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Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
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Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.
PINOT NOIR IN NEW ZEALAND:  QUIET CONFIDENCE EVIDENT IN THE 'COPNL' 2009 CENTRAL OTAGO PINOT NOIR PREVIEW,  AND VINTAGE CHART


Background to the Otago wine district
The climatic magic of the Otago viticultural district is a product of the district's spectacular setting,  tucked in under the lee of the Southern Alps.  These high mountains produce a dramatic rain-shadow effect,  such that the wettest (over 7000 mm / annum) and the driest (c.350 mm) places in the country are within 150 km of each other.  Add to this the fact that Central Otago is the southernmost wine district not only in New Zealand,  but also in the world,  and the ingredients are there for an exciting wine place.  Argentina,  Australia,  and Chile (the Malleco appellation including the district of Traiguen at 38 S in northernmost Patagonia,  600 km SSW of Santiago,  and experimental plantings at Osorno at nearly 41 S,  300 km further south) all claim to have the world's southernmost vineyards,  but none have commercial vineyards beyond 45 south,  as the entire Alexandra district is.  Cromwell itself,  home to the famous Bannockburn district,  is just below 45 south.  Tasmanian viticultural land extends from 41 south to Hobart at 43.  The  Alexandra district is also for all practical purposes the driest wine place in the country.

Given a rainfall gradient like that,  it goes without saying that even within the Central Otago district,  the sub-districts differ a good deal from each other.  The high latitude more comparable with Europe and Burgundy in particular,  and the more continental climate,  both combine to allow pinot noir to be the district's most famous wine.  In a few short years,  it has already achieved wines of a calibre which many rate second only to Burgundy.  They certainly seem to match Oregon,  where there is longer experience,  but I cannot vouch for that personally.  Central Otago has a much more reliable and drier climate than Oregon,  so much so that use of irrigation is widespread.  Actual water application is carefully monitored,  with leading producers aiming to crop at around 5 to 5.5 tonnes per hectare for pinot noir,  or 2 2.2 tonnes per acre,  a figure comparable with sound premier and grand cru AOC practice in favourable years in Burgundy.  Some of the most famous Burgundy wineries crop at less than this (and charge accordingly).

Central Otago is not only pinot noir.  Riesling is quietly achieving a promising reputation too.  The best rieslings have a fine-grain subtlety and fragrant charm reminding of both Alsace in the drier offerings,  and the Mosel in the off-dry.  It is still very early days for fine Otago rieslings,  but some extravagant predictions have been made by British winewriters,  including Jancis Robinson.  Chardonnay which might be expected to be in step with its compatriot pinot noir,  has not so far caught the public fancy.  Total acids have been a problem,  but even so there have been some exciting individual wines.  There is no doubt we will hear much more of them.  

This account is centred on pinot noir performance in the 2009 Central Otago vintage,  but does not cover all the 2009 pinots.  There are about 115 wineries in Central,  and 81 of them have grouped together to form a marketing organisation called Central Otago Pinot Noir Ltd,  COPNL for short.  The best introduction to the district on-line is provided on their website:  www.centralotagopinot.co.nz.  It includes seven 'chapters',  each section headed by a full-screen-width set of three photos,  which cycle.  They provide a delightful and worthwhile introductory diversion,  before one even examines the excellent site content.  COPNL also produces a very useful Central Otago Wine Map which is regularly updated,  and can be ordered gratis off the website,  or they will supply on request:  info@centralotagopinot.co.nz  Note that the membership list on the website is not complete.

COPNL note that in the New Zealand viticultural region,  Central Otago is both at the highest elevation despite being the southernmost,  and is in its driest parts the only truly continental climate in New Zealand.  Its latitude at 45 degrees south is nearly comparable with Burgundy at 47 degrees north.  Therefore diurnal variation is at a maximum in parts of the district.  In their account of the whole district COPNL recognise 4 main sub-districts,  from the north and west proceeding more-or-less southeast:  Wanaka,  Gibbston,  Cromwell Basin and Alexandra,  but because the Cromwell Basin produces c. 70% of the district's crop,  it is further divided into Bendigo,  Lowburn / Pisa and Bannockburn zones.  Their 6 sub-districts (summarised and augmented) are therefore:

Wanaka:  Wanaka is the northernmost sub-district.  Like the Gibbston district,  it is both wetter (c.650 mm) and cooler than the more easterly places further down the rainfall gradient,  and contains some of Otago's oldest pinot noir vines.  The lake is thought to moderate frost impact,  but achieving ripeness is more the challenge.  By the same token,  in good years there is delightful red-fruits pinot character.  Production amounts to c.3% of the district output.

Gibbston:  The Lake Hayes & Gibbston vineyards occupy elevated terraces in the Kawarau Gorge,  running east from Queenstown (c.800 mm rainfall) to Cromwell (c.400 mm).  Rainfall is likely to be in the 550 650 mm zone,  so like Wanaka it is both wetter and cooler than most of the Otago districts,  but still comparable with fine pinot districts elsewhere.  Its wines can be distinctive,  sometimes notably burgundian with good red-fruits characters,  and at times excel.  Harvest tends to be later in the season.  In addition to containing some of the oldest vines,  the district produces 20% of Central Otago's wines.

Bendigo:  Bendigo lies on elevated sloping terraces in the northeast corner of the Cromwell Basin,  and is currently being actively planted.  It is likely to be a little drier than Bannockburn at maybe 375 mm,  and is generally thought to be the warmest sub-district.  Vineyards are beautifully lying to the sun on some of the upper terraces,  so much so that some syrah is planted here too.  One tasted reminds of Cote Rotie in its lighter floral phases.  Many wineries based elsewhere in Central Otago plan to plant here.  In hotter years there is a tendency to excessive black-fruits characters sometimes robbing the wines of fragrance and 'pinosity'.  Some fear the district is too hot for the finest pinot noir,  at least in the warmer years.  

Lowburn / Pisa / Parkburn / Northburn / Queensberry:  This diffuse zone seems to be essentially all the Cromwell Basin land between Bannockburn in the south and Bendigo in the northeast,  including the Pisa and related districts to the west of Lake Dunstan,  and possibly even Queensberry further north on the road to Wanaka.  Mostly it is gently sloping to Lake Dunstan or the Clutha River.  Rainfall like Bannockburn is around the 400 mm mark,  perhaps a little more say 450 mm on the west side of the lake and to the north (Pisa for example),  and a little drier to the east (Northburn for example).  The district is a little diffuse for generalisations,  but it is of broadly similar warmth to Bannockburn,  with similar winestyles.  COPNL notes it contains the largest area of potential grape land.  

Bannockburn:  Bannockburn lies at the southern end of the Cromwell Basin,  on gentle and mostly north-facing slopes south of the town of Cromwell.  It is at the moment the most intensively planted of the microclimates,  with an ideal rainfall a little over 400 mm,  and it is one of the warmer sites.  Some of Otago's highest-profile wineries are located here,  and it is generally considered (by outsiders) to be the epicentre of fine Otago pinot.  In hotter years,  black-fruits characters may become overt on the warmer sites.

Alexandra:  The Alexandra,  Earnscleugh and Clyde vineyards to the southeast produce c.7% of the district's output.  The vineyards are the southernmost in the district,  the driest at around 350 mm annual rainfall,  and though in the middle of the heat range for Central Otago microclimates,  actual temperatures during the later ripening phase can be hot for pinot.  Some therefore consider it the most difficult climatically.  To an outside taster,  some of the wines of the Alexandra district do seem to stand a little to one side,  perhaps reflecting a more severe climate than the other districts.  Irrigation is commonplace.

The best on-paper guide to the district is,  as always,  provided by Michael Cooper,  in his indispensable Wine Atlas of New Zealand.  He has 17 full pages in the 2002 Edition.  

It is really quite astonishing the amount of information which is on-line about Otago pinot noir.  Once I had drafted my review,  stimulated by a note from Blair Walter,  I looked very briefly.  Merely in the last 6 weeks,  there have been two quite lengthy accounts prepared in America alone.  The first published in October is in four parts,  from the well-regarded author of the wine website Gang of Pour.  Bennett Traub attended Pinot Noir 2007,  and is building up considerable familiarity with the New Zealand wine scene.  The introductory article at www.blogs.gangofpour.com/new-zealand%E2%80%99s-central-otago-pinot-noir links to the others.  The overlap with my content I in one sense found dismaying it makes one realise how assiduous the Otago wine people are in promoting their region.  That in turn means that if one is to do the best long-term job for them,  one must be on guard.  Both here and in other districts,  that is in part the reason for my relatively more pedantic approach to sample conservation and evaluation.  The second article is even more recent,  by William 'Rusty' Gaffney, M.D.,  dated 7 November 2010.  His column is PinotFile at www.princeofpinot.com/article/975.  And there is a good deal more available on line,  though sadly Jancis Robinson's incisive and reality-check views are mostly (not all) behind a subscription barrier.  Given these resources,  no more background will be provided here.

The present review
Along with several other New Zealand winewriters,  it was a pleasure to be invited by COPNL to visit Central Otago in September.  Their purpose was a preview of their members' forthcoming 2009 pinot noirs,  together with a few from other vintages which have not so far been released.  

COPNL's approach to the exercise was to have a couple of winemakers provide a short overview of the vintage,  then to present all the wines blind in one room,  and let the winewriters loose on them for five hours or so.  Following that, a good number of winemakers and other winery people turned out to share in the tasting,  and participate in an informal questions and answers / discussion session.  The 80 wines presented are not a complete sampling of the district's pinots:  some producers chose not to participate,  some have too many labels to include them all,  and in general prestige wines were not represented.

My approach was initially the same as the other winewriters,  in that that the wines were carefully,  but out of necessity,  hastily examined in those first few hours.  But I also collected good glass samples of each wine,  to subsequently follow the more formal evaluation procedure I have outlined in earlier Waiheke Island and Hawkes Bay reviews on this site.  Due to the scale of this exercise,  with 80 wines in the formal presentation,  plus 21 in associated meals etc,  I did not introduce further samples for reference purposes.  Then,  armed with my 101 glass samples,  I was able to retreat to superb accommodation provided by Felton Road winery,  and set up another rigorously blind tasting,  evaluate the wines at length,  and write them up intensively over the following three days.  Overnight the wines were kept under ice in chilly-bins.  Though the amount of kit needed to be transported to achieve all this was quite remarkable,  the procedure worked well.

Recognising some of the price trends touched on below,  the organisers had divided the wines into two groups,  both blind,  under $30 and over $30.  Astonishingly,  some of the former were amongst the best wines in the tasting,  even if not the most 'serious'.  They might not be the last word for cellaring,  but since most pinot noir is drunk young,  their goal of displaying the charms of the variety was magnificently achieved.  So this is great news for consumers.

A couple of factors need to be kept in mind,  in presenting the wines in this way.  Winewriters and other tasters may be more tolerant in assessing the known-to-be-cheaper wines,  and thus a more positive write-up of the event might result than is justified.  To counter this,  in my subsequent rigorously  blind evaluation,  I mixed all the current wines together in a manner that maximised randomness without regard to price.  I also included all the extracurricular wines in the single line up too.  This helps objectivity.  

Another possible caveat arose when we discovered that in general,  wines presented by COPNL are only those which have passed a winemaker-panel pre-screening.  This approach raises the risk that a wine of great style but containing a technical flaw might be excluded on rigorous technical grounds.  In an ideal world a competent winewriter might be a better judge of the wine's nett achievements,  but on the other hand it is good not to have to wade through a greater number of plain (or worse) samples.  For several reasons,  there is no short answer to this many-facetted dilemma.   Later discussion suggested that in fact no wines were excluded from this particular batch.  Certainly the average of the wines was high.

