Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Where does the best Kiwi Pinot come from?

Which region makes the best Pinot Noir in New Zealand? 

A winemaker with two decades of experience in Pinot Noir production suggests that no region is superior to any other and, to prove his point, Ben Dugdale has produced a triptych of Pinot Noirs from three extremely diverse climates. His new wines are called Pinot Brothers Circle B Pinot Noirs and they come from Bendigo in Central Otago, Waitaki Valley in North Otago and Martinborough in the Wairarapa."Each region produces superlative Pinot Noir in a global context," says Dugdale, who has  made wine at Dry River and has a long standing collaboration with Porters Pinot in Martinborough, among others. 
“I wanted to explore the very nature of New Zealand Pinot Noir. What is of great interest to me are the characters, flavours, and textures of New Zealand Pinot from differing regions because Pinot Noir is incredibly honest in telling us where it is from and how it has been treated. It is one of those varieties that rewards care and attention from the grower and winemaker. Those who love Pinot, celebrate its wild and sometimes feral nature, and know to give it time and space to mature and develop."

The Circle B wines each have different coloured labels, which Dugdale chose to evoke his own idea of each region. The B Bendigo is blue for the blue hues of Lake Dunstan while Waitaki is a green gold for the colour of the late summer hills and Martinborough is red from cuts and bruises over harvest.

Dugdale's overall maxim was not to interfere too much along the winemaking journey, to allow the grapes' fruit flavour to determine quality and style instead of oak, maturation time and other winemaking inputs.
"I didn't want to add, polish or crowbar the fruit in these wines and I wanted to preserve the very nature of Pinot Noir from three different regions."

Here are my reviews...


2018 Pinot Brothers Circle B Bendigo Pinot Noir

A soft fruit forward expression of Bendigo Pinot Noir from an early harvest in Central Otago; smooth and fresh with youthful savoury flavour notes and the support structure from 50% whole bunch fermentation. Still youthful and will evolve over the next three to four years into a more open expression of Otago Pinot Noir.


2018 Pinot Brothers Circle B Waitaki Pinot Noir

If you're looking for an impressive taste experience of Southern Hemisphere Pinot Noir, here it is. This silky, elegant, deliciously structured and elusively savoury Pinot Noir comes from Waitaki Valley - one of the edgiest, coolest, most challengingly unreliable (and smallest) wine regions in the country. Deliciously different. Seductively tasty.


2018 Pinot Brothers Circle B Martinborough Pinot Noir

Savoury earthy flavours with structure from 20% whole bunch fermentation which accentuates the boldness of Martinborough's typically weighty style of Pinot Noir. A very good wine now which will reward three to four years in the bottle by revealing more flavours of soft fruit over that time.