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Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
independent
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Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.

SOME OUTSTANDING 2003 NEW ZEALAND PINOTS,  SOME 2002 JADOT PINOTS,  AND NUMEROUS OTHERS


For New Zealand pinot noir,  2003 is turning out to be our greatest vintage so far.  In the all-important Otago region particularly,  climatic balance was such that the best wines were aromatic and cherry-fruited,  with precise and refreshing varietal aromas,  delicacy and poise.  They avoided the excess ripeness,  heaviness and lush new-world fruit characters of so many 2002s,  where many pinot wines could in a truly blind tasting be confused with merlot.  Even so,  the 2002s were praised by many commentators interested in size ahead of beauty.  

The great thing about 2003,  though,  is that through all New Zealand pinot districts from Otago in the south,  north to Wairarapa and Nelson,  many of the wines show exact and beautiful varietal floral components on bouquet reminiscent of violets or boronia.  Some are a little more perfumed and less serious,  with lighter florals suggestive of buddleia and similar flowers.  These tend to have blackboy peach fruit flavours,  rather than cherry.  The deep precise pinot florals can only be developed in cooler climates,  where temperature range and diurnal fluctuation allow differentiation of the true floral components from the leafy pseudo-floral and strawberry characters found in hotter climates.  

And as producers become more attuned to the subtle bouquet characters which define great pinot,  and the ease with which those features can be suppressed or lost,  the role of oak in elevage of New Zealand pinots is gradually becoming subtler.  This is a welcome step,  paralleling local practice with the other great burgundy grape,  chardonnay.  There is still some way to go,  with both varieties.

The other great thing happening in the evolution of fine New Zealand pinot is adjusting winemaking to achieve more appropriate colours,  and hence correlated with that,  more delicate textures.  Lining up several dozen at a time,  it is a pleasure to see we are retreating from the excesses of a few years ago,  when many allegedly good New Zealand pinots were as dark as good merlot,  and not greatly dissimilar in tannin and taste.  More of our winemakers are now becoming better acquainted with the wines of Burgundy,  for those wines still are the international standard and arbiter by which aspiring pinots are judged (despite some jingoistic barracking locally,  about a new class of wine for New Zealand pinots).  And since in fact we do have the climate to make world-class pinot (unlike many new world places),  appropriate colour,  size and mouthfeel is essential,  if we want our wines to be taken seriously,  overseas.  There is a world of difference between our pinots being regarded as serious pinot noirs overseas,  and their being a commercial success.  This critical factor can be over-looked.

Few of our pinots are as light in colour as pleasant traditional burgundies from a lighter year.  A majority however are now good pinot colours,  by any standards.  Rather many of the wines are still as deep as the darkest grands crus from burgundy producers known for their darker colours,  and a few are still excessively deep.  The issue is complicated by the undeniable fact that several of the top New Zealand wines are pretty well at the colour limit.  Those wines that are redeemed by the beauty of their bouquets could be seen as setting an antipodean standard,  but nonetheless,  caution with excess colour is still essential.  The 2002 and 2003 vintages in France are not typical.  Too many of our dark wines are merely lumbering.

The future for pinot noir in New Zealand looks to be immensely exciting,  with the finest districts on that climatic knife edge where,  leaving aside the winemaker for a moment,   climate alone dictates the ultimate quality of any vintage.  Hard though it is commercially,  the almost total frost-loss of crop in some years in Otago almost guarantees that in the finest  years,  Otago will be the source of New Zealand’s greatest pinots.

As for the previous batch of pinot reviews in January,  these tastings span some months,  and cannot therefore provide the exact relativity of scores achievable in a single large tasting.

[ These reviews were first published on  www.regionalwines.co.nz ]


PINOT NOIR

2003  Astrolabe Pinot Noir Young Vines
2003  Ata Rangi Pinot Noir
2003  Babich Pinot Noir Marlborough
2003  Babich Pinot Noir Winemakers Reserve
2003  Bilancia Pinot Noir
2004  Blackenbrook Pinot Noir
2004  Boundary Vineyards Pinot Noir Kings Road
2004  Cairnbrae Vineyards Pinot Noir
2004  Capricorn Estates Pinot Noir Strugglers Flat
2003  Capricorn Estates Strugglers Flat Pinot Noir
2003  Carrick Pinot Noir
2003  Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir
2003  Coney Pinot Noir Pizzicato
2002  Corbans Pinot Noir Marlborough Private Bin
2003  Dog Point Pinot Noir
2003  Escarpment Pinot Noir Kupe
2003  Framingham Pinot Noir
2003  Greenhough Pinot Noir Hope Vineyard
2003  Greenhough Pinot Noir Nelson
2003  Huia Pinot Noir
2002  Huia Pinot Noir
2001  Huia Pinot Noir
2002  Jadot Beaune Chouacheux
2002  Jadot Beaune Clos des Ursules Vignes Franches
2002  Jadot Bonnes Mares
2002  Jadot Chambertin Clos de Beze
2002  Jadot Chambolle-Musigny les Amoureuses
2002  Jadot Corton
2002  Jadot Echezeaux
2002  Jadot Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St Jacques
2002  Jadot Gevrey-Chambertin les Cazetiers
2002  Jadot Nuits-St-Georges les Boudots
2002  Jadot Pommard Rugiens
2002  Jadot Savigny-les-Beaune les Dominodes
2002  Jadot Volnay Clos de la Barre
2002  Jadot Volnay Clos du Chenes
2002  Jadot Clos de Vougeot
2003  Kahurangi Pinot Noir
2004  Kaimira Estate Pinot Noir
2003  Main Divide Pinot Noir Canterbury
2003  Ma Maison Pinot Noir Reserve
2003  Ma Maison Vineyard Pinot Noir
2004  Matahiwi Estate Pinot Noir
2004  Mebus Pinot Noir Young Vines
2003  Montana Pinot Noir "T" Terraces Estate
2003  Mount Edward Pinot Noir
2003  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Roaring Meg
2003  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Target Gully
  2000  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Target Gully
2003  Nautilus Pinot Noir Marlborough
2002  Nautilus Pinot Noir Marlborough
2003  Neudorf Pinot Noir Moutere
2003  Palliser Estate Pinot Noir
2002  Palliser Estate Pinot Noir
2003  Pencarrow Pinot Noir
2002  Pencarrow Pinot Noir
2004  Rabbit Ranch Pinot Noir
2001  Domaine de la Romanee Conti Echezeaux
2004  Sacred Hill  Pinot Noir Marlborough
2003  Saint Clair Pinot Noir
2002  Saint Clair Pinot Noir Doctors Creek Limited Edition
2002  Saint Clair Pinot Noir Omaka Reserve
2004  Saint Clair Pinot Noir Vicar’s Choice
2004   Daniel Schuster Pinot Noir Twin Vineyards
2003  Daniel Schuster Pinot Noir Waipara Selection
2003  Seresin Pinot Noir
2004  Seven Terraces Pinot Noir
2004  Sherwood Pinot Noir
2003  Shingle Peak Pinot Noir
2004  Sileni Estate Pinot Noir The Plateau
2004  Sileni Pinot Noir Cellar Selection
2003  Sileni Pinot Noir Cellar Selection
2004  Southbank Estate Pinot Noir
2004  St Jacques Pinot Noir
2003  Stoneleigh Pinot Noir
2003  Stratford Pinot Noir
2002  Te Kairanga Pinot Noir
2003  Te Kairanga Pinot Noir Reserve
2004  Te Mata Gamay Noir Woodthorpe
2004  Tohu Pinot Noir
2004  Triplebank Pinot Noir
2003  Tuatara Bay Pinot Noir
2003  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir First Paddock
2003  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir Picnic
2003  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir The Last Chance
2004  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Private Bin
2003  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Private Bin
2003  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Taylors Pass Single Vineyard
2003  Vynfields Pinot Noir Reserve
2003  Waipara Downs Pinot Noir
2004  Walnut Ridge Pinot Noir
2003  Whitestone Pinot Noir
2004  Charles Wiffen Pinot Noir
2002  Willa Kenzie Estate Pinot Noir
2003  Wither Hills Pinot Noir
2003  Yabby Lake Pinot Noir

   
2002  Jadot Chambertin Clos de Beze   19  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $256   [ cork;  www.louisjadot.com ]
Classic pinot ruby,  below midway in depth across the 15 Jadots,  and marginally the lightest of the grands crus.  Bouquet on this wine shows a perfection of dark rosy and violets florals,  passing into fragrant red and black cherry fruits.  Not a big bouquet,  but infinitely sweet and ripe and beguiling.  Quality on palate is magical,  at the same time firm and youthful,  yet the potential velvet of future maturity can be sensed too.  Flavour is pure black cherry,  and the mouthfeel is as pure and sweet and refreshing as when eating them.  Florals permeate the whole palate.  Acid and oak (including some new oak) balances are perfect.  Several tasters described this wine as the 'complete' pinot.  I can imagine it developing the elusive peacock's tail,  in years to come.  Cellar 10 – 20 years.