Quality of the 2009 vintage
On the basis of the sampling,  the wines from the 2009 vintage in Central Otago look a sheer delight,  many wines showing beautifully floral and fragrant aromas on perfectly ripe cherry fruit.  Winemakers the world over all too often convey the impression that the vintage they have to sell is particularly good,  but for the 2009 pinot noir vintage in Central Otago their quiet confidence in the wines seems well justified.  The best show the fragrant elegance and charm,  and sufficient concentration,  to totally befit a burgundian interpretation of this challenging grape.  They avoid the over-ripeness and excess black-fruits character some wines showed in the good 2002 vintage,  and while being abundantly fragrant,  a great many of them also avoid the leafy fragrance of cooler years such as 2004.  More comment in the vintage chart,  below.  As noted,  it was a great pleasure in this 2009 vintage review to find delightful wines in the $20 $30 price bracket.

Vintage Chart:  Ratings for Pinot Noir quality 2000 2010 in Central Otago for discussion:
Central Otago wine and pinot noir in particular is already of such quality,  and is developing and consolidating at such a fast pace,  that it seems desirable to have a crack at presenting a vintage chart.  The goal is to match the charts already presented on this website for Waiheke Island and Hawkes Bay.  Even though the soil parent materials through the entire district tend to a certain mineralogical uniformity in that they have greywacke,  greywacke-derived schist and loess in common,  given such diversity in the rainfall particularly and warmth,  the climatic gradients are steeper even than Hawkes Bay.  And the seasons vary greatly too:  there can be a full four weeks difference in the start of harvest,  from one year to another.  The finest wines seem to come from the less extreme years,  with harvest well underway by mid-April.  The 6 wine sub-districts and their wines therefore vary considerably between themselves,  so it is difficult for any thumbnail sketch to either be very accurate,  or to provide a good guide to the quality of recent vintages.  There will be even more exceptions than in Hawkes Bay,  but it is worth trying.  

There are several facets to the quality of the vintage.  It is easy to overlook the human factor,  and the time dimension.  Otago is such a youthful district,  with so few vines over 15 years old,  that every year the wines have the potential to be better,  simply as a function of the average age of the vineyards increasing.  One catch there is,  with the recent 'gold-rush' to establish more Otago pinot vineyards,  the average age of the district's vines has retreated a little in the last few years.  That should now stabilise.  For the established wineries and their 'grand vin',  increasing age of the vines still holds true.  And then there is the increasing experience of the winemakers.  The last 15 years have been an extraordinarily steep learning curve,  as Otago winemakers try to squeeze into one generation a full appreciation of the skills it has taken the Burgundians perhaps 6 generations to achieve.  It is impossible to over-estimate the contribution winemaker exchanges have made to this,  as a younger generation of French winemakers become more outward-looking.  But it is not completely one-sided.  The current generation of Burgundians are having to graft new technical skills and perceptions into their heritage approach.  This both helps and challenges us,  and the pace is increasing for both.

The key issue that needs highlighting though,  in assessing the Central Otago viticultural region,  is the remarkable consistency of its climate.  In the last decade,  there have been no vintages where the whole harvest is distressingly ordinary,  or worse even,  fit only for distillation.  Even its coolest and wettest sites are still pretty dry,  in comparison with Oregon notably,  but also even Burgundy.  But,  and it is a significant 'but',  being a very mountainous district,  and the vineyards being woven in amongst the mountains,  local patterns of rainfall can and do vary enormously.  So due to rain shadow and local effects,  districts only a few kilometres apart can experience very different flowerings,  fruit sets,  or quality of harvest.  This is all part of the nebulous concept of 'terroir',  as it pertains to each site.  Further,  vineyard management knowledge has developed so dramatically within the last generation,  that continual intra-seasonal adjusting of canopy cover and crop load to the perceived season can make an enormous difference.  By optimising the work the vine has to do in relation to the season,  the most skilled viticulturists can now minimise climatic variation to a degree undreamt of a generation ago.  So a vintage chart for Central Otago must be merely an overview.  Always,  the individual producer and the final wine is the ultimate arbiter of achievement in any given place and year.  And,  the wines most suited to cellaring come from those vintages where the magic word 'concentration' appears.  

The primary resource for this chart is the Central Otago vintage summary which was originally prepared by Blair Walter for the Felton Road website.  It is therefore centred on the Bannockburn district,  perhaps the most favoured site in Central Otago.  This report was adapted for COPNL by Rudi Bauer of Quartz Reef,  and appears on the COPNL website.  In using the vintage chart,  therefore,  allowances must be made for characteristics of other districts noted earlier in this review.  The usual marginal-climate caveats apply,  just as in Bordeaux:  in a hot year,  the cooler districts will make the best wine,  and vice versa.  I have skimmed all the Otago websites,  and harvested further information from the relatively few containing significant regional and vintage analysis as well as promotional content,  and augmented that by discussion,  as in the Acknowledgements.  Even thus augmented,  the chart is however very much a once-over-lightly account,  prepared without either live-in experience,  or the degree of drinking familiarity with the vintages one might wish.  Sadly.  Therefore,  corrections and comments from wineries are welcomed,  though in an exercise like this,  it is by definition not going to be correct for everybody.  Address near the foot of home page,  under:  Feedback:

2010
7.5 8.5 +
A complex season,  mostly good flowering,  a warm and dry summer without undue heat but ending up somewhat late,  with reduced crops (particularly in parts of Alexandra) allowing excellent ripening.  Follows on from successful 2009s,  thus breaking the alternate-year-succeeding pattern of the decade.  Should be good whites,  as well as some well-flavoured pinot noirs with good concentration.  Some caught out at close of season by heavy rains 29 April.  Most feel could match 2009,  and hopes are high score can only be indicative at moment.
20097.5 8.5 +Except in Wanaka district,  normal spring temperatures and rainfall,  good flowering and fruit set.  January and Feb cool,  February a little wetter than usual.  March and April warm and dry,  good ripening,  vintage slightly late but near-perfect fruit small disease-free berries and bunches.  Best wines where growers reduced crop,  enabling earlier harvest,  thus showing beautiful aromatics and some concentration,  which could match the 2007s.  This impression confirmed in the COPNL presentation.  Good whites reported too.  Where heavier crops pursued,  some had difficulty ripening later in April due to frost.  An exciting vintage which should give much pleasure.
20085.5 7Wettish spring till sunny weather during flowering gave successful fruit set with good to excessive crops.  Summer rainfall above average but well-spaced,  cooling later summer months,  very dry harvest with fruit in excellent condition.  Larger berries and heavier bunch weights than usual,  plentiful crop of elegant wines.  Where growers did not reduce crop sufficiently,  some difficulties in ripening,  plus April frost Alexandra district.  Care needed in purchasing for cellar many charming but lighter and short-term wines.  A few winemakers feel that where every care observed,  the best '08s will be the best yet,  reminding of the 2003s,  so hard to score.
20078 9Wet and cool spring,  more frosts than usual (particularly Alexandra) and some damage,  difficult flowering and reduced fruit set,  crops down c. 25%.  Then good weather from early January,  February driest on record with virtually no rainfall.  Reduced crops and a warm and long dry late season without excessive heat produced wines with good concentration and the best showing exceptional flavour.  The benchmark vintage for the time being,  and remarkably consistent over all districts,  optimising the enhanced knowledge relative to 2002 and 2003,  wines which will hold well.
20065.5 6.5Early fine spring though to flowering,  good fruit set.  Settled warm and very dry summer,  some days to 40 degrees,  earliest harvest on record starting mid-March.  April cooler than normal,  a large crop of healthy and well-ripened grapes,  though some hard seed-tannins noted.  Shares some characters with 2008,  some attractive wines but a lack of concentration.  Many drinking well now.  Rudi Bauer feels '06 an important year,  marking 10 years of experiment,  some regionality and consistency appearing now.
20057 8Early spring promising,  no frosts,  then cold later November and December (4 degrees below average) resulted in poor fruit set and 50% crop reduction for some,  and small bunches.  January and February warmer than average,  maxima approaching 40 degrees,  autumn cooler and drier but the reduced crop producing concentrated ripe fruit for some,  with lower than average malic acid.  Quality was not as even as 2007 however,  and some vines affected by late April frost.  Best wines concentrated and good,  cellaring well,  but others lesser,  some stalkyness.  Perhaps the least 'typical' vintage of the decade,  wines stand apart somewhat.
20044.5 5.5 Early spring good,  but severe frosts 14 and 28 November affected flowering and reduced crop to less than half.  Cool and wet early summer,  better March and the reduced crop had a better chance of ripening.  Some sites curtailed by frost 8 April.  A "challenging" vintage,  middling wines,  some lack ripeness and are acid,  some better and concentrated but often the thought of stalks (as in Burgundy),  all but the best now well-mature to fading.
20037.5 8.5 +Cold slow spring,  but no frost damage.  Reasonable flowering,  mixed early summer,  good February and very dry March promised well.  Cool April with some frosts lengthened ripening positively,  a good volume of more fragrant and elegant wines than 2002 which looked exciting around the time of Pinot Noir 2007,  but not all have been as long-lived as initially hoped.  Perhaps not the concentration for excellence.  Those perfectly cellared are mature now,  many others fading.
20027.5 8.5Early warm spring,  reasonable flowering,  warm dry summer but unusually few days into the 30s.  Earliest harvest since 1990 starting late March,  with lowish yields and small berries producing some very ripe,  powerful and concentrated wines.  Some of the richer wines lacked finesse,  perhaps due to enthusiasm for 'hang-time' then fashionable,  but were well-received and the best have cellared well.  Considered the vintage which 'established' Otago pinot noir,  though not perhaps for the most sophisticated reasons.  The best holding well,  no immediate hurry.
20015 6Early spring and good flowering produced large crops,  then wet early summer.  Later season increasingly dry through an Indian summer April,  but achievements uneven,  many wines lacking concentration.  Most past-mature to declining.  This year marked the turning point when many producers decided that they would no longer tolerate the incidence of TCA-affected corks,  and the swing to screwcaps became unstoppable.
20005.5 6.5After the powerful 1998s and the more elegant 1999s,  a changeable vintage,  floods in mid-November affected flowering.  January markedly wetter and cooler than normal,  but February and March settled through to mid-April.  Lowish yields and small berry size produced small crops with some wines showing attractive concentration,  but some stalk undertones.  Did not turn out as well as hoped.  Now well-mature to fading.

Pricing
A word on pricing is necessary.  Many Central Otago pinot noirs are now over $50 per bottle.  Some producers of established reputation are pricing almost all their wines in that zone,  but it needs to be said,  some of the wines do not measure up to the implied quality standard of a $50-plus tag.  Further,  rather many producers are also feeling the compulsion to produce prestige bottlings,  over and sometimes well over $100.  In general,  this step is premature,  elements of vanity and keeping up with the so&so's being apparent.  When put to the test with comparably-priced bottles from Burgundy,  in this price band few Otago wines yet achieve parity.  Note however that in similar comparisons in the $20 40 price band,  Otago triumphs.  

Perhaps the Otago producers are a little envious of the comparisons lately being made between the very best Hawkes Bay blends and reasonably fine Bordeaux.  As an aside,  if this is the case,  even greater dismay may become apparent when the quality of our best syrahs is more widely recognised,  and side by side comparisons instituted.  But for pinot noir,  the goal at this stage must be to achieve demonstrable quality in the bottle,  rather than indulge in grandiose claims by way of trophy pricing.  The latter caters primarily to wine-snobs,  and creates antipathy amongst the generality of wine-lovers and consumers.

