Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Five Pinot Noirs to see you through lockdown

It’s International Pinot Noir Day and there is plenty to celebrate here in New Zealand, despite being back in Alert level 4 lockdown.

The announcement of the latest lockdown saw wine sales spike within 10 minutes online as well as in stores throughout this country. I was standing in store at the Hamilton Beer & Wine Co when the announcement came through and customers buying wine weren’t heading for the cheap and cheerful but for high  quality bottles; “I want to enjoy something really good as we head back into lockdown,” one man told me last night, as he bought a $48 Argentinian Malbec just minutes after the lockdown news was announced.

So with that thought, here are five new Pinot Noirs to see you through the next week or however long the latest lockdown lasts.

Five top new Pinot Noirs 

These new wines are from The Escarpment on Te Muna Road, Martinborough, founded by winemaker Larry McKenna.


2019 Escarpment Pinot Noir RRP $49

This is always one of Martinborough’s best Pinots with its  structure, spice and all things nice thanks to dark fruit flavours from the Escarpment’s Te Muna Road Vineyard, which is given all the best treatment here to accentuate its impressive framework with cedar, oak and earthy flavours kicking in on the fresh, long finish.


2019 The Escarpment Te Rehua Pinot Noir RRP $85

Te Rehua is a big wine from a small vineyard in Martinborough. It is full bodied, firm and has an early depth of flavour in every red fruity sip. It promises lushness in its velvety mid palate and has a long, silky finish. A keeper as well as a wine to drink now – from a great vintage. Te Rehua was first made in 2006.


2019 The Escarpment Kupe RRP $115

Silky, savoury and seductively smooth, Kupe is one of the pinnacles of New Zealand Pinot Noir today. It comes from a small vineyard on Te Muna Road, Martinborough, where the grapes struggle in the wind and thrive in the dry, hot summers. These conditions express themselves and a highly structured full bodied Pinot Noir fantastic depth and length. It drinks beautifully now and can definitely age for at least a decade.

2019 Chard Farm Eliza Vineyard Pinot Noir RRP $79

The Eliza Vineyard Pinot Noir is a new to Chard Farm’s single vineyard range and it is my pick of the new Pinots from Chard Farm’s 2019 vintage. It’s pale in colour and anything but in taste with flavours of dark spice, macerated cherries and ripe plum notes, thanks to the Bannockburn sub region in which the Eliza Vineyard is planted. I often find Bannockburn Pinot Noir is to be more full bodied and this one definitely looks up to that promise.

2019 Chard Farm The Tiger Vineyard Pinot Noir RRP $79

The Tiger Vineyard is another deceptive Central Otago Pinot Noir with a pale colour and packed with spicy flavours. It’s named after the late ‘Tiger’ Thomson, who once managed the cellar door at Chard Farm and was famed for his charm. Like him, this wine takes you by surprise with its freshness, flavours of red and dark fruit and lingering firm finish of spice.