As the top wine in the flight,  the classic colour of this wine,  lighter than many New Zealand pinots,  is another  reminder that from an international viewpoint,  there is no correlation between colour and quality in pinot noir.  This is a message we need to keep on remembering in New Zealand,  beset as we are by commercial (and some research) influences which equate depth of colour in red wine with quality.  GK 04/05

2003  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Target Gully   18 ½ +  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $75   [ screwcap;  c. 1.6 t/ac;  25% stalks;  12 months in c. 40% new French oak;  www.mtdifficulty.co.nz ]
Classic big pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet on this wine is glorious,  total florals in the boronia and darkest roses camp,  underlain by aromatic cherry fruit more black than red,  and grading through to hints of bottled black doris plum - pinot perfection.  As with the depth of colour,  this bouquet reflects about the maximum ripeness to still retain the cool-climate florals and fragrant charm which transform good pinot into great  pinot.  The sweetly-fruited palate is wonderfully concentrated,  and has the extraordinary quality of the florals on bouquet suffusing through into the sweet ripe tannins of the palate,  so all the way through the mouth,  the wine is intensely fragrant.  When this happens in the finest of burgundies,  European wine writers speak of the magical aftertaste,  spreading to reveal all the nuances of the earlier bouquet and palate - like a "peacock's tail".  This wine has some of those attributes.  Oak and acid balances are excellent.  This will be great Otago pinot noir,  one of New Zealand’s best so far,  comparable with many classed burgundies (considering how enormous the range of styles is within Burgundy),  without necessarily assuming it is the same as burgundy.  Cellar 5 - 15 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Greenhough Pinot Noir Hope Vineyard   18 ½ +  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  14%;  $43   [ screwcap ]
Big pinot noir ruby,  fractionally lighter than Kupe.  Given a couple of swirls in the glass,  one sniff and this is fragrant pinot noir in the top league.  Fruit complexity is based on black cherries,  but with greater aromatic and more clearcut floral components than Kupe.  The enhanced florals suggest the wine is that magical degree less ripe,  yet it is still perfectly ripe,  with no hint of leafiness.  Palate shows tactile richness and stunning pinot noir flavours,  slightly more aromatic on oak,  just marvellous.  Perhaps oak is a little intrusive at this stage,  but this too is a pinot of absolute world ranking,  in the top handful of New Zealand wines thus far.  2003 has been a wonderful vintage for pinot noir in New Zealand,  cooler than 2002 in Otago,  so the florals essential to great pinot noir have in the best wines been conserved,  against perfect fruit ripeness.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 03/05

2002  Jadot Bonnes Mares   18 ½ +  ()
Chambolle-Musigny Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $190   [ cork;  www.louisjadot.com ]
Classic young pinot ruby.  Rose and boronia florals are even more apparent on this wine than the top-ranked Clos de Beze,  producing a bouquet of silky and sensuous beauty underpinned by black cherry fruit.  Some aromatics and spice come from almost subliminal new oak.  Palate is one kind of pinot perfection,  the fruit both lush yet crisp,  the florals seeming to exude from the liquid,  even in mouth.  Not quite the tannin and authority of the Clos de Beze,  but exquisite soft silky varietal pinot of great delicacy,  finesse,  and character.  Cellar 10 – 15 years.  GK 04/05

2002  Jadot Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St Jacques   18 ½ +  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $184   [ cork;  www.louisjadot.com ]
Good pinot ruby,  on the deeper side of the bracket of Jadots.  Bouquet is yet another variation on great pinot noir,  though a little more piquant and aromatic,  like the Beze rather than the Bonnes Mares.  On palate once again the boronia and violets florals merge with clear black cherry fruit,  with a little more new oak apparent in this wine.  The flavours are again wonderfully fresh,  aromatic and crisp,  yet not at all acid.  Cellar 10 – 20 years.  GK 04/05

2001  Domaine de la Romanee Conti Echezeaux   18 ½ +  ()
Vosne-Romanee Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $ –    [ cork ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  older than the others.  A wonderfully explicit pinot noir bouquet,  boronia and violets,  total florals,  on rich black cherry fruits.  Additionally there are lovely aromatics,  which include a savoury component.  This bouquet is absolutely mouth-watering,  as great pinot should be.  Palate is interesting,  not quite as rich and complex as the bouquet promises,  the savoury component increasing - a euphemism for a brett component.  Frankly,  at this level,  I love it,  because it makes the wine so magical with any kind of grilled or richly casseroled meat.  There are tannins on the finish,  but the lingering fruit is lovely too.  Benchmark burgundy in a quite big and traditional style,  glorious with food,  a wine to which only technologist winemakers could object.  The soul and romance of wine is not very interested in technology.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir The Last Chance   18 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $38   [ screwcap;  7 days cold-soak,  wild yeast,  20% whole-bunch fermentation,  25 days cuvaison,  c. 10 months in French oak 25% new;  www.twopaddocks.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is total pinot,  the florals of boronia and dusky roses,  black cherries,  deep,  quieter than the Carrick,  yet beautifully varietal.  Palate shows a wine where fruit quality is uppermost,  not dominated by oak,  beautiful crunchy cherry fruit,  long flavours recapturing the florals on bouquet,  all really burgundian.  Not quite the palate weight of the Carrick,  though.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 04/05

2003  Carrick Pinot Noir   18 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $37   [ screwcap;  11 months French oak;  www.carrick.co.nz ]
A big pinot noir ruby,  about the maximum needed for the variety.  Initially opened,  this wine is youthful and quiet,  benefitting from decanting.  In a mixed varieties blind tasting,  the bouquet becomes gloriously varietal,  sweet,  floral with boronia,  violets and buddleia,  attractively deep.  There is an excellent  underpinning of black cherry and aromatic oak.  The quality and excitement of florals on bouquet can be compared with fine wines from the Cote de Nuits,  without presuming any equivalence.  Palate follows on superbly,  rich aromatic black cherries,  marvellous acid balance,  oak maybe to a max,  drying it a little,  but that should attenuate in cellar.  Not quite the depth and excitement of the Mt Difficulty Target Gully,  but fine New Zealand pinot,  which will cellar for 5 - 12 years.  GK 04/05

2003  Escarpment Pinot Noir Kupe   18 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $60   [ cork;  hand-harvested;  no stems,  no crushing;  5 days cold-soak and fermented in new wooden French cuves,  elevage 13 months in 50% new French oak,  50% 1-year;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Big pinot noir ruby,  at a max for a substantial example of the variety,  a little deeper than the darkest 2002 Jadot.  Initially opened,  the wine is a bit reluctant,  and benefits greatly from decanting.  With air,  total bouquet on this wine melds dark florals of the blackest rose and boronia kind,  with black cherry and sun-warmed plums.  It is a deeper,  richer,  riper bouquet than the DRC or the Greenhough Hope,  not so floral,  but wonderfully pure,  and clearly deep pinot noir.  Perhaps there is a hint of sur-maturité.  Palate is concentrated black cherries,  the succulent texture of fruit to come,  firm tannins but beautifully understated oak,  a richness which can only mean a grand cru cropping rate.  [Dry extract later found to be 29 g/L].  This is great new world pinot which will cellar wonderfully well.  In five years time I expect it to have significantly more bouquet.  It is not as complex on palate as the DRC,  due to the lack of brett,  but in its purity some will rate it higher for that.  This is among the finest New Zealand pinots to emerge,  thus far.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 03/05

2002  Jadot Echezeaux   18 ½  ()
Vosne-Romanee Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $172   [ cork;  www.louisjadot.com ]
Good pinot ruby,  one of the deeper Jadots.  This is a bigger wine,  with a greater volume of bouquet,  and initially one rates it very highly.  With more examination,  it does not have quite the magical interweaving of florals and dark cherries that the top three wines show,  and the oak is more obvious.  Nonetheless the bouquet is darkly floral,  with rich black cherry fruit,  and a more weighty suggestion as of bottled black doris plums,  plus a savoury component.  Palate is more tannic,  the wine sturdier all through,  well worth cellaring.  Comparison of this wine with McKenna's Kupe is interesting.  Cellar 10 – 20 years.  GK 04/05

2003  Capricorn Estates Strugglers Flat Pinot Noir   18  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $20   [ screwcap;  only 2004 info on website ;  www.capricornwines.co.nz ]
Good pinot ruby,  ideal in fact.  Needs a breath of fresh air,  to reveal an unequivocal pinot noir bouquet.  There are beautiful florals in the boronia camp,  on red and black cherries made aromatic by oak.   Palate shows exactly what pinot is about,  the feel of chardonnay-weight fruit with the flavours of ripe cherries.  Oaking is fragrant,  but to a max.  This is fine New Zealand pinot noir,  and is undoubtedly the best value in pinot ever offered in New Zealand.  Let us hope it is a glimpse of the future,  with pinot over-production imminent (and over-pricing rampant).  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  VALUE  GK 01/05