The trend most likely to please wine-lovers,  and those wishing to learn why pinot noir so appeals to so many people,  is the number of good wines now apparent in the $20 40 band.  Not only are prices today tending lower than five years ago (apart from those trophy wines),  but as more and more wineries come into the Central Otago market,  a number of producers are introducing second usually cheaper labels.  The goals are threefold:  firstly to counter the trend becoming evident some years ago,  and much complained about,  that New Zealand pinot noir is too expensive,  secondly at the same time to attract more people into tasting pinot noir;  and finally to separate the fruit from younger vines into these new labels,  and thus optimise the quality of the winery's grand vin.

Our market,  like Australia's,  is reaching a point where many of the sub-$20 wines are made by the big producers,  on a semi-industrial scale which is mechanised as far as possible.  Often,  that includes both pruning and picking.  Such an approach is inimical to fine pinot noir,  in fact,  almost a contradiction in terms,  so it is near-impossible to find other than beverage-quality pinot noir under the $20 mark.  Hence the great pleasure in this 2009 vintage review of finding delightful wines in the next bracket up,  $20 $30.

Acknowledgements:
It is a pleasure to thank the Board of COPNL for an invitation to join the 2009 Pinot Review and contributing to the cost of visiting Central Otago.  Kathryn Pettit in particular provided every further detail asked for.  Blair Walter,  Nigel Greening,  Tracy Thomson and Sarah Lundon gave me a great  welcome at Felton Road.  Blair,  Jenny Hawker of Pisa Range,  Matt Dicey of Mt Difficulty,  and Rudi Bauer of Quartz Reef contributed to the vintage chart particularly.  At the draft stage,  several winemakers contributed further points.  The review as a whole benefitted from the long experience of John Comerford,  associated with Carrick Wines,  with whom I first came to an understanding of pinot noir based on the wines of the elegant 1966 and particularly 1969 Burgundy vintages.  Websites with good vintage observations include:  Carrick,  Felton Road,  Kawarau Estate,  Mt Difficulty,  Olssens,  Rippon Wines,  and Two Paddocks.    






THE 80 COPNL CENTRAL OTAGO PINOT NOIRS:

[ NB:  Not all these wines are available yet,  or even for imminent release.  Some may be two years way.  Only 2009 pinot noirs and a few as-yet-unreleased 2008s were shown by COPNL.  Some older pinots and a few whites also tasted while in Otago conclude the review. ]


2008  Amisfield Pinot Noir
2009  Archangel Wines Pinot Noir
2009  Archangel Wines Pinot Noir The Long Trek
2009  Aurum Wines Pinot Noir
2009  Aurum Wines Pinot Noir Mathilde Reserve
2009  Bald Hills Pinot Noir Single Vineyard
2009  Bald Hills Pinot Noir Three Acres
2009  Bannock Brae Estate Pinot Noir Barrel Selection
2009  Bannock Brae Estate Pinot Noir Goldfields
2009  Black Quail Estate Pinot Noir
2009  Carrick Pinot Noir
2009  Carrick Pinot Noir Unravelled
2009  Ceres Pinot Noir
2009  Charcoal Gully Pinot Noir Sally's Pinch
2009  Chard Farm Pinot Noir Mata-Au
2009  Chard Farm Pinot Noir River Run
2009  Chard Farm Pinot Noir The Tiger
2009  Chard Farm Pinot Noir The Viper
2009  Coal Pit Pinot Noir Tiwha
2009  Desert Heart Pinot Noir
2009  Desert Heart Pinot Noir Mackenzie's Run
2008  Doctor's Flat Vineyard Pinot Noir
2009  Doctors Flat Vineyard Pinot Noir
2009  Domain Road Pinot Noir
2009  Eight Ranges Pinot Noir
2009  Eight Ranges Wines Pinot Noir Barrel Selection
2009  Ellero Pinot Noir Pisa Terrace
2008  Ellero Pinot Noir Pisa Terrace
2009  Felton Road Pinot Noir Bannockburn
2009  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 3
2009  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5
2009  Felton Road Pinot Noir Calvert Vineyard
2009  Felton Road Pinot Noir Cornish Point
2009  Gibbston Highgate Estate Pinot Noir Soultaker
2009  Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir School House
2009  Gibbston Valley Wines Pinot Noir Central Otago
2009  Gibbston Valley Wines Pinot Noir China Terrace
2009  Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir
2009  Greylands Ridge Pinot Noir
2009  Hilok Pinot Noir
  2009  Hilok Wines Pinot Noir Premier
2009  Judge Rock Pinot Noir
2009  Judge Rock Pinot Noir Venus
2008  Kingsmill Wines Pinot Noir Tippet's Mill
2009  Locharburn Pinot Noir
2009  Lowburn Ferry Pinot Noir Home Block
2009  Maude Pinot Noir
2009  Mitre Rocks Pinot Noir
2009  Mondillo Vineyards Pinot Noir
2009  Mount Aspiring Pinot Noir 36 Bottles
2009  [ Mitre Rocks ] Mount Dottrel Pinot Noir
2009  Mount Edward Pinot Noir Central Otago
2009  Mount Edward Pinot Noir Morrison Vineyard
2009  Mount Edward Pinot Noir Muirkirk Vineyard
2009  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir
2009  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Roaring Meg
2009  Mud House Pinot Noir
2009  Mud House Pinot Noir Swan
2009  Northburn Station Pinot Noir The Shed
2009  Olssens Pinot Noir Jackson Barry
2009  Olssens Pinot Noir Slapjack Creek
2009  Peregrine Pinot Noir
2009  Pisa Range Estate Pinot Noir Black Poplar
2007  Prophet's Rock Pinot Noir
2009  Rockburn Wines Pinot Noir
2009  Rockburn Wines Pinot Noir Devil's Staircase
2009  [ Peregrine ] Saddleback Pinot Noir
2008  Sleeping Dogs Pinot Noir Reserve
2009  Tarras Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir
2009  Tarras Vineyards Pinot Noir Canyon
2009  Tarras Vineyards Pinot Noir Steppes
2009  [ Forrest ] Tatty Bogler Pinot Noir
2008  [ Forrest ] Tatty Bogler Pinot Noir
2009  Two Degrees Pinot Noir
2009  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir
2009  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir Picnic
2009  Wild Earth Wines Pinot Noir Blind Trail
2009  Wooing Tree Pinot Noir
2009  Wooing Tree Pinot Noir Beetle Juice
2008  Wooing Tree Pinot Noir Sandstorm Reserve


Red
Pinot Noir
2009  Bannock Brae Estate Pinot Noir Barrel Selection   18 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.3%;  $48   [ screwcap;  if like the 2008,  hand-picked,  cuvaison extending to 4 weeks for some parcels;  c. 8 months in French oak c.30% new;  not fined or filtered;  www.bannockbrae.co.nz ]
Rich pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is sweetly floral and ripe,  at the black cherry and darkest roses grading to boronia end of the floral spectrum for pinot noir.  Palate is both plummy rich yet refreshingly black cherry too,  with elegant oak shaping the rich round fruit attractively.  A lovely example of the darkest style of Central Otago pinot noir,  yet unequivocally varietal.  Cellar 5 12 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 3   18 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $74   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested,  wild-yeast fermentation;  13 months in French oak,  not fined or filtered;  Blocks 3 & 5 are allocated to all markets,  principally fine wine resellers and a mailing list.  The latter now has a waiting list to be on it,  and members need to order a dozen bottles to secure a maximum of 4 bottles of each Block;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Initially opened,  bouquet is quietly understated,  suggestive only of darker fragrant cherries.  Decanted / with air,  it expands considerably to a darkly floral black cherry pinot noir with hints of black forest gateau,  in one sense a bit debatable.  Palate redeems the wine,  being densely black cherry fruit,  showing great concentration yet not unduly plummy,  so my passing thoughts of merlot on bouquet can be put aside.  The length of fruit is astonishing.  In the sense it is very dark,  burgundy classicists may feel this is too far outside the square.  At that point one can invoke the logic,  it epitomises one style of Central Otago pinot noir,  and further,  a style which is receiving critical endorsement.  It is richer and darker than the Bannockburn label,  and will cellar longer,  5 12 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Desert Heart Pinot Noir Mackenzie's Run   18 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $45   [ screwcap;  no info;  www.desertheart.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is deep and brooding initially,  really crying out for decanting.  It opens up to a darkly floral and attractive aroma confuseable with best merlot on bouquet,  but on palate lightening-up magically to be clearly black cherry pinot noir of considerable depth.  It is nicely framed by noticeable oak but at a subtler level than the Mitre Rocks wine.  Cellar 5 12 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Aurum Wines Pinot Noir   18 ½  ()
Lowburn & Pisa districts,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $32   [ screwcap;  hand-picked from 7 13 year old vines;  11 months in French oak 25% new ;  www.aurumwines.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is soft and gentle,  always appealing in pinot noir,  with intense roses aromas grading into both red cherry and peaches a little unusual for pinot noir,  until one thinks of Chambolle-district wines from a producer like Drouhin.  Palate is intriguing,  all the softly floral and blackboy peach / nectarines notes,  but then some cherry firmness too.  Needs another year to harmonise,  but this is subtle understated wine to cellar 3 10 years.  VALUE  GK 09/10

2009  Rockburn Wines Pinot Noir   18 ½  ()
Cromwell Basin & Gibbston,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ screwcap;  10 months in oak;  www.rockburn.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  The quality of florals on bouquet is benchmark best New Zealand pinot,  clear-cut red roses to boronia aromas on red cherry fruit,  beautifully understated in the oaking.  Palate amplifies the red cherry,  and the florals are suffused right through the fruit,  with attractive tannin balance and structure.  An understated,  highly varietal and attractive wine,  contrasting with the more black-fruits wines I have in this review (perhaps arguably) rated highly.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Bannock Brae Estate Pinot Noir Goldfields   18 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.3%;  $30   [ screwcap;  if like the 2008,  hand-picked,  cuvaison extending to 4 weeks for some parcels;  c. 8 months in French oak c.25% new;  not fined or filtered;  www.bannockbrae.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Initially opened,  bouquet is tending plummy and heavy.  With air it takes on a new life,  expanding to become deeply floral in the exciting dark roses to boronia sector,  with clear black cherry fruit.  In mouth,  the wine like the Mud House shows exceptional varietal quality,  due to the magic of older or lighter oak,  the black more than red cherry flavours lingering superbly.  Attractive dry wine,  to cellar 3 8 years.  VALUE.  GK 09/10

2009  Felton Road Pinot Noir Bannockburn   18 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $49   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested,  20% whole bunch and wild-yeast fermentation;  11 months in French oak,  not fined or filtered;  this is the main bottling,  a blend of approx. one third Elms,  Cornish Point and Calvert vineyards;  the most widely available;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Initially opened,  it was easy to dismiss this wine as jujube-y and awkward.  Decanted / with air,  it is transformed into a deeply floral and fragrant sensuous pinot noir on bouquet,  rose and boronia notes just starting to appear,  subtle oak.  In mouth,  the texture and richness of fruit is exemplary,  oak is subtle,  and the red and black cherry flavours linger superbly.  This wine strikes a nearly optimal pitch of ripeness which will cellar well,  and end up very burgundian,  as the 1999 has.  Cellar 3 10 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Olssens Pinot Noir Jackson Barry   18 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $45   [ screwcap;  hand-picked,  9 months in French oak;  www.olssens.co.nz ]
Big pinot noir ruby.  Initially opened,  this is substantial but quiet wine,  tending plummy but with appealing structure.  Well breathed,  it is another wine to expand into a deep sweetly floral black cherry pinot noir showing good balance for the weight of fruit.  There are long rich sustained cherry flavours without undue alcohol,  and a touch of acid and plum.  This lovely Central Otago pinot noir is made for the cellar,  5 12 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Domain Road Pinot Noir   18 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $38   [ screwcap;   hand-picked,  10 months in French oak;  www.domainroad.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  This is a pinot noir which communicates from the first moment,  showing some roses-like florals with vanillin,  on red and black cherry fruit.  In the glass boronia florals appear too.  Palate is gorgeous cherry fruit,  just like biting into a perfectly ripe dark red one,  subtle oak,  great length,  elegant balance.  This will cellar well,  3 8 years.  VALUE.  GK 09/10

