overseas guests there,  for heavens sake.  The whole episode was out-of-kilter with the tenor of the preceding three days of Conference proceedings,  of seeking excellence,  and of the quality food and wine dinner intended to celebrate that.  It made a most unhappy contrast to the splendour of the 2007 Pinot Noir Conference Gala Dinner,  where an excerpt from the truly creative World of Wearable Arts show was both an inspired choice,  and spectacular.  

Methodology:  For the Conference Formal Tastings,  there is time to taste the wines on the spot,  and take good initial notes.  For the One Hundred Producers tastings,  time is always totally lacking.  My approach is to secure good samples in ISO tasting glasses,  and after a quick bouquet note,  cover them tautly with 100 mm squares of cling-film.  The approach was outlined in more detail under Methodology in my report on Waiheke Island.  The selection of wineries to be sampled can only be arbitrary,  within the limits of time available and the number of samples that can be physically carried around in one day (60,  including Formal Tastings).  Past performance influences this decision.  To maximise the number of wineries represented,  in general I limited each winery to one sample.  Even so,  I can only apologise to newcomers overlooked,  and perhaps good wines unfairly excluded from the reviews which follow.  My goal is then to later that day assess all the samples carefully in one comparative blind line-up in a more clinical atmosphere,  undistracted by the jostling of (the many) passers-by and the enthusiasms of the winemaker.  In my experience this leads to a more accurate result.  All wineries bar one were keenly prepared to put their wines forward for examination.  The exception was Bell Hill vineyard,  where samples were refused.  This was a new experience.

Acknowledgements:  I particularly appreciate the invitation from Alastair Maling (Chairman of Pinot Noir 2010) and his team to participate in Pinot Noir 2010.  This resulting review though a little critical in one or two places,  is intended to be constructive.  I think we have reached a point in the evolution of the New Zealand wine industry where we would be wise to acknowledge there are wine skills in New Zealand beyond the winemakers,  and at the same time we need to be a little more aware that overseas wine opinion can be fallible too.  Critical evaluation is required.  

In terms of achieving the samples referred to in previous sections,  I am grateful to Ric and Michelle Little,  leaders of the backroom team,  who went out of their way to help me both in gathering samples of the Formal Tastings,  and later with detailed information.  For the 100 Producers Tastings,  I particularly appreciated the samples willingly pressed on me (see Methodology).  Later,  when winemakers were in the thick of vintage,  I inconsiderately (as to timing) asked for some winemaking details for the wines shown,  and all those who replied were incredibly tolerant.  Thank you.






THE WINES REVIEWED:  PINOT NOIR

#  For many wines in the reviews following,  detail of months in oak or % new oak and similar statistics vary from detail given previously.  Presumably this reflects that for the Conference documentation,  winemakers looked up records,  whereas at presentations and over the phone,  numbers tend to be top-of-head naturally enough.

#  Most pre-2007 vintage wines are no longer available,  and likewise an increasing number of 2007s.  Prices shown are as at release.

#  Not all supplementary detail in the italicised 'admin' section is complete,  due to my unhelpfully inquiring at the winemakers' busiest time of the year.  Detail will be added when it comes to hand.


2007  Akarua Pinot Noir Cadence
2007  Alan McCorkindale Pinot Noir Waipara Valley
2007  Allan Scott Pinot Noir The Hounds
2007  Amisfield Pinot Noir
2006  Amisfield Pinot Noir Rocky Knoll
2007  Ara Pinot Noir Resolute
2006  Comte Armand Volnay
2008  Ata Rangi Pinot Noir
2007  Ata Rangi Pinot Noir
2003  Ata Rangi Pinot Noir
2006  Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Isabelle
2008  Auntsfield Pinot Noir Hawk Hill
2008  Babich Pinot Noir Winemakers Reserve
2007  Bald Hills Pinot Noir Single Vineyard
2007  Bouldevines Pinot Noir
2007  Camshorn Pinot Noir Domett Clays
2008  Cape Campbell Pinot Noir
2006  Carrick Pinot Noir Excelsior
2007  Chard Farm Pinot Noir Finla Mor
2007  Clos Henri Pinot Noir Marlborough Reserve
2007  Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir
2007  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Calvert Vineyard
2003  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna
2007  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna Aroha
2008  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna Road
2007  de Bortoli Pinot Noir Reserve Release
2008  Dog Point Pinot Noir Dog Point Vineyard
2007  Dry River Pinot Noir
2006  Elk Cove Vineyard Pinot Noir Reserve
2008  Escarpment Pinot Noir Kupe
2008  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 3
2007  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5
2003  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5
2001  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5
2007  Felton Road Pinot Noir Calvert Vineyard
2008  Felton Road Pinot Noir [ standard ]
2008  Foxes Island Pinot Noir Belsham Estate Vineyards
2007  Fromm Pinot Noir Clayvin
2008  Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir Reserve
2006  Domaine Camille Giroud Chambertin Grand Cru
2008  Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir
2007  Greenhough Pinot Noir Hope Vineyard
2007  Hawkshead Pinot Noir First Vines
2008  Johner Estate Pinot Noir Gladstone
2007  Kaituna Valley Pinot Noir
2007  Kawarau Estate Pinot Noir Reserve
2007  Lime Rock Pinot Noir White Knuckle Hill
2006  Littorai Pinot Noir Mays Canyon
2008  Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir Martinborough Terrace
2006  Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir Reserve Marie Zelie
2006  Mondillo Pinot Noir
2008  Montana Pinot Noir Terraces T
2007  Montana Pinot Noir Terraces T
2008  Mount Beautiful Pinot Noir Cheviot Hills
2003  Mount Difficulty Pinot Noir Single Vineyard Target Gully
2008  Mount Edward Pinot Noir Morrison Vineyard
2007  Mount Edward Pinot Noir Morrison Vineyard
2007  Mountford Estate Pinot Noir
2007  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Single Vineyard Long Gully
2007  Muddy Water Estate Pinot Noir
  2007  Muddy Water Pinot Noir Hare's Breath
2006  Muddy Water Pinot Noir Slowhand
2008  Mud House Pinot Noir Central Otago
2006  Domaine J F Mugnier Nuits-Saint-George la Marechale Premier Cru
2007  Nautilus Pinot Noir Four Barriques
2003  Neudorf Pinot Noir Home Vineyard
2008  Neudorf Pinot Noir Moutere
2007  Neudorf Vineyard Pinot Noir Moutere
2006  Nevis Bluff Pinot Noir
2007  Olssens Pinot Noir Jackson Barry
2008  Palliser Estate Pinot Noir
2007  Palliser Estate Pinot Noir
2007  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir
2003  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir
2006  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir Prima Donna
2003  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir Prima Donna
2008  Peregrine Pinot Noir
2007  Peregrine Pinot Noir
2006  Peregrine Pinot Noir
2007  Pisa Range Estate Pinot Noir Black Poplar Block
2005  Pisa Range Estate Pinot Noir Black Poplar Block
2007  Prophet's Rock Pinot Noir
2007  Pyramid Valley Pinot Noir Calvert Vineyard
2006  Pyramid Valley Pinot Noir Earth Smoke
2007  Pyramid Valley Pinot Noir Eaton Vineyard
2008  Quartz Reef Pinot Noir
2005  Quartz Reef Pinot Noir
2007  Rimu Grove Pinot Noir Synergy
2007  Rippon Pinot Noir
2005  Rippon Pinot Noir
2003  Rippon Pinot Noir
2008  Rippon Pinot Noir Tinker's Field
2007  Rockburn Pinot Noir
2007  Saint Clair Pinot Noir Pioneer Block 5 Bull Block
2008  Schubert Pinot Noir Block B
2007  Seresin Estate Pinot Noir Raupo Creek
2007  Seresin Pinot Noir Home Vineyard
2006  Spy Valley Pinot Noir Envoy
2003  Staete Landt Pinot Noir Estate
2006  Tarras Vineyards Pinot Noir
2003  Te Kairanga Pinot Noir Reserve
2007  Te Whare Ra Pinot Noir
2007  Thornbury Pinot Noir Central Otago
2002  Valli Pinot Noir Gibbston Vineyard
2007  Valli Vineyards Pinot Noir Bannockburn Vineyard
2007  Villa Maria Estate Pinot Noir Single Vineyard Taylor's Pass
2007  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Reserve Marlborough
2005  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Single Vineyard Seddon
2006  Vynfields Pinot Noir
2007  Waitiri Creek Pinot Noir
2005  Waitiri Creek Pinot Noir,  Central Otago
2008  Wild Earth Pinot Noir
2007  Wild Rock Pinot Noir Cupid's Arrow
2003  Wither Hills Pinot Noir
2005  Wooing Tree Pinot Noir
2007  Wooing Tree Pinot Noir Sandstorm Reserve
2008  Woollaston Pinot Noir
2005  Woollaston Pinot Noir Moutere Clay
2008  Wycroft Pinot Noir Forbury
2005  Wycroft Pinot Noir Old River Terrace
 

Red
Pinot Noir
2007  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Single Vineyard Long Gully    18 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $84   [ screwcap;  5% whole bunch;  c.14 months in French oak,  34% new;  www.mtdifficulty.co.nz ]
A fine pinot noir ruby,  in the middle for weight,  a model colour and depth for New Zealand (where depth of pigmentation in our sun is somewhat deeper than Burgundy).  Bouquet shows superb red roses and boronia florality,  beauty and sensuality entwined,  those key features which elude so many pinot noir makers.  In mouth it is sensuality that comes to the fore,  near-perfect ripeness of red cherry fruit grading to black,  near-perfect extraction without too many anthocyanins and tannins darkening the taste,  good flesh,  subtle oak,  and most important,  great freshness and  balance.   So many New Zealand pinots are either leafy / floral and therefore fractionally under-ripe (or worse),  or alternatively,  in seeking to avoid that,  the wines end up over-ripe,  with plummy and dark flavours of sur-maturité so much disliked by more sensitive French winemakers.  Wines like this make a complete nonsense of the condescending overseas comments we hear about our pinots,  along the lines:  New Zealand makes great Pinot Noir,  but of course it is nothing like burgundy.  This wine is like fine burgundy,  end of story.  A Clos de la Roche look-alike,  maybe.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2005  Waitiri Creek Pinot Noir,  Central Otago   18 ½  ()
Gibbston 60%,  Bannockburn 40,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  10 months in French oak 35% new;  www.waitiricreek.co.nz ]
Older pinot noir ruby,  middling weight.  The key to this wine is its wonderful floral bouquet,  illustrating the full span of floral indicators of ripeness,  from hints of buddleia through roses to deep boronia complexity.  It illustrates that in New Zealand as for Burgundy wines of good physiological maturity retain florality as the wine matures.  Below are red and black fruits and great varietal excitement.  Palate is equally poised,  a touch of leaf maybe as the buddleia note might suggest,  but clear-cut cherry fruit,  good length on well-handled oak,  showing some secondary characters already.  Like the Mount Difficulty Long Gully,  this is not a 'black' Central Otago Pinot,  and is the better for it.  Cellar 1 3 years.  GK 02/10

2006  Carrick Pinot Noir Excelsior   18 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $85   [ screwcap;  c.15% whole-bunch,  18 months in French oak 50% new;  www.carrick.co.nz ]
Colour is model pinot noir ruby,  still quite deep by French standards,  but good.  On bouquet this wine reminds a little of one of the Rousseau Grand Cru Chambertins,  where from the outset,  you can smell the new oak in the young wine,  yet there is the fruit to sustain it.  With air both red and black cherry fruit,  as well as aromatic rose and boronia florality also become apparent.  The flavours are intriguing,  illustrating the goal of capturing New Zealand's vibrant fruit,  yet building-in a tannins-based backbone into the wine,  to facilitate bottle ageing.  The cherry-rich fruit lingers well.

