Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Why you should drink Marlborough Pinot Noir

Why is Marlborough Pinot Noir so good? 
It’s a question that was answered – hopefully – at Winetopia in Wellington this year with a session called, funnily enough, Why you should drink Marlborough Pinot Noir.
The answer lies in the migration to hillside vineyards over the past 20 years by winemakers such as Auntsfield, Dog Point Vineyards, Greywacke, Corafin, Giesen, Nautilus and many others.
“Over the last 20 year we have learned how and where to grow premium Pinot in Marlborough, typically this means on the clay based soils of the Southern Valleys but of course there are exceptions to this. We now  have the right clones on the right sites with vines hitting 20 years old which also helps,” said Richard Ellis of Greywacke Wines, when asked why Marlborough Pinot Noir has improved so immeasurably over the past two decades.

The Winetopia session was one of either that was hosted by yours truly over a super busy, super stimulating weekend. It was inspiring to have the opportunity to talk about the quality and diversity of Marlborough reds, especially when casting my mind back to the Merlots in the early-ish days of this massive wine region. New Zealand wine has come a long way in a short time and it’s still early days, so with a long weekend about to kick off, here are two wines of the week that I think punch above their weight…

2019 Mahi Marlborough Pinot Noir $34

It’s early days but the wines that are on the market from the 2019 vintage are already looking extremely good in quality and Mahi is no exception. Winemaker Brian Bicknell describes his grapes as being super small berried and low cropped, which made him careful with extraction. All grapes were hand picked and fermented with wild yeasts in small vats with 30% whole bunch fermentation, skin maceration for three weeks and barrel maturation for nine months followed by another six months in bottle prior to release.

This wine tastes dense and ripe with dark fruit flavours in a Pinot Noir with elements of silky elegance and higher than usual tannins, which will mellow with time. It drinks well now and has good aging potential for at least five to six years.

2018 Whitehaven Marlborough Pinot Noir $35

Pinot Noir makes up a small percentage of Whitehaven Wine’s overall production and the quality is extremely good with a seductively silky style that develops over the short term, coming into its own, typically, within three to four years. This wine also drinks well now but will reward those willing to hold onto it for another three to four years.