2009  Carrick Pinot Noir   18 +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  all wild-yeast fermentation and MLF too;  14 months in French oak 30% new;  unfined and unfiltered;  www.carrick.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is quietly expressive of all that appeals in pinot noir,  and particularly on bouquet the soft sensuous dark red roses and florality is excellent.  The transition to palate is seamless too,  the mix of redfruits freshness and black cherry depth elegant,  the oaking careful.  Finish is long,  even though the whole wine is understated.  This is lovely pinot,  just needing a little more flesh,  which it may well develop with a little more time in bottle.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Mud House Pinot Noir Swan   18 +  ()
Bendigo,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $29   [ screwcap;  thought to be nil whole bunch;  part of the wine is raised in French oak some new,  and some stays in stainless steel to retain freshness;  RS 3.8 g/L;  www.mudhouse.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Initially opened the bouquet is quietly plummy,  seeming a little overripe.  Decanted it opens up to be deeply and sensuously floral in the violets and boronia spectrum,  on black cherry fruit,  with a touch of vanilla as in cherry-pie flowers.  Palate is explicitly varietal fully-ripe pinot noir,  black cherry rather than red,  not seriously oaked,  possibly not bone dry [confirmed],  maybe a wine for the shorter term therefore.  But as a $30 wine,  it is a great introduction to pinot noir,  and has been marked perhaps too generously,  considering the more serious wines all around.  Cellar 3 8 years.  VALUE.  GK 09/10

2009  Tarras Vineyards Pinot Noir Steppes   18 +  ()
Bendigo,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $45   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  no info;  www.tarrasvineyards.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Initially opened,  there is noticeable oak,  but with air that marries away to reveal a deeply floral dark roses to boronia and black cherry bouquet,  very much pinot noir in a dark phase.  In mouth,  one could argue the wine is too dark for classical pinot,  yet I imagine this oak-influenced approach with nearly a hint of darkest chocolate will be popular.  And in cellar it may lighten up and become much more fragrant,  so it has the benefit of the doubt.  Cellar 5 12 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir   18 +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $45   [ screwcap;  cropped at c. 1.8 t/ac;  c.10% whole bunch;  8 9 days cold soak,  mostly wild-yeast fermentations;  c. 3-4 weeks cuvaison;  11 months in barrel on lees,  MLF in spring in barrel;  filtered;  www.mtdifficulty.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is not quite focussed as yet,  a little oak or similar initially detracting from the fruit.  With further sniffing the wine opens to attractive red and black cherry pinot,  with a darkly floral component too.  In mouth,  the initial impression is very youthful,  but the palate shows good mixed cherry fruit,  careful oak,  and good length.  Best put aside for a year or two,  to marry up.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir School House   18 +  ()
Bendigo,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:   – %;  $55   [ screwcap;   if same as regular,  all hand-picked;  c. 4 weeks cuvaison;  10 11 months in 35% new French oak;  www.gvwines.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is forthcoming and intriguing,  with both clear floral qualities in the red roses category,  plus a piquant note reminiscent of fragrant malt whiskey,  on red and black cherries.  Palate takes the cherries and adds blueberry,  with quite aromatic oak.  There is the richness for this to marry up into a most interesting wine,  maybe a little unusual,  which may score higher in two years.  Cellar 3 10 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Olssens Pinot Noir Slapjack Creek   18 +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $85   [ cork;  hand-picked;  100% de-stemmed;  5 days cold-soak and 14 days making 19 days cuvaison ,  10 months in French oak c.37% new;  www.olssens.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is both floral and highly varietal,  with sweet vanillin on mixed cherry and plum aromas.  Palate is rich,  but shifts towards the plummy spectrum,  a touch of almond and a little plum stone austerity in the phenolics,  at this stage.  Needs cellaring,  and may well rate more highly after three years.  Cellar 5 12 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Peregrine Pinot Noir   18 +  ()
Cromwell Basin 80%,  Gibbston 20,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $39   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested,  10 months in French oak,  c.35% new;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  This is another wine with the sweet vanillin character of the cherry-pie flower,  plus roses,  on real red cherry fruit.  The volume of bouquet is terrific.  Palate deepens the cherry analogy to include some black cherry.  There is a thought of fawn mushrooms,  subtle oak,  and a remarkably burgundian structure.  The fatness on palate is a delight,  off-setting the hint of stalk which adds freshness (but just takes it out of gold medal).  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Gibbston Valley Wines Pinot Noir China Terrace   18 +  ()
Bendigo,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:   – %;  $55   [ screwcap;  if same as regular,  all hand-picked;  c. 4 weeks cuvaison;  10 11 months in 35% new French oak;  www.gvwines.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is classic redfruits pinot noir in a Volnay --> Pommard style,  suggestions of pink rose florals,  clear red cherry,  subtlest oak.  Palate is quite rich,  attractive red cherry,  good tannin balance and subtle oak confirmed,  lingering well.  There is an understated simplicity about this wine that is very attractive.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Mitre Rocks Pinot Noir   18 +  ()
Parkburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $39   [ screwcap;  hand harvested;  21 30 days cuvaison;  12 months minimum in French barriques 60% new;  minimal fining and filtration;  www.mitrerocks.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  the deepest colour in the set,  tending inappropriately deep for pinot noir.  Initially opened,  the wine seems huge,  oaky,  and rawly youthful,  too boisterous.  With a good deal of air it smooths out remarkably,  into a deep dense pinot noir riding the fine line between darkly varietal and over-ripe,  confuseable with merlot in a blind tasting.  In mouth the fruit richness is remarkable,  some saignée I assume on the colour and taste,  and at this stage it is noticeably oaky.  It is the kind of pinot I was rude about a few years ago,  but seeing how some of the big 2002s have matured,  perhaps I should be more tolerant.  Below,  the flavours are black cherry,  and in five years,  I suspect an oak-influenced florality will emerge.  If you hanker for a Central Otago pinot which might cellar for 20 years,  and still be worthwhile,  this is one of the wines most likely to achieve that.  Cellar 5 15 years,  maybe longer.  GK 09/10

2009  Wooing Tree Pinot Noir   18 +  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $43   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  5 10% whole-bunch fermentation;  11 months in French oak 40% new;  no fining,  medium filter;  www.wooingtree.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  This is classic Otago pinot noir,  right from the start showing rich red and black cherry fruit,  opening to a wonderfully floral bouquet,  clearly dark roses and boronia.  Palate is attractively oaked,  fresh,  with great mouthfeel and length.  There is just a hint of austerity below,  though.  Cellar 5 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Gibbston Valley Wines Pinot Noir Central Otago   18 +  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $42   [ screwcap;   all hand-picked;  c. 4 weeks cuvaison;  10 11 months in 35% new French oak;  www.gvwines.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is redolent of pinot noir,  sweetly floral mostly roses,  plus a hint of spice (+ve) and thyme,  on red more than black cherry fruit.  Palate is all red fruits,  not as rich or complex as some,  but still long-flavoured and very varietal.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Wild Earth Wines Pinot Noir Blind Trail   18  ()
Bannockburn & Lowburn districts,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.2%;  $23   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  some wild yeast;  up to 3 weeks cuvaison;  5% whole bunch;  c.8 months in French oak 30% new;  fined and filtered;  www.wildearthwines.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  This smells and tastes exactly as good pinot should.  Let us hope at the great price it reveals the delights of Central Otago pinot noir to an ever-increasing number of consumers,  who thus far may have been put off Otago pinot by some of the prices and prose bandied about.  Bouquet is clearly dark roses floral,  with clear red and black cherry fruit.  Palate is simply lovely drinking pinot,  soft,  silky,  including red cherry fruit of remarkable length and pleasing mouthfeel,  though possibly not bone dry.  Cellar 3 8 years.  VALUE.  GK 09/10

2009  Hilok Wines Pinot Noir Premier   18  ()
Alexandra,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $34   [ screwcap;   10% hand-picked,  balance machine,  from a single vineyard planted in 2003;  total cuvaison including cold-soak 24 days;  10 months in French oak 15% new;  c.2000 cases;  all-black in places illegible website sigh;  www.hilok.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  This incongruously-named wine shows the most distinctive bouquet in the set,  with a clear crushed thyme aromatic on strongly floral qualities too.  Whether in fact the vineyard closely adjoins thyme areas I do not know,  but the character takes some explaining if not.  Palate is red cherry pinot,  with the thyme sweetly aromatic and again noticeable.  There is a dilemma in that this degree of aromatics would be objectionable if it were coarse eucalyptus,  but is acceptable when the suggestion is of the sweetly aromatic shrubby herbs of the southern Rhone Valley and Provence garrigue lands.  Even so,  it is so strong as to be almost suspicious,  and may not appeal to all tasters.  [ Later:  winemaker confirms vineyard is 'surrounded by thyme'.  Palate shows attractive red cherry fruit.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir   18  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $45   [ screwcap;  blend of Gibbston,  Alexandra and Earnscleugh fruit,  hand-picked;  up to 10 days cold-soak;  up to 14 days cuvaison;  11 months in French oak 30% new;  release date April 2011;  www.twopaddocks.com ]
Pinot noir ruby.  This is deceptive wine,  totally demonstrating the benefit of decanting all wine,  and particularly newly-bottled ones.  Freshly poured,  there is an unconvincing black passionfruit skins aroma,  almost hinting at decay.  Yet breathed,  the wine is transformed into a complex pinot noir with roses florals grading to boronia on red and black cherry fruit.  Palate shows elegant ripeness,  subtle oaking,  and unusually complex cherry flavours in which a shadow of black passionfruit lingers,  now almost attractively.  A strange one,  benefit of the doubt.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Bald Hills Pinot Noir Three Acres   18  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.9%;  $30   [ screwcap;  hand-picked,  oldest vines 12 years;  70% de-stemmed,  7 days cold-soak,  15 further days cuvaison;  10 11 months in French oak 35% new;  no fining,  coarse filter only;  RS < 1 g/L;  www.baldhills.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is in a much lighter floral spectrum than the other top wines.  Initially opened it is a bit youthful and vulgar,  a hint of glacé cherry.  Decanting / air transforms the wine to buddleia and lilac florals grading to roses,  on red cherry fruit.  Palate confirms the red cherry,  beautiful flavours,  firm acid,  subtle maybe older oak making some of these cheaper pinots even more varietal.  It is drier than the Mud House one.  Cellar 2 6 years.  VALUE.  GK 09/10

2009  Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir   18  ()
Alexandra,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.1%;  $32   [ screwcap;  hand-picked and sorted;  thought to be 5% whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  30% new;  www.grasshopperrock.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  In its light fragrant but highly varietal style,  this wine reminded me of the 2008 Martinborough Vineyard wine from Pinot Noir 2010.  There are sweet florals spanning from buddleia to darker roses,  on red cherry fruit.  Palate is a little lighter and fresher than the bouquet promised,  but cellaring the wine will produce a pinot confuseable with some Cote de Nuits wines even at premier cru level.  Real promise here,  to cellar 3 8 years.  VALUE  GK 09/10