This is one of the New Zealand pinots striving for the higher ground,  the big statement.  Thankfully and wisely,  Carrick have not made grandiose price claims in the way Martinborough Vineyard have with their $179 Marie Zelie Reserve wine,  yet Excelsior though the lighter wine achieves more.  Bouquet is to first impression oaky like the Marie Zelie,  but both the quality of varietal florals and the depth of cherry fruit are more apparent in the Otago wine.  Looking at this wine together with the 2008 Martinborough Vineyard standard wine and the 2006 Reserve Marie Zelie,  Excelsior therefore shows a more intriguing balancing of resources,  in style sitting between the two northern wines.  With many producers striving to increase the cellaring potential of New Zealand pinot,  this is an exciting wine,  offering a glimpse of the future.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Wooing Tree Pinot Noir Sandstorm Reserve   18 ½  ()
Cromwell,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $85   [ screwcap;  5% whole bunch;  11 months in French oak 35% new;  www.wooingtree.co.nz ]
Colour is a beautiful limpid pinot noir colour,  fractionally deeper than the 2008 Martinborough Vineyard,  more like the Long Gully but a little fresher,  clearly not one of the very dark Otago pinots.  Bouquet on this wine is one of the most marvellous in the Conference,  explicit boronia florals along with roses and violets,  on beautiful red and black cherry fruit showing more black cherry than the Martinborough but very fresh.  Palate has a limpid cherry-fruit sensuality to it which is already delightful,  showing not quite as much oak as the Long Gully but more than the standard 2008 Martinborough Vineyard.  I can well imagine that with cellaring,  the florality of bouquet may extend right through the palate of this wine,  to produce the elusive / much-talked-about but rarely tasted 'peacock's tail' impression on aftertaste.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5   18 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $80   [ screwcap;  20% whole-bunch;  elevage detail (now corrected from the Conference booklet,  Blair Walter,  pers. comm) is 11 months in French oak,  38% new,  followed by a further 6 months in 3-year-old oak;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Rich pinot noir ruby,  nearly some carmine and velvet,  above midway in depth.  Bouquet is in one sense quiet,  but it defines the darker spectrum of pinot noir florals,  darkest red roses and boronia,  with a faint garrigue-like (aka Otago thyme,  +ve) complexity note,  on clear black cherry fruit.    Palate fulfils the promise of bouquet totally.  At number five in the Pinot Noirs of the World tasting sequence,  this wine came as a shaft of light in what had till that point been a sad and deflating experience:  how could the organisers think the first four represented world achievements in pinot noir ?  But here suddenly was a wine that was floral,  beautiful,  vibrant and exciting to smell and taste exactly what great pinot noir should be.  This was more what we came for !  

Palate is magnificent,  immediately reminding me of a great pinot noir I once tasted from Chalone Vineyard (high-altitude California),  again vibrant,  rich black cherry fruit at a maximum for ripeness but not at all heavy,  long and saturated in mouth,  bone dry,  beautifully ripe tannins,  no brett,  simply superb pinot noir.  On the New Zealand pinot landscape,  it is darker in its floral and fruit characters than might be superlative,  all black cherry,  just a hint of sur-maturité,  thus clearly representing the dark phase of Central Otago wines.  It is still fresh and tantalising,  though,  and lingers in mouth well.  Aftertaste is cherry on skinsy ripe tannins,  lovely,  long,  perhaps slightly oaky in its youthful balance.  This wine encapsulates the future of one phase (the darker phase) of New Zealand pinot noir.  Cellar 5 12 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir Martinborough Terrace   18 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $58   [ screwcap;  10% whole bunch;  12 months in French oak 33% new;  www.martinborough-vineyard.co.nz ]
Colour is pure pinot noir,  the limpidity of red fruits,  some depth but no black,  pinot perfection.  Bouquet is the expression of the colour,  highly floral from a ripeness point just above the level of buddleia,  grading through to dusky roses,  violets and boronia,  all wonderfully fresh yet fully ripe,  explicit varietal pinot noir.  Palate likewise says nearly all one needs to know about pinot noir the fruit when optimally ripe,  the florality continuing into the red and black cherry fruit,  a sensual softness and richness of palate,  firmed by but in no way dominated by oak,  magic.  I am tempted to say this is the most important pinot noir Martinborough Vineyard has ever made,  having followed their wines since 1984,  simply because of the pinpoint varietal accuracy and ripeness of the fruit,  no leafyness or Martinborough mint on the one hand,  no overt plummyness or oak on the other.  It achieves one kind of perfection,  which the seriously worked-on Marie Zelie Reserve wine does not.  Critics might argue that the standard wine needs a little more tannin (from older oak,  rather than new,  preferably) to cellar well,  but to have this precision of varietal expression is a great achievement.  In fact the oak will be a little more noticeable as the wine ages to have the fruit dominant now as in Burgundy is great.  Every pinot noir maker in New Zealand should buy a case of this wine,  as a reference point on the one hand,  or a challenge to surpass on the other.  This readily available and relatively affordable wine makes phooey of the glib notion that New Zealand cannot make truly burgundian pinot noir.  Cellar 3 10 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Valli Vineyards Pinot Noir Bannockburn Vineyard   18 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $55   [ screwcap;  30% whole bunch;  11 months French oak 40% new;  www.valliwine.com ]
Rich ruby and velvet,  deep for pinot noir,  the deepest in its tasting,  and the darkest of my top 10.  This wine illustrates the darker phase of Otago pinots,  yet the bouquet still retains good pinot character,  showing fair freshness and a dusky florality centred on boronia,  but grading into black cherry fruit and the aroma of blackest plums in the sun.  Palate is wonderfully rich,  saturated,  tannic,  about as big as pinot can be and retain elegance,  yet again it is on the right side of the line,  fresh,  black cherry again,  a little plummy maybe,  with great potential sensuality and a lingering black cherry tannin balance.  It therefore represents about the outer limits of desirable ripeness in pinot noir,  if the wine is to retain florality,  freshness,  varietal complexity,  and burgundian styling.  Darker is not necessarily better,  in pinot noir.  Cellar 3 10 years.  GK 02/10

2005  Pisa Range Estate Pinot Noir Black Poplar Block   18 ½  ()
Cromwell,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  c.11 months in French oak c.33% new;  www.pisarangeestate.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  some age showing.  Like the 2005 Waitiri Creek,  this Otago wine also shows that attractively ripe pinot noir retains exciting roses and boronia florality as the wine matures.  Bouquet is total pinot noir,  not as overtly floral as the Waitiri,  but sweeter and perhaps fractionally riper,  with beautiful dusky rose qualities and boronia floral notes.  Palate is delightful,  clearly above the threshold of ripeness that relates to leafy,  instead now displaying fine harmony,  the florality running into maturing cherry flavours spanning red and black fruits,  with good freshness,  richness,  oak balance and length.  There are Cote de Nuits qualities in this.  This Black Poplar vineyard wine made by Rudi Bauer has built up an enviable track record for consistency,  the wines usually being in the darker Otago style outlined for the Felton Road Block 5.  Cellar 2 5 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 3   18 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $69   [ screwcap;  25% whole bunch;  14 months in French oak,  42% new;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  right in the middle for depth of colour.  Bouquet is fine Otago pinot noir,  clear rose and boronia florals,  and red and black cherry fruit.  Palate is fractionally harder and more youthful than the 2007 Block 5 at this stage,  but close to it in potential richness and integration,  and very much in the more aromatic Felton style.  This will cellar attractively,  3 8 years.  GK 03/10

2007  Nautilus Pinot Noir Four Barriques   18 ½  ()
Omaka & Wairau Valleys,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $60   [ cork;  nil whole bunch;  c.18 months in French oak 50% new,  50% 1-year;  75% of wine Omaka hill-slope older soils;  www.nautilusestate.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  above midway in depth.  Bouquet is a rare achievement for Marlborough,  a pinot showing a depth,  complexity and ripeness well beyond the tending-leafy buddleia level of florality so commonly encountered on the younger soils of the district.  Along with excess florality,  such wines sometimes show excess simple blackboy-peach fruit.  This bouquet however indicates achieving full physiological maturity with darker fruits as well as red is possible in the district.  Florals include a hint of buddleia-like aromas,  but are centred on roses grading to suggestions of the deep and desirable boronia stage of maturity.  Palate likewise grades from red fruits to black cherry,  and the texture and length of cherry flavour suggests a grand cru cropping rate.  In a district where Pinot development thus far has been more quantitative than qualitative,  this wine is a key step forward for Marlborough.  It presumably reflects vines grown largely on older terrace sites,  not young gravels [ later confirmed,  Clive Jones:  75% of the fruit Omaka Valley hill-slope older clayey soils ].  As these higher-clay soils are explored in the Marlborough region,  all the evidence is there will be much more exciting,  complex and physiologically mature pinot noirs forthcoming a great prospect.  This wine is therefore a real milestone and pointer to the more diverse future of the Marlborough district,  given its overseas reputation for whites,  coupled with some concern as to the 'one trick' nature of its reputation.  As an aside,  given the increasing effort thoughtful winemakers are putting into making sauvignon blanc so much more complex and pleasing to smell and drink,  that concern is I think premature.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Bald Hills Pinot Noir Single Vineyard   18 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.6%;  $44   [ screwcap;  30% whole-bunch,  11 months in French oak,  one third new,  balance 1 and 2-year ]
Big pinot noir ruby,  above midway in depth,  not as youthful as some 2007s.  Bouquet is intensely floral,  including dusky rose and boronia aromas,  with red grading to black cherry fruit teetering towards plummyness,  and some sur-maturité.  Palate rescues the wine,  being fresh,  the flavours dark yes,  but not heavy,  with sensitive oaking,  and great length on the skin tannins,  all lingering attractively.  A clue to the volume of bouquet is apparent in the slight suggestion of stalkyness on palate,  but the total depth of varietal fruit is remarkable a lovely wine.  The benefits of a part-stalk component in the fermentation are well-apparent here.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Peregrine Pinot Noir   18 ½  ()
Cromwell Basin 80%,  Gibbston 20,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $39   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  35% new;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Rich ruby,  a flush of carmine and velvet,  pretty deep for pinot noir.  Bouquet is even fresher and more fragrant and floral than the Valli,  totally burgundian Cote de Nuits berry,  absolutely exciting.  The florals range from buddleia through roses to boronia,  the fruit notes being black more than red cherries.  It is all just that magical bit cooler than the Valli:  in mouth that thought of coolness translates into slightly fresher tannins,  a hint of leaf only in a positive descriptive sense,  with great poise,  zest and balance,  and good tannin ripeness.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Pyramid Valley Pinot Noir Calvert Vineyard   18 +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $55   [ screwcap;  15% whole bunch;  15 months in French oak,  33% new;  www.pyramidvalley.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  a little deeper than the Muddy Water.  Bouquet has more complexity than the Muddy Water,  fragrant with flowers indicating a riper level of physiological maturity,  the boronia florals and red fruits grading to black cherry.  There is a suggestion of slightly gamey dark mushrooms which reminds of Cotes du Rhone,  but the florals take one back to burgundy / pinot noir.  Palate is long and satisfying,  subtly oaked,  great freshness.  There is 15% whole cluster in this fermentation,  and the stem component has added freshness,  with any trace of leafyness totally burgundian.  Intriguing wine partly because on checking I find my relative ranking of these Calvert wines differs from previously,  indicating what fun it will be to try the three wines as a set,  over the coming years.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Villa Maria Estate Pinot Noir Single Vineyard Taylor's Pass   18 +  ()
Awatere Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $57   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  14 months in French oak 32% new;  www.villamaria.co.nz ]
Rich ruby,  a flush of carmine and velvet,  not quite as deep as the Peregrine.  Bouquet is freshly fragrant and varietal,  much more elegant,  precise and varietal than the earlier hefty Villa Maria Reserve pinots,  gold medals notwithstanding.  Like the Peregrine,  the floral range extends from the cooler buddleia fragrance through dark roses and violets to boronia,  on black and red cherry fruit.  Palate might not be quite as concentrated as the Peregrine,  but the ripeness is nearly equal.  Though not showing quite the magic of the Nautilus Top 10 wine,  this is one of the best Marlborough pinot noirs yet,  and it is great to see Villa Maria,  who have worked so hard with the variety in Marlborough,  achieving that.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir   18 +  ()
Alexandra,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.2%;  $35   [ screwcap;  5% whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  30% new;  www.grasshopperrock.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  in the middle for depth of hue.  The floral components on the bouquet of this wine are delightfully varietal,  including violets as well as roses and boronia.  Below is great cherry fruit,  black more than red,  leading into fine-grain but quite noticeable tannins.  This wine makes a great pairing with the '08 Ata Rangi,  allegedly to compare and contrast the two principal pinot noir regions,  but in fact the styling of these two wines is amazingly similar this year.  Cellar 3 8 years.  VALUE  GK 02/10