2003  Dog Point Pinot Noir   18  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $39   [ cork;  18 months French oak;  www.dogpoint.co.nz ]
A big pinot ruby.  Bouquet is an exciting statement about pinot,  and once the labels are revealed,  the first impression is:  is this the finest pinot thus far made in Marlborough ?  Like the Mt Difficulty Target Gully,  it is ripened nearly to the point of losing the floral components so essential to true pinot noir,  but not totally beyond.  There is a dusky darkest red roses lift to the black cherries,  blackboy and dark plums fruit,  which is beautiful.  Palate continues the bouquet,  with a hint of fivespice or a similar aromatic from the oaking,  which makes the whole wine even more fragrant and aromatic.  The ratio of oak is good,  the result soft,  sweet and fragrant.  The whole wine is denser,  riper,  and a little less varietal than the Mt Difficulty Target Gully or the Greenhough Hope,  but it is a great achievement.  Marlborough finally is really coming 'on song' with pinot.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Greenhough Pinot Noir Nelson   18  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $27   [ screwcap ]
Big pinot noir ruby,  scarcely lighter than the 2003 Greenhough Hope.  Here is a wine to convince non-believers that it is the floral component that differentiates great pinot from run-of-the-mill.  The smells of violets and boronia,  plus a lighter component such as buddleia,  dominate over mixed cherry fruit.  In some ways the wine is more clearly varietal than the Hope,  in the sense there is less oak aromatic complexity.  Palate is velvety,  total varietal pinot noir,  the florals pervading the mass of black cherries.  This is stunning pinot noir,  not quite as rich as the Hope Vineyard reserve wine,  but in some ways even more varietal and beautiful.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  VALUE  GK 03/05

2002  Jadot Chambolle-Musigny les Amoureuses   18  ()
Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $177   [ cork;  www.louisjadot.com ]
Good pinot ruby,  like the Clos St Jacques.  A clearcut pinot bouquet showing dark floral components in cherry and slightly plummy fruit,  all drier and slightly less floral and ethereal than the top Jadots.  Palate is rich,  firm,  a stronger wine than some of those more highly rated,  but also more tannic.  May surprise in cellar,  and prove under-rated.  Cellar 10 – 20 years.  GK 04/05

2002  Jadot Pommard Rugiens   18  ()
Pommard Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $115   [ cork;  www.louisjadot.com ]
Pinot ruby,  in the middle of the Jadots.  A voluminous bouquet,  showing all the classical (or traditional) attributes of burgundian pinot noir:  clearcut florals,  black cherry fruit,  and an attractive savoury and mouth-watering complexity which for some is great burgundy,  and for others is Brettanomyces.  Palate blends all these components into succulent,  rich,  lingering cherry fruit of some weight and great beauty,  classic Pommard,  just crying out for roast beef.  Don't let the technocrats put you off,  on a pin-pricking fermentation detail – this is an exciting bottle which will cellar 10 – 15 years.  GK 04/05

2003  Stratford Pinot Noir   18  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $43   [ cork;  11 months in 20% new French oak;  www.stratford.co.nz ]
Good pinot ruby.  An attractive bouquet with the same dark rose and boronia florals as some of the others,  but additionally a different floral component hinting at dianthus and black peppercorn,  as if there were a splash of syrah in it.  Palate has a velvety roundness to it which is more concentrated than the Ata Rangi,  and deep black cherry and nearly black plum fruit.   Additionally the thought of cassis occurs,  keeping alive the syrah idea.  This is lovely wine,  even if a little ambiguous as to variety.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Wither Hills Pinot Noir   17 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $46   [ screwcap;  four clones,  hand-picked;  100% de-stemmed,  MLF in barrel,  14 months French oak;  www.witherhills.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  another New Zealand pinot which has happily retreated from a merlot depth of colour,  to a hue and density more internationally appropriate for pinot.  Bouquet is a bit sulky initially,  and benefits from decanting.  It clears to be sweetly floral.  It is not the deep,  dusky florals of the Target Gully,  but something lighter,  sweeter,  more obvious,  such as buddleia and roses.  Palate is quite rich and clearly varietal,  sweetly fruited with lots of cherries and a hint of spice,  slightly aromatic,  subtly oaked.  This wine is a little richer than the Nautilus,  a little lighter than the Dog Point,  and needs to marry up for a couple of years,  ideally.  Cellar 5 - 10 years.  GK 05/05

2003  Ata Rangi Pinot Noir   17 ½ +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $64   [ screwcap;  10% whole berry component in fermentation;  12 months in 25% new French oak;  www.atarangi.co.nz ]
Since writing this wine up 9/04,  it has continued to come together.  Bouquet has filled out,  with other floral components joining the aromatic pennyroyal,  and improving complexity.  Palate is smoothing out too,  with buddleia notes in the florals extending into blueberry flavours on the palate,  as well as mixed cherries.  The pennyroyal persists,  though.  The suggestion in the earlier notes of the 2003 being a heavier,  less fragrant style is quite wrong.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Main Divide Pinot Noir Canterbury   17 ½ +  ()
Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13%;  $24   [ cork;  MLF in barrel the following spring;  www.maindivide.co.nz ]
Good pinot ruby.  Bouquet is darker than the Mt Edward,  the floral component deep,  hinting at dark roses and a flower I can't quite place.  Below is deep cherry fruit.  Palate is soft and slightly buttery (+ve) in comparison with the wines rated more highly,  black cherries and  plum,  with an aromatic and savoury threshold brett component through it which is appealing.  This is delightful pinot,  the real thing,  at an attractive price.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  VALUE  GK 03/05

2002  Saint Clair Pinot Noir Doctors Creek Limited Edition   17 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $23   [ screwcap;  4 – 5 days cold soak,  13 months in French oak,  on lees;  www.saintclair.co.nz ]
Another big pinot ruby.  First opened,  this is a rich,  fruity and broadly in-style wine,  but there is an obtrusive charry oak complexity almost drowning the specifics of pinot fruit.  Palate is much better,  with boronia and buddleia florals apparent even in mouth on dark cherry and plum fruit,  and showing good pinot texture.  Decanted and breathed,  the fruit expands attractively,  but the oak remains at a max.  Ultimately I suspect this will the superior of these two premium 2002 Saint Clair pinots,  if the charry oak retreats.  Both of them,  with the Dog Point,  indicate exciting progress in making Marlborough pinot more burgundian,  and hence more international in style (whether one prefers that or not),  rather than persisting with an eccentrically New Zealand heavyweight version of the grape.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 03/05

2004  Boundary Vineyards Pinot Noir Kings Road   17 ½  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  ‘Montana’ group;  cold-soak 6 days,  whole-berry fermentation,  MLF in barrel and 10 months including lees-stirring in French oak;  www.boundaryvineyards.co.nz or www.adwnz.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Much as the release of serious red wines within the year of vintage seems undesirable,  that is where the blind tasting part comes in.  This is serious pinot,  with some florals on sweet cherry fruit,  the high alcohol well hidden.  Palate shows hints of plumminess and size reminiscent of merlot,  but the total package ends up recognisably varietal,  and attractively so.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  VALUE  GK 04/05

2003  Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $38   [ 100% de-stemmed,  cold-soak,  some saignée,  wild yeast,  s/s open-top fermentation tanks, 50% new French oak,  MLF in barrel;  www.cloudybay.co.nz ]
A lightish pinot noir ruby.  This is an intriguing wine,  where lightness of colour belies the beautiful burgundian maraschino cherry quality of bouquet,  very fragrant indeed.  Palate is red cherries to perfection,  good flesh,  plump mouthfeel,  great food wine.  Flavour and fruit concentration is a little lighter than the Dog Point and Wither Hills wines.  Cellar 5 - 10 years.  GK 05/05

2002  Corbans Pinot Noir Marlborough Private Bin   17 ½  ()
Awatere Valley 80%,  Wairau 20,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $24   [ cork;  90% hand-picked;  MLF in barrel,  LA  and batonnage 11 months;  www.corbans.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  a little older,  good.  A clear pinot bouquet combining florals such as boronia and violets with red and black cherries,  and a slightly piquant savoury complexity.  Palate shows soft 'sweet' fruit in mouth,  totally in style,  ripe,  cherry and bottled plum flavours,  refreshed by a touch of stalk (+ve),  fragrant oak,  and gentle acid.  An affordable and maturing wine which should attract people to the special dining pleasures of pinot noir.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 03/05

2002  Jadot Beaune Clos des Ursules Vignes Franches   17 ½  ()
Beaune Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $84   [ cork;  Jadot monopole;  www.louisjadot.com ]
Pinot ruby.  This is a very straight pinot,  pure,  more in the understated Cazetiers camp,  but as befits a Beaune,  less aromatic than the Cote de Nuits wines.  Bouquet and palate together show attractive and fragrant fleshy red fruits,  suggestions of leather,  fair richness,  some oak,  and lingering pinot flavours.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 05/04

2002  Jadot Gevrey-Chambertin les Cazetiers   17 ½  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru,   Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $108   [ cork;  www.louisjadot.com ]
Good pinot ruby,  midway in the Jadots.  This is a very pure example of pinot alongside the Pommard,  and the bouquet seems withdrawn in comparison.  The floral component is present to a degree,  on good red and black cherries and smallfruits.  Palate is much more communicative,  with aromatic black cherry and slightly dark plummy quite rich fruit,  and some new oak.  A more new world wine,  in a way.  Cellar 10 – 15 years.  GK 04/05