2009  Lowburn Ferry Pinot Noir Home Block   18  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $45   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  thought to be 5 days cold soak,  plus 8 days making 13 days cuvaison;  10 months in French oak 25% new;  fined and filtered;  www.lowburnferry.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is right away roses-floral and vanillin,  on red cherry fruit.  In mouth the cherry darkens to include black cherry,  and the whole wine is delightfully varietal and fresh.  It is not quite as rich as some of the top wines,  with the slightest hint of stalk.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Two Degrees Pinot Noir   18  ()
Queensberry,  Upper Cromwell Valley,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;   hand-picked;  some whole-bunch,  wild yeast;  c. 30 days cuvaison;  10 months in French oak 40% new;  no fining,  minimal filtration;  www.twodegrees.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is already very fragrant indeed,  partly from the fruit picked to optimise the red fruits / roses part of the floral spectrum,  but also from more new oak than most.  In mouth the florality seems to deepen even to boronia,  and the integration of red cherry fruit with the fragrant oak is,  like the Grasshopper Pinot,  premier cru Gevrey quality.  Some of those can look a little oaky at the 18 months stage too.  A little more richness would be ideal.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Tarras Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir   18  ()
Bendigo,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $35   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  no info;  www.tarrasvineyards.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Though quiet initially,  this wine opens up well to reveal darkly floral suggestions with a hint of the much-invoked Otago thyme character,  attractive.  Palate is black cherry mainly grading to plum,  attractive oaking,  a good wine to illustrate a darker-fruited phase of pinot noir.  Cellar 5 10 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Wooing Tree Pinot Noir Beetle Juice   18  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $28   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  5% whole-bunch fermentation;  5 7 days cold-soak;  11 months in French oak 35 % new;  no fining,  medium filter;  www.wooingtree.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is bold on this pinot,  showing a touch of the Penfolds in its oak component,  but with clear-cut red and black cherry fruit obvious below.  The oak continues noticeable on the palate,  perhaps there is a chip component,  but the fruit is rich,  the finish dry,  and the potential for marrying-up harmoniously looks good.  This could be a 'popular' style for pinot.  Cellar 3 8 years  GK 09/10

2009  Felton Road Pinot Noir Calvert Vineyard   18  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $58   [ screwcap;  several clones hand-harvested at varying yields c 2 t/ac;  c.25% whole-bunch in some batches;  up to 9 days cold-soak,  cuvaison up to 23 days,  all wild yeast;  MLF also wild and 13 months in French oak c. 26% new;  no fining or filtration;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Big pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is another showing the big 'is this over-ripe ?' approach,  rather much plum for the ideal fragrant cherry approach to pinot noir,  so the mind wanders to merlot.  Palate is granular on the oak at this stage,  yet it seems more varietal and fragrant than the darker and heavier Block 5.  It is so hard assessing young wine,  though,  for I have thought other Calvert examples too big and dark when young,  but they turned out beautifully.  Cellar 5 12 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Felton Road Pinot Noir Cornish Point   18  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $58   [ screwcap;  several clones hand-harvested at varying yields not above 2 t/ac;  up to 20% whole-bunch;  up to 10 days cold-soak,  cuvaison up to 22 days,  all wild yeast;  MLF also wild and 13 months in French oak c. 26% new;  no fining or filtration;  winemaker Blair Walter considers Cornish Point their floral wine;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is soft and almost fleshy in a vanillin way,  fragrant with implicit florals,  on clear cherry and slightly plummy fruit.  Palate is soft too,  black cherry fruit more than red,  gently oaked to almost under-oaked.  This is a classical expression of beautifully ripened darker Central Otago pinot noir.  Cellar 3 10 years.  GK 09/10

2008  Wooing Tree Pinot Noir Sandstorm Reserve   18  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $85   [ screwcap;  hand-picked from crop thinned to one bunch per shoot / low-yielding vines;  10% whole-bunch fermentation;  18 months in French oak 40 % new;  minimal filtering;  www.wooingtree.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Another wine with a great volume of red-fruits bouquet,  in this case with just a touch of raspberry and the thought of grenache (+ve),  and a little more oak than some of the other red-fruits wines like the Peregrine.  Palate is not quite as rich as the bouquet promises,  but the complexity of flavour including a touch of almond is a delight,  firmed by careful potentially cedary oak.  Finish gives the impression of a gram or two of sugar,  but may be simply richness / dry extract.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5   17 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $74   [ screwcap;   several clones hand-harvested at varying yields c.2 t/ac;  up to 30% whole-bunch;  up to 8 days cold-soak,  cuvaison up to 23 days,  all wild yeast;  MLF also wild and 16 months in French oak c. 38% new;  no fining or filtration;  Blocks 3 & 5 are allocated to all markets,  principally fine wine resellers and a mailing list.  The latter now has a waiting list to be on it,  and members need to order a dozen bottles to secure a maximum of 4 bottles of each Block;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Initially opened,  the wine is reserved,  the oak showing on a pinot noir substrate which isn't communicating much.  Well breathed,  a denser style of pinot noir becomes apparent,  more plummy than cherry to initial impression.  Palate is similarly plummy,  oaky at this stage,  so it is a heavier wine than the Block 3.  Fruit richness is pretty good,  but I'm not sure this will become as graceful as the Block 3.  It will certainly cellar well,  in its oaky format,  5 12 years.  GK 09/10

2007  Prophet's Rock Pinot Noir   17 ½ +  ()
Bendigo,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $45   [ cork;  hand-picked and sorted;  5% whole-bunch;  wild yeast fermentation;  16 months in French oak 35% new;  no filtration;  RS nil;  975 cases;  website a holding page only;  www.prophetsrock.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Initially opened,  there is a negative note on the bouquet of this wine,  vaguely reminiscent of burning perspex,  coupled with over-ripe black passionfruit notes.  Yet decanted and breathed,  the wine is transformed,  fragrant maturing red fruits,  not quite floral,  but on the palate the slightly tannic cherry fruit again suggests the wine could be floral.  Really confusing,  so as always,  decant for greatest enjoyment.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Locharburn Pinot Noir   17 ½ +  ()
Pisa,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $35   [ screwcap;  no info;  www.locharburnwines.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is unequivocal red fruits pinot noir,  showing lighter florals in the buddleia to roses spectrum,  and subtle oak.  Palate is richer than the bouquet supposed,  beautiful oaking optimising the red fruits,  another wine to suggest the Pommard district of Burgundy.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Mount Edward Pinot Noir Central Otago   17 ½ +  ()
Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $45   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  all de-stemmed;  c. 12 months in French oak,  c.30% new;  not fined or filtered;  www.mountedward.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is clear-cut pinot noir,  with a lovely spread of florals ranging from buddleia through roses to boronia,  on cherry fruit.  Flavours are red and black cherry,  absolutely pinot noir,  appropriate oak,  the faintest trace of leaf explaining the buddleia fraction on bouquet,  all lingering well,  and dry.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Ceres Pinot Noir   17 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $35   [ screwcap;  no info,  a link with the Dicey Family's Grape Vision Consultancy ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is quietly red-fruited and red roses pinot noir,  on a red cherry base immediately reminding of Pommard.  Palate reinforces that thought,  good dry extract,  a hint of almond in the cherry,  attractive older oak.  An understated but very varietal wine to cellar 3 8 years.  Intriguing too,  not much Central Otago pinot character here !  GK 09/10

2009  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Roaring Meg   17 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $28   [ screwcap;  second label including young vines;  cuvaison c.24 days;  9 months in c.20% new French oak;  no fining,  light filter;  www.mtdifficulty.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is highly varietal,  combining appealing floral notes with red cherry and a suggestion of oak aromatics.  Palate follows on beautifully,  another affordable introduction to Otago pinot noir,  showing all the freshness of a freshly-bitten cherry.  Finishes dry,  with just a trace of leaf / stalk.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Carrick Pinot Noir Unravelled   17 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $24   [ screwcap;  some whole bunch,  5 days cold soak,  up to c.14 days cuvaison with wild-yeasts only;  wild MLF,  11 months in French oak 20% new;  unfined and unfiltered;  www.carrick.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Clear pinot noir aromas greet the taster,  reflecting both red and black cherries,  and the wine is fragrant but not exactly floral.  Palate is fresh,  total cherry,  scarcely oaked,  dry.  The quality of fruit,  and the varietal expression,  are excellent pinot of this quality was winning gold medals not long ago.  Finish is firmed by subtle stalk more than oak,  giving the wine balance and length.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Charcoal Gully Pinot Noir Sally's Pinch   17 ½  ()
Pisa district,  Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $29   [ screwcap;  hand-picked from a single vineyard;  all de-stemmed;  8 months in French oak 32% new;  Sally's Pinch is a topographic feature in the ranges to the west,  not reference to a particular blend;  www.charcoalgully.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is a very attractive indeed,  classical pinot noir florality spanning red roses to boronia,  on red more than black cherry fruit,  plus subtlest sweet oak.  Palate is a little less,  and in youth is slightly phenolic,  as if the wine has not had serious elevage,  but is seen as a more short-term one.  Nevertheless it is delightfully varietal.  May need re-evaluating.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 09/10

2009  [ Mitre Rocks ] Mount Dottrel Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Cromwell district,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $29   [ screwcap;  up to 30 days cuvaison for some lots inc. cold-soak,  10 months in French oak c.30% new;  www.mitrerocks.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is fragrant red more than black cherry,  clearly varietal,  attractive.  Palate is a little less,  slightly stalky / phenolic in youth,  but with sufficient fruit to suggest harmony in a couple of years.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Tarras Vineyards Pinot Noir Canyon   17 +  ()
Bendigo,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $45   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  a single vineyard wine;  no info beyond 30% new oak;  www.tarrasvineyards.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  The wine seems oaky by pinot noir standards,  and it is very fragrant oak as if there were a few American barrels.  Behind the oak the wine is darkly floral,  on black fruits more than red,  though the balance of flavours is pinot.  With air the wine softens and gains in appeal,  foretelling its evolution in cellar,  more than likely.  A big pinot to appeal to oak fans,  which may demand re-rating.  Cellar 5 10 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Pisa Range Estate Pinot Noir Black Poplar   17 +  ()
Pisa,  Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:   – %;  $48   [ screwcap;  oldest vines 15 years;  all hand-harvested @ c.2t/ac;  all de-stemmed;  c.12 months in French oak,  33% new;  release date 2012;  www.pisarangeestate.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  This wine demands a splashy decanting,  due to light / simple reduction.  Once well aired,  it remains a bit plummy and brooding,  lacking the freshness of the cherry descriptor,  no florals.  Palate is the best part of the wine,  still some hardness from the reduction,  but rich black cherry fruit much more apparent now,  in a tending-oaky format.  This needs five years to open up,  which I think it will even under screwcap,  and it should cellar 5 12 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Mondillo Vineyards Pinot Noir   17 +  ()
Bendigo,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $41   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  100% de-stemmed;  11 months in French oak c.30% new;  www.mondillo.com ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is fragrant at the red fruits level of pinot noir,  with a clear roses floral component.  Palate is not quite as rich as hoped,  but follows on in the indicated style,  a little tannic at this early stage and needing a year to harmonise.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  [ Forrest ] Tatty Bogler Pinot Noir   17 +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  & Waitaki Valley,  North Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested from fruit cropped at 1.5 t/ac;  all de-stemmed;  up to 10 days cold soak;  extended cuvaison;  up to 15 months in French oak 20% new;  John Forrest is one of the promoters of the new pinot area on the south bank of the Waitaki River,  on Otago's northernmost edge;  the unflattering wine name 'Tatty Bogler' appeals to customers,  I am told the term is pioneer Scottish for scarecrow;  www.forrest.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is ripe and tending-plummy more than floral,  but there are cherries too,  all pleasantly fragrant.  On palate plummyness does again hint at merlot,  and the oak is more apparent.  Aftertaste is more cherry and pinot,  the flux of characters suggesting this is youthful wine still to marry up and show its real pinot character.  May need re-rating upwards.  Cellar 5 10 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Archangel Wines Pinot Noir   17  ()
Queensberry,  Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $39   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  no further info;  www.archangelwines.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is delightfully floral at the red roses level,  just a hint of boronia,  red fruits mainly,  subtle oak.  Palate is lesser,  strictly red fruits,  another wine tasting like young vines,  lacking depth to the flavour,  but what is there is good and clearly varietal.  Acid balance is better than the Long Trek variant.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 09/10