2008  Ata Rangi Pinot Noir   18 +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $65   [ screwcap;  5% whole bunch;  12 months in French oak,  25% new;  www.atarangi.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  above midway.  Bouquet is sweet,  ripe and intensely varietal,  showing the full suite of floral components from buddleia through deep rose aromas to some boronia.  Like the 2008 Martinborough,  there is no pennyroyal this year,  which is great.  Palate is firmer than the Martinborough Vineyard wine,  some oak to marry away,  on excellent red and black cherry fruit.  This is the best Ata Rangi pinot noir for some years,  and a wine which will cellar happily to epitomise the Martinborough district style.  It will complement the more silky Martinborough Vineyard '08 admirably,  and be longer-lived they would make a great pair to tuck away for future comparisons.  Cellar 3 10 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Rippon Pinot Noir Tinker's Field   18 +  ()
Wanaka,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $95   [ supercritical cork;  40% whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  35% new,  balance 1 4 years;  this bottling comes  from within the old vines crop from Tinker's Field,  which is central to the now widely-recognised photo-views of the Rippon vineyards adjoining Lake Wanaka.  Tinker's Field contains the oldest (up to 28 years) pinot noir vines on the Rippon blocks,  and hence some of the oldest pinot noir vines in Central Otago.  The average vine age is c. 22 years;  www.rippon.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  in the middle.  This is a wonderfully fragrant wine,  even thoughts of violets in rose aromas,  on attractive redfruits.  Palate is crisp and cherry-crunchy,  vibrant redfruits,  firmer and lighter than the average of the Otago 2007s as befits its Wanaka origins,  just a hint of stalk to marry in over the next 12 months and add to its really burgundian and marvellously low-alcohol complexity.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Palliser Estate Pinot Noir   18  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14.2%;  $48   [ screwcap;  close to nil whole bunch;  12 months in French oak 32% new;  www.palliser.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  just above midway in depth.  2008 has been kind to the Martinborough district,  after a run of indifferent years (2006 excepted).  This wine has delightful wineyness,  showing clear varietal quality,  good freshness,  floral notes centred on dark roses,  and a slight savoury complexity.  Fruit is red and black cherry,  attractive concentration and length,  but not quite the depth of the Ata Rangi 2008.  Finish shows a hint of stalk,  at this youthful stage,  but is much cleaner than the 2007.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2005  Quartz Reef Pinot Noir   18  ()
Cromwell & Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ screwcap;   9% whole bunch;  11 months in French oak 30% new;  www.quartzreef.co.nz ]
Rich pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is very aromatic,  one of those Otago wines that starts the thyme-cueing process,  intertwined with flowers and red and black cherries.  The garrigue-like aromatics persist right through the palate,  proving slightly disruptive in one sense and akin to stalkyness.  But reference back to one or two other wines shows the cherry fruit is properly ripe.  The aromatics and oak do dry the finish a little,  relative to the same-year Black Poplar wine by the same winemaker,  Rudi Bauer.  Distinctive wine,  to cellar 1 3 years.  GK 03/10

2006  Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir Reserve Marie Zelie   18  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $179   [ cork;  20% whole bunch;  10 months in French oak 50% new,  plus 8 months in second and third-year oak;  www.martinborough-vineyard.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  above midway for a depth,  some age apparent.  Bouquet is very fragrant indeed,  with complex floral and cherry notes mingled with oak and some Martinborough mintyness (pennyroyal).  It is clearly pinot noir,  yet there is a touch of the Penfolds about it in its oak handling.  Palate shows rich red and black cherry fruit of good precision,  all fractionally riper than the 2003 Marie Zelie,  but not going as far as 2006 Prima Donna.  But despite the richness,  and thankfully cutting the new oak to 50% relative to the 2003 of this label,  it is still very oaky for pinot noir even though many will like the wine for that.  There is the slightest suggestion of almond,  like some burgundies.  The two things that give me pause in this wine are the persistence of the mint,  and the level of the oak,  good though the oak is.  That is where wines like the wonderfully pure (and affordable) Black Poplar wine bespeak New Zealand pinot more dramatically,  to me.  As a trophy wine,  bought by those for whom rarity and price influence its enjoyment,  it succeeds in one sense,  but there is an element of grandiosity in pricing this wine at the $180 mark.  It is worth noting that recent tastings suggest the similarly aggressively-priced 1998 Reserve ($100 at release) is now not quite such an attractively balanced wine as the standard 1998 bottling,  due to excess oak.  Food for thought.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Escarpment Pinot Noir Kupe   18  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  12.9%;  $82   [ supercritical cork;  clone Abel,  30% whole bunch;  12 months in French oak,  50% new;  dry extract 27.4 g/L,  RS <1 g/L;  500 cases;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  below midway in depth.  This is a red fruits pinot noir alongside some of the Otago wines,  fragrant roses and red cherry,  highly varietal in a delicate but not weak style,  easily underestimated.  Yet in mouth there is no leafyness,  the red fruits are really tannin ripe,  and the whole wine is another to remind of Pommard styling.  This will be enticing in another year,  and cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Felton Road Pinot Noir [ standard ]   18  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $48   [ screwcap;  up to 25% whole-bunch;  11 months in French oak,  c.29% new;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Deep lively pinot noir ruby,  nearly a flush of carmine and velvet,  one of the deeper.  Bouquet is in the darker near-plummy phase of Otago pinot noir,  almost brambly as well as black cherry,  not so floral therefore.  Palate is substantial in this style,  an aromatic almost garrigue / thyme component,  surprisingly freshness since the wine seems so dark,  subtle oak,  a long fine finish.  This is going to mature attractively for 5 8 or more years.  GK 02/10

2007  Waitiri Creek Pinot Noir   18  ()
Gibbston 60%,  Bannockburn 40,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $43   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  33% new;  www.waitiricreek.co.nz ]
Big pinot noir ruby,  one of the deepest wines.  Bouquet is on the big side too,  yet it still retains dark boronia florality and black cherry grading to darkly plummy aromas,  with some sur-maturité.  In mouth the wine is voluptuously rich,  tending massive with substantial tannins,  and even though there might be a hint of prune,  it grows on you as a decadent pinot noir.  Ideally a little more restraint,  less hang time,  would have produced a fresher and more complex wine,  but it is still vastly more varietal than the similarly dark Dry River,  for example.  Cellar 3 8 years,  maybe 10,  in its 2002-like style.  GK 02/10

2006  Littorai Pinot Noir Mays Canyon   18  ()
Russian River Valley,  California,  USA:  13.9%;  $125   [ cork;  $US90;  10% whole bunch;  16 months French oak,  40% new;  www.littorai.com ]
Pinot noir ruby.  This is another beautiful face of pinot noir,  not as dark and dramatic as the 2007 Felton Block 5 in the World tasting,  in fact much more floral and red-fruited,  Volnay-like.  Bouquet includes mock orange blossom and roses,  soft and sensual.  Palate is red fruits as much as black,  perfect burgundian palate weight,  sensitive oak,  a wine of precision and poise,  optimising everything that is attractive in good French pinot noir,  yet avoiding their faults.  This more red-fruited phase of pinot noir is in many ways more attractive than the darkly-coloured wines New Zealand is pursuing unwisely in my view.  We need to avoid populist influences on our winemaking and style assessment in New Zealand,  and particularly so for pinot noir the proposition that darker is better,  since in this country the goal of a world-class winestyle can be foreseen.  The exception to this stricture is winemakers whose aspirations go no further than supermarket volume.  To a New Zealander,  this was the most exciting wine in the Great Pinots of the World tasting,  though not the best.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Babich Pinot Noir Winemakers Reserve   18  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $29   [ some cork,  some screwcap;  7% whole-bunch fermentation,  14 months French oak,  some new;  www.babichwines.co.nz ]
Classic pinot noir ruby,  below midway.  This is an elegant,  fragrant,  cherry-rich wine with beautiful florals,  on red and black cherry fruit.  Fleeting thoughts of Cote de Nuits occur,  for there is lovely lift and finesse.    Palate shows crisp black cherry more than red fruits,  darker than the Te Muna wine for example.  The website does not make clear where this fruit originated,  but the depth of character implies a significant older-gravels / higher-clay component.  This is the best pinot noir ever from Babich,  who are real pioneers with the variety.  They had clone bachtobel planted at Henderson in the 1970s,  and their 1981 pinot noir won the first gold medal for the variety in New Zealand,  on the strength of its highly floral (but also leafy) bouquet.  Cellar 3 8 years.  VALUE  GK 02/10

2006  Muddy Water Pinot Noir Slowhand   18  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $60   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  16 months in French oak,  35% new;  a single-vineyard wine formerly named Mojo,  all from clone 10/5;  www.muddywater.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  older.  Bouquet is showing some secondary development,  but is still clearly floral.  Total style is cooler than the Central Otago wines,  clear buddleia grading to rose florals,  just a hint of leaf.  Palate is fresh and crisply varietal,  red cherries,  burgundian in one sense but a little firm,  lingering delightfully.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna Road   18  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  5% whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  33% new;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  hard to tell from the Ata Rangi.  In both bouquet and palate,  this wine illustrates the cherry rich Martinborough style well,  fragrant,  red cherry more than black,  not quite the depth and ripeness of the Ata Rangi,  so a touch more stalk,  but close to it in total achievement.  Great to see Craggy returning to a little whole bunch component in an appropriate vintage,  which should lead to a prettier wine.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Mount Edward Pinot Noir Morrison Vineyard   18  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $65   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  14 months in French oak,  30% new;  www.mountedward.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  about midway in depth.  Bouquet shows an exciting interplay of boronia florals,  red and black fruits,  and noticeable new oak.  Texture on palate is delightful,  clear cherry,  a little firm on the oak now,  but shaping up to be a gold medal wine in another 6 12 months.  This is a vast step forward on the 2007,  showing much more appropriate ripening.  Cellar 3 8 years,  maybe 10.  GK 02/10

