top 12 nz wines

Pinot Noir

2022
97
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2014 Burn Cottage Burn Cottage Vineyard Pinot Noir, Central Otago, A$90/NZ$65

This relatively new wine producer was established by the Chicago-based Sauvage family, which also owns the celebrated Koehler Ruprecht estate in the Pfalz region of Germany as well as several fine wine US-based importing and wholesaling companies. This is a lovely scented pinot noir with cherry and violet aromas that continue onto the palate where plum, spice and a hint of savoury/earthy character is also evident. A dense, silken textured wine with considerable power and length.

2024
97
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2015 Felton Road Cornish Point
Pinot Noir, Central Otago, A$85/NZ$73

Perhaps the most individual and distinctive of Felton Road’s single-vineyard pinot noirs, possibly because it is sited on a peninsula that is surrounded on three sides by water. Subtle, silken and very complex pinot noir with an array of dark cherry, plum, floral and oriental spice flavours. A core of sweet fruit perfectly balances fine, drying tannins to give the wine a lingering linear quality. Power delivered with subtlety. Very impressive.

2025
97
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2013 Mt Difficulty Target Gully
Pinot Noir, Central Otago, A$110/NZ$110

This single-vineyard pinot noir is the most accessible of Mt Difficulty’s four single
vineyard wines released in this excellent
vintage. Like the others, it is produced only
in top vintages. Plump, fruity pinot noir with plum, dark cherry and anise flavours and mocha oak influence. A rich and concentrated red that’s a pleasure to drink now but has obvious cellaring potential.

2023
96
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2013 Ata Rangi McCrone Vineyard Pinot Noir, Martinborough, NZ$75

The two-and-a-half hectare McCrone Vineyard was planted in 2001 with Abel, Clone 5 and Dijon clones 115 and 777. This is the fourth release (other vintages are 2008, 2009 and 2011). Dense, rich, flavour-packed pinot noir with black-fleshed plum, spice, floral and a strong savoury/stemmy character that might derive from the use of 30 per cent whole bunches in the fermentation. A complex and powerful wine with cellaring potential.

2024
96
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2015 Devotus Reserve Pinot Noir, Martinborough, A$84/NZ$72

New owners purchased an established 29-year-old, two-hectare, pinot noir vineyard on the Martinborough Terrace and produced their first wine in 2014. This is the second vintage and is made from the Pommard clone with 15 per cent whole bunches in the ferment. Unlike the regular label, this has the weight and concentration to carry the structure of ripe tannins. It’s a big, dense red with plum, licorice, dark berry and a suggestion of mocha flavours. It has a promising future.

2025
96
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2013 Mt Difficulty Pipeclay Terrace Pinot Noir, Central Otago, A$110/NZ$110

Made from 17-year-old vines planted in a single vineyard comprised of two separate soil types: coarse, drought-prone Bannockburn soils and impervious heavy clay soils. Twenty per cent whole bunches were used in the ferment. It is deeply scented with a floral aroma, joined by dark cherry, vanilla, coffee, and spicy oak on the palate. A firmly structured wine with powdery tannins and a pleasantly drying finish suggesting good cellaring potential.

2024
96
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201 4 Nautilus Clay Hills Vineyard Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$59/NZ$68

Winemaker Clive Jones is allowed to produce a limited release wine if a particular vintage or vineyard delivers something really special. A deeply scented aroma leads to violet, red cherry and raspberry flavours with a subtle hint of fresh herbs and spices. Medium-bodied pinot noir with impressive power and potential. Collectors note: 2013 was the first vintage that wines were made available using the new limited edition label.

2022
96
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2010 Wild Earth Earth and Sky Pinot Noir, Central Otago, A$95/NZ$95

This is Wild Earth’s flagship pinot noir made only in exceptional vintages (2009 and 2010 are the only ones I have tasted). Robust and intense pinot noir with concentrated plum and dark cherry flavours together with an earthy, savoury character, the beginning of toasty bottle development and a generous influence of spicy oak. Sweet fruit helps to make this bold red more accessible, although it will obviously benefit from more bottle-age.

2022
95
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2013 Ara Select Block M36 Pinot Noir, Marlborough, A$45/NZ$40

Selected from one special block within Ara’s single estate vineyard, in this case from the older vineyard block planted in Pommard and Dijon clone 5 pinot noir. The grapes were partly hand-harvested and destemmed but not crushed. A delicately scented pinot noir with cherry, strawberry and plum together with a seasoning of spicy oak. Appealing fruit sweetness is balanced by fruity acidity. Subtle wine with power.

2023
95
iiiiI
2013 Bell Hill Old Weka Pass Road Pinot Noir, Central Otago, A$50/NZ$50

Produced from an equal blend of grapes from the Ngakirikiri and Omahu Gravels vineyards with a modest crop yield of six tonnes per hectare. This is a strongly varietal malbec with an almost luscious richness and fruit sweetness tempered by gentle tannins. Plum, blackberry, anise and attractively nutty oak flavours are accentuated by a very favourable vintage. Classy wine with good potential to age well in bottle. 

2023
95
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2014 Nga Waka Lease Block Pinot Noir, Martinborough, A$55/NZ$50

The Lease block was planted by the uncle of Nga Waka owner, Roger Parkinson, in 1999. The vineyard has been leased and managed by Nga Waka since then. In 2013 Parkinson considered that the vines had matured sufficiently to release his first single-vineyard pinot noir label. Rich, full-bodied pinot noir with plum, earth, oak and a suggestion of fresh herbs. Impressive weight and texture with a lingering finish. Good now but has the potential to develop well with bottle-age.

2022
95
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2012 Wild Earth Pinot Noir, Central Otago, A$46/NZ$42

Eighty per cent of the grapes were hand-harvested from Wild Earth’s Bannockburn vineyard with 20 per cent from its Lowburn vineyard – 2012 was a top vintage in both districts. Aged in French oak barriques (43 per cent new) for approximately 12 months, it’s a typically lush, ripe style with plum, dark cherry and a hint of mocha. An appealing wine that’s now showing the beginning of some savoury character from bottle-age. A minor fruit bomb style. Very seductive.