2002  Jadot Volnay Clos de la Barre   17 ½  ()
Volnay Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $81   [ cork;  www.louisjadot.com ]
Pinot ruby,  to the lighter end.  Another wine with a voluminous bouquet,  and beautiful buddleia and rose florals,  on cherry and plum fruit.  There is a trace of savoury complexity here too,  adding zing and complexity in a positive way.  Palate is already velvety,  classic pinot flavours and mouthfeel,  a lovely finish.  This wine offers perhaps the best combination of pinot magic,  early accessibility,  and affordability.  Beautiful drinking,  and like all these wines,  crying out for food.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 04/05

2003  Ma Maison Vineyard Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $ –    [ cork;  winemaker Chris Buring;  no info readily available on this winery ]
Big pinot noir ruby.  Initially opened, a bit brooding and introspective.  Clears with decanting to a fragrant and distinctively Martinborough bouquet,  with lots of red fruits and an aromatic pennyroyal lift,  becoming quite fragrant with air.  Palate shows rich aromatic fruit,  the oak attractively balanced.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 04/05

2004  Rabbit Ranch Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $24   [ screwcap;  a label within the Chard Farm group ]
Pinot ruby.  A totally different bouquet in this line-up,  with a soft violets and blackboy bouquet suggesting maceration carbonique,  and in its dark fruity ampleness,  reminding of premium individual vineyard beaujolais.  Palate continues that thought,  soft,  total velvet,  scarcely oaked,  yet beautiful acid balance and freshness.  This is the closest we have come to a really fine big beaujolais style in New Zealand,  so far.  If anyone thinks that is damning with faint praise,  it needs to be said that the top individual vineyard beaujolais from the named crus can be wines of absolute beauty,  which cellar well – though not as long as comparable quality burgundy.  This Rabbit Ranch wine will probably be at it most delicious in its first five years.  Comparison with the similarly styled Te Mata Gamay Noir is interesting.  GK 03/05

2002  Saint Clair Pinot Noir Omaka Reserve   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $27   [ cork;  4 – 5 days cold soak,  14 months in French oak,  on lees;  www.saintclair.co.nz ]
Big pinot ruby,  nearly as dark as the Doctors Creek.  Bouquet here is from the outset much more varietal and burgundian an expression of pinot than the Doctors wine,  showing a better ratio of fruit to oak.  Both boronia and buddleia florals are apparent,  in black cherry and fruit.  Palate is attractive black cherry,  a little crisper,  more aromatic,  and faintly cooler-climate in style than the Doctors,  more varietal but fractionally less rich.  They make a marvellous pair of Marlborough pinots.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 03/05

2004  St Jacques Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $20   [ screwcap;  second label for Blackenbrook;  www.blackenbrook.co.nz ]
Lovely pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is quietly but deeply fragrant,  totally in a maraschino / cherry liqueur style,  clearly varietal and appealing.  Palate shows beautiful ripe cherry fruit,  total physiological maturity,  elegant tannins and oak,  and a classic pinot noir flavour.  Not a big wine, but finely wrought with great vinosity.  Cellar 5 - 8 years.  VALUE  GK 05/05

2004  Triplebank Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Awatere Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $23   [ screwcap;  new ‘Montana’ label for Awatere Valley wines;  hand-harvested;  6 days cold soak,  18 days cuvaison,   fermentation finished in barrels,  10 months in French oak;  www.adwnz.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  A sweet and fragrant varietal bouquet,  but not the deeply floral authority of the Carrick.  Florals are in the lighter roses and buddleia camp,  and underlying fruit is in the softer blackboy peach and red cherry style.  Palate is pro rata to bouquet,  clearly varietal,  a little oakier than the Framingham,  already showing well,  no matter how undesirable it is to release reds at 12 months from vintage.  Cellar 5 - 8 years.  GK 04/05

2003  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir First Paddock   17 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $38   [ screwcap;  cold-soak,  fermentation and cuvaison totalled 28 days,  10 months in French oak 30% new;  www.twopaddocks.com ]
Big pinot noir ruby,  markedly deeper than the Last Chance wine.  Benefits from decanting,  to reveal a deeper and heavier wine all round than its companion.  Bigger is not necessarily better however,  and there are suggestions of sur-maturité and dark plumminess,  rather than cherries and florals.  Palate is rich and velvety,  and for those to whom weight on palate is more important than beauty of bouquet,  this wine will rate higher than the Last Chance.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 04/05

2002  Jadot Clos de Vougeot   17 ½  ()
Vougeot Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $149   [ cork;  www.louisjadot.com ]
Big pinot ruby,  nearly a flush of velvet,  clearly the darkest of the Jadots.  This is a bigger wine altogether,  riper,  heavier,  starting to lose the floral component so important to great pinot bouquet.  Indeed,  in its ratio of dark plums to black cherries,  there are clear suggestions of sur-maturité.  There is almost a savoury component too,  suggesting some brett.  In its richness of bouquet,  there is nearly a reminder of subtle Chateauneuf du Pape.  Palate is concentrated,  dark,  rich,  but the tannins are drying,  and more savoury.  It is easy to rate this as one of the top wines,  on its size and richness,  but when one looks for subtlety,  pinot finesse and florals,  the total impression is a bit four-square.  Pretty good drinking, though.  Cellar 10 – 15 years.  GK 04/05

2004  Seven Terraces Pinot Noir   17 +  ()
Marlborough ,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $24   [ screwcap;  Foxes Island sub-label;  website not yet functional;  www.seventerraces.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Sweet,  ripe black cherries and small fruits,  and deep florals including boronia,  create an explicitly pinot noir bouquet.  Palate stands out for its excellent ripeness and acid balance,  ripened to that magical point,  just above the black pepper suggestions,  but before floral components are lost.  Texture in mouth is soft and pleasing,  not as concentrated as some,  but real cherry pinot at an affordable price.  Cellar 3 - 8 years.  GK 06/05

2004  Capricorn Estates Pinot Noir Strugglers Flat    17 +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $21   [ screwcap;  6 months in French oak;  www.capricornwines.co.nz ]
Pinot ruby.  Needs a breath of air,  to show a soft and fragrant bouquet.  There are red rose florals with a slightly leafy edge,  in attractive red and black fruits.  Palate is more clearly varietal,  excellent red cherries and some blackboy,  carefully balanced to subtle oak.  This wine is subtler and less obvious than the Villa PB,  but on palate it is beautifully varietal,  though a little fleshier than the 2003.  Surprisingly burgundian (overlooking its premature release less than a year from vintage).  One could drink a lot of this.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Framingham Pinot Noir   17 +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $30   [ screwcap;  www.framingham.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet shows beautiful pinot florals,  violets and boronia,  plus maraschino cherry,  reminiscent of the Carrick,  but not as deep or rich.  Below are black cherries,  pure,  simple,  and delicious.  Palate is a notch deeper than the Walnut Ridge,  the cherries darker,  the balance of fruit complex and deeper.  The purity of varietal character on this wine is very appealing.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 04/05

2003  Nautilus Pinot Noir Marlborough   17 +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $36   [ cork;  cropped at 2.5 t/acre;  hand-harvested,  6-8 day cold-soak,  c.10 months in French oak some new;  www.nautilusestate.com ]
Pinot noir ruby.  This is a lighter and prettier pinot style altogether,  with rose and almost sweet-pea florals on red cherry fruit.  Like the ’03 Cloudy Bay,  the palate has lovely maraschino cherry flavours,  giving the wine a delightful southern Burgundy quality,  which will be a pleasure to drink.  Cellar 5 - 8 years.  GK 05/05

2002  Palliser Estate Pinot Noir   17 +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ cork;  c. 4 days cold-soak;  12 months new and older French oak;  www.palliser.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby.  An understated but pure varietal bouquet,  with beautiful mixed florals on red and black cherries.  Other fruits include blackboy peach,  and even a hint of red currants,  which could correlate with a cool year for pinot.  Palate is exactly the same as the bouquet,  beautiful red fruits balanced to invisible oak,  highly varietal.  Not a big wine,  but stylish and enjoyable.  Cellar 3 - 8 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir Picnic   17  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $26   [ screwcap;  www.twopaddocks.com ]
Elegant pinot noir ruby.  This is simply lovely pure light pinot,  some florals,  clear cherries,  pleasing and fragrant.  Palate is pro rata,  not as concentrated as the more serious wines,  red fruits dominant,  but the alcohol (if correct) showing how easily the flavours of physiological maturity are achieved in a good year in Otago's continental climate.  If this were priced close to the other Picnic Series wines,  it would be a great introduction to the variety.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 04/05