2007  Chard Farm Pinot Noir Finla Mor   18  ()
Cromwell,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $37   [ screwcap;  15% whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  25% new;  www.chardfarm.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  a great colour by burgundy standards,  but one of the lighter ones in the set.  Bouquet is intriguing,  in a lighter style and level of ripeness than many of the Otago wines,  with a clear buddleia floral component.  Initially tasted,  the bouquet is floral and lovely but the wine seems a little inconsequential.   In glass the red fruits seem to ripen and deepen to black cherries too,  though acid is a little noticeable.  This represents the fragrant and cooler side of Otago,  to cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Felton Road Pinot Noir Calvert Vineyard   18  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $65   [ screwcap;  27% whole-bunch;  11 months in French oak 26% new,  2 months in older;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  one of the lighter ones.  Bouquet is clearly pinot noir,  with a big floral dimension spanning much of the floral range from nearly leafy buddleia through the middle spectrum of roses and the like,  but not capturing boronia complexity to the extent of the Pyramid Valley Calvert.  There is a slight gamey suggestion,  and the palate has a lovely burgundian mouthfeel to it.  The flavours linger softly and delightfully,  even though the wine is slightly more tannic than the Pyramid Valley.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Peregrine Pinot Noir   17 ½ +  ()
Gibbston Valley,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $39   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  38% new;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Colour is a gorgeous pinot noir ruby,  closer to the 2008 Kupe than the standard Felton Road,  well below midway.  Bouquet shows an attractive full spectrum of pinot  florals,  from a suggestion of buddleia through obvious rose (particularly English tea rose) to some boronia,  in red cherry.  Palate is delicate,  highly varietal but not quite the concentration of the 2007,  wonderful freshness and crispness,  a very pretty wine in the making which may well score higher in a year or two.  Styling is obvious Cote de Nuits.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Muddy Water Estate Pinot Noir   17 ½ +  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $40   [ screwcap;  nil whole-bunch,  16  months in French oak,  c.35% new;  www.muddywater.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is floral,  centred particularly in the buddleia to roses spectrum,  but there are hints of violets,  and maybe boronia too.  Fruit flavours are brightly cherry,  with some blackboy peach.  On closer examination against some of the more highly rated wines,  the Muddy Water becomes a little simpler with a greater touch of leafyness relative to the Pyramid Valley Calvert wine,  not quite the perfect fruit maturity some show.  Even so,  this is mainstream good New Zealand pinot noir,  to cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2003  Mount Difficulty Pinot Noir Single Vineyard Target Gully   17 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $73   [ screwcap;  13% whole bunch;  12 months in French oak 35% new;  www.mtdifficulty.co.nz ]
Mature pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is fragrant,  clearly varietal,  and even retaining floral qualities mellowing out into complexly pinot aromas with some secondary characters.  Palate is lighter and neater than the Prima Donna or the Felton in the set,  with a freshness and balance of fruit to oak making it more burgundian than the others.  Aftertaste is long and firm,  elegantly cherry and some new oak,  not as rich as the Felton or the Prima Donna,  but more poise,  though drying a little.  Fully mature.  I am unable to explain why this wine has come forward so quickly,  relative to the exuberant reviews I gave it after Pinot Noir 2007.  I am looking forward to seeing it again blind,  against bottles cellared since release in Wellington.  GK 02/10

2006  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir Prima Donna   17 ½ +  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $84   [ screwcap;  10% whole bunch;  18 months in French oak 45% new;  www.pegasusbay.com ]
Rich pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is in a burlier style than the Otago wines I rated highly in this older wines tasting,  with grilled steak and Chateauneuf-du-Pape undertones in richly ripe plummy fruit.  Palate is rich,  with some sur-maturité,  yet more varietal than the bouquet suggests,  clear black cherry flavours as well as dark plums,  all made deliciously savoury by subtle brett.  Great to see the Pegasus Bay team will consider a stem component all too often the dimension lacking in their approach to pinot is the freshness and florality this move could contribute.  Finish is soft and rich.  Attractive and mouth-filling food wine,  to cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Thornbury Pinot Noir Central Otago   17 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $32   [ screwcap;  20% whole bunch;  10 months in French oak 40% new;  www.thornbury.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is soft,  rich and fragrant,  with attractive floral suggestions on mixed cherry fruits,  clearly varietal.  Palate is firm cherry and some plum flavours,  all  riper than the bouquet suggested,  attractive length partly because oak is at a maximum.  Good representative Otago pinot noir,  attractively priced.  Cellar 3 5 years.  VALUE.  GK 02/10

2007  Fromm Pinot Noir Clayvin   17 ½ +  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $55   [ cork;  nil whole bunch;  16 18 months in French oak,  10% new and light toast only specifically want fruit character,  not oak;  www.frommwinery.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  nearly a flush of velvet,  well above midway in depth.  Bouquet is in the deeply floral dark rose and boronia style,  suggestive of further south than Marlborough.  There is gorgeous black cherry fruit.  Palate is firmly dark cherry,  quite tanniny at this stage,  no stalks,  sturdy,  promising well in cellar.  What a thrill to see more open and breathing pinots from Fromm.  Alongside Cloudy Bay,  this is the darker and better phase of Marlborough pinot noir,  on the older soils.  Cellar 3 10 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Neudorf Vineyard Pinot Noir Moutere   17 ½ +  ()
Moutere Hills,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  14.1%;  $49   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch,  12 months in French oak 20% new;  www.neudorf.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is quieter than the top wines,  but explicitly varietal in its buddleia to red roses florality,  and red more than black cherry fruit.  Palate has great sensuality and mouthfeel,  with elegant oak rounding out slightly cooler fruit than the top wines,  to produce a very harmonious and varietal pinot.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Rockburn Pinot Noir   17 ½ +  ()
Parkburn (north of Lowburn) 85%,  Gibbston 15%,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  38% new;  www.rockburn.co.nz ]
Big pinot noir ruby,  one of the deeper ones.  Bouquet needs air,  but is in the big Otago style,  fully ripe to a touch of sur-maturité,  but still with shadows of boronia on black cherry fruit.  Palate is rich and robust,  but there are good cherry as well as plum flavours tapering out to a long finish.  Splashy decanting needed.  Cellar 3 10 years.  GK 02/10

2006  Domaine J F Mugnier Nuits-Saint-George la Marechale Premier Cru   17 ½ +  ()
Nuits-Saints-George,  Burgundy,  France:  12.5%;  $111   [ cork;  $US80;  no info provided in the Conference documentation,  but Remington Norman (1996 edition) advises a percentage of stalks up to 40% with detailed attention to stalk ripeness is used,  and that elevage is of the order of 18 months in French oak 25% new;  www.mugnier.fr ]
Big ruby,  surprisingly deep for what turned out to be France,  but an attractive pinot noir colour.  From the colour,  one confidently set out to appraise this wine as New Zealand.  Bouquet showed deep boronia florals comparable with best Central Otago styles,  though complexed by a little brett.  But as soon as the wine is in mouth,  there is a harmony and savoury length,  depth and complexity which is immediately consistent with good Chambertin.  Red and black cherries are equally balanced on the flavour,  new oak is near invisible,  yet the tannins are ripe and firm with no hint of the leafyness which so bedevils many New Zealand pinots.  This is a lovely wine,  which would score more highly in a hedonistic tasting,  though it lacked the precision of the Littorai.  Thank God one of the French wines could contribute to a supposedly international and culminating pinot tasting.  Cellar 5 15 years.  GK 02/10

2003  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5   17 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $56   [ screwcap;  16% whole bunch;  elevage detail (now corrected from the Conference booklet,  Blair Walter,  pers. comm) is 11 months in French oak,  38% new,  followed by a further 6 months in 3-year-old oak;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Mature pinot noir ruby,  one of the deepest in the tasting.  As with all the wines in the 2003 tasting,  the first impression is oak.  A general message needs to be taken out of that.  Behind the oak are fragrant rather burly fruit notes too,  and just a hint of decay (+ve).  The wine is not exactly floral,  but it is fragrant and plummily varietal.  Palate is quite rich,  too oaky,  a little 'beefy',  but this is clearly varietal with good flavour length and nett feel as pinot noir.  Fully mature,  but will hold several years.  GK 02/10

2002  Valli Pinot Noir Gibbston Vineyard   17 ½  ()
Gibbston,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $45   [ cork;  c.25% whole bunch;  11 months in French oak c.40% new,  balance 1 and 2-year;  www.valliwine.com ]
Dense ruby and velvet,  big for pinot noir,  and youthful for its age.  This wine bespeaks its year exactly,  a year in which many Otago Pinots were big,  plummy,  but over-ripe by fine pinot (meaning Burgundy) standards.  Needless to say they were highly praised by many New Zealand commentators too much influenced by the unsubtle Australian idea of optimal ripeness.  So here we have dense plummy fruit,  seemingly quite high alcohol,  good richness and ripeness,  but all a bit pruney without the lightness of good pinot noir.  Yet somehow,  one can still tell it is pinot,  and it is satisfying red wine.  This will cellar for some years yet,  3 5 or so,  and be good with food.  GK 02/10

2006  Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Isabelle   17 ½  ()
Multi-region,  California,  USA:  13.5%;  $70   [ cork;  US$50;  nil whole bunch;  20 months French oak,  100% new;  www.aubonclimat.com ]
Classic pinot noir ruby.  The first word I wrote down for this wine in the blind tasting was,  Pommard.  Bouquet is classic red roses and red cherries pinot noir,  with a lovely savoury lift,  which does in fact conceal an academic trace of brett.  Palate is neat and firm,  fruit beautifully dominant over oak despite the extraordinary elevage,  a light flavour alongside the dark fruits of the Felton,  but on examination,  not at all weak the dry extract here is as good as any.  This wine needed longer to breathe than the format of the International tasting allowed,  but this lovely Pommard styling and flesh is one we need more of in New Zealand.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Calvert Vineyard   17 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.9%;  $47   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  38% new ]
A fresher and deeper pinot noir ruby than many in the tasting leads on to a soft rich nearly plummy bouquet,  with new oak as noticeable as the floral component.  Palate likewise is soft and nearly fat,  bottled black doris plums more than cherries,  all somewhat lacking in red fruits florality and zing,  and therefore tending a little portly for burgundian pinot noir.  This is a wine more designed to please hedonistically than intellectually,  a wine which might be reviewed more highly in America than Europe,  and by modernists rather than classicists.  The total wine however is mouth-filling and fruity,  and still clearly pinot noir despite the new oak.  The key to its being so different from the Felton Road and Pyramid Valley wines is the complete absence of a whole bunch component,  the wine therefore lacking the freshness which a judicious stalk component may provide.  Highly instructive,  these three style interpretations of pinot noir from the same vineyard.  Cellar 3 10 years.  GK 02/10

2003  Neudorf Pinot Noir Home Vineyard   17 ½  ()
Moutere Hills,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $65   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  40% new;  www.neudorf.co.nz ]
Mature pinot noir ruby.  Like the Villa Seddon,  this is soft and burgundian wine,  but not quite the varietal accuracy some of the others show.  Bouquet is fragrant,  soft,  mature fruit with a little decay (+ve) and compost,  plus brown mushrooms.  Palate is wonderfully rich,  and certainly pinot noir in its complexed way,  so in a more hedonistic judging this would be ranked more highly.  Aftertaste is long and ripe-fruit-skinsy,  exciting.  Will hold a year or two yet.  GK 02/10