2008  Sleeping Dogs Pinot Noir Reserve   17  ()
Gibbston Valley,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $38   [ screwcap;  no info ]
Pinot noir ruby,  slight age apparent.  Benefits from air,  to reveal a bouquet including an exotic note like guava,  on noticeable oak combined with some European styling.  This is another wine with some reminders of fragrant grenache.  Palate is more on cue,  aromatic fruit and oak giving quite bold flavours,  more red fruits than black showing good concentration and length.  The exotic black passionfruit skins note persists though,  with herbes and a phenolic / oaky nip to the tail.  Intriguing quite rich wine,  to cellar 2 6 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Maude Pinot Noir   17  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $32   [ screwcap;  a diversely multiregional blend;  hand-harvested,  some whole-bunch and wild-yeast fermentation;  cuvaison extended sometimes to 30 days;  10 months in barrel;  no fining,  minimal filtration;  www.maudewines.com ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is floral and fragrant,  with a hint of malt whisky,  yet unmistakably pinot noir at the rose florals and red cherry level.  Palate is a little shorter than the bouquet indicates,  crisply red cherry fruit,  the slightest suggestion of stalk and acid,  lightly oaked.  Leafyness may increase in cellar,  2 6 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Aurum Wines Pinot Noir Mathilde Reserve   17  ()
Lowburn & Pisa districts,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $45   [ screwcap;  hand-picked from 9-year old vines;  15 months in French oak 25% new;  www.aurumwines.com ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is floral and pretty,  on red roses mainly,  red cherry fruit below.  Palate is slightly less,  the red fruits continuing but lacking a little in concentration,  and just a suggestion of stalk.  There may be a gram or two of sugar to cover that.  Before the details were available,  I wondered if this was young vines speaking.  Cellar 2 5 years,  perhaps.  GK 09/10

2009  [ Peregrine ] Saddleback Pinot Noir   17  ()
Gibbston Valley & Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $25   [ screwcap;  de-stemmed;  c.9 months in French oak 20% new;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is youthful,  a faint trace of maceration carbonique / whole bunch fermentation in a positive way,  some floral notes and a hint of thyme.  Palate brings out the whole bunch component,  a juicy clearly varietal wine with red and black fruits,  perhaps not bone dry,  a touch of stalk on the finish.  Gives the impression of a short-term cellar wine,  2 5 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Black Quail Estate Pinot Noir   16 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $34   [ screwcap;  no info;  www.blackquail.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is softly vanillin and red fruits,  with thoughts of the flower cherry-pie as well as buddleia and roses.  Palate is in the same style,  but a little acid and a suggestion of stalks downpoints it a little.  The same shortcomings characterise many Savigny-les-Beaune wines,  illustrating how hard it is to achieve pinot perfection.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 09/10

2008  Doctor's Flat Vineyard Pinot Noir   16 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:   – %;  $39   [ screwcap;   no info ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is fragrant,  but with a leafy edge to buddleia-like florals,  in red fruits.  Palate is maturing,  pleasant fruit weight at the red cherry and even a hint of red currant level,  oak at the maximum.  Clearly varietal wine,  but a little skinny and maturing rapidly,  so cellar 2 5 years only,  I think.  GK 09/10

2009  Archangel Wines Pinot Noir The Long Trek   16 ½ +  ()
Queensberry,  Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $25   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  no further info;  www.archangelwines.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is fragrant in a vaguely scented valpolicella-like way,  but also clearly red cherry pinot.  Palate is fresh,  red fruited,  and tending a little stalky and acid,  yet longer than expected.  Gives the impression of being raised in old oak only (+ve).  Straightforward small pinot to cellar 2 5 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Bald Hills Pinot Noir Single Vineyard   16 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $44   [ screwcap;  hand-picked @ 2.3 t/ac,  oldest vines 12 years;  30% whole-bunch,  7 days cold-soak,  15 further days cuvaison;  11 months in French oak 35% new;  no fining,  coarse filter only;  RS < 1 g/L;  winemaker Grant Taylor;  www.baldhills.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is charmingly floral at the buddleia and red roses level,  on red cherry fruit.  A touch of mushroom adds burgundian appeal.  Palate is simpler as yet,  plain red cherry,  a hint of stalk,  medium weight.  This will marry up a good deal over the next 12 months,  I think,  and become more burgundian.  Bouquet promises a higher rank.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Chard Farm Pinot Noir The Tiger   16 ½ +  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $68   [ screwcap;  no info;  www.chardfarm.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is softly and sweetly fragrant and redfruits varietal,  floral at a non-specific level.  Palate is richer than some of the other light ones,  a touch of red currant in red cherry only,  subtle oak,  a light but long flavour with a not-quite-bone-dry finish.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Desert Heart Pinot Noir   16 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $42   [ screwcap;  no info;  www.desertheart.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Floral notes dominate the bouquet on this wine,  mostly at the red roses level,  on red more than black cherry fruit Cote de Beaune-like.  Palate is less,  red fruits only mostly cherry,  just a little leaf,  and not quite the concentration hoped for.  A good illustration of how not quite sufficient ripeness augments bouquet,  but lessens palate.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Mount Edward Pinot Noir Morrison Vineyard   16 ½ +  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $65   [ screwcap;  hand-picked,  single-vineyard wine,  third release;  not fined or filtered;  no other info;  www.mountedward.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  a little deeper than the Muirkirk.  Initially opened,  there is an intriguing note of linseed meal veiling red fruits,  with a touch of almond.  The nett result is winey in a European sense,  rather than the brighter cherry aromas we are familiar with.  Palate adds to that comparison,  good fruit with hints of glacé cherry,  but also mealy in the sense of Meursault.  Unusual,  another wine with passing thoughts of malt whisky,  much richer all through than the Muirkirk,  a wine which will appeal to some more than others.  My mark a compromise.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Chard Farm Pinot Noir Mata-Au   16 ½ +  ()
Lowburn & Parkburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $43   [ screwcap;  no info;  www.chardfarm.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is supple redfruits satellite-Beaune,  red currants dominant with some buddleia florality.  Palate tastes a little chaptalised,  and continues the red currants grading to sparingly red cherry analogy,  with good fruit weight at this modest level of physiological maturity / complexity,  plus a hint of stalk.  One could scarcely ask for a better illustration of this phase of ripeness.  Cellar 2 5 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Coal Pit Pinot Noir Tiwha   16 ½ +  ()
Gibbston Valley,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $42   [ screwcap;  vineyard at 440 metres;  hand-picked @ 2 t/ac from 15 year old vines;  all de-stemmed;  some months in French oak 40% new;  RS 1 g/L;  www.coalpitwine.com ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  a big colourful pinot noir,  one of the two deepest.  Bouquet is rich,  fruity,  oaky,  plummy,  but could be merlot as easily as pinot noir a big exciting wine,  but seemingly over-ripe for pinot noir charm.  Palate retreats from the bouquet slightly,  with suggestions of mixed ripeness / uneven sorting,  since in the black fruits there are some stalky streaks too.  This perversely makes the wine more pinot noir-like,  though not quite for the right reasons.  May speak more eloquently once it loses some tannin,  say three years.  I would like to see more emphasis on florality at the red fruits grading to black stage of the ripening curve.  Cellar 5 12 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Gibbston Highgate Estate Pinot Noir Soultaker   16 ½  ()
Gibbston Valley,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $30   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested from vines planted in 1994;  c.25% whole-bunch component,  10-day cold maceration plus extended cuvaison,  20% wild-yeast fermentations;  11 months in French oak 30% new;  bottled unfined and unfiltered;  dry extract 27.6 g/L;  www.gibbstonhighgate.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  There is a suggestion of maceration carbonique / whole bunch / beaujolais fermentation technique on the bouquet of this wine,  which adds to the florality,  on red fruits.  Palate is more in a juicy non-serious pinot noir style,  the beaujolais thought again,  with a hint of stalk and acid,  but seemingly (to taste) not much in the way of elevage.  Attractive quaffing pinot,  to cellar 1 3 years,  probably.  GK 09/10

2009  Mount Edward Pinot Noir Muirkirk Vineyard   16 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $65   [ screwcap;  hand-picked,  single-vineyard wine,  second release;  not fined or filtered;  no other info;  www.mountedward.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Cote de Beaune speaking here,  a fragrant all-red fruits wine with buddleia to pale roses florality on red cherry.  Palate tastes older than most for the vintage,  tending light though not dilute,  clear-cut small pinot.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 09/10

2008  Kingsmill Wines Pinot Noir Tippet's Mill   16 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ screwcap;  hand-picked,  all de-stemmed;  19 days cuvaison including cold-soak;  8  months in French oak 30% new;  light filtering;  www.kingsmillwines.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  A wine to decant splashily,  to disperse a little simple reduction.  With air opens to another red fruits wine with suggestions of grenache,  just a thought of raspberry.  Palate is red cherry,  lightish oak,  pleasing ripeness,  a hint of stalk only,  not as rich as some,  tending straightforward.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Eight Ranges Wines Pinot Noir Barrel Selection   16 ½  ()
Alexandra,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $35   [ screwcap;  hand-picked from the Tussock Ridge vineyard,  all de-stemmed;  20 days cuvaison including 8 days cold-soak;  10 months in French oak 60% new;  light filtering;  www.eightranges.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby.  Savigny-les-Beaune comes to mind here,  to capture the notion of lighter red fruits even including red currants,  plus light buddleia floral notes as expected at this point of ripeness on the pinot ripening curve.  Palate is pro rata,  fresh red fruits only,  a touch of stalkyness,  but not weak.  It is enchanting the way Otago pinot noir spans the full range of Burgundy prototypes,  from simplest Cote de Beaune to complex Cote de Nuits look-alikes.  Many Savigny-les-Beaune wines are less ripe than this one.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Doctors Flat Vineyard Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:   – %;  $39   [ screwcap;  no info ]
Colour is almost ruby,  carmine and velvet,  over-size for pinot noir.  Bouquet is tending to the heavy Dry River style of pinot noir,  more omega plum and a touch of almond and licorice,  very rich but not very varietal.  Palate is both plummy and oaky,  with an awkward oak and tannin streak yet to marry in.  As it lingers in mouth,  suggestions of both stalks and thyme / savoury herbes appear.  Needs a couple of years to marry up,  in the hope it will lose some weight and gain some pinot style.  Seems doubtful,  but will please size-fans.  Cellar 5 12 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Northburn Station Pinot Noir The Shed   16 ½  ()
Northburn,  Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $29   [ screwcap;  no info;  www.northburn.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is fragrant both from buddleia florals and a leafy suggestion,  on red cherry fruit.  Palate adds some black cherries into a serious pinot of some fruit depth,  ripeness and appeal,  but also suggestions of stalk at this early stage,  as if there were a mix of ripenesses in the must.  Cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Greylands Ridge Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
Alexandra,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $35   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  fourth harvest,  goal is 2 t/ac;  c.10 months in French oak some new;  www.greylandsridge.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby.  From the buddleia florals to the clear light redcurrant bouquet,  this is totally a red-fruits-only pinot noir.  In mouth though,  it is another wine to share some qualities with light grenache,  a hint of raspberry and some phenolics which nearly mimic cinnamon.  Fruit concentration is quite good,  and finish may not be bone-dry.  Pleasant smaller pinot,  to cellar 2 6 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Judge Rock Pinot Noir Venus   16 +  ()
Alexandra,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $25   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  up to 10% whole-bunch;  no info;  up to 29 days cuvaison including cold soak,  probably less for this label;  c.10 months in French oak one third new;  www.judgerock.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is softly floral,  touching on buddleia,  but more red roses,  seemingly riper than the Eight Ranges wine,  not so clearly red currants.  Palate is a little less,  however,  not quite the concentration desired but pleasing red fruits ripeness,  just a touch of stalk,  maybe not bone dry.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Mount Aspiring Pinot Noir 36 Bottles   16 +  ()
Bendigo,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $31   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  c.7.5% whole-bunch;  a wild-yeast component;  c.11 months in French oak 35% new;  560 cases;  www.36bottles.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is fragrant red fruits,  not exactly floral,  a suggestion of red roses only,  on clear-cut red cherry fruit.  Palate confirms red fruits-only rather well,  a mix of flavours including a suggestion of chaptalisation,  a bit stalky and acid at this stage,  possibly not bone-dry.  Sound small pinot to cellar 2 6 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Judge Rock Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
Alexandra,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.9%;  $38   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  up to 10% whole-bunch;  up to 29 days cuvaison including 7 days cold-soak;  c.11 months in French oak one third new;  www.judgerock.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  There is an intriguing fragrant note on bouquet,  reminiscent of biting into one of those big sweetly-fruited red crabapples,  not exactly floral but clearly minor / satellite Beaune.  Palate is all red cherry,  good fruit,  noticeable acid strengthening the analogy to sweet crabapple.  Pleasing small pinot,  to cellar 2 6 years.  GK 09/10