2003  Astrolabe Pinot Noir Young Vines   17  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $23   [ cork;  French oak ]
Big pinot noir ruby.  I wrote this wine up harshly 10/04,  and amends are due.  It is sealed by cork,  so there may be an excuse.  Bouquet is now straight redfruits pinot,  not clearly floral,  but certainly fragrant and cherry-based.  It bears some resemblance to the Jadot Beaune Chouacheux.  Palate is soft redfruits,  quite rich,  slightly buttery (+ve),  some blackboy softness,  careful acid and oak balances.  Very quaffable pinot,  which will cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 03/05

2004  Blackenbrook Pinot Noir   17  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  14%;  $29   [ screwcap;  www.blackenbrook.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  fractionally deeper than the St Jacques.  Bouquet combines varietal florals suggesting dark roses and violets,  with ripe black cherries.  This is clear-cut pinot noir.  Palate continues the black cherries,  in a winestyle a little more obvious,  fleshy and oaky than some,  but remarkably similar in flavour.  Cellar 5 - 10 years.  GK 05/05

2002  Jadot Beaune Chouacheux   17  ()
Beaune Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $64   [ cork;  www.louisjadot.com ]
Pinot ruby,  the second to lightest of the Jadots.  At about this point in the Jadot hierarchy,  the wines become more straightforward examples of pinot,  less floral,  less complexity,  and generally lighter,  just clearcut fragrant redfruits pinot.  Alongside many New Zealand wines,  however,  lighter here does not mean thinner.  They still have that mouthfeel which makes reasonable burgundy so enchanting with food.  Bouquet and palate on the Chouacheux show suggestions of florals in the fragrant red cherries,  good crisp mouthfeel,  and long flavours reminiscent of cherry liqueur.  Just good pinot.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 04/05

2003  Montana Pinot Noir "T" Terraces Estate    17  ()
Marlborough ,  New Zealand:  14%;  $33   [ cork;  in effect the 'Reserve' wine,  when vintage quality allows;  6 days cold soak,  40% new oak all French for 12 months;  some batonnage;  www.montanawines.co.nz ]
Good pinot ruby,  though darker than any of the Rousseaus.  Freshly poured,  the wine is a little stalky.  Decanted and aired,  the first thing to say is how totally in style the wine is,  when sitting amongst the Rousseau wines in a blind tasting.  Bouquet is attractively floral,  showing buddleia and even rose characters,  amidst good redfruits and cherries grading through to some black.  Palate is clearly cherry fruit,  with appropriate oaking using a potentially cedary oak not too different from the Rousseaus.   Texture is fleshier than the Burgundy examples,  slightly stalky,  and not quite so totally 'dry',  but the nett impression is unequivocally varietal.  Attractive drinking,  and will cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 02/05

2003  Mount Edward Pinot Noir   17  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $47   [ screwcap;  50% Gibbston Valley,  30% Bannockburn,  20% Alexandra;  10 months in 30% new French oak;  www.mountedward.co.nz ]
Good pinot ruby.  Initially poured,  a little reductive,  needing decanting / aeration.  Clears to a good example of New Zealand pinot bouquet,  showing mixed florals on red and black cherries,  and with no penny royal - this is delightful.  Palate is essence of cherries,  beautifully made with subtle oaking,  silky texture,  but just a little short on stuffing,  tapering a little to the tail,  with a hint of stalk and acid.  The purity of character is great,  though.  Cellar 5 - 8 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Roaring Meg   17  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $27   [ screwcap;  second / young vines label;  c. 2.5 t/ac;  9 months in 20% new French oak;  www.mtdifficulty.co.nz ]
Pinot ruby.  Initially opened,  this wine is saturated with an oak-related coffee-character,  in the fashionable show-pony style which currently is well-rewarded in judgings (mistakenly).  So on bouquet the wine doesn't in fact resemble pinot noir too much at all,  being dominated by winemaker artefacts.  Decanted and much breathed,  it improves to clear mixed cherry and blackboy fruit.  Palate is fresh,  soft,  and more clearly varietal,  the oak retreating to the background where it should be,  the length of cherry flavours good.  Should marry up to be attractive drinking in cellar 3 – 8 years,  but decanting will help.  GK 03/05

2003  Neudorf Pinot Noir Moutere   17  ()
Moutere Hills,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $58   [ screwcap;  12 months in 35% new French oak;  www.neudorf.co.nz ]
Big ruby with some carmine and velvet,  one of the deepest.  This one is more like a Martinborough wine,  with a clear pennyroyal mint-like lift in the deep florals,  almost spicy.  Palate is richly fruity,  weighty,  a little clumsy,  more in the style Villa Maria have been pursuing with their Show wines in Marlborough.  The dark fruits are made spicy by oak and alcohol,  and the whole is still a little aggressive.  It should marry down into a clearly varietal wine,  which may rate higher as it mellows  –  though these high alcohols are inimical to complete finesse in pinot.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Pencarrow Pinot Noir   17  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $22   [ screwcap;  no info on website;  www.palliser.co.nz ]
Medium pinot noir ruby.  Initially opened,  this wine is a little understated and leafy.  It blossoms in glass to clearly floral and red fruits varietal pinot.  Likewise the palate expands with exposure to air,  and shows delicious red cherry fruits,  beautiful ripeness,  subtle oaking.  There is a whisper of savoury brett in this wine,  augmenting the food-friendliness.  Palliser have a great feel for oak in their pinots,  beautifully underdone.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Te Kairanga Pinot Noir Reserve   17  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $50   [ cork;  hand-harvested;  10 months in French oak 20% new;  www.tkwine.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet has a wow !  factor more commonly found in Cote Rotie.  I like this carnations hyper-floral component a lot,  but acknowledge it can bespeak under-ripeness.  Other tasters find it negative,  and associate it with the less attractive odour of jonquils.  In addition to the strong floral component (as strong as the DRC,  but less ripe),  there are red fruits and almost a hint of black pepper.  Palate again could easily be confused with Cote Rotie,  gorgeous red fruits,  subtle oak,  just a hint stalky and acid though there is attractive richness.  Needs a little more physiological maturity in the vineyard.  Another pinot where one wonders if there is syrah in it.  Wines of this kind cellar well,  surprisingly,  the bouquet building,  and acid dropping.  Cellar 5 - 10 years.  GK 03/05

2004  Te Mata Gamay Noir Woodthorpe   17  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $22   [ screwcap;  maceration carbonique / nouveau style;  3 months in old oak;  grouped with pinot noir,  to facilitate style comparison;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Light bright youthful rosy ruby,  with a flush of carmine.  Bouquet is a perfect expression of the maceration carbonique technique,  showing that extraordinary perfumed,  floral,  and spicy quality which the process superimposes on the grape.  In Beaujolais in good years they meld inseparably with the florals and fruit of physiologically mature gamay noir a jus blanc,  but all too often thus far in New Zealand,  the substrate grape has been stalky and inappropriate to the style.  This wine however is another matter,  for the flavour ripeness in the grapes is the best so far under this label from Te Mata.  Bouquet is totally pure red florals and red fruits,  and palate is juicy and 'sweet' fresh gamay to perfection,  backboned by subliminal oak  –  another demo of masterly oak use from the Te Mata team.  Fruit sweetness on the finish is delightful.  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Private Bin   17  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $23   [ screwcap;  less than 10 months oak;  www.villamaria.co.nz ]
Good pinot ruby,  almost the same as the Main Divide.  Here at last is a Villa pinot that smells of the variety more than of alcohol,  and to a first quick sip,  seems to be made to enjoy rather than to impress.  Initially opened,  there is a maceration carbonique component like the Rabbit Ranch,  but that marries away into mixed florals and cherries.  Palate is much the same,  clearly cherry fruit,  appropriate alcohol,  subtly oaked,  not as 'pure' as some of the others,  and in a way more interesting for it.  Perhaps the wine has a gram or two (literally) of sugar left in it (not according to the website),  to charm the palate.  It is suppler wine than the Taylors Pass.  With Villa Maria's ubiquity in the market,  what a standard-bearer for the variety a wine like this could be,  if it were priced at $20 neat.   Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Taylors Pass Single Vineyard   17  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $57   [ screwcap;  10 months in 60% new oak;  www.villamaria.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  the darkest in a set of 42 New Zealand pinots,  and well beyond any reasonable international benchmark for colour intensity in the variety.  Bouquet is moving towards a heavier style of over-ripe pinot,  where florals are at peril of being lost.  There are some darkly boronia suggestions.  Fruit is darkly plummy rather more than black cherry,  with a pruney edge further indicating sur-maturité.  Palate is rich but quite tannic and oaky,  with a Martinborough-like aromatic component suggesting mint.  Below these are dark cherry and blackboy peach flavours.  Finish is quite different,  oaky but neat and taut,  with just a hint of stalks.  Undoubtedly a serious wine,  with some coming together to do,  but (if international pinot is the goal)  stylewise a bit misguided - over-extracted and over-oaked,  a show-pony.  When it has shed some tannin in bottle and lightened up,  it will be intriguing to see if a more varietal bouquet develops.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Vynfields Pinot Noir Reserve   17  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14.6%;  $39   [ screwcap;  hand-picked,  varied cold-soak and fermentation temperatures,  French oak;  www.vynfields.com ]
Good pinot ruby.  My earlier rating of this wine was wrong.  Bouquet is now sweetly floral with boronia and buddleia blossom qualities,  and clear suggestions of red and black cherries.  Palate starts well,  with attractive cherry fruit of pinot weight and style,  but later some rough tannins creep up in the mouth,  the wine becoming a little astringent to the finish.  A wine in two parts therefore.  Re the 10/04 rating,  clearly I was over-concerned with the poor finish also commented on then.  Like the '03 Gravel Pit Red,  I can only plead that release too soon after bottling can work against the wine's interests,  particularly for a taster placing much emphasis on bouquet (as I do).  Cellar 5 – 8 years,  maybe to soften on finish,  and further improve.  GK 03/05

2004  Walnut Ridge Pinot Noir   17  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $28   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  100% crushed,  14 days cuvaison,  9 months in French oak 25% new;  www.walnutridge.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  A quieter bouquet than some of the pinots,  with understated florals on mixed cherries fruit,  and a trace of pennyroyal.  In mouth however,  the wine expands to become clearly varietal,  good red and black cherries,  with the crisp 'crunchy' texture of good pinot.  But,  another wine rushed to market,  regrettably.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 04/05

2001  Huia Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $ –    [ cork;  12 months French oak;  www.huia.net.nz ]
A pinot weight of ruby,  but a black hint in it.   Bouquet shows attractive pinot florals including suggestions of violets and roses,  but also a stalky suggestion,  on varietal fruit.  There are cherry flavours on palate,  but the stalky notes develop,  leaving the wine not as harmonious on palate as the Montana Terraces.  Still reasonably good varietal wine,  though.  Cellar 4 – 6 years.  GK 02/05

2004  Cairnbrae Vineyards Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $20   [ screwcap;  owned by Sacred Hill,  same winemaker;  www.cairnbrae.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  This is the kind of bouquet which initially seems too estery to be taken seriously,  but it certainly makes the wine fragrant.  Breathes off to attractive red fruits more in the red cherry spectrum,  even a hint of strawberries (+ve).  Palate moves even more in the strawberry direction,  sweetly fruited,  with oak to balance.  Will probably open more attractively in six months,  when ideally it should be released.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 04/05

2002  Jadot Corton   16 ½  ()
Aloxe-Corton Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $119   [ cork;  www.louisjadot.com ]
Big pinot ruby,  the second darkest of the Jadot wines,  but still relatively light alongside a number of New Zealand pinots.  This is another big and characterful wine in the Jadot batch,  and initially one thinks:  wow !  this is good.  On the second pass through the bouquets,  before one has tasted it,  the thought strikes:  this smells like good plum chutney.  And indeed,  the wine is (tolerably) volatile.  Mixed in with the plums is an odd character,  a bit like a bag of Seville oranges with one mouldy.  Palate is rich,  fruity on plums more than cherries,  over-ripe,  and in addition to the VA there is some brett too.  This leaves a dry tannic flavour in the mouth.  In its flavoursome and fleshily robust pinot style,  it will still provide a lot of (not too discriminating) pleasure.  Maybe dubious to invest in as a fine example of grand cru burgundy,  though.  Cellar uncertain,  but probably 5 – 10 years despite the faults.  GK 04/05

2002  Jadot Nuits-St-Georges les Boudots   16 ½  ()
Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $104   [ cork;  www.louisjadot.com ]
Medium pinot ruby.  Bouquet is exquisitely floral,  just exactly what pinot noir should be:  boronia,  darkest roses,  violets.  Below is beautiful red and black cherry fruit.  Palate has exactly the crisp aromatic 'crunchy' character one finds in eating tree-ripened cherries,  and by analogy,  in drinking good pinot.  This is not a big wine,  and perhaps the bouquet is lifted by trace VA,  but the wine is delightful,  as far as it goes.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 04/05

2003  Ma Maison Pinot Noir Reserve   16 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $ –    [ cork;  winemaker Chris Buring;  no info readily available on this winery ]
Pinot noir ruby,  deeper than the standard wine.  This is a difficult proposition,  since a Reserve wine is supposed to be taken more seriously than the standard one.  But like many Spanish Reservas,  extra oak is not necessarily a good thing.  There are some strange barrels in this winery's cellars,  and some have an almost Chilean crushed woody composites (daisies) smell to them.  The wine is deeper and richer than the standard wine,  with good fruit (and surely more alcoholic than the figure given on the label ?),  and is varietal in its way.  The comments under Two Paddocks First Paddock also apply.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 04/05

2000  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Target Gully   16 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $ –    [ cork;  www.mtdifficulty.co.nz ]
Ruby and garnet,  of rich pinot weight.  Bouquet is in a completely different style from the 2003 Target Gully.  The floral component is clearly leafy,  and the cherry is red more than black.  Palate is attractively rounded out into early maturity,  rich,  quantitatively sweetly fruited,  slightly oaky,  but just not the physiological ripeness of fine pinot noir.  Good wine,  but not of the calibre of the 2003.  The two wines illustrate the climatic knife edge that great pinot rides on,  so easily tipping from under-ripe to over-ripe,  as recent vintages in Otago have demonstrated.  Cellar 3 – 5 years more,  if older wines are liked.  GK 03/05

2002  Nautilus Pinot Noir Marlborough   16 ½  ()
Marlborough ,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $36   [ cork;  2002 not on website,  details presumably similar to ’03;  www.nautilusestate.com ]
Good pinot ruby.  A big bouquet,  which initially opened is manipulated by charry oak,  to attract the gullible.  The coffee note in this is unpleasant.  Below are redfruits and even lightly perfumed florals hinting at sweet peas,  attractive.  Palate is a notch less promising,  some red cherry flavours,  but also a leafy-going-on-stalky quality,  becoming noticeably under-ripe to the finish.  If true pinot noir is the goal,  less manipulation and a little more fruit ripeness would serve this wine better.  Cellar 3 – 5  years.  GK 03/05

2004  Sacred Hill  Pinot Noir Marlborough   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $20   [ screwcap;  www.sacredhill.com ]
Good young pinot noir ruby.  This is clearly pinot noir on bouquet,  but less perfectly ripe than the Seven Terraces.  The floral component on bouquet includes a suggestion of cracked pepper,  in red and black cherry fruit,  plus blackboy.  Palate is freshly varietal,  the black pepper on bouquet coming through to the palate,  not unattractive,  just introducing a hint of syrah and making the wine seem slightly stalky.  With this unfortunate trend to releasing pinots at 12 months,  another wine needing a year to mellow.  Will cellar for 3 - 8 years.  GK 06/05

2004  Sileni Estate Pinot Noir The Plateau   16 ½  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12.8%;  $30   [ screwcap;  vineyard at Maraekakaho,  120 m asl;  www.sileni.co.nz ]
Medium pinot ruby.  A slightly different take on pinot,  but a clearly varietal bouquet.  There are red florals leading into red cherry and red plum smells,  with a slight desiccated coconut note adding a confectionery touch,  not unpleasant.  Palate carries all the bouquet components into a pleasant redfruits palate,  subtly oaked.  Hawkes Bay is getting warm for pinot,  but this is one of the best examples to emerge from the district (even if it has been released within a year of vintage).  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Stoneleigh Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Marlborough ,  New Zealand:  13%;  $20   [ screwcap;  10 months in French oak;  www.stoneleigh.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot ruby.  An attractive clearly varietal bouquet,  totally in style for a lightly floral and red cherry pinot.  Palate is sweetly fruited,  carefully oaked,  and attractively balanced within its light,  correct,  varietal approach,  reminiscent of a sound Volnay.  Easy drinking,  and cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 03/05

2004  Tohu Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $26   [ cork; hand-picked,  French oak;  www.tohuwines.co.nz ]
Lightish ruby.  Fragrant and lightly floral red and black cherry fruit is the first impression,  clear-cut pinot noir.  Flavours are lighter than bouquet promises,  but the cherries are sweet and ripe,  and attractively balanced to oak.  Cellar 3 - 5 years.  GK 05/05

2002  Willa Kenzie Estate Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Willamette Valley,  Oregon,  U.S.A:  14.3%;  $ –    [ screwcap;  around $US16 ]
Pinot ruby.  A clearly varietal bouquet fitting in seamlessly with the average of the New Zealand wines,  the florals tending leafy,  fruit in the red cherry spectrum,  relatively simple and lacking physiological maturity.  Palate is richer than expected,  combining a clear leafy component with a slightly stewed fruits and lager-malt quality which is reasonably varietal but not exciting.  Finish is both leafy and seemingly not bone dry,  lacking varietal finesse.  Cellar 3 - 5 years.  GK 05/05