2003  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir Prima Donna   17 ½  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $70   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch,  18 months in French oak 40% new;  www.pegasusbay.com ]
Big pinot noir ruby,  fresher than most,  one of the two deepest (in that set).  Bouquet is very ripe and rich,  fragrant and burly like the Felton Road,  but not as oaky as that wine.  It is too ripe for clear floral components,  but the flavours include some dark cherry notes in the plummy richness.  With less sur-maturité in the vineyard,  this would have been the top wine of the tasting,  but the Target Gully achieves more vivid varietal character from its more appropriate ripening,  plus maybe that splash of whole bunch.  Still cellar potential here,  3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Montana Pinot Noir Terraces T   17 ½  ()
Brancott Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $33   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  10 months in French oak 47% new,  balance 1 and 2-year;  older terraces in the Brancott Valley;  www.pernod-ricard-pacific.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  just below midway in depth.  Bouquet is softly red cherry fruits,  with some florals at a red roses point of ripeness.  Palate is in a similar style to the '07 Cloudy Bay,  but the fruit shows just a critical notch more physiological maturity,  the cherries a little darker.  Very understated wine,  not as much bouquet as the Spy Valley,  but clearly redfruits pinot noir of some depth and substance.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Pisa Range Estate Pinot Noir Black Poplar Block   17 ½  ()
Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  12 months in French oak,  33% new;  www.pisarangeestate.co.nz ]
Ruby and velvet,  one of the darker wines.  Bouquet is deeply floral,  showing the dusky rose and boronia level of physiological maturity,  on black cherry fruit,  all smelling richly varietal.  Palate is saturated with black cherry fruit grading to bottled black doris plums,  now seeming a little over-ripe and weighty,  not quite as fresh as the 2007 Waitiri Creek.  Cellar 3 10 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Reserve Marlborough   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $55   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  12 14 months in French oak,  41% new;  www.villamaria.co.nz ]
Big pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is in the style that a number of Marlborough pinots show,  quite a fragrant wine,  nearly a touch of mint,  a generalised rosy floral component,  but the ripeness and physiological maturity is more reflected as blackboy peach grading to some plum,  rather than the aromatics of cherry fruit.  In mouth the wine is fat,  ripe,  showing good richness,  but not the complexity of the top wines.  Oak is attractively subdued.  Mouth-filling wine,  good with food,  but not quite singing as pinot noir.  Cellar 3 10 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Lime Rock Pinot Noir White Knuckle Hill   17 +  ()
Waipawa district,  southern Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $40   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  8 months in French oak,  100% new;  www.limerock.co.nz ]
Big pinot noir ruby,  a little velvet.  Bouquet is lifted,  aromatic and intriguing,  darkly floral,  almost a kanuka essential oil note,  rather than Otago thyme.  The floral component is very mixed,  ranging from suggestions of buddleia to nearly boronia,  yet there might be a hint of stalk too.  Palate is rich,  different,  a suggestion of strawberry as well as red and black cherry,  clearly varietal,  but not quite completely coordinated,  like some Marlborough wines.  When the identity (and later,  the questionable oak regime) is known,  as an inland higher-altitude Hawkes Bay wine,  the mix of cues is more understandable.  Interesting wine:  this southern elevated calcareous region of Hawkes Bay is the most exciting prospect for fine pinot noir in the district,  and winemaker / proprietor Rosie Butler is leading the way.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Pyramid Valley Pinot Noir Eaton Vineyard   17 +  ()
Omaka Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.2%;  $52   [ screwcap;  15% whole bunch;  15 months in French oak,  33% new;  www.pyramidvalley.co.nz ]
Colour is a more usual pinot noir ruby,  clearly the lightest in the Sustainable Practices tasting.  This is a challenging wine to assess.  Bouquet is fragrant and lifted by the highish alcohol,  with the florals more at the simpler buddleia end of the complexity scale.  In mouth the way the florals rise from the fruit reminds also of Chambolle-Musigny-like wines,  and the fruit seems ripe red and supple cherry.  Later again slightly leafy / stalky notes detract a little,  but the whole wine is clearly varietal,  and interesting.  To a degree it could be argued that the winemaker's (understandable) preference for a whole bunch component has in this Marlborough wine negated the benefits of fruit from (I assume) older higher-clay terrace sites.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2005  Wooing Tree Pinot Noir   17 +  ()
Cromwell,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $35   [ screwcap;  5% whole bunch;  11 months in French oak 35% new;  www.wooingtree.co.nz ]
Rich pinot noir ruby,  youthful alongside some 2005s.  Bouquet is deep on this wine,  ripe fruit maybe more in the black cherry and a hint of dark plums spectrum.  Palate is rich and plummy more than black cherry,  a little dry on noticeable oak and with a hint of stalk,  the whole wine in a burly style reminiscent of Pegasus Bay Prima Donna.  Cellar 3 5 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Allan Scott Pinot Noir The Hounds   17 +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $27   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  12 months in French oak,  50% new,  but all in puncheons (500-litre);  RS 2.6 g/L;  www.allanscott.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  not too different from the Wild Rock.  Bouquet is very different however,  tangy and exciting with clear boronia floral highlights and a whisper of brett on darker cherry fruit.  Palate is firm and dry notwithstanding the touch of RS,  quite aromatic as if there were some stray berries of syrah,  all raising the thought of Cote Rotie,  rather than Burgundy,  but attractive nonetheless.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Wild Rock Pinot Noir Cupid's Arrow   17 +  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $25   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  part of the wine 12 months in French oak,  15% new;  wildrockwine.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  above midway in richness.  Bouquet is a little different from most of these pinots,  almost a hint of malt whisky in a positive way,  as if all the cooperage were older.  The wine is darkly fragrant,  and quite sweet to smell.  Palate also suggests it is more old oak-affected,  mellow,  a little burly,  not the delicacy of some,  more big bourgogne rouge in style,  very food-friendly.  Twee name.  Cellar 3 6 years or so.  GK 02/10

2008  Quartz Reef Pinot Noir   17 +  ()
Bendigo,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $39   [ screwcap;  16% whole bunch,  c.11 months in French oak,  33% new,  balance 1 & 2-year;  www.quartzreef.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  well above midway.  Bouquet is deep and darkly floral,  on dense fruit grading from black cherry to plum,  all a bit solid.  Palate is rich and dry,  dark fruits,  a touch of nutmeg from the oak,  all tending foursquare at the moment.  Could well score more highly once it has lost some tannin.  Cellar 3 10 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Ata Rangi Pinot Noir   17  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $60   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch in documentation,  tho' 10% advised previously;  12 months in French oak,  25% 30% new;  www.atarangi.co.nz ]
Big ruby,  carmine and velvet,  much deeper than the Felton,  the deepest of the new world wines in the World tasting.  One sniff and this is immediately a more exotic New Zealand pinot noir,  characterised by more or less mint.  This quality is commonly found in Martinborough pinots,  but to try and convey the more lifted and floral (positive) side of the concept,  in mild cases I use the term 'pennyroyal'.  This wine is solid in both its fruit and it's aromatics,  and is thus a departure from the usual gentler Ata Rangi approach.  Below the aromatics are black cherries and dark plums,  and the nett impression of the bouquet is a little clumsy.  Palate confirms the wine is a bit of a monster,  very rich,  ripe and dark,  losing the supple charm of pinot noir as captured by the Russian River wine.  Instead,  it is black and dry,  in the Australian-influenced New Zealand heroic style.  Since Martinborough as a district is now becoming well-regarded for its pinot noirs,  winemakers and local wine people alike need to think a little bit more about the role of eucalyptus trees and their 'mint' signatures in the immediate district,  and the negative influence they can have on red wine.  Cellar 5 12 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna Aroha   17  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $80   [ cork;  no whole bunch;  14 months in French oak 42% new (detail for Conference differs from earlier info);  www.craggyrange.com ]
Rich ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  the second deepest in its tasting.  This one stood a little to one side in the lineup,  with a particular aromatic component on the floral side of the bouquet reminding of Cote Rotie / black pepper.  In mouth the impression continues,  so it shows a little less physiological maturity than the wines rated higher,  with a leafy nearly stalky complexity in red more than black fruits.  Actual fruit level is competitive,  and taken as a whole,  this will develop into pleasing wine creating some debate when presented blind.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2003  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna   17  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $39   [ cork;  nil whole-bunch,  14 months in French oak 55% new;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Mature pinot noir ruby,  one of the two deepest wines.  Bouquet is intriguing,  showing some burgundian complexity including trace brett,  and also a leafy note relative to the top wines.  Palate is very fragrant therefore,  with complex drying flavours even though quite rich.  Not quite up to the mark in a clinical tasting,  but good food wine at full maturity,  with a couple of years in hand.  GK 02/10

2006  Vynfields Pinot Noir   17  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $35   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  c.12  months French oak,  c.35% new;  www.vynfields.com ]
Rich pinot noir ruby.  Initially opened there is a tangy quality on the bouquet of this ripe wine,  but it gives way to fragrant black cherry fruit.  Palate is oakier than the bouquet suggested,  and nett impression ends up a little solid and four square,  but still clearly varietal in a ripe way.  Cellar 3 5 years.  GK 02/10

2006  Peregrine Pinot Noir   17  ()
Cromwell Basin 80%,  Gibbston 20,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $39   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  35% new;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Maturing pinot noir ruby.  An intriguing wine,  more reminiscent of a Savigny-les-Beaune wine than Central Otago.  It is fragrant in a slightly leafy and red fruits-only way.  Palate shows redcurrant and good red cherry fruit of more concentration than the typical Savigny would be,  but the slightly stalky note is comparable.  Oaking is totally appropriate to the light fruit,  beautifully done.  Fresh and attractive wine,  to cellar 1 3 years.  GK 02/10

2005  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Single Vineyard Seddon   17  ()
Awatere Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $58   [ screwcap;  100% de-stemmed;  12 months in French oak,  28% new;  www.villamaria.co.nz ]
Maturing pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is fragrant and clearly varietal in an evolved warmer-climate style,  with a leafy note on bouquet and palate.  Palate seems more alcoholic than the label says,  with the fruit melding into the oak to make an attractive mature slightly stalky wine,  though with reminders of good Cote du Rhone as well as pinot noir.  Intriguing.  Cellar a year or two.  GK 02/10

2001  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5   17  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $54   [ screwcap;  up to 24% whole bunch;  18 months in French oak,  30% new;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Mature pinot noir ruby,  quite a lot of age showing.  Bouquet is fragrant,  clearly mature in this company,  a little too mature to be explicitly floral.  Palate highlights there is a hint of aromatic complexity Central Otago's thyme ? on red more than black fruits,  nearly a leafy note,  but all clearly pinot.  This wine is deceptively easy to drink,  a hallmark of the burgundy wine style when all is said and done.  The allegedly high oak referred to in an earlier review did not occur to me this time.  Mature,  but will hold for several years.  GK 02/10

2007  Palliser Estate Pinot Noir   17  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.9%;  $48   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  12 months in French oak,  30% new;  www.palliser.co.nz ]
Big pinot noir ruby.  This wine too is rich and ample,  quite dark,  let down by some Martinborough mint and clear brett savoury complexity.  Bouquet contains many elements both floral and savoury,  and the palate follows on attractively,  as if the oak were older and the tannins softer.  The numbers say 30% new oak,  however.  Total style is rich and tending old-fashioned,  very food-friendly,  but like some Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines,  the style outweighs varietal specifics.  A little surprising a wine like this was selected for the 'Formal' side of an 'industry' Conference.  Purists will score this lower.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Akarua Pinot Noir Cadence   17  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.3%;  $45   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  11 months in French oak,  33% new;  www.akarua.com ]
Big pinot noir ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  deep for pinot noir,  one of the deepest.  Bouquet is rich and ripe to over-ripe,  more bottled black doris plums than cherry,  with darkly fragrant aromas,  not exactly floral.  Palate confirms a rich ripe to over-ripe very dry wine,  just a touch of syrah sizing here,  appreciable new oak and tannin,  but all pleasing in its full-on unsubtle way.  Reminiscent of some over-ripe 2002 Otago wines,  high alcohol.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir   17  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $49   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  11 months in French oak up to 50% new;  www.cloudybay.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  great by Burgundy standards,  one of the lighter in New Zealand.  Sitting alongside the Peregrine at one stage,  what a delightful contrast between the buddleia florals of less physiological maturity,  and the deeper aromas of the Otago wine.  In mouth there is some red cherry,  but also blackboy peach,  a hint of red currant fruit,  and a trace of leaf.  This epitomises the Marlborough red fruits style on the younger soils,  not showing quite enough physiological maturity and depth for palate satisfaction.  Cellar 3 6 years.  GK 02/10

