Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.

Scope of Report:  For a general introduction to Pinot Noir 2007,  see Pt I.  In this Pinot Noir 2007 Producers' Tasting I concentrated on the 2005 wines,  not only to better complement the 100-odd pinot reviews recently published on this site,  but also because they are the cellar-worthy successors to the 2003s.  In general,  the 2005 pinots are nearly as good as the 2003s,  in most viticultural districts.  In some places they may be better,  and for some producers,  it will be their best pinot vintage so far,  allowing for progress in the two years since 2003.  Where 2005s were not available,  or there seemed a compelling reason to sample other vintages (the emerging Waitaki Valley district for example),  or sometimes to set off the achievement in 2005,  other vintages are included.  How exactly the 100 producers were chosen I do not know,  but the organisers styled them as "100 of New Zealand's very best Pinot Noir producers".  A few faces are missing,  and no doubt a few elected not to participate.

One wine not shown at the Exhibitors' Tasting has subsequently been added (2003 Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir Reserve Marie Zelie),  since a few days later it fortuitously became available for tasting blind alongside Peregrine's Pinnacle and the Gibbston Valley Reserve,  allowing calibration.  There has been widespread interest in the actual achievement of these $100-plus aspirational wines.  All too often assessment of wines like these is overly-influenced by the price,  in precise analogy to some of the comment offered in the Conference proper for the French labels.

All the wines were assessed together,  alongside each other,  but not strictly blind due to the number of wines accumulated from the Pinot (and Syrah) Conferences.  The choice of wines is regrettably arbitrary.  100 proprietors showing on average 3 wines each poses a logistical difficulty,  for one can only conveniently carry away 60 glasses of wine at the one time.  I do not report on wines tasted only on the hoof,  being jostled and talked to by keen participants in these quite marvellous (if exhausting) presentations.  I acknowledge there is a tendency to collect the famous names yet again,  which is unfair to new and emerging producers.  I hope some of these will be seen during the course of the year,  though there is not then the quite rigorous cross-referencing opportunity available in the format for this report,  where the relative ranking order has better validity on the one day.

Where several wines have achieved the same score,  they are listed alphabetically.

Acknowledgement:  I appreciate the ready response from nearly all winemakers,  to my later requests for detail.  It Is hard to capture even basic info systematically and completely at these big wine presentations.


2005  Akarua Pinot Noir
2004  Alan McCorkindale Pinot Noir Montserrat Vineyard
2004  Alan McCorkindale Pinot Noir Teviotdale Vineyard
2005  Auntsfield Pinot Noir Hawk Hill
2005  Auntsfield Pinot Noir Heritage
2005  Bald Hills Estate Pinot Noir
2003  Bell Hill Pinot Noir
2005  Chard Farm Pinot Noir
2005  Chard Farm Pinot Noir The Tiger
2005  Clayridge Pinot Noir Excalibur
2004  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna Road Vineyard
2005  Dog Point Pinot Noir
2005  Dry River Pinot Noir
2005  Escarpment Pinot Noir
2005  Escarpment Pinot Noir Kupe
2005  Felton Road Pinot Noir
2005  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 3
2005  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5
2003  Forrest Estate Pinot Noir Brancott Vineyard
2003  Forrest Estate Pinot Noir Doctor's Creek Vineyard
2004  Forrest Estate Pinot Noir John Forrest Collection
2004  Fromm Pinot Noir Clayvin Vineyard
2004  Fromm Pinot Noir Fromm Vineyard
2005  Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir
2005  Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir Reserve
2005  Greenhough Pinot Noir Hope Vineyard
2005  Greenhough Pinot Noir Nelson
2005  Kathy Lynskey Pinot Noir Block 36 Reserve
2004  Kathy Lynskey Pinot Noir Casto Reserve
2005  Kawarau Estate Pinot Noir Reserve
  2005  Kumeu River Pinot Noir
2003  Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir Reserve Marie Zelie
2005  Millton Pinot Noir Clos St Anne Naboth's Vineyard
2005  Mountford Pinot Noir
2004  Mountford Pinot Noir
2005  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir
2005  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Long Gully Single Vineyard
2005  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Pipeclay Terrace Single Vineyard
2005  Neudorf Pinot Noir Home Vineyard
2005  Neudorf Pinot Noir Moutere
2005  Neudorf Pinot Noir Tom's Block (formerly Nelson)
2005  Olssens Pinot Noir Jackson Barry
2005  Olssens Pinot Noir Slapjack Creek
2005  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir
2005  Peregrine Pinot Noir
2005  Peregrine Pinot Noir Pinnacle
2005  Pisa Range Pinot Noir Black Poplar Block
2004  Pisa Range Pinot Noir Black Poplar Block
2005  Prophet's Rock Pinot Noir
2005  Quartz Reef Pinot Noir
2005  Quartz Reef Pinot Noir Bendigo Estate
2005  Valli Pinot Noir Bannockburn Vineyard
2005  Valli Pinot Noir Gibbston Vineyard
2004  Valli Pinot Noir Waitaki Vineyard
2005  van Asch Pinot Noir
2005  Vavasour Pinot Noir Awatere
2005  Vynfields Pinot Noir Reserve
2005  Waimea Estates Pinot Noir
2004  Waitaki Braids Pinot Noir

2005  Peregrine Pinot Noir   19  ()
Gibbston,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $39   [ screwcap;  sold out at winery,  and regrettably no info on website on wines other than currently for sale;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  about as big as pinot noir needs to be.  Bouquet is beautifully fragrant,  an absolute crystallisation of pinot noir the variety.  The depth of the floral component is magnificent,  darkest rose,  boronia and violets,  on pure black cherry fruit – absolutely beautiful and heady in a dusky way.  Palate is crisply varietal,  superb black cherry subtly oaked,  no more alcohol (at 14%) than some (honestly-labelled) burgundies from the 2002 and 2003 vintages,  all lingering long on velvety texture and wonderful extract.  Aftertaste is superbly varietal,  lightly aromatic,  rich yet delicate.  Though similar in style to the prestige Pinnacle,  this Peregrine is fresher and more floral,  giving it an enviable edge at this early stage.  The standard wine epitomises New Zealand pinot noir as expressed in Otago,  a little more fleshy than fine Cote de Nuits,  yet showing many features in common with some of their best modern wines.  Peregrine is laying down a serious challenge to Felton Road,  who for some time have been regarded as the pre-eminent Central Otago pinot producer.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Pisa Range Pinot Noir Black Poplar Block   19  ()
Cromwell,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $37   [ screwcap;  no details on website yet;  www.pisarangeestate.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  nearly as deep as the standard Peregrine.  Bouquet has a kind of midnight darkest red going on velvety black quality to it,  deeper and darker than the Peregrine,  yet still clearly floral and black cherry,  rather than the simpler concept of dark plums.  Palate has exactly the same extraordinary quality,  velvety,  deep,  succulent,  wonderfully rich,  yet neither heavy or porty,  beautifully balanced,  highly varietal,  long in the aftertaste.  Oaking is exquisite.  Quite simply,  buy as much of this and the 2005 Peregrine as you can afford – they are very fairly priced,  in contrast to many lesser wines from other districts.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 3   18 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $65   [ screwcap;  $56 ex vineyard when available;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Ruby and some velvet,  much the lightest of the three 2005 Felton wines,  or the wines in this gold-medal bracket.  Bouquet likewise is the most lifted and floral of the three Feltons,  with attractive aromas spanning the lilac part of the spectrum through to violets.  There seems to be more new oak than the standard wine,  but it has augmented the floral component,  not dominated it – in contrast to some of the Otago 2005s.  Palate is beautiful,  sheer velvet,  gorgeous texture,  yet a lightness on tongue which is totally burgundian in a rich way.  This is a marvellous Felton,  much more together than when I last tasted it,  not too long after bottling.  Cellar 5 –12 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Long Gully Single Vineyard   18 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $80   [ screwcap;  some whole bunch,  6 days cold soak, 16 days cuvaison;  MLF and 14 months in French oak;  not fined or filtered;  www.mtdifficulty.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  a little lighter than the Peregrine.  Bouquet on this Otago wine shows the same wonderful black cherry fruit as several of the others,  but the floral component at this stage is a little more entangled in new oak,  like the Peregrine Pinnacle.  On palate the wine shows great fruit,  good balance,  more oaked than some top wines,  but still pretty well balanced,  fresh,  with a great aftertaste.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Bald Hills Estate Pinot Noir   18 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ screwcap;  some whole bunch;  c. 11 months in French oak 40 – 45% new;  website implies 2005 not for sale yet,  no info;  www.baldhills.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  one of the darker wines in the tasting.  Like the Peregrine Pinnacle,  more oak shows on the bouquet here,  but the depth of boronia and violets florals is exciting too.  Palate is superb,  black cherries,  succulent length,  darker in style than the Felton Block 3,  yet still dramatically varietal.  Perhaps there is a hint of darkest chocolate.  Finish is long and aromatic.  This is very good.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir Reserve   18 ½ +  ()
Bendigo,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $114   [ screwcap;  hand-picked clone 5 and Dijon clones;  15% whole bunch,  total cuvaison 21 days;  11 months French oak 50% new barriques,  50% one year old;  www.gvwines.co.nz ]
This wine was seen again with other pinots a few days later,  while all the Conference wines were still available.  Colour is good pinot noir ruby,  on a par with the '03 Rousseau Clos de Beze,  deeper than the Felton Block 3.  Bouquet however is more akin to the '03 Ruchottes-Chambertin,  sensationally floral.  This is the wine to show all those people out there who pooh-pooh the idea that great pinot noir is about the floral component.  The florals here are a little unusual,  extending from buddleia right through to violets,  at incredible volume.  Perhaps the volume is a little high ?  The palate is totally pinot noir in mouthfeel and texture,  subtly oaked by New Zealand (or French) standards to really optimise the pinpoint varietal character,  wonderfully rich,  much more substantial than the standard wine.  But hiding in there is just a tiny caveat,  that earlier question mark,  is this just very faintly stalky too ?  Time will tell,  but in any case this is exciting New Zealand pinot noir,  Cote de Nuits-like,  yet another slant on exactly what Central Otago will achieve with the grape.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Prophet's Rock Pinot Noir   18 ½  ()
Gibbston,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $ –    [ cork;  website under construction;  www.prophetsrock.co.nz ]
Ruby and some velvet,  a little deeper than the Felton Road Block 3.  This is a quietly-spoken wine,  beautifully pure,  suggesting darkest florals in black cherry fruits,  subtly oaked.  Yet in mouth it seems to expand,  with boronia and violets florals becoming even more apparent,  in black cherry fruit of great succulence.  Oak is beautifully restrained.  This will probably be scoring more highly in another couple of years.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Quartz Reef Pinot Noir   18 ½  ()
Cromwell & Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ screwcap;  no winery info on '05 on website,  presumably similar '04;  www.quartzreef.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  one of the darker.  This wine has features in common with Escarpment's Kupe,  as if there were a lees-in-barrel enrichment component,  together with great florals from rose to violets,  and plenty of dark cherry.  On palate some oak aromatics creep into the wine,  making it firmer than some,  but the richness is excellent and the flavours are classical Central Otago.  What a vintage 2005 is turning out to be for the district.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Clayridge Pinot Noir Excalibur   18 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $38   [ screwcap;  not on website yet;  www.clayridge.net.nz ]
Rich pinot ruby and velvet.  This wine benefits from decanting and airing for several hours,  to reveal a bouquet which is extraordinary for a Marlborough pinot noir.  There is a depth and darkness of varietal florals and fruit to it more closely approaching the characters one associates with Central Otago.  Florals are in the lilac,  roses and boronia spectrum,  a little 'lighter' than the best Otago.  Likewise in the berryfruit,  while there is some blackboy peach,  there is clear red and black cherry.  Oak is noticeable,  fragrant, but not too dominating.  Richness on palate and depth of flavour are remarkable,  and the alcohol is much less than some of the Villa Maria multiple award wines.  There might be a trace of brett adding savoury complexity.  This wine is a great example of what may be achieved in years to come in Marlborough,  on optimal un-irrigated sites.  It is a great achievement by winemaker / growers Mike and Paula Just.  It is amongst Marlborough's finest pinots yet,  perhaps the best.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 01/07

2003  Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir Reserve Marie Zelie   18 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.6%;  $179   [ cork;  hand-harvested clone 10/5 23 years old,  and other younger clones,  sorting table;  10 – 15% whole bunch, 4 – 5 days cold soak,  up to 20 days cuvaison;  12 months in French oak 100% new,  plus 4 months in new and one year;  not fined or filtered;  900 bottles only from what is considered to be an outstanding Martinborough vintage;  www.martinborough-vineyard.co.nz ]
This wine was not part of the Exhibitors' Tasting,  but was seen with the 2003 Rousseaus and other top New Zealand pinots a few days later,  while all the Conference wines were still available.  It was too interesting to leave out,  considering it is likely to become something of a status symbol.  Colour is rich pinot noir ruby,  a little darker than all the Rousseaus.  It was presented blind in a flight of five,  four being Rousseau grand crus,  plus the Marie Zelie.  And the immediate thing to say is,  it was fully competitive.  As seen blind by 20 or so of Wellington's most experienced pinot / burgundy tasters,  it was placed approximately third in ranking these five wines.  That is a remarkable result.  Bouquet is floral,  varietal and fresh,  closest in style to the Rousseau Clos St Jacques.  Palate is richly varietal too,  the balance of black cherry and plum flavours again close to the St Jacques.  Where it differs from the Rousseaus in general,  and the St Jacques in particular,  is in being a little shrill,  in side-by-side comparison.  This is a function of slightly higher total acid than is ideal,  and more apparent and slightly aggressive new oak.  We still have so much to learn about oak handling,  against the French centuries of tradition.  Dry extract will be the key,  I suggest,  but for now,  as for New Zealand syrah (which when good has so much in common with pinot),  in general less will be more.  This Reserve wine should cellar for 10,  maybe 15 + years.

Pricing-wise,  I think it is time for somebody in New Zealand to say that this increasingly presumptuous and pretentious pricing for supposedly prestige wines is doing a disservice to the New Zealand wine industry.  It is far too early for us to be making claim to world-class wines,  at the grandiose level of $179 per bottle.  We deserve to be mocked,  on this,  as Remington Norman did exactly in the Syrah Symposium preceding Pinot Noir 2007.  Only a few years ago Trinity Hill scandalised the wine community with $100 bottles.  Now in this review we have $157 and $179 bottles of pinot noir.  It is time to call a halt,  I say.  If winemakers want to skite,  put a maximum of $100 on their top wine as they perceive it,  and leave it at that.  Let the consumer decide,  if they can find objective reviews to help them.  The trouble is,  as we saw in the Pinot Conference proper,  reviewers can all too easily be diverted from evaluating the actual liquid in the glass in front of them,  by knowledge of the label,  or in this case,  the price.  And the other good reason to downplay prestige bottlings is the simple fact,  it devalues the standard wine.  Martinborough Vineyard's standard pinot has been looking skinny for some time.  Siphoning off the best fruit for wines like this Reserve bottling can only aggravate that trend.  As the Champenoise have done in recent years,  get the standard wine to a top quality level first.  GK 02/07

2005  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir   18 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested @ 1.4 t/ac;  15 – 20% whole bunch,  5 – 7 days cold soak,  mainly wild yeast,  16 days cuvaison;  MLF and 11 months in barrel on full lees;  www.mtdifficulty.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some velvet.  This wine just smells deliciously of red and black cherry pinot,  subtly oaked so that the rose and boronia florals show beautifully.  There is an intriguing citrus lift too.  Palate is fresh,  plump,  gorgeous crunchy black cherry fruit,  not as big as some wines,  yet more aromatic.  This is lovely pinot,  and another Otago wine with a clear Cote de Nuits spice to it.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Neudorf Pinot Noir Home Vineyard   18 ½  ()
Moutere Hills,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  14%;  $60   [ screwcap;  no info on website yet;  www.neudorf.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  in the bigger style of most top Neudorf pinots.  Bouquet is different from the other top wines in this tasting,  with a light pennyroyal aromatic lift reminiscent of Martinborough,  as if there were occasional eucalypts within the horizon.  But below there are mixed florals,  red and black cherry fruit,  and implicit richness.  Palate is a little oakier than some,  gorgeous black cherry fruit,  great texture and length in mouth,  not as heavy and alcoholic as some Moutere series wines have been in recent years,  lingering attractively.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir   18 ½  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14%;  $45   [ screwcap;  not on website yet;  www.pegasusbay.com ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  still a big pinot noir colour yet a little lighter than the average of these top wines.  Bouquet is amongst the most beautiful in the set,  with explicit florals in the roses,  boronia and violets spectrum,  on red and black cherry fruit,  in its lightness yet depth almost reminiscent of a 'reference-quality wine' such as Drouhin Clos de la Roche (grand cru) is in most good years.  Palate is rich,  tactile,  beautifully varietal,  subtly oaked,  yet not quite as magical as those scored 19.  The evolution of the Pegasus Bay pinot style over the last six years or so has been breathtaking.  And this is just the standard wine!  Another to secure,  when it is released.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Felton Road Pinot Noir   18 +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $45   [ screwcap;  2005 a low-crop year;  not much wine info on website;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet.  The standard wine has the clear floral components it is becoming famous for,  but this year there is also a subtle aromatic lift,  whether thyme or some kind of mint it is hard to say.  In mouth,  there is plump dark cherry and nearly dark plum fruit,  a little oakier than some,  but attractively balanced and finishing long.  The aromatic note seems more noticeable on this occasion – I am puzzled by this.  Great to see a number of the Otago wines being presented at 13.5% alcohol this year.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Peregrine Pinot Noir Pinnacle   18 +  ()
Gibbston,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $157   [ cork;  hand-harvested;  up to 7 days cold soak;  10 months in French oak 50% new,  7 months in French oak one year old;  not fined or filtered;  1200 bottles only;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  surprisingly fresh,  fractionally deeper than the standard wine,  one of the deepest in the tasting.  Bouquet is more darkly pinot than the standard Peregrine wine,  and it is harder to retrieve the all-important florals at this stage due to both a measure of sur-maturité,  and the fragrant oak.  There is an opulent richness and ripeness of almost jammy black cherries and blackish plums to it.  It is pure,  and not too alcoholic,  but there are almost vintage port and dark fruitcake aroma suggestions.  Palate is richer,  riper,  oakier and softer than the standard wine.  Presumably the cropping rate for designated patches of vines for this wine was lower.  Oak aside,  the flavours have much in common,  so some of the descriptors for the standard wine can be read into this wine as well.  There is a delightful aromatic lift which I can't quite place,  oak presumably,  in the velvety black more than red fruit,  showing the same effect as mixed peel in fruitcake.  There is no doubt it is impressive wine,  which despite its richness finishes lightly.  But the over-ripeness has taken some of the magic out of it,  and other wines here say more about the beauty of pinot noir.  For future editions of this prestige label,  more care to avoid sur-maturité would be good.  A 50/50 blend of the plump,  soft (but oaky) Pinnacle with the leaner,  more fragrant,  more acid (but oaky) Marie Zelie,  is really something !

It will be well worth cellaring both the Pinnacle and the standard wine,  and seeing how they look in five and ten and more years.  If the experience with the Felton wines is any guide,  the less-oaked version may well end up being the more beautiful.  This should cellar to 15 years,  and will be worth trying for longer,  though acid is a little soft.  As with the Martinborough Marie Zelie,  and along with Remington Norman in his address to the Syrah Symposium,  one must deplore the presumption in putting $100 + pinot noirs in impossibly heavy (and over-packaged) bottles onto a market as youthful as New Zealand's pinot one.  We do not want or need the Californian Screaming Eagle syndrome here,  though regrettably,  affluent customers will rush to pander to it.  The Martinborough one has sold out,  for example.  GK 01/07

2005  Valli Pinot Noir Bannockburn Vineyard   18 +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $45   [ screwcap;  three wines from different sites but made similarly by Grant Taylor,  to illustrate district variation;  hand-picked,  25% whole bunch;  French oak 30 – 40 % new;  not on website;  www.valliwine.com ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet.  Bouquet is similar to other top Otago wines,  but not quite so fragrant and eloquent,  the oak a little more noticeable.  Palate opens the wine up well,  with long-flavoured and rich black cherry fruit,  good acid balance,  the oak now seeming in good balance.  This may just need another year in bottle,  to move into the top rank.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Chard Farm Pinot Noir The Tiger   18  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $45   [ screwcap;  single vineyard,  no production info on website;  www.chardfarm.co.nz ]
Good pinot ruby.  Bouquet is beautifully floral,  boronia and violets,  on dark cherry fruit.  Palate is cherry too,  subtly oaked,  a little shorter than the bouquet suggests,  but well-balanced and vividly varietal.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Escarpment Pinot Noir Kupe   18  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.2%;  $85   [ cork;  to be released in March '07;  no info on website yet;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  a good colour for Martinborough.  Bouquet has a clear pennyroyal aromatic,  which I'm starting to think must reflect a subliminal eucalyptus component.  Additionally,  there is a great floral and spicy lift with almost a black pepper overtone.  On palate all these factors come together in a deliciously rich,  slightly buttery (+ve) mouthfeel,  as if the wine has lees enrichment / batonnage.  The black pepper note on bouquet continues,  and while it could be pinot noir in an aromatic sense,  it is also reminiscent of syrah in a floral Cote Rotie styling.  A bit confusing therefore,  different from the '03 Kupe,  but this is going to be attractive wine,  which should cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Pipeclay Terrace Single Vineyard   18  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $72   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested,  100% de-stemmed;  6 days cold soak;  16 days cuvaison;  14 months and MLF in barrel;  not fined or filtered;  www.mtdifficulty.co.nz ]
Big pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is more oaky than some of the top Otago wines,  mingled with an interesting aromatic note and a faintly buttery (+ve) component in the aroma,  on generalised berry.  Palate brings the wine back into the Otago black cherry line,  being rich,  long,  reasonably well balanced in a more oaky interpretation relative to the standard Mt Difficulty,  long aftertaste.  Cellar 5 – 12 years,  but for purity of varietal expression,  go for the standard wine.  GK 01/07

2005  Olssens Pinot Noir Slapjack Creek   18  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $ –    [ screwcap;  no info on '05 on website;  www.olssens.co.nz ]
Big pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is very fragrant,  with noticeable aromatics as well as florals,  on red and black cherry fruit,  a little more oaky than some.  Palate likewise is a little more oaky / tannic than the other top wines,  but the flavours are beautifully cherry-based and otherwise well-balanced.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Quartz Reef Pinot Noir Bendigo Estate   18  ()
Cromwell,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $ –    [ screwcap;  no info on '05 on website,  presumably not yet released;  www.quartzreef.co.nz ]
Big ruby and velvet,  deeper than the standard Quartz Reef,  one of the darkest.  This wine is as rich,  if not richer,  than the standard wine,  with dense black cherry flavours,  all made more aromatic on a higher percentage of new oak (I assume).  It is oakier than the Peregrine Pinnacle,  of similar richness,  but not quite so floral.  This will appeal greatly to those liking a firmer and oakier pinot.  However with the relatively lesser showing of the older Block 5 Felton Road wines in the Conference proper,  one must be uneasy about more oaky Otago examples of this subtle variety.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Akarua Pinot Noir   17 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $40   [ screwcap;  no production info on website;  www.akarua.com ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  one of the darkest pinots in the set.  Bouquet is voluminous,  clearly berried on cherry fruit,  but also aromatic on fragrant oak,  so much so that it is hard to discern if there is a floral component.  Palate is richly flavoured,  quite tannic,  perhaps a little savoury brett component in the cloves-like spice,  the whole wine tending sturdy on the elevage,  like the '03 Carrick.  Aftertaste is long and spicy.  This should soften in cellar and be a good food wine,  to cellar 3 – 12 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Dry River Pinot Noir   17 ½ +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $77   [ cork;  not irrigated,  small vintage;  release March '07;  www.dryriver.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  one of the deepest and densest wines in the 100 Exhibitors' tasting.   One sniff,  and this wine seems a change of approach for Dry River (assuming the 2004 is more a product of its cooler year).  This 2005 shows signs of the same kind of stylistic migration the Pegasus Bay Pinot is making (more rapidly),  towards a more fragrant and beautifully varietal,  less ponderous,  yet still rich exposition of the variety.  This wine clearly shows dusky florals in a deep boronia and violets way.  Hooray!  Fruit is darkest cherry.  Palate likewise is darkest cherry,  incredibly rich,  plus omega plum.  Flavour is still tending to the sur maturité side of optimal delicacy,  but is wonderfully rich,  long flavoured,  and subtly oaked.  This may be the best Dry River Pinot Noir ever.  Cellar 5 – 15 + years.  GK 01/07

2005  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5   17 ½ +  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $65   [ screwcap;  $56 ex vineyard when available;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  one of the deeper ones.  Bouquet is rich and Felton-like,  but there is a lot of oak,  in a dark toasty style making the florals hard to separate out – though they are there.  Palate has velvety richness,  and darkly omega-plummy fruit,  with some dark cherries.  It is a good example of its kind of Otago pinot,  but inclining to an OTT / sur maturité approach.  Aftertaste is long and rich and nearly chocolatey,  the latter a concept not generally appropriate in pinot (except perhaps California).  As noted elsewhere,  earlier vintages of this label in the Conference proper were not looking as good as I had earlier expected (in previously reviewing this wine),  the oak becoming much too prominent,  despite the good fruit in youth.  It may just be a phase the wines are in,  but the score reflects a caveat I feel about heavily oaked Otago pinots,  right now.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 01/07

2005  van Asch Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Bendigo & Gibbston,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $ –    [ screwcap;  hand-picked;  8 months in French oak c. 20% on full lees ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet shows red fruits,  with an interesting aromatic note mingling with oak-derived vanillin,  all pleasingly fragrant.  Palate is fresh,  crisply red and black cherry,  clearly burgundian,  Volnay again,  very like the Olssens Barry in fact but richer and less acid.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Auntsfield Pinot Noir Hawk Hill   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $45   [ screwcap;  hand-picked,  all de-stemmed but emphasis on whole berry,  cold soak 10 days;  c. 9 months in French oak 33% new;  Mike Just winemaker;  good history of site and Marlborough wine on informative website;  www.auntsfield.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some velvet.  Bouquet is clean and pure red and black cherry in a subdued way,  a suggestion of salvia florals,  and an undertone of sweet ensilage / marc (+ve).  Palate is fresh,  firm and straightforward,  and notwithstanding the alcohol there is an attractive balance of cherried varietal character and body.  This pinot is not as dramatically varietal as the Clayridge,  but it still represents exciting progress in the development of more clearcut dark cherry pinots in Marlborough.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Chard Farm Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Queenstown and Cromwell,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $34   [ screwcap;  www.chardfarm.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet.  Initially opened,  this was new oaky to a fault.  It settled down well with air,  to reveal red and black cherry fruit of fair richness,  all made aromatic by oak.  Palate is not as oaky as feared,  good acid balance,  reasonably long-flavoured,  but not as rich and subtle as the Tiger version.  This should be more married up and harmonious in a year or so.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Greenhough Pinot Noir Hope Vineyard   17 ½  ()
Waimea Plains,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $39   [ screwcap;  no website ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Against so many Central Otago wines,  the Hope release this year looks lighter and more aromatic,  almost in a Martinborough style.  There are attractive lilac and boronia florals,  on red and black cherry fruit,  and subtle oak.  Palate is leaner than the Otago wines too,  yet still well-fruited,  in a sense more burgundian (since the Otago wines can be said to be fleshy,  by comparison),  with a hint of ripe stalk firmness and a long finish.  I had earlier thought this might be a bigger wine,  2005 being so excellent in the Nelson district,  but it is certainly an elegant and Cote de Nuits-styled one.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Mountford Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:   – %;  $61   [ screwcap;  website is (mysteriously) password protected,  so no info;  www.mountfordvineyard.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is very fragrant,  with intriguing florals ranging from buddleia to boronia,  on red and black cherry.  There are oak aromatics below,  and a suggestion of toast,  adding to the bouquet.  On palate there is good fruit,  but the oak looms larger,  and is slightly varnishy,  detracting a little from the promising bouquet.  Total flavours are still clearly varietal,  good acid,  burgundian.  The wine may just be in an awkward patch,  or relatively recently bottled.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Neudorf Pinot Noir Moutere   17 ½  ()
Moutere Hills,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $55   [ screwcap;  no info on website yet;  www.neudorf.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  one of the darker wines in the set.  This too is a wine which over the years has wandered into the over-ripe and excessively weighty sector of the pinot noir game.  The 2005 is still at the 14.5% alcohol level,  as are a number of the Otago wines,  but in a dark way,  there are aromatic suggestions of florals to be found,  and a faint pennyroyal lift,  on darkly plummy and black cherry fruit.  Palate is rich,  fleshy,  oakier than the Dry River and thus fractionally clumsier,  more in the style of the Felton Block 5.  These Moutere Pinot Noirs tend to be heroic in nature:  it would be good to see a vertical of them one day,  and find out if they age thoughtfully.   Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Vynfields Pinot Noir Reserve   17 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $45   [ screwcap;  hand-picked,  100% de-stemmed,  12 months French oak,  winemaker Kai Schubert;  certified organic;  this wine not on website yet,  but available;  www.vynfields.com ]
Older pinot noir ruby,  old for age,  in fact some garnet.  Bouquet shows a little too oaky,  in good fruit including red and black cherries.  Palate is aromatic from the oak,  with complex and quite rich flavours,  including brown mushrooms and milk chocolate,  in mixed cherries.  Like the Kupe,  there is a curious hint of syrah-like black pepper – not unpleasant,  but it makes one wonder what happened in Martinborough in 2005 !  The nett result is reasonably varietal,  pleasing as a food wine,  but early maturing.  Cellar 3 – 8 years,  maybe.  GK 01/07

2005  Dog Point Pinot Noir   17 +  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $39   [ cork;  all de-stemmed,  up to 8 days cold-soak,  wild yeast;  18 months in French oak 50% new;  www.dogpoint.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  a similar weight to the Auntsfield,  but fresher.  Bouquet is both varietal and winey,  partly from a light brett component,  on mixed florals and red and black cherry fruit.  Palate has lovely flavours,  complex,  integrated,  another with a textural quality suggesting barrel work and batonnage.  Aftertaste is long and cherry-rich,  slightly gamey,  burgundian.  Cellar 5 – 12 years,  though it may age a little faster than some,  with the brett.  GK 01/07

2005  Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir   17 +  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $ –    [ screwcap;  not on website yet;  www.gvwines.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  This wine is clearly floral but in a manner less commonly encountered in Central Otago,  more buddleia and lighter fractions,  a clear whole berry component,  on red cherry fruit.  Palate is lighter too than many of the 2005s,  with a stalky beaujolais thought in the red cherry fruit,  the oak a little more noticeable perhaps because of the stalky component,  yet all attractively varietal and pure.  The wine is however shorter and crisper than some.  The Reserve presents a more exciting,  concentrated and better balanced version.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Olssens Pinot Noir Jackson Barry   17 +  ()
Bannockburn & Cromwell,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $38   [ screwcap;  hand-picked,  de-stemmed but not crushed,  5 days cold soak;  17 days cuvaison;  10 months and MLF in French oak 33% new;  www.olssens.co.nz ]
Good ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  attractive.  This is a fragrant wine,  though with unusual characters.  There are lilac and similar florals,  and mixed red fruits including ripest red rhubarb (+ve),  subtly oaked.  Palate is freshly red cherried,  attractive acid balance crisper than many of the Otago '05s,  but nicely in style for a slightly acid Volnay or similar.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 01/07

2004  Pisa Range Pinot Noir Black Poplar Block   17 +  ()
Cromwell,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  12 months in French oak 33% new;  winemaker Rudi Bauer;  www.pisarangeestate.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  fractionally older than some.  Bouquet is fragrant red and black cherry,  with an interesting aromatic note more from grape than oak,  perhaps regional in nature.  They do talk about thyme on the hills a good deal,  in Otago !  Palate is aromatic too,  not oaky,  firm fruit not in the more opulent style of the 2005s,  but attractively varietal.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Auntsfield Pinot Noir Heritage   17  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $ –    [ screwcap;  this will be a commemorative / centenary release,  marking the death in 1905 of the founder of the original late 1800s Auntsfield Vineyard;  no info on wine,  price,  or release date available yet;  good site history on website;  www.auntsfield.co.nz ]
Big pinot noir ruby,  some velvet.  Alongside the standard Auntsfield,  this wine is burdened with excess oak plus a whisper of VA,  making the mixed cherry fruit noticeably aromatic.  There may be a floral component,  but it is hard to discern.  Palate is both blackboy and plum,  some cherry,  good richness and varietal character,  good acid.  The nett flavour is pleasant in mouth,  but all too oaky,  as so often happens with reserve wines.  Cellar 5 – 10 years,  less than the standard wine I suspect,  on account of the oak.  GK 01/07

2004  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna Road Vineyard   17  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $40   [ cork;  hand-harvested @ 1.6 t/ac,  10% whole bunch,  wild yeast;  9 months in French oak 50% new;  not fined or filtered;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Older pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet has a lovely mid-range floral / roses bouquet,  on mixed red and black cherry,  delightfully varietal.  Palate clearly has red-fruited flesh,  beautifully balanced,  Cote de Beaune-like,  light but satisfying.  This is both more-ish,  and will cellar 3 – 8 years,  even though it is already a little forward.  GK 01/07

2005  Kawarau Estate Pinot Noir Reserve   17  ()
Lowburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested @ 0.9 t/ac from the oldest vines,  25% whole-bunch,  wild yeast fermentation;  10 months in French oak c. 25% new;  http://kestate.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  some carmine and velvet.  This is a European-styled wine,  with savoury and bretty complexity and older oak,  on good cherry fruit.  It is all very winey,  with attractive red cherry aromas and flavours lingering nicely on fleshy berry,  subtly oaked.  This Kawarau should be a good food wine,  but may have its cellar life curtailed by brett.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Neudorf Pinot Noir Tom's Block (formerly Nelson)   17  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $28   [ screwcap;  this is the former Nelson label;  hand-picked,  cold soak,  wild yeast;  8 months and MLF in French oak 25% new;  www.neudorf.co.nz ]
Good ruby,  some velvet.  Bouquet is lightly floral,  with dark red fruits more plummy than cherry,  all faintly leathery.  There is a hint of pennyroyal on bouquet,  which is more noticeable on palate,  the flavours becoming a bit oaky and coarser than the bouquet.  A sturdy wine,  with just a suggestion of southern Rhone flavours as well as pinot noir,  partly from the high alcohol.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Vavasour Pinot Noir Awatere   16 ½ +  ()
Awatere Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $29   [ screwcap;  not on website yet,  though actual wine info is lacking;  www.vavasour.com ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is quiet,  with a gentle fragrance of strawberry as well as red currant and red cherry,  plus a delicate pennyroyal aromatic.  Palate picks up the pennyroyal,  to be clearly lightly minty on good cherry fruit,  fresh,  crisp,  subtly oaked.  This is attractive in its light Marlborough / Martinborough style,  but reflects a warmer climate than one would expect from the Awatere Valley.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 01/07

2003  Bell Hill Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $65   [ screwcap;  vines planted at the classic European density of 10 000 / ha,  on limestone;  hand-picked;  12 – 14 months in oak;  Jancis Robinson reported on a pre-release sample of this wine in March 2005,  commenting:  Very exciting … dark and brooding … real weight and depth … vibrant and lively with a serious dry finish.  She rated it 19,  top of all the 2003 New Zealand pinots,  noting she was not scoring with burgundy numbers;  website is incredibly hard to retrieve;  www.bellhill.co.nz ]
Bigger and older ruby,  some velvet,  slightly black.  Initially opened this wine is tending reductive,  and needs a good splashy decanting.  It opens to a plummy rather more than cherry pinot,  lacking florals,  not singing.  Palate is rich,  in a darker spectrum of pinot flavours,  some oak showing to the finish,  all a little too heavy for real pinot noir charm.  Making pinot noir even slightly reductive is a mistake in the new world,  I believe (and increasingly in the old).  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Escarpment Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $45   [ supercritical cork;  5% whole bunch;  12 months in French oak 30% new;  www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is tending disorganised on initial pouring,  and benefits greatly from splashy decanting and sitting to air.  What then emerges is startling,  for it is red fruits and black pepper,  with clear syrah overtones,  and attractive florals too.  Palate however is a little stalky at this stage,  fair fruit ranging from red currants to red cherries,  still with the thought of Cote Rotie in a peppery way.  When this has married up for another year or so,  it is going to be an enjoyable  glass of wine,  though a slightly eccentric pinot noir.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 01/07

2003  Forrest Estate Pinot Noir Brancott Vineyard   16 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.4%;  $ –    [ screwcap;  not released yet;  20-year clone 5;  not on website;  www.forrest.co.nz ]
Older pinot noir ruby.  This is the straightest of the Forrest pinots,  benefitting from decanting to reveal attractively maturing red and black cherry fruit,  on slightly leathery oak.  Palate is reasonably rich,  and a little savoury on trace brett.  The fruit is quite long,  but maturing more rapidly than ideal.  Good food wine,  to cellar 2 – 5 years only.  GK 01/07

2004  Kathy Lynskey Pinot Noir Casto Reserve   16 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $60   [ cork;  hand-picked;  cold soak;  12 months in French oak 50% new on lees;  www.kathylynskeywines.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is subdued,  faintly oxidised / estery and oaky,  but showing fair strawberry and red cherry fruit,  reminiscent of some straightforward bourgognes rouges.  Palate is richer than the standard wine,  but tending acid and old for its age,  with a little brett in the European style,  noticeably oaky.  Pleasant maturing food wine with fair pinot body.  Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 01/07

2004  Mountford Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $59   [ cork;  vines 6 – 15 years old,  hand-harvested;  7 day cold-soak;  15 months in French oak 35% new,  on lees with batonnage;  website is (mysteriously) password protected;  www.mountfordvineyard.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby,  older.  Bouquet is quiet,  not floral,  with understated red fruits.  Palate opens the wine up,  richer than suspected on bouquet,  a clear blackboy peach and red cherry kind of pinot,  subtly oaked.  Spirit shows a little to the finish,  but this is surprisingly fleshy wine,  and should cellar a little longer than expected from the colour,  perhaps 3 – 8 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Valli Pinot Noir Gibbston Vineyard   16 +  ()
Gibbston,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $45   [ screwcap;  three wines from different sites but made similarly by Grant Taylor,  to illustrate district variation;  hand-picked,  25% whole bunch;  French oak 30 – 40 % new;  not on website;  www.valliwine.com ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Initially opened,  there is a measure of VA apparent,  but it is more apparent (estery) than real (acid),  so should marry away.  There are light buddleia-like florals on expressive red cherry-alone fruit.   Palate is light,  fresh,  crisp,  a different kind of pinot from the more usual black-fruited opulent Otago wines,  instead rather more like a slightly richer version of the standard Greenhough 2005.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 01/07

2004  Waitaki Braids Pinot Noir   16 +  ()
Waitaki Valley,  Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ screwcap;  calcareous parent materials;  hand-picked,  10% whole bunch,  4 days cold soak,  14 days cuvaison,  unspecified barrel age;  the winemaker Michelle Richardson describes the wine as having  'a chewiness that I find very extremely moorish';  www.waitakibraids.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is light and clean and varietal,  lightly floral and red cherry,  a faint pennyroyal lift.  Palate is similar,  attractive simple red cherry pinot like many a minor Cote de Beaune wine,  faintