This is an update of my original post which reported that the wines had been ranked. This was my initial reading of the ratings, however, it has since become clear that the wines are simply listed with their ratings.
It is also clear that New Zealand’s best Pinot Noirs come from a wide range of places. Which is great news all round.
Where do New Zealand’s best Pinot Noirs come from?
Of all the questions worrying many of us right now, this one may not be top of the list of thoughts that keep you awake at night but an extensive Pinot Noir tasting certainly did occupy the thoughts of Master of Wine Stephen Bennett and winemaker Lynnette Hudson. The pair founded their relatively new NZWinerater.com website last year and this week they officially launched their website’s first annual top Pinot Noirs. The results made for sobering reading.
The top wine came from North Canterbury’s Pegasus Bay winery and was the distinctive 2018 Pegasus Bay Vergence Red MK1 with 97/100 points.
Of the other six wines that scored 95 and 96 out of 100, five of them were from Martinborough and one from Marlborough.
The result has been described as “A bit of a coup for the Martinborough district” by one of the region’s first winemakers, Larry McKenna.
Two of the top wines have featured on this website this year as top wine of the week. They are the 2019 Escarpment Kupe and 2019 Palliser Estate Pinot Noir, both outstanding wines and the best yet from Palliser, in my view.
Here is the list of wines that scored over 94/100 points by NZ Winerater.com
The following wines are not ranked but rather scored out of 100.
2018 Pegasus Bay Vergence Red MK1 97/100
2019 Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir 96/100
2019 Luna Eclipse Pinot Noir 96/100
2019 Palliser Estate Pinot Noir 96/100
2019 Dog Point Pinot Noir 95/100
2019 Escarpment Pinot Noir 95/100
2019 Palliser Hua Nui Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 95/100
2018 Ata Rangi McCrone Pinot Noir 94/100
2018 Butterworth Te Muna Pinot Noir 94/100
2019 Escarpment Te Rehua Pinot Noir 94/100
2020 Kumeu River Hunting Hill Pinot Noir 94/100
2019 Neudorf Tom’s Block Pinot Noir 94/100
2020 Palliser Estate Pinot Noir 94/100
2019 Quartz Reef Single Ferment Pinot Noir 94/100
2017 Quartz Reef Otto Pinot Noir 94/100
2019 Valli Bannockburn Pinot Noir 94/100
2019 Valli Bendigo Pinot Noir 94/100
The full list of ratings and tasting notes appear here NZ Winerater.com
The founders of NZ Winerater.com describe Pinot Noir as unequivocally New Zealand’s signature red grape variety with 14% of the country’s vineyard area. This is five times that of the next most planted red variety, Merlot.
“In terms of inherent quality it leads the way with a much higher percentage of wines scoring top marks in our latest tasting than any other variety,” says Bennett, of NZ Winerater.com.
“While it was once the speciality of just a handful of regions, the variety is now performing strongly across the country. Featuring amongst the highest 10% of the scores we awarded were wines from Auckland, Canterbury, Central Otago, Martinborough, Marlborough, and Nelson.”
“The quality of the 2020 and 2019 vintages was overall high, albeit from two very different growing seasons, which both showed a similar vibrancy and energy with good ripeness levels, concentration, and balance.”