2006  Spy Valley Pinot Noir Envoy   16 ½ +  ()
Lower Waihopai Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $55   [ cork;  nil whole bunch;  18 months in French oak,  c.30% new;  pinot not on the youngest soils;  www.spyvalleywine.co.nz ]
Older pinot noir ruby,  one of the lighter ones,  attractive.  Bouquet is mainstream Marlborough varietal pinot,  clear red fruits and florals of light red rose quality and ripeness,  all smelling reminiscent of Beaune village wine.  Flavours match,  red cherries,  a little more leafy / stalky than the Cloudy Bay (or the Beaune bouquet analogy in a half-decent year),  not a big wine,  but pretty and pleasing.  Cellar 2 5 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir Reserve   16 ½ +  ()
Bendigo,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $100   [ screwcap;  5% whole bunch;  12 months French oak,  60% new;  a single-vineyard wine;  www.gvwines.co.nz ]
Attractive pinot noir ruby,  below midway in depth.  Bouquet is red fruits lifted by spirit,  fragrant but not exactly floral,  yet clearly pinot noir cherry.  Alcohol aside,  the flavours are close to many a Beaune district pinot,  all red fruits,  good ripeness at that level,  slightly stalky,  lingering pleasantly on the tannins.  Looks expensive though,  for the nett achievement.  Cellar 2 7 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Olssens Pinot Noir Jackson Barry   16 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.6%;  $40   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  38% new;  www.olssens.co.nz ]
Dense older ruby and velvet,  one of the deepest,  dark for pinot noir.  Bouquet is mixed,  both raisiny yet with thoughts of leafy too,  as if mixed ripeness,  in very rich but only moderately fragrant fruit.  Palate is awkward,  rich yet clearly both stalky and plummy / raisiny,  with the oak tannins yet to marry in.  This is more a quantitative pinot,  rich,  cellar-worthy in the hope it may find more harmony than it shows now.  These alcohols clearly over 14% are a worry though,  where fine pinot is the goal.  Cellar 3 9 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Muddy Water Pinot Noir Hare's Breath   16 ½ +  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $60   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  16 months in French oak 35% new;  a single-vineyard wine from several clones;  www.muddywater.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  another too-deep wine for pinot noir,  darker than the Felton.  Bouquet is a very mixed affair,  with some pinot florals,  some syrah black pepper aromatics,  some red and some black fruits,  and yet another with a minty hint.  This character really is a negative in pinot.  Palate highlights the less elegant side of the wine,  for though there is fair cherry fruit,  there are also green tannins.  The net result is as reminiscent of cool year Cote Rotie as burgundy.  Cellar 3 8 years,  for it is sound red wine,  just not so good in a strict pinot tasting.  GK 02/10

2005  Wycroft Pinot Noir Old River Terrace   16 ½ +  ()
Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $30   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  8 months in French oak,  none new,  all 1 3 year;  Masterton and Martinborough fruit;  www.wycroft.com ]
Pinot noir ruby.  This is another wine to stimulate thoughts of Savigny-les-Beaune,  in the sense of a marker point (lesser) in reference burgundies.  Red fruits are more apparent than black,  and there is a suggestion of leafyness,  but the weight of fruit,  like the 2006 Peregrine,  is greater than most Savignys.  This wine does not show quite the accuracy of the Peregrine,  there is a slight pepperyness in the tannins bespeaking physiological immaturity,  but it is attractive mature pinot,  which will hold a year or two.  GK 02/10

2006  Amisfield Pinot Noir Rocky Knoll   16 ½ +  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $95   [ screwcap;  c.15% whole bunch;  15 months in French oak,  44% new;  the spec. sheet for this wine includes the evocative statement:  "Whole bunch fermentation is powerful magic which must be used conservatively as it has a profound impact on the wine.";  www.amisfield.co.nz ]
Attractive pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is fragrant and winey,  another one reminding of good bourgogne rouge,  with just a suggestion of leathery oxidation.  Palate is burgundian too,  lovely ripeness of red fruits mainly,  a little oaky maybe,  but the total style and food-friendlyness overtaking any academic faults.  When one thinks of a couple of the French pinot noirs in the Pinots of the World tasting,  this is pristine !  It could be scored more highly.  These pricings worry me,  though.   Cellar 1 4 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Amisfield Pinot Noir   16 ½ +  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $40   [ screwcap;  < 5% whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  25% new;  www.amisfield.co.nz ]
Big ruby and velvet,  one of the deeper.  Bouquet is on the burly side,  a little heavy,  another of those Otago wines suggesting mixed ripeness in the fruit,  clearly varietal,  but some pruney notes,  some almost leafy,  certainly rich.  Palate is more pleasing,  darkly plummy including some sur-maturité,  quite oaky,  just not achieving optimal varietal ripeness and finesse.  Cellar 3 10 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Seresin Estate Pinot Noir Raupo Creek   16 ½ +  ()
Omaka Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $48   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  15 months in French oak 40% new;  66% of fruit from higher-clay older hill-soils;  www.seresin.co.nz ]
Colour is too deep for pinot noir,  with some carmine and velvet.  Bouquet follows pro rata,  dark and rich in the heroic new world style,  let down by some mint.  In mouth,  the weight of fruit is rich and ample,  the styling more bottled dark plums than cherry,  but as it lingers,  it grows on you.  Perhaps there are very dark florals here,  darkest boronia,  and the new oak balance though noticeable is attractive,  adding freshness to the fruit.  The thought of darkest cherry,  plus a hint of cocoa / chocolate creeps in later.  But on balance,  it is too massive for fine or classical pinot,  more a wine for new world palates.  Perhaps there are Washington pinots like this.  The key point of interest here is,  66% of the wine is from older hillside soils,  pointing to the greater physiological maturity these sites can achieve in Marlborough.  The contrast with the same vineyard's Renwick-soils Home Vineyard wine in the same Sustainable Practices tasting was noteworthy,  again pointing to the great potential on these older more clayey soils for Marlborough to produce more substantial and interesting pinots.  This example however is too substantial,  and too over-ripe.  Cellar 3 10 years.  GK 02/10

2003  Staete Landt Pinot Noir Estate   16 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.6%;  $36   [ cork;  nil whole bunch;  10 months in new unspecified oak,  then 7 months in older;  www.staetelandt.co.nz ]
Mature pinot noir ruby,  close to the Target Gully,  a real pinot colour.  Bouquet is light clean and fragrant in a slightly leafy and secondary-characters way.  Palate is elegant within those terms,  like the Target Gully more burgundian than some,  but lighter.  It is carefully oaked,  attractive as mature wine,  with maybe a couple of years in hand as old wine.  GK 02/10

2007  Kawarau Estate Pinot Noir Reserve   16 ½  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $45   [ screwcap;  25% whole bunch,  10 months in French oak c.25% new;  some of the oldest pinot noir vines in Otago;  http://kestate.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  some age showing,  one of the lighter.  This is an old-timer in style,  with rather a lot of brett enhancing florality and wineyness.  Palate shows good red to black cherry fruit,  the oak level a bit above optimal,  but the whole wine is savoury and attractive old-fashioned burgundian pinot noir,  with good mouthfeel.  Shorter-term cellar might wiser,  given the brett level,  and deduct 1.5 or so marks if that character is unacceptable.  GK 02/10

2007  Mountford Estate Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14.3%;  $59   [ cork;  awaiting current info,  apart from the oak being French,  100% new;  www.mountfordvineyard.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  some maturity showing.  Initial impressions are favourable,  with good buddleia-level floral components on red fruits,  plus noticeable oak.  Palate confirms insufficient physiological maturity,  the fruit rich,  but a clear stalky note too,  the wine long-flavoured but finishing on oak more than fruit.  This Mountford is surprisingly like the Ara wine,  but more concentrated.  A 100% new oak approach to pinot noir is dubious,  even with fruit much more physiologically mature than this.  Cellar 3 7 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Mount Edward Pinot Noir Morrison Vineyard   16 ½  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $65   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  12 months in French oak,  33% new;  www.mountedward.co.nz ]
Big pinot noir ruby,  nearly a flush of carmine and velvet.  Bouquet is in the over-ripe spectrum,  dominated by bottled dark plums,  too ripe for florals.  In mouth it is soft,  ripe and full,  with a trace of cinnamon in the skin / oak tannins,  a wine more in the roto-fermenter shiraz camp,  popular in the marketplace,  but far from burgundy.  I guess this approach,  which is frequent,  and sadly,  is still endorsed by industry judges in wine Competitions,  will become recognised as the New Zealand commercial pinot style among pinotphiles.  This one is certainly not priced as such,  however.  It is a little fresher than the Dry River,  with light tannins in the tail which sustain the flavour.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Te Whare Ra Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $36   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch,  12 months in French oak 35% new ]
Pinot noir ruby,  the second lightest in the tasting.  Bouquet is immediately mainstream Marlborough younger gravels pinot,  fragrant but not as ripe or deep as the wines now emerging on the older terrace levels with their greater clayey fraction.  Bouquet florals are therefore centred in the buddleia arrange,  touching on red roses.  Fruit in mouth is fairly good,  red more than back,  but clearly tending leafy in flavour,  and slightly stewed.  VA is up a little,  and the tannins being not so ripe are tending more obtrusive,  making the whole wine pleasant older-style New Zealand pinot.  Cellar 3 7 years.  GK 02/10

2005  Woollaston Pinot Noir Moutere Clay   16 ½  ()
Moutere Hills,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $30   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  10 months in French oak c.40% new;  www.woollaston.co.nz ]
Mature pinot noir ruby.  Like the Villa Maria Seddon,  this is fragrant wine more in a soft generalised burgundian style than exactly varietal and compromised by a little brett.  Palate includes red cherry and red plums,  but also some stalky notes,  with cooperage-related drying tannins introducing a clumsy and varnishy  finish.  Still good food wine.  Will hold a year or two.  GK 02/10

2003  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14%;  $44   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  18 months in French oak;  www.pegasusbay.com ]
Mature pinot noir ruby.  This wine is fragrant on both red fruits and trace brett,  the fruit including some of the red fruits spectrum including red currants and strawberries (now browning),  as we have seen from Santa Barbara wines at previous Conferences.  Palate is quite oaky,  a little drying,  a mature New Zealand pinot noir in a simpler style.  GK 02/10

2007  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $47   [ screwcap;  10% whole bunch;  18 months in French oak,  40% new;  www.pegasusbay.com ]
Big pinot noir ruby with a flush of carmine and velvet,  well above midway in depth.  Bouquet is big too,  rich and soft with some of the plummyness of roto-fermenter Australian shiraz.  Looking again,  it is darkly floral as well,  with a little savoury complexity.  Palate is quite different,  ripe to over-ripe fruit,  but harder and drier than expected,  with an odd aromatic on the oak.  Rich and satisfying as red wine,  but doesn't sing as pinot noir.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Schubert Pinot Noir Block B   16 ½  ()
Gladstone,  Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $60   [ cork;  nil whole bunch;  14 months in French oak,  50% new;  www.schubert.co.nz ]
Lighter pinot noir ruby,  some age showing.  This wine is unusually perfumed at first opening,  and benefits from decanting,  to show fragrant red-rose florals on red fruits.  Palate introduces slightly unusual flavours,  suggestions of cooked raspberry and desiccated coconut,  all fresh and attractive,  with soft oaky tannins.  The thought of American oak occurs,  but seems unlikely.  Unusual pinot noir,  but still in style.  Cellar 2 5 years.  GK 02/10

2006  Nevis Bluff Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Gibbston and Cromwell districts,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $48   [ screwcap;  30% whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  25% new;  www.nevisbluff.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  appropriate for age,  below midway in depth.  Bouquet is initially fragrant,  but is a little off-centre for varietal pinot noir,  more like any number of bourgognes rouges made with older cooperage.  Palate is winey,  reasonable ripeness and mouthfeel,  fair length on red and black cherry fruit,  a little acid.  Technocrats might be harder on this wine.  After the wilfully strong Pegasus Bay Prima Donna and Rimu Grove wines,  which reflect a heroic new world approach to pinot noir,  this is a more food-friendly wine.  Cellar 2 5 years.  GK 02/10

2006  Elk Cove Vineyard Pinot Noir Reserve   16 ½  ()
Willamette Valley,  Oregon,  USA:   – %;  $118   [ cork;  $US85;  nil whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  80% new;  www.elkcove.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  a much more reasonable colour,  like the Mugnier.  Bouquet is to first impression attractively varietal red fruits pinot,  lightly floral.  In mouth however that there is an almost-saline streak,  and on going back to the bouquet,  perhaps it is a little stalky too.  As one tastes it,  it is clearly pinot noir,  but at each sip it seems more phenolic and less attractive.  This is quite the opposite of what one hedonistically desires in pinot noir.  A wine to cellar,  in the hope the phenolics condense,  and the red fruits triumph.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2003  Wither Hills Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $46   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  14 months in French oak,  50 60% new;  www.witherhills.co.nz ]
Mature pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is clearly leafy here,  not quite clean,  a little stewed with trace VA,  but the nett impression is fragrant and older-style New Zealand pinot.  Palate follows exactly,  a little oaky relative to the fruit qualities,  a touch of acid correlating with the leafy notes,  but reasonably attractive very dry wine.  Fully mature.  GK 02/10