2003  Yabby Lake Pinot Noir    16 ½  ()
Mornington Peninsula,  Victoria,  Australia:  14%;  $ –    [ around $A45;  made by Larry McKenna as consultant winemaker to Tod Dexter,  essentially in the same manner as 2003 Kupe;  hand-picked,  no stems,  no crushing,  5 days cold-soak,  12 days cuvaison,  13 months French oak 45% new,  coarse filtration only;  www.yabbylake.com ]
Colour is big for pinot noir,  some carmine and ruby in the velvet,  getting marginal.  Bouquet is first and foremost Australian,  with mint going on euc. totally dominating,  so there is no way one can tell it is pinot noir on bouquet,  by any international standard for the variety.  Palate has an ample fleshiness to it which is more clearly pinot,  and a long soft flavour which is red fruits and euc.  It is richer than the Kupe,  softer,  fleshier,  just big soft red,  lovely as such.  Considering they are made by the same winemaker,  with winery practices which replicate each other as closely as is practicable,  the difference in the two wines is remarkable.  They are vivid testament to the difficulty Australia has with subtle wine styles,  even in one of its coolest climates.  This is a pinot for people who do not,  or cannot,  smell subtle floral components at all,  and for whom mouthfeel and flavour are all that matters.  Only an Australian could consider it particularly varietal,  for the ethereal floral beauty of good pinot as seen on bouquet,  and the subtlety of pinot noir the variety,  as seen in the world context,  are lacking.  Cellar 5 – 15 years,  in its euc’y style.  GK 03/05

2004  Charles Wiffen Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $27   [ composite ‘cork’ ]
Big pinot noir ruby.  A big and obvious bouquet,  tending to the coarse stewed blackboy peach rather than fine cherry style of pinot,  but clearly fruity.  Palate is exactly the same,  fleshy,  a hint of pepper,  varietal but lacking magic.  Cellar 5 - 8 years.  GK 05/05

2002  Jadot Volnay Clos du Chenes   16 +  ()
Volnay Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $82   [ cork;  www.louisjadot.com ]
Lightish pinot ruby,  the lightest of the Jadots.  Bouquet here is lovely,  fragrant buddleia and roses,  as well as blackboy peach,  getting quite close to some New Zealand styles.  In mouth the wine is simpler,  almost (loosely speaking) in the strawberry pinot camp,  all red fruits,  soft,  fleshy,  like some of the highly-rated Santa Barbara pinots.  As such,  it is beautifully balanced,  neatly older-oaked,  and easy drinking.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 04/05

2002  Huia Pinot Noir   16  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $ –    [ cork;  14 months French oak;  www.huia.net.nz ]
Pinot ruby,  close to the 2001.   Bouquet is more straightforward than the 2001,  a simpler redfruits pinot,  more red plums than cherries.  Ripeness is ahead of the '01,  with bigger fruit,  and no stalks.  A curious cooperage-related character detracts from the palate,  coarsening it.  Pleasant drinking,  and will cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 02/05

2003  Coney Pinot Noir Pizzicato   16  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $33   [ cork ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  A big bouquet,  vaguely in the cherry and blackboy spectrum,  but more clearly stalky,  with green edges that could be under-ripe pinot or merlot,  in the blind tasting.  Palate is more varietal,  but though there is good fruit quantitatively,  ripeness and physiological maturity of the phenolics / tannins is lacking,  and the wine tastes a bit too stalky.  Will cellar reasonably well,  and build up bouquet,  to become more  interesting in an austere way.  Cellar 5 - 8 years.  GK 05/05

2003  Palliser Estate Pinot Noir   16  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ cork;  c. 4 days cold-soak;  12 months new and older French oak;  www.palliser.co.nz ]
Medium pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is odd,  varietal to a degree but also cardboardy and bretty,  needing air.  It may be a cork-affected bottle,  below the level where one can actually tell for sure.  Certainly the floral component is not as good as the junior '03 Pencarrow wine.  Palate however is markedly richer,  with clear black cherry and blackboy varietal fruit,  offset by more Brettanomyces than is desirable.  Interesting food-oriented wine falling almost into the rustic category,  good drinking (for the non-technical),  but the magic of pinot noir escaping it.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 03/05

2002  Pencarrow Pinot Noir   16  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $22   [ screwcap; no info on website;  www.palliser.co.nz ]
Light pinot noir ruby,  marginally the lightest of [ one batch of ] these pinots.  A fragrant red fruits bouquet with a faint smoky hint suggests a light wine,  but it does not smell leafy.  Palate is lightly fruity,  but now there is a faint suggestion of leafiness.  The whole wine is pleasantly red-fruits varietal,  pinot in a lighter style,  but by no means weak.  In its lightness coupled with palate satisfaction,  it is pleasantly burgundian.  Cellar 3 - 5 years.  GK 03/05

2004  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Private Bin   16  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $23   [ screwcap;  full range of techniques employed on component batches (on website);  www.villamaria.co.nz ]
An attractive pinot ruby - good to see Villa retreating from their merlot-styled and dark pinot colours.  Bouquet is light and fragrant,  indeterminate red fruits,  varietal but tending unforthcoming as yet.  On palate there is slightly stewed red cherry fruit with suggestions of strawberry and raspberry,  a little stalky,  carefully oaked,  richer than the Saint Clair Vicar’s.  This one too will be more mellow in a year,  and will serve as a pleasant introduction to the variety.  The New Zealand equivalent of bourgogne rouge,  but released prematurely.  Cellar 3 - 5 years.  GK 06/05

2003  Waipara Downs Pinot Noir   16  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $24   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  12 months French oak;  www.waiparadowns.co.nz ]
Pinot ruby.  A light redfruits bouquet,  faintly floral,  lightly varietal.  Palate is soft and clearly red cherry and pinot,  gently oaked,  slightly stalky,  modest in stature.  Pleasant drinking.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Whitestone Pinot Noir   16  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $24   [ screwcap ]
Pinot ruby.  An interesting bouquet,  with light redfruits and fragrant sweet vernal hay qualities,  plus suggestions of bottled blackboy peaches.   Palate swings to the hay side of the bouquet,  with marcy flavours more apparent than fruit,  yet in mouth the wine is soft,  and seems ripe,  quite rich,  lightly fragrant,  gently oaked,  and in style.  Perhaps it is in a recessive phase,  the fruit not apparent at the moment.  Should cellar 3 – 5 years,  and hopefully evolve.  GK 03/05

2003  Daniel Schuster Pinot Noir Waipara Selection   16  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $40   [ cork;  12 months French oak;  www.danielschusterwines.com ]
Pinot ruby,  but markedly older than the other 2003s.  Bouquet is very distinctive,  highly fragrant and varietal to a degree,  yet leafy and composty too,  with suggestions of maceration carbonique and marc.   Palate is not as pleasing,  with noticeable acid and stalky flavours,  yet a late finish which is quite burgundian,  in a stalky way.  Quirky wine in the love or hate category,  which would look better with food.  Needs flavour ripeness.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Bilancia Pinot Noir   15 ½  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $24   [ screwcap ]
Lightish pinot ruby.  Initially opened,  the wine is drab on bouquet,  with a cardboardy note damping down straightforward redcurrant and red plum fruit.  Breathed it opens up to a straightforward pinot from a warmer climate,  correct in a stalky though not thin style,  a little tannic as yet.  Lacking pinot florals and magic.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Huia Pinot Noir   15 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $34   [ cork;  11 months French oak;  www.huia.net.nz ]
Full ruby,  getting big for pinot.   First thing to say is this wine had just been bottled,  and may not have been showing well,  so the score is provisional.  Bouquet shows a burly wine more in a new world idiom for pinot,  all overlain by charry and fivespice oak.  Palate is full,  but not very varietal,  too fleshy,  tasting almost Australian in weight and style.  Cellar 5 – 10 years,  maybe to fine down.  GK 02/05

2002  Jadot Savigny-les-Beaune les Dominodes   15 ½  ()
Savigny-les-Beaune Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $55   [ cork;  www.louisjadot.com ]
Pinot ruby,  one of the lighter Jadots.  A deep reticent bouquet,  vaguely fragrant and redfruits,  with only a hint of marzipan clear.  It is pinot more by presumption,  than conviction.  Palate is a little more clearly varietal,  but there is a suggestion of stalky austerity to the wine,  even though it is not thin.  This is where lesser pinot from Burgundy so frequently differs from lesser examples from New Zealand,  where we do not have the cropping rate restrictions.  One could almost run this in a tasting of minor Entre-Deux-Mers wines,  merlots,  cabernet franc and the like.  Pleasant drinking,  all the same,  and cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 04/05

2003  Kahurangi Pinot Noir   15 ½  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  14%;  $22   [ screwcap;  Moutere Hills & Waimea Plains;  www.kahurangiwine.com ]
Pinot ruby.  A veiled bouquet,  needing splashy decanting to reveal pleasant redfruits and berry,  recognisably varietal.  Palate improves to red and black cherries,  faintly leafy,  carefully oaked,  slightly acid maybe,  but clearcut pinot which will improve in cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 03/05

2004  Saint Clair Pinot Noir Vicar’s Choice   15 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $15   [ screwcap;  open-top s/s fermenters;  cold soak 4-5 days;  hand-plunged;  some of the wine raised in oak some new,  balance s/s;  Vicar's Choice a third-tier range;  www.saintclair.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  A youthful bouquet,  some florals and red fruits,  white pepper,  some stalks.  Palate is fresh and crisp,  blackboy peach in the red fruits,  suggestions of red cherries,  a little bit dilute.  Pleasant in a modest stalky way,  but with a year to mellow,  it will seem more varietal.  Great introductory pricing,  to get the variety more widely known.  Cellar 3 - 5 years.  GK 06/05

2003  Babich Pinot Noir Winemakers Reserve   15 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $30   [ cork;  hand-harvested;  10 months in French oak;  www.babichwines.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby.  Needs exposure to air / decanting to reveal a clear red-fruits bouquet,  with a suggestion of leafiness.  Palate is richer than the standard wine,  the same red currants and red cherries,  but the leafy / stalky thread continues,  and the wine is slightly acid.  A little more physiological maturity,  and perhaps a lower cropping rate in the vineyard,  seem to be needed for this Babich pair.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 03/05

2004  Sileni Pinot Noir Cellar Selection   15 ½  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $21   [ screwcap;  www.sileni.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is immediately reminiscent of some Australian pinot noirs,  with the red fruits sliding off into a warm-climate strawberry character,  rather than the real thing.  Both bouquet and palate are clean and correct as to weight and balance,  but the flavours are simple,  and possibly not bone dry.  Pleasing light red,  easy drinking,  cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 04/05

2003  Seresin Pinot Noir   15  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $37   [ cork;  15 months in 25% new French oak;  www.seresin.co.nz ]
Older pinot ruby.  In the review of 9/04,  this wine was reviewed poorly,  noting reductive characters.  They have moderated somewhat,  and splashily decanted and well-breathed,  it now presents itself as a still unforthcoming and heavy wine,  but reasonably fruited on dark cherries and plums.  Palate is stern,  tannic,  but now recognisably pinot.  In five years time it may have condensed some tannins,  and lightened up sufficiently to be more forthcoming.  Undoubtedly serious wine,  but I would like to see a lighter style showing a little more joy.  Some of the dullness comes from a high solids fermentation character also commented on (negatively) in other Seresin wines.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Babich Pinot Noir Marlborough   15  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $20   [ cork;  3-4 days cold soak,  MLF in barrel and 10 months in French oak;  www.babichwines.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot ruby.  Pinot in a more leafy red fruits style greets the taster,  with initially a hint of retained fermentation odours.  Palate has fair fruit suggesting red currants and red cherries,  but the leafiness increases to become a little stalky.  Pleasant light inconsequential pinot,  but a little more acid and maybe not as dry as the Pencarrow '02.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Tuatara Bay Pinot Noir   15  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $11   [ screwcap;  sold via www.blackmarket.co.nz,  maker unknown ]
Lightish rosy pinot ruby.  A sweetly floral and slightly leafy redfruits pinot bouquet,  clean and fragrant.  Palate is strawberry and redcurrants pinot with a nod to red cherries,  lightly oaked,  ripe enough at the slightly leafy redfruits level,  not absolutely  bone dry.  This really is QDR pinot,  and as such beautifully made,  offering value at the price.  It will cellar 1 – 3 years too.  A similar achievement to the basic Saint Clair wine,  but thinner.  GK 03/05

2004  Kaimira Estate Pinot Noir   14 ½  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  six months tank maturation;  www.kaimiraestate.com ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby.  A modest bouquet which is vaguely pinot,  in the strawberry / redcurrant under-ripe and leafy category which hints at chaptalisation.  Palate likewise shows redfruits,  a faint bushhoney suggestion,  all initially pleasantly balanced,  but the leafiness increasing to a stalky finish,  and becoming less satisfactory.  QDR pinot,  better in a year or two,  but scarcely worth cellaring.  GK 03/05

2004  Mebus Pinot Noir Young Vines   14 ½  ()
Masterton,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ screwcap;  vines 5 years and younger;  some wild yeast,  French oak ]
Pinot ruby,  but cloudy.  If the wine is not prematurely released / out of condition,  bouquet is tending wild and exotic,  estery in a marginally out-of-control maceration carbonique approach.  Palate is a juicy beaujolais style,  but New Zealand pinot flavours,  blackboy peaches plus a leafy quality,  awkward.  In approach reminds of the Schuster Twin Vineyards,  but not so acid,  easier drinking.  Not suited to cellaring.  GK 03/05

2003  Saint Clair Pinot Noir    14 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  5 days cold soak,  30% of wine matured in French oak,  balance s/s;  www.saintclair.co.nz ]
Pinot ruby.  This is a very different bouquet from the two premium Saint Clair pinots.  It is pinot-fragrant,  but is showing a clear leafy more than floral streak which is remarkably like cool-year fruit in the St Emilion satellites.  Not unpleasant,  just under-ripe.  Palate is more varietal,  red cherry and perhaps raspberry flavours,  supple,  juicy,  quaffable,  but a little green and acid all through.  QDR pinot.  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 03/05

2003  Shingle Peak Pinot Noir   14 ½  ()
Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ screwcap;  mechanically harvested;  3 day cold soak,  MLF in barrel 20%new;  2.5 g/L RS;  www.matua.co.nz ]
Light pinot ruby,  one of the lightest.  A light and simple redfruits pinot bouquet which is cleaner than several,  but also hints at chaptalisation.  Palate is redcurrants and strawberries,  a slight caramel thought picking up on suggested chaptalisation,  but stalky and tending acid as well.  Straightforward QDR pinot,  not worth cellaring.  GK 03/05

2002  Te Kairanga Pinot Noir   14 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $22   [ cork;  hand-harvested;  10 months in French oak 20% new;  www.tkwine.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby,  older.  Bouquet is light,  leafy,  clean,  fragrant red-fruits pinot noir (though with a suggestion of syrah pepper),  the leafiness becoming more apparent as the wine stands.  On palate,  the red currant fruit gives way to acid and stalkiness,  even though there is still some body.  The stalkiness lingers on the aftertaste,  becoming obtrusive.  An under-ripe QDR pinot not worth cellaring,  though it will keep several years.  GK 03/05

2004   Daniel Schuster Pinot Noir Twin Vineyards   14 ½  ()
Rakaia & Waipara districts,  Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ cork;  website has ’03 info for ‘04 as well;  hand-harvested,  10% whole-bunch fermentation, cuvaison 15-20 days,  10 months French oak;  www.danielschusterwines.com ]
Lightish bright youthful ruby.  The initial impression of the bouquet is remarkable,  total maceration carbonique,  and highly pinot-varietal in a floral and exaggerated way.  Palate brings one down to earth rapidly,  for total acid is very high,  making the light cherry and red plum components seem stalky and  rhubarby.  As one looks at the wine,  the bouquet develops a rubbery hint which is off-putting,  relative to the purer Te Mata Gamay.  The Schuster is interesting therefore,  and like the Te Mata is seeking to produce a reasonable facsimile of the beaujolais style,  to fill that market slot.  But this wine needs ripeness,  and acid reduction.  QDR pinot,  not worth cellaring.  GK 03/05

2003  Sileni Pinot Noir Cellar Selection   14  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  11%;  $25   [ screwcap;  no significant info on website;  www.sileni.co.nz ]
Light ruby.  One of the lightest and older than most.  Initially opened,  the wine is tending pongy, and a good splashy decanting,  pouring from jug to jug,  is called for.  It then reveals simple stalky redfruits characters something like the Bilancia,  with a hint of red cherries,  but tending acid.  QDR pinot,  not worth cellaring,  though richer than the cleaner Tuatara Bay.  GK 03/05

2004  Matahiwi Estate Pinot Noir   14  ()
Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $14   [ screwcap;  5 days cold-soak;  part oak-matured 4 months;  www.matahiwi.co.nz ]
Pinot ruby.  Bouquet is awkward,  quite pongy initially,  smelling of light red fruits plus smoked fish and compost.  Neither of these concepts is totally alien in traditional Burgundy - provided the wine is ripe.  Needs a good splashy decanting.  Breathes gradually to stalky indeterminate red berries.  Flavours are modest,  perhaps red cherries,  reasonably clearly pinot,  but all tending stalky and grubby,  unsatisfying.  Not worth cellaring,  a QDR pinot.  GK 04/05

2004  Southbank Estate Pinot Noir   13 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $24   [ cork;  Crossroads Winery group;  no info on this wine on website;  www.southbankestate.com ]
Light pinot ruby.  A modest bouquet indeed,  with retained fermentation odours which could be called farmyard,  if there were enough varietal fruit to carry that character.  Fruit is light,  acid,  lacking positive flavours,  finishing a little rubbery,  all made worse by premature release within a year of vintage.  Inconsequential light under-ripe QDR pinot,  expensive for the quality,  not worth cellaring.  GK 03/05

2004  Sherwood Pinot Noir   12  (-)
Marlborough & Waipara,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ composite ‘cork’;  hand-harvested;  5 days cold-soak,  16 days cuvaison,  2 months in oak;  www.sherwood.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  The wine is so saturated with H2S,  one can hardly smell it.  Much later,  one can tell that there was quite good cherry fruit,  but it has been disadvantaged in the wine-making.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 05/05