Yes, Pinot Noir is the signature red wine grape for New Zealand, and Sauvignon Blanc is their signature white grape. I asked this question as Sauvignon Blanc can get most of the world’s attention with its greater extent of vines (at 20,497 ha as of 2015), compared to the next largest production of Pinot Noir at 5,514 ha. Pinot Noir is grown on both the North and South Islands, with distinct differences in aromatics and flavours from the more northerly, warmer areas in areas such as Martinborough in Wairarapa, compared to cooler, southern areas, such as Central Otago. The Great New Zealand Wine Tiki Tour passed through Vancouver recently, and I tried both Sauvignon Blanc as well as Pinot Noir wines. I wrote about my Sauvignon Blanc experience in this article, but now I would like to recommend some nice Kiwi Pinot Noir wines you may want to enjoy this summer.
My Recommended New Zealand Pinot Noir Wines
Ara Single Estate Pinot Noir 2013, Marlborough – Light nutmeg, vanilla and raspberry aromas. Light body, dry with light tannins and medium acidity. Sour cherries and cinnamon spice with oak and vanilla on the finish. An elegant wine. Rating:
Matua Pinot Noir 2014, Marlborough – Light smoky, red cherry nose. Medium plus body, round with ripe red raspberry and cherries, complemented by some sweet spices and minerality (that gives this wine an interesting edge). Medium acidity. Rating:
Saint Clair Family Estate Pinot Noir 2014, Marlborough – Light sour cherry and vanilla aromas in the glass. Fuller bodied, with smoky raspberries and cherry flavours. Fine tannins and some spiciness, but not over done. Very nice. My favourite Pinot Noir of the tasting. Rating:
Stoneleigh Latitude Pinot Noir 2014, Marlborough – Nice nose with aromas of smoky raspberries and cherries. Fuller body, dry, yet silky on the palate, with flavours of ripe cherries and raspberries, together with nutmeg spice. Medium acidity, with light spiciness on the finish. Rating:
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2014, Marlborough – Cranberries and red cherries on the nose. Fuller bodied, round with salty minerality, red cherry flavour and hints of floral and spice. An elegant wine. Rating:
Whitehaven Pinot Noir 2013, Marlborough – Light floral, apples and red cherry aromas. Dry, medium body with light mouth feel. Sour red cherries and light nutmeg with a tart finish. I think this wine will age well and get better over time. Rating:
Oyster Bay Pinot Noir 2014, Marlborough – Smoke,nutmeg and red cherry nose. Very fruity; could be off-dry, with nutmeg, cherries and smoky flavours. An easy sipper from a large commercial producer. Rating:
Invivo Pinot Noir 2013, Central Otago – Nice ripe cherry nose. Dry with medium body. Peppery on the palate along with red cherry flavours. Fine tannins with nutmeg on the finish. Good quality. Rating:
After writing about the differences in Pinot Noir depending on latitude in New Zealand, I looked at my recommended list, and all but one recommendation is from the large Marlborough region. I was a bit shocked and looked at the list of all participating wineries, and most were from Marlborough. The few that were from places such as Hawke’s Bay, did not offer any Pinot Noir to try. Hopefully the next time the Kiwis visit us, they will show off the variations of Pinot Noir which we can all enjoy and embrace.