2007  Dry River Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  12.6%;  $85   [ cork;  20% whole bunch;  12 months in French oak,  25% new;  www.dryriver.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  inappropriate to fine pinot,  the deepest in the Sustainable Tasting.  Bouquet is a very mixed affair,  bespeaking seriously over-ripe fruit with dark plums dominating plus a hint of five spice,  with red fruits and floral components lacking.  In addition,  there is an unsubtle maceration carbonique character shifting the whole wine towards hot-year beaujolais,  rather than any desirable kind of pinot noir / burgundy.  Palate follows pro rata,  darkly fruity and tending massive in a stewed dark plum way,  soft,  new oak,  but with a nett impression more of roto-fermenter shiraz than burgundy.  The essential pinot noir requirements of florality and beauty do not enter into this equation,  and the whole wine tastes clumsy and contrived.  Exactly how the over-ripe smells and flavours of so many Dry River pinots are achieved,  at the lowest alcohol in the set,  remains unclear.  It seems so sad that this committed producer does not seem to understand the concept of sur-maturité in pinot noir,  and the loss of complexity which results from this approach.  The wines therefore are far from the burgundian model,  and are hard to score as pinot noir.  Will cellar well,  3 10 years in its style,  for the fruit weight is there.  GK 02/10

2007  Seresin Pinot Noir Home Vineyard   16 +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $37   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  15 months in French oak,  30% new;  all younger alluviums in the Renwick district;  www.seresin.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet shows fragrant red cherry fruit,  lifted by a touch of VA more than florality,  not too obtrusive.  Palate is lighter than the Raupo Creek wine,  the fruits less deeply coloured,  less physiologically mature and showing some stalks as would be expected on the younger soils,  the flavours more red fruits pinot in a light Cote de Beaune style.  Oak is noticeable for the weight of fruit,  the wine less 'complex' / winey but (VA aside) purer,  alongside the Raupo Creek or the Palliser.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2006  Tarras Vineyards Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
Bendigo,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $35   [ screwcap;  winemaking detail to come;  www.tarrasvineyards.com ]
Maturing pinot noir ruby.  There is not a lot of bouquet,  which lets it down as pinot,  but there are no faults.  Palate is much more positive,  clear red fruits,  made a little foursquare by oak,  but attractive weight and mouth feel,  now clearly pinot.  Maturing,  will hold several years.  GK 02/10

2003  Rippon Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
Wanaka,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $45   [ cork;  15% whole bunch;  10 months in French oak 25% new,  6  months in old;  www.rippon.co.nz ]
Mature pinot noir ruby,  the lightest of the 2003s.  Initially opened there was a whiff of burnt perspex in this,  which dissipated slowly.  Underneath are red fruits,  trace VA,  slightly leafy red and some darker berries,  but good oak balance.  Fully mature.  GK 02/10

2007  Rimu Grove Pinot Noir Synergy   16 +  ()
Moutere Hills,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  14.1%;  $ –    [ cork;  hand-picked;  10 months in French oak 25% new,  then 8 months in older oak;  this is a celebration / not-for-sale wine bottled in magnums only,  destined for promotional events;  www.rimugrove.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  about in the middle for depth.  This is a bold wine,  sending mixed messages which collectively detract from harmony.  There is rich fruit,  but with suggestions of both over-ripe and under-ripe berries,  plus a Martinborough-like suggestion of mint,  light brett,  and rather a lot of oak.  Palate is pro rata to bouquet,  the oak becoming too assertive for good pinot noir.  A danger this wine will end up varnishy on the oak.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Saint Clair Pinot Noir Pioneer Block 5 Bull Block   16 +  ()
Omaka Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $31   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  85% new;  www.saintclair.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  above midway in depth.  This is another pinot noir with a hint of Cote Rotie white pepper in its leafy buddleia florals,  fragrant but a bit worrying as to the physiological maturity.  Palate is rich,  varietal,  but showing some stalks and a trace of brett.  There is a mix of fruit analogies apparent,  as if there is a great range of berry ripeness in the crop,  the flavours all lingering on new oak.  Needs a year or two to marry up,  and should be pleasant enough drinking,  but it doesn't score well as pinot noir per se.  Am I the only one who is starting to feel that Saint Clair are over-egging their labelling approach ?  To be at the same time a Pioneer Block,  a Block 5,  and a Bull Block is pretentious.  Cellar 3 6 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Ara Pinot Noir Resolute   16 +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.2%;  $42   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  12 months in French oak,  20% new,  balance 1 and 2-year;  www.winegrowersofara.co.nz ]
Older pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is surprisingly mature for its vintage,  showing modest redfruits,  and a little leaf in browning buddleia florals.  Palate is in the less physiologically mature Marlborough style,  lightish red fruits,  a little stalky with a hint of white pepper,  the oak showing rather much particularly for the ripeness achieved.  Given the proprietors have made much of their elevated terrace site,  is this just young vines speaking,  or are there cropping-rate issues to be faced up to ?  Cellar 2 5 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Foxes Island Pinot Noir Belsham Estate Vineyards   16 +  ()
Wairau and Awatere Valleys,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $45   [ screwcap;  ( data is for the most recently available 2005 vintage) nil whole bunch;  14 months in tight-grained French oak some new;  www.foxes-island.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  one of the lighter ones.  Bouquet shows another wine in the mainstream Marlborough style,  all red fruits and fragrant at the red roses level.  Palate matches,  red currants and more red cherry,  but with a leafy quality throughout detracting from nett achievement.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 02/10

2006  Mondillo Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
Bendigo,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  awaiting info,  the 2008 was nil whole bunch,  11 months in French oak 30% new;  www.mondillo.com ]
Lighter pinot noir ruby,  one of the lightest.  Bouquet is low-key but accurate redfruits pinot noir,  like many a minor burgundy.  Palate introduces some mushroom complexity on fruit richer than the bouquet suggests,  a trace of stalk,  the alcohol well hidden.  Cellar 2 5 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Rippon Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
Wanaka,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  12.9%;  $45   [ supercritical cork;  18% whole bunch;  11 months in French oak,  30% new,  then 6 months in older;  www.rippon.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  a good varietal colour,  though one of the lighter in the Sustainable Tasting.  Bouquet is in the light redfruits Savigny-les-Beaune style,  buddleia florals,  strawberry fruits,  an interpretation of pinot noir we have also seen from the Santa Barbara coast in earlier Pinot Noir Conferences.  Palate shows some of the estery qualities of raspberry in a positive sense,  light but sustained red fruits,  a hint of stalk,  attractive in a simple way.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 02/10

2006  Domaine Camille Giroud Chambertin Grand Cru   16 +  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $240   [ cork;  $NZ approx.;  % whole bunch unknown;  16 months in French oak 50% new;  website solely a home page;  www.camillegiroud.com ]
Pinot noir ruby.  First impression on bouquet is savoury brett,  on red cherry fruit and older oak.  Palate matches,  drying bricky fruits reminiscent of the 1970s,  no great weight,  just straightforward old-style burgundy,  to cellar 5 10 years.  No learning opportunities here at all quite the opposite of what one hopes from any tasting of Chambertin.  Organisers of important tastings such as this must learn:  the wines must be pre-tasted,  if a worthwhile tasting with its own internal logic is to be achieved.  In the case of overseas wines,  that means flying in samples.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 02/10

2006  Pyramid Valley Pinot Noir Earth Smoke   16  ()
Waikari,  Waipara,  Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13%;  $ –    [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  20 months in French oak,  33% new;  www.pyramidvalley.co.nz ]
Mature pinot noir ruby,  the lightest of the (relatively few) older wines collected at that session.  Bouquet is fragrant in a pretty Savigny-like way,  leading into red fruits in the strawberry / redcurrant spectrum of pinot.  Palate is not as good as bouquet,  a little acid and a touch leafy in the light redfruits,  with just a hint of bitterness to the finish.  Best finished up.  GK 02/10

2007  Alan McCorkindale Pinot Noir Waipara Valley   16  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $42   [ supercritical cork;  nil whole bunch;  12 months in French oak,  % new not given;  no website ]
Pinot noir ruby,  just the lightest in its tasting,  still a good pinot colour with good hue.  Bouquet initially opened a little congested,  as well as a leafy,  with a stewed undertone and also a little VA.  There is a hint of some lesser spicy complexity,  not quite as clean as the top wines.  Palate has good fruit,  and in one sense more complexity than some wines,  but like many burgundies the complexity is not all positive some over-ripe mushroom notes.  Tannin ripeness is on a par with the Te Whare Ra wine,  not optimal.  This wine does not speak for Waipara as well as some examples.  Cellar 3 7 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Prophet's Rock Pinot Noir   16  ()
Bendigo,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $45   [ cork;  5% whole bunch;  16 months in French oak,  35% new;  www.prophetsrock.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  on the full side,  above midway.  Bouquet is a mixed affair on this wine.  There are some florals,  and mixed-hue fruits,  plus an undertone of burnt perspex.  Palate is rich,  red cherry grading to black fruits,  a firm note from some stalks or oak,  all needing more time to sort itself out.  It has the fruit to cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Dog Point Pinot Noir Dog Point Vineyard   16  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $43   [ cork;  nil whole bunch;  18 months in French oak 45 50% new;  vineyard in southern valleys sub-region including dissected older hill-slopes;  www.dogpoint.co.nz ]
Big ruby,  one of the deeper wines.  Bouquet is darker too,  closed,  maybe a little reductive,  no clear pinot noir clues.  Palate is rich,  extractive,  darkly plummy,  some charry oak,  a wine more in the style of the Pegasus Bay Prima Donna.  There is more pinot noir character evident on palate than on bouquet,  but it is a very big wine.  The late flavours suggest the wine is more massive and brooding,  rather than reductive to a fault,  so this may be one to cellar and hope (in a positive sense).  Can't score it highly at the moment,  however.  Not yet released.  Cellar 3 10 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Mud House Pinot Noir Central Otago   16  ()
Bendigo,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $27   [ screwcap;  detail awaited,  but nil whole bunch;  part of the wine is raised in French oak some new,  and some stays in stainless steel to retain freshness;  RS 3.8 g/L;  www.mudhouse.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  a lovely colour slightly below midway.  Bouquet is tending reticent,  and benefits from air.  It then opens to a lightly floral pinot aroma at no more than the red fruits point of complexity.  Then on palate,  buddleia florals come through,  and the ripeness is a little leafier and more acid than earlier thought,  more Marlborough than Otago.  Perhaps it is young vines.  In another year this should be opening up into attractive light pinot,  since the acid hides the residual.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Montana Pinot Noir Terraces T   16  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $33   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  39% new;  older terraces in the Brancott Valley;  www.pernod-ricard-pacific.com ]
Lighter pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is classic Marlborough looking back,  explicit buddleia and redfruits florals,  blackboy peach rather than cherry fruit notes,  and delicate oak.  This is another wine pointing to Savigny-les-Beaune.  Palate is lighter than many,  the flavours as for bouquet,  all a little leafy and lacking full physiological maturity and depth of flavour,  but easy drinking.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Auntsfield Pinot Noir Hawk Hill   16  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $45   [ screwcap; nil whole bunch;  10 months in French oak 40% new;  single-vineyard wine on loess-clay hill-slopes;  www.auntsfield.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  right in the middle for depth.  Bouquet does not sing as pinot noir,  being slightly reductive on plummy fruits.  Palate shows good ripeness and richness but plain plummy fruit,  the oak lesser,  the wine as easily identified as merlot as pinot noir,  all a little meaty.  Quite rich sound red wine,  and indications of a good site,  but this vintage lacks varietal quality.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Cape Campbell Pinot Noir   15 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $25   [ screwcap;  33% whole bunch;  most of the wine 9 10 months in French oak,  25% new,  balance 1 and 2-year,  small fraction of the wine stainless;  www.capecampbell.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  an attractive colour.  Bouquet is slightly reductive in the older European style,  the wine needing a good splashy decanting.  It opens to indeterminate red fruits,  no florals but pleasant enough.  Palate is on the firm side,  more an Italian pinot nero than familiar local approaches.  Should be softer and more burgundian with a couple of years in cellar.  GK 02/10

