Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Wine of the week... NZ's love affair with Pinot Noir

It's no secret that New Zealanders are in love with Pinot Noir, which is probably why 73% of the vineyard area dedicated to red grapes is planted with Pinot Noir. It's not a lot though, if you break it down because this country's total vineyard area is 41,603 hectares of grapes and red varieties make up just 7,851 hectares of that, leaving over 33,000 hectares dedicated to whites, mainly Sauvignon Blanc, which makes up 85+% of the country's exports. The total amount of Pinot Noir growing in New Zealand is 5,779 hectares, of which Central Otago is the leading area with 2055 hectares of grapes, 80% being Pinot. Marlborough also has a hefty amount of Pinot Noir but it pales in comparison to Sauvignon Blanc in that region. And Martinborough may be a remote rural village but its leading grape variety is Pinot Noir, which makes up about 400 of the region's 1150 hectares of grapes - approximate figures here, by the way, since new plantings will start producing this year. 

So, enough with the stats, which are current as they come from the 2022 New Zealand Winegrowers' annual survey.

The reason for this Pinot Noir blog is that Pinot is on the mind as I prepare the second tasting of the year for a group of wine lovers in Martinborough.

Dive into Pinot Noir tasting

On Monday 6 March I will host a tasting that I've called Dive into Pinot Noir. It's open to everyone to attend, Pinot Noir producer or drinker, and the range of wines will appeal to both because I am including wines from France, Germany and New Zealand, including high profile, quality focussed producers as well as a couple of under the radar winemakers. 

All wines tasted range between RRP $40 and $65. The reason is to compare like with like, as much as possible. 

This tasting is the third this year in Martinborough that I have set up and I plan to host more, both for newcomers to wine and for winemakers. 

Watch this space for more details on Joelle Thomson's Wine Tastings.

  • I also work as a wine adviser and Wine Programme Director at Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington where we taste wines from around the world from importers, distributors and local producers.