2008  Amisfield Pinot Noir   16  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  some whole-bunch,  mostly wild yeast fermentations;  extended cuvaison;  12 months in French oak c.20% new;  www.amisfield.co.nz ]
Big pinot noir ruby.  Decanting refreshes this wine,  to reveal a plummy and oaky pinot lacking florality.  Palate has fair fruit,  but rather much oak,  so several factors in this wine are detracting from the varietal charms one hopes for in pinot noir.  Fruit concentration is good,  even though the fruit itself shows some sur-maturité,  so it should cellar well in its oaky and less-varietal style for 3 8 years,  perhaps longer.  GK 09/10

2009  Two Paddocks Pinot Noir Picnic   16  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $24   [ screwcap;  multi-district blend,  hand-picked;  some months in French oak;  a 5,000 case wine now;  whimsical and appealing website,  beautifully illustrated;  release date April 2011;  www.twopaddocks.com ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bourgogne rouge is the best descriptor here,  for though the wine is clearly pinot noir,  it also includes an appealing measure of European complexity factors such as brett,  often found in quaffing burgundies.  Palate is soft,  round and food friendly,  showing red and black cherry fruit and older oak,  already nearly mellow.  Cellar 2 5 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Chard Farm Pinot Noir The Viper   16  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $68   [ screwcap;  no info;  www.chardfarm.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby,  the lightest of all the wines.  Bouquet is softly pale red fruits,  with a fragrant component which at one moment reminds of roses and at another suggests burning perspex.  The latter character is seen from time to time in pinot,  and it does seem to marry up with time in bottle perhaps it is a pinot phenomenon.  Palate shows redcurrant and red cherry flavours,  with fair concentration at this cooler spectrum of flavours.  Finish is soft,  hinting at a gram or two of sugar,  but it may be fruit richness.  The style is QDR pinot,  but the price is not.  GK 09/10

2009  Rockburn Wines Pinot Noir Devil's Staircase   16  ()
Cromwell Basin & Gibbston,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $25   [ screwcap;  some oak;  www.rockburn.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet initially opened is a little reductive,  on top of a maceration carbonique component.  It breathes up nicely with decanting.  Palate is very youthful,  but quite rich red cherry pinot flavours dominate,  with an oak aromatic present but not yet incorporated possibly chips ?  This will look better in a year,  and cellar 2 5 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Mud House Pinot Noir   15 ½ +  ()
Bendigo,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.3%;  $25   [ screwcap;  thought to be nil whole bunch;  part of the wine is raised in French oak some new,  and some stays in stainless steel to retain freshness;  RS 3.8 g/L;  www.mudhouse.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is inclining to a juicy strawberry kind of obvious pinot,  scarcely oaked,  and the palate continues in the same direction,  very juicy to the point of not being bone-dry to the finish [confirmed],  with a stalky aftertaste.  A beginner's pinot,  maybe,  but unsubtle and unsatisfying.  Other 'good value' pinots here will provide more pleasure.  Cellar 2 5 years.  GK 09/10

2008  [ Forrest ] Tatty Bogler Pinot Noir   15 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago & Waitaki Valley,  North Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $35   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested from fruit cropped at 1.5 t/ac;  all de-stemmed;  up to 10 days cold soak;  extended cuvaison;  up to 15 months in French oak 20% new;  the unflattering wine name 'Tatty Bogler' appeals to customers,  I am told the term is pioneer Scottish for scarecrow;  www.forrest.co.nz ]
Light pinot noir ruby.  Light fragrant red of the valpolicella kind comes to mind with this wine,  rather than being obviously pinot noir.  Palate has a little European clog in it further taking the focus off the variety,  but the concentration of fruit is good,  in a glacé red cherry style.  Pleasant light red wine,  but looking expensive at the price.  Cellar 2 6 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Chard Farm Pinot Noir River Run   15 ½  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $29   [ screwcap;  less oak and softer than Finla Mor, no detail;  www.chardfarm.co.nz ]
Light pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is a palely floral and light redfruits,  with suggestions of cherry-pie floral aromas.  In mouth first impression is a hard stalky streak,  in red fruits suggesting red rhubarb,  redcurrant and red cherries.  Acid is crisp,  making this a short but varietal wine,  fair fruit but lacking ripeness.  Cellar 2 5 years,  in its style.  GK 09/10

2009  Eight Ranges Pinot Noir   15 ½  ()
Alexandra,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  12.7%;  $30   [ screwcap;  $25 at winery;  hand-picked from the Tussock Ridge vineyard,  all de-stemmed;  20 days cuvaison including 8 days cold-soak;  11 months in French oak 10% new;  light filtering;  RS 1 g/L;  www.eightranges.co.nz ]
Light pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is fragrant light red fruits,  with vanilla and buddleia suggestions.  Palate includes redcurrants and light red cherry fruit,  older oak it seemed in the blind tasting (though vanilla ties in with new),  very much an introductory pinot noir,  but sound and dry.  Cellar 2 4 years.  GK 09/10

2009  Ellero Pinot Noir Pisa Terrace   15 +  ()
Pisa district,  Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.9%;  $36   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested @ 2.4 t/ac;  11 months in French oak,  25% new;  www.ellerowine.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  a little more oak-influenced than the 2008.  Bouquet is very fragrant,  with vanilla custard and red rhubarb aromas,  and slight VA.  Palate is oaky,  but adds light red cherry to the fruit flavours.  Finish continues oaky,  but is clean.  Cellar 2 5 years,  in its style.  GK 09/10

2008  Ellero Pinot Noir Pisa Terrace   15  ()
Pisa district,  Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.9%;  $35   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested @ 2.4 t/ac;  11 months in French oak,  25% new;  www.ellerowine.com ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is curious,  with some maceration carbonique aromas,  some prematurely-aged characters,  and quite a lot of oak.  Palate is old for its age,  with both exotic guava-like fruit notes,  and some bitterness underlying the oak.  May soften in cellar 2 4 years,  more as a QDR pinot.  GK 09/10

2009  Hilok Pinot Noir   14 ½  ()
Alexandra,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $24   [ screwcap;  machine-harvested;  some cold-soak,  some oak;  a wine made for local district use only;  website all-black and in places illegible sigh;  www.hilok.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby.  This is an odd wine,  the bouquet having an aromatic in it hinting at gewurztraminer,  plus suggestions of a floral component in red fruits.  Palate has the same character,  and does not hang together too well as red wine.  Red fruits include redcurrant more than red cherry.  Pleasant enough QDR pinot,  in a curious way,  not really worth cellaring.  GK 09/10






AND A FEW OLDER PINOTS AND SOME WHITES:

2002  Akarua Pinot Noir
2007  Amisfield Pinot Gris
2005  Amisfield Pinot Noir
2005  Carrick Chardonnay Cairnmuir Terraces EBM
2005  Carrick Pinot Noir
2003  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 3
2007  Kawarau Estate Chardonnay Reserve
2008  Mount Edward Pinot Noir Morrison Vineyard
2008  Mount Edward Riesling
2006  Northburn Station Pinot Noir
2002  Northburn Station Pinot Noir
  2007  Northburn Station Pinot Noir Seventh Vintage
2003  Olssens Pinot Noir Slapjack Creek
2009  Olssens Riesling Annieburn
2007  Peregrine Pinot Noir
2006  Peregrine Pinot Noir Wentworth Vineyard
2007  Peregrine Riesling
2007  Surveyor Thomson Pinot Noir
2004  Surveyor Thomson Pinot Noir
2006  Valli Pinot Noir Bannockburn
2007  Valli Riesling Old Vine


White
Chardonnay
2005  Carrick Chardonnay Cairnmuir Terraces EBM   17 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $32   [ screwcap;  hand-picked mendoza mainly;  all barrel-fermented on high-solids,  mostly wild-yeast;  20% new oak in the first 11 months or so of elevage,  then another 6 months in older barrels,  all on lees and batonnage as needed;  not fined or filtered;  EBM = Extra Barrel Maturation;  www.carrick.co.nz ]
Full lemonstraw.  Shy at first opening,  but with air developed into a clean sweetly-smelling smoky chardonnay of some varietal depth,  including peachy stonefruit.  Palate is rich,  textured,  with attractive complexity from lees autolysis,  but rather much new oak detracting from possible Meursault comparisons.  Total acid is just within bounds,  and makes the wine very firm.  Wines like this do indicate the potential for fine chardonnay in the district,  but the acids remain a problem.  Balance and nett flavour are finer and subtler than the Kawarau Estate.  Cellar another 2 5 years,  though the oak in this case may intrude.  GK 09/10

2007  Kawarau Estate Chardonnay Reserve   16 ½ +  ()
Pisa district,  Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $32   [ screwcap;  the oldest vineyards in the Pisa district;  successive hand-picks for complexity;  BF and wild-yeast fermentation in French oak c.25% new,  full MLF;  minimal fining and filtration;  www.kestate.co.nz ]
Lemon.  Bouquet is rich and oaky,  all a little assertive and old-fashioned in approach now.  On palate good yellow-fleshed peach fruit reminiscent of clone mendoza is apparent,  with mealy lees autolysis complexing it.  Acid balance is a little better here,  with some malolactic richness.  The oak lets the wine down somewhat,  but it can be cellared for several more years,  in its bold style.  GK 09/10

Riesling
2007  Valli Riesling Old Vine   18  ()
Alexandra,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $26   [ screwcap;  from a 25-year-old vineyard on Black Ridge;  cool s/s fermented;  lightly fined and filtered;  4 g/L RS;  www.valliwine.com ]
Lemongreen.  This dry wine needs more time in bottle.  It is still youthful and awkward in the way young Mosel trocken wines can be.  Acid is beautifully fine-grain but nonetheless very noticeable at this stage.  Bouquet and flavours are remarkably appley,  but more a cooking apple than a dessert one,  more ballarat for example.  Phenolics are subtler and finer on this wine than the other three rieslings,  giving it greater potential to develop elegance in cellar.  Cellar 5 12 years,  in its drier style.  GK 09/10

2009  Olssens Riesling Annieburn   17 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  10.5%;  $29   [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  cool s/s fermented;  pH 2.83,  RS 6.5 g/L on website seems low;  sterile-filtered;  www.olssens.co.nz ]
Lemongreen.  This wine presented another face of Otago riesling,  the more Germanic one which has attracted favourable notice from European winewriters.  At this stage it is far too young to drink (or sell,  really).  Bouquet shows incipient white florals on an appley base.  Palate is attractively fine-grain,  tasting quite high total acid and low pH [confirmed],  both masked by careful residual sugar at the drier end of the Mosel kabinett class.  Handling of the phenolics is subtler than the Mount Edward and Peregrine wines,  giving it good cellar potential.  The only caveat I had was to wonder if there might be a little VA.  Cellar 5 10 years.  GK 09/10

2008  Mount Edward Riesling   17 +  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  12%;  $25   [ screwcap;  hand-picked @ c.3.2 t/ac;  cool-fermented in s/s with some wild yeasts,  fined and filtered;  RS 19 g/L;  www.mountedward.co.nz ]
Lemon-green.  Bouquet is youthful and appley,  a classic apple such as sturmer rather than the fruity / estery modern ones,  yet with firming hoppy resins too.  Palate is aromatic,  rich fruit,  medium-dry,  tending phenolic on the hoppy notes,  long flavoured.  This should cellar well in a flavoursome almost Clare Valley style,  sweetness aside.  Cellar 3 10 years.  GK 09/10

2007  Peregrine Riesling   16 ½ +  ()
Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $23   [ hand-picked,  cool-fermented in s/s;  6 g/L RS;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Lemon.  Bouquet is intriguing aromatic riesling,  but with a suggestion of herbes too,  as well as white florals.  Palate is lighter and drier than the Mount Edward,  with unsubtle hoppy terpenes more noticeable against the lower residual,  and lengthening the flavour considerably.  As with the Mount Edward,  this is quite a bold wine,  and will become more flavoursome in cellar 3 8 years.  GK 09/10

Pinot Gris
2007  Amisfield Pinot Gris   17 ½  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $35   [ screwcap;  (if similar to the 2008) PG 100%,  hand-picked,  whole-bunch pressed;  early-picked fractions fermented in s/s,  later-picked wild-yeast BF;  5 months LA in French oak;  www.amisfield.co.nz ]
Lemon-straw.  Bouquet is soft,  clean and mild,  vaguely white floral and more clearly white stonefruit and pear-flesh,  easily suggesting it is pinot family in a blind tasting.  Palate has fair fruit mainly white nectarine,  some of the phenolics of the variety standing in slightly aggressively for oak,  and a long flavour with the residual sugar scarcely apparent.  Serious pinot gris,  food friendly,  attractive,  to cellar 2 5 years.  GK 09/10

Red
Pinot Noir
2003  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 3   18 +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $ –    [ cork;  price was $60 5 at release;  hand-harvested @ c. 2.5 t/ac;  some whole-bunch,  up to 8 days cold soak,  up to 23 days cuvaison;  c.15 months in French oak some new;  not fined or filtered;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Mature pinot noir ruby,  some garnet.  Bouquet is fully mature,  yet still floral in a browning way,  on cherry fruit likewise browning and cedary from oak.  The nett result is burgundian at a premier cru level,  where new oak is used.  Palate is rich,  black cherry dominating with some plummy suggestions,  the oak a little prominent and introducing the thought of chocolate.  Though mature,  there is still good fruit,  so no hurry.  Cellar 1 3 years.  GK 09/10

2007  Peregrine Pinot Noir   17 ½ +  ()
Cromwell Basin 80%,  Gibbston 20,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $39   [ screwcap;  nil whole bunch;  10 months in French oak,  35% new;  was $39;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  a little age showing.  Bouquet is beautifully roses-floral,  on red --> black pinot noir fruit,  with a delightful lift to it,  aethereal (not a euphemism for VA).  Palate is more mature than I would hope for a 2007,  but the quality of red fruits with a faint aromatic lift is confuseable with Martinborough pinot noir.  Attractive wine,  to cellar 2 5 years.  GK 09/10

2002  Akarua Pinot Noir    17 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  historic price;  www.akarua.com ]
Mature good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is a vivid contrast with the 2009s,  no longer floral as such,  but still fragrant in a slightly leathery way,  with cherry and red plum fruit browning a little.  Palate adds in a little much oak,  as was more the style of the time,  but the excellent fruit richness nearly carries it.  Aftertaste is a little tannic.  No hurry to finish this,  but the oak will increase as the fruit fades.  Cellar 1 4 years.  It was a pleasure to see this and another 2002,  and to find I had reviewed it somewhat unsympathetically in 2004.  There is no end to learning about wine.  GK 09/10

2006  Northburn Station Pinot Noir   17 +  ()
Northburn,  Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $46   [ screwcap;  made by Michelle Richardson;  www.northburn.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  a little age showing.  Bouquet is distinctive among the wines,  almost a thought of oxidation,  but perhaps better interpreted as maturing raspberry,  giving a grenache-like undertone (+ve).  Palate is a little more oak-affected than the bouquet suggested,  the wine starting to dry on the oak,  but still quite rich in red fruits.  Cellar 1 3 years.  GK 09/10

2006  Peregrine Pinot Noir Wentworth Vineyard   17 +  ()
Cromwell Basin 80%,  Gibbston 20,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $65   [ screwcap;  no info available on this rare wine,  beyond a memo:  it is a collaboration between Greg Hay, viticulturist, Steve Smith MW now of Craggy Range,  and Adam Peren based at Wentworth Estate,  Gibbston,  near Queenstown.  Wentworth Estate is a sixty hectare Champagne-style wine and lifestyle development;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is classical Central Otago pinot noir,  showing great florality from dark roses to boronia,  on red and black cherry,  enticing.  Palate is not quite on a par with bouquet,  the oak and tannins showing rather much,  and the fruit a little light to maintain an ideal balance,  so the finish is short.  Approaching maturity now,  cellar 1 3 years only.  GK 09/10

2002  Northburn Station Pinot Noir   17 +  ()
Northburn,  Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $ –    [ screwcap;  mostly clone 10/5;  www.northburn.co.nz ]
Mature pinot noir ruby.  If ever one wanted proof of the essential need to decant wine,  and let it breathe after eight years under screwcap,  this wine gave it.  At first,  in the social setting,  the wine was concentrated,  but with notes of decay and leafyness on bouquet,  and phenolic on the palate.  Clearly pinot noir though.  With air the wine expanded magically,  to harmonise the negatives and reveal that magic tension between just ripe enough and too ripe which characterises good pinot noir,  still intensely floral,  browning red and black cherries,  the tannins now smooth but slightly leafy.  Mature,  but no hurry 1 3 years.  GK 09/10

2006  Valli Pinot Noir Bannockburn   17 +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $45   [ screwcap;  thought to be c.25% whole bunch;  extended cuvaison;  some time in oak 30% new;  not on website;  www.valliwine.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  age showing.  Bouquet shows a quite rich integration of browning florals and red cherry fruit with oak,  giving a cedary aroma which is not explicitly pinot noir,  but is attractive.  Palate is rich,  cedary,  and long,  almost confuseable with some Pauillac styles,  but perhaps the plummy softness brings one back to pinot noir.  Good food wine.  Cellar 1 3 years,  though the oak may become too prominent.  GK 09/10

2005  Amisfield Pinot Noir   17  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.9%;  $ –    [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  some whole-bunch,  mostly wild yeast fermentations;  extended cuvaison;  12 months in French oak c.20% new;  www.amisfield.co.nz ]
Big maturing pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is clearly older,  fragrant cedary oak in mixed cherry aromas all browning a little now,  reminding of some earlier Mondavi Pinot Noir Reserves.  Palate includes thoughts of mixed ripeness,  a hint of leafy flavours in cherry fruit,  the oak continuing fragrantly throughout.  Fully mature,  starting to dry,  and the acid showing a little,  cellar 1 3 years.  GK 09/10

2007  Surveyor Thomson Pinot Noir   16 ½ +  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $42.50   [ uncertain (89% of the bottling screwcap,  balance Diam);  hand-harvested;  10 months in French oak 33% new;  fifth  vintage;  appealing website format,  more info would optimise;  www.surveyorthomson.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  some age showing.  Bouquet is in an old-school style,  tending European,  lightly savoury,  a trace of oxidation and brett making the wine smell very food-friendly,  on red fruits browning a little now.  Palate shows lovely ripeness,  and simply reprises the bouquet.  This is the kind of wine pinot drinkers love,  matching many a bourgogne rouge,  and technocrats nowadays are doubtful about,  or deride.  Cellar 2 5 years.  GK 09/10

2007  Northburn Station Pinot Noir Seventh Vintage   16 ½ +  ()
Northburn,  Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $42   [ screwcap;  made by Michelle Richardson;  www.northburn.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is intriguingly floral,  as well as roses and even boronia of pinot noir,  there is a hint of white pepper in a syrah sense adding interest.  The latter accurately points to a suggestion of stalk on the palate,  and crisp red cherry fruits,  the acid noticeable on the aftertaste.  This will become more fragrant in a cool-climate way in bottle,  cellar 2 6 years.  GK 09/10

2004  Surveyor Thomson Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $33   [ cork;  historic price;  11 months in French oak 33% new;  second vintage;  www.surveyorthomson.co.nz ]
Bouquet is maturing slightly savoury red fruits,  with a hint of decay / oxidation about it.  The early maturing of so many New Zealand pinot noirs is a constant disappointment.  Palate shows the same kind of European styling as many bourgognes rouges in maturity,  some smoky oak noticeable,  but the whole wine food-friendly and showing pleasing ripeness.  Mature now,  use in the next year or two.  GK 09/10

2005  Carrick Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $38   [ screwcap;  historic price;  hand-picked,  crop half normal;  whole bunch minimal in 2005,  pre-ferment cold soak 5 days,  plus c.10 days cuvaison with 70% wild yeast;  c.9 months in French oak c. 30% new;  www.carrick.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is forward for the vintage,  with browning and a suggestion of autumnal decay on red and black cherry fruit.  Palate confirms the premature ageing,  the oak standing firm,  but the fruit fading a little,  a suggestion of acid and stalkyness now apparent.  Not one to keep much longer,  more now or a couple of years.  GK 09/10

2003  Olssens Pinot Noir Slapjack Creek   16 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $ –    [ screwcap;  no info;  www.olssens.co.nz ]
Mature pinot noir ruby.  The wine benefits greatly from decanting.  Bouquet is then fragrant,  but like some of the 2003 Otago pinot noirs in the 2010 Pinot Noir Conference,  there is a certain loss of vigour.  There are still suggestions of red rose florals on mixed cherry fruit which is browning / becoming autumnal.  Palate is light and mellow,  just a suggestion of soaked sultanas creeping into tealeaf flavours,  the oak not too assertive.  Fully mature,  much lighter than the 2002 Akarua.  GK 09/10

2008  Mount Edward Pinot Noir Morrison Vineyard   15 ½  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $65   [ screwcap;  hand-picked,  single-vineyard wine,  third release;  not fined or filtered;  no other info;  www.mountedward.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is light red fruits only,  and slight buddleia florals,  giving an initial impression of simplicity and less ripeness.  Palate is a bit tart and hard,  with redcurrant and red cherry flesh.  Fruit concentration is good,  but the site tastes very cool this year.  More physiological ripeness would be good.  Cellar 1 4 years in that style.  GK 09/10