2008  Wild Earth Pinot Noir   15 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn 70% & Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.2%;  $40   [ screwcap;  5% whole bunch;  9 months in French oak,  30% new;  www.wildearthwines.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  below midway.  Initial bouquet is closed,  tending reductive,  and needing air.  The wine opens to a red cherry level of ripeness,  crisp fruit with a hard quality to it.  The balance of fruit to oak is attractive,  though,  and with a couple of years cellar time,  this should become a more attractive bottle of straightforward pinot noir.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Wycroft Pinot Noir Forbury   15 ½ +  ()
Masterton,  Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $30   [ Screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  30% new;  Forbury is in effect a second label to Wycroft unqualified;  www.wycroft.com ]
Light pinot noir ruby,  one of the lightest.  Bouquet is fragrant buddleia florals and red currants / red cherries,  totally in a Savigny-les-Beaune styling.  Palate is exactly the same,  light but not too weak,  real red currant fruits and some leafy flavours,  not bone dry,  refreshing,  not as leafy as the Camshorn.  Cellar 2 5 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Camshorn Pinot Noir Domett Clays   15 ½ +  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13%;  $37   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  11 months in French oak,  25% new;  www.pernod-ricard-pacific.com ]
Older pinot noir ruby in this company,  one of the darker ones.  This is another wine with the bouquet overlapping with Cote Rotie:  a hint of white pepper,  red fruits,  and florals at the buddleia level.  Palate is even more in that style,  red fruits,  fragrant,  aromatic,  but quite stalky and not the concentration needed.  Pleasing in a modest way,  to cellar 1 4 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Hawkshead Pinot Noir First Vines   15 ½  ()
Gibbston Valley,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $44   [ screwcap;  25% whole bunch;  11 months in French oak,  40% new;  www.hawksheadwine.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  distinctly mature for its age.  Bouquet shows slightly leafy but good initial floral complexity more at the red rose level,  on attractive red cherry fruit.  Palate doesn't follow through,  the wine lacking concentration,  with a clear stalky component surprising after the bouquet.  Cellar 1 4 years.  GK 02/10

2008  Neudorf Pinot Noir Moutere   15 ½  ()
Moutere Hills,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  14%;  $49   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  12 months in French oak,  28% new;  www.neudorf.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  in the middle for depth of colour.  This wine opens reductively,  and needs a lot of jug to jug aeration before it communicates reluctantly.  Fruit is rich and good,  at the red cherry ripeness level grading through to some black cherry fruits,  all attractively balanced to good oak.  Alcohol is more restrained than some pinots under this label were in the last decade,  which helps texture.  But sadly,  the reduction robs the wine of pinot character and beauty at this stage.  A hard wine to score it is more classic than the Dry River,  and more simply but quite seriously flawed.  Also,  it depends on how much reduction is acceptable to you.  Some New Zealand commentators pretty well ignore it.  It might bury its H2S after five years in cellar,  and improve considerably so hence the fence-sitting number for now.  Cellar 5 10 years.  GK 02/10

2005  Rippon Pinot Noir   15 ½  ()
Wanaka,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $49   [ supercritical cork;  12% whole bunch;  16 months in French oak,  25% new,  oldest 4 years;  www.rippon.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet shows a hint of camphor and VA,  on mature red fruits and oak.  Palate is oaky and lean,  modest and fading now,  another needing finishing up.  GK 02/10

2008  Johner Estate Pinot Noir Gladstone   15 ½  ()
Gladstone,  Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $36   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  16 months in French oak,  30% new;  RS 2.4 g/L;  www.johner-estate.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  middling in weight.  Bouquet is surprisingly reminiscent of the affordable Lindemans Pinot Noir Bin 99 strawberry and lightest red fruits wine,  which always surprises at its sub-$10 price for being stylistically reasonably accurate even if not very serious.  Total style here has more fruit weight,  but a spread of ripeness from leafy / buddleia to redcurrant / red cherry only,  with some stalk carrying through into a not-quite-bone-dry finish [confirmed later],  so it too comes more into the QDR pinot category.  Cellar 2 5 years.  GK 02/10

2007  de Bortoli Pinot Noir Reserve Release   15 ½  ()
Yarra Valley,  Victoria,  Australia:  13%;  $63   [ screwcap;  $AU50;  nil whole bunch;  11 months in French oak,  35% new;  www.debortoli.com.au ]
Mature pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is very simple red-fruits pinot,  vaguely at the strawberry / red currants level of complexity.  Palate is even simpler,  just pleasant enough light red wine,  faintly saline,  vaguely varietal,  but lacking berry concentration and pinot noir character.  Again,  what were the organisers thinking ?  There must be currently-available compelling wines from the Mornington Peninsula to represent Australian achievements with pinot noir,  for a tasting such as this.  Or virtually any Reserve Pinot Noir label from Coldstream Vineyard,  also in the Yarra.  Perhaps they bought on the strength of Australian reviews of this wine,  without tasting never wise,  Australian wine chauvinism being what it is,  and notably even less so for pinot noir (Halliday excepted).  Not worth cellaring as pinot.  GK 02/10

2008  Mount Beautiful Pinot Noir Cheviot Hills   15 +  ()
Cheviot Hills,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $35   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  11 months in French oak 30% new;  RS 1.3 g/L;  www.mtbeautiful.co.nz ]
Light pinot noir ruby,  one of the lightest in Pinot Noir 2010.  This is another wine in a minor Savigny-les-Beaune styling,  clearly pinot noir,  clearly burgundian,  but in either location,  ripened to a leafy red fruits level only.  Palate likewise is tending to the short and slightly acid side,  as are redcurrants,  but the wine wins points for being beautifully made and harmoniously oaked for its ripeness and concentration,  and thus achieving a burgundian (minor) styling.  Only the second crop,  so potential here in an intriguing sheltered Canterbury spot well north of Waipara,  the establishment of which has been watched with interest by passers-by on SH1.  Cellar 2 4 years.  GK 02/10

2003  Ata Rangi Pinot Noir   15 +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $64   [ screwcap;  10% whole bunch;  11 months in 25% new French oak;  www.atarangi.co.nz ]
Mature pinot noir ruby,  midway in depth,  much the same as the Wither Hills.  Bouquet is untidy,  with suggestions of eucalyptus / lawsoniana,  oxidation and oak showing more than pinot.  Palate is more in line,  burgundian in weight and style,  but the aromatics and oak dominate the red fruits pinot unduly.  Finish is tending astringent.  Fully mature.  GK 02/10

2008  Woollaston Pinot Noir   15 +  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $38   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  11 months in French oak,  20% new;  www.woollaston.co.nz ]
Light pinot noir ruby,  one of the lightest.  This is a different kind of pinot noir,  more in the pretty lightly floral and strawberry style.  Florals are concentrated in the buddleia to rose spectrum,  and the fruits are all red,  including redcurrant,  strawberry and red cherry.  Yet in mouth the wine is less attractive than supposed on bouquet,  being noticeably stalky almost to a fault,  and not bone dry.  A little more new oak than is ideal is reinforcing the stalk.  Hard to believe the alcohol is all grape sugar,  doesn't help.  Cellar 2 5 years.  GK 02/10

2007  Clos Henri Pinot Noir Marlborough Reserve   15  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $26   [ cork;  detail awaited,  the 2005 Pinot Noir was aged for ten months in French oak,  15% new;  New Zealand website hard to locate,  and does not display / scroll correctly;  www.clos-henri.com/vineyard/home/closhenri.en.php4 ]
Pinot noir ruby,  one of the lighter wines.  Freshly opened the wine is reductive in the older European way,  and needs splashy decanting several times.  It gradually opens up to reveal a pinot in the Marlborough young alluviums style,  lighter florals at the buddleia end of the physiological ripeness scale,  red fruits including red currants and red cherry only,  all a bit too leafy / stalky.  An old-fashioned wine,  not really worth cellaring.  GK 02/10

2003  Te Kairanga Pinot Noir Reserve   15  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $50   [ cork;  15% whole bunch;  10 months in French oak 29% new;  www.tekairanga.co.nz ]
Mature pinot noir ruby,  one of the darker ones.  Oak is excessive on this wine,  as is so often the case in Reserve versions of any variety,  detracting from slightly oxidising but still varietal and quite rich fruit.  Palate is therefore old for its age,  a little tired in a clinical tasting,  not very varietal,  but still useful wine in a food context.  Time to finish up.  GK 02/10

2007  Greenhough Pinot Noir Hope Vineyard   14 ½ +  ()
Waimea Plains,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $42   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  12 months in French oak 25% new;  www.greenhough.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  old for age.  Bouquet is varnishy first and foremost,  the cooperage overwhelming the light fruit.  Persevering,  the fruit is reasonably rich but insufficiently ripe,  vaguely buddleia florals and redcurrant and yellow plum flavours,  all tending stalky,  short and tannic.  This is a far cry from earlier Hope Vineyard pinots I enthused about last decade,  sadly.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 02/10

2007  Bouldevines Pinot Noir   14 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $30   [ screwcap;  detail awaited,  2008 nil whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  20% new;  www.bouldevineswine.co.nz ]
Light pinot noir ruby,  one of the lightest.  This is intriguing,  a textbook example of the spurious florality akin to buddleia aroma,  but in fact leafyness,  on fruit no riper than redcurrants.  Palate matches perfectly,  short slightly raspberry as well as redcurrant fruit,  some hard stalky tannins,  unlike the 2008 perhaps a little residual sugar to try and smooth the finish.  Like the 2008 Mount Beautiful,  there are reminders of cool year burgundy here (though they would be dry),  but this wine succeeds less well.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 02/10

2007  Kaituna Valley Pinot Noir   14  ()
Kaituna Valley,  Banks Peninsula,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  some vines c.32 years old,  the oldest commercial pinot noir vines in Canterbury;  nil whole bunch;  20 months in French oak 100% new;  www.kaitunavalley.co.nz ]
Big ruby,  a flush of carmine and velvet,  inappropriately dark for pinot noir.  Initial bouquet is almost Australian,  a lot of oak and mint,  on indeterminate plummy fruit and high alcohol,  all reminiscent of many commercial shirazes.  Palate is rich but not varietal,  with a strange aromatic reminiscent of cypress timber right through the fruit presumably oak-related.  The total impression lingers well,  and the wine should cellar well,  and even be popular in it's clumsy oaky massive red wine style.  The wine has been scored as pinot noir,  however,  for which the oak regime is simply inappropriate.  Since this wine has tended to this style over recent years,  some of the website comments on previous vintages simply confirm my (associated article) assertion that the evaluation of pinot noir in New Zealand is too often wayward.  Incidentally,  this fruit played a large part in the famous 1982 St Helena Pinot Noir.  That wine still shows what could be achieved here,  with winemaking more attuned to optimising the special beauty of pinot noir the grape.  Cellar 5 10 or more years.  GK 02/10

2006  Comte Armand Volnay   13 ½  ()
Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $63   [ cork;  $US45 approx;  15 20% whole bunch;  up to 18 months in oak,  up to 20% new for village wines [ allegedly ];  www.domaine-comte-armand.com ]
Older pinot noir ruby.  If the Chambertin is old-style burgundy and lesser,  this wine is unclean burgundy,  totally unsuited to a Conference tasting.  Bouquet shows brett and oxidation before any varietal character (as opposed to style character).  Palate is true to a burgundian style (sourness aside) in a very old-fashioned way,  but no longer illustrates any desirable facet of pinot noir the fruit,  or its elevage.  Not worth cellaring.  The dismay among delegates at being given a wine like this was evident;  the comments above for the Giroud wine apply even more clearly here.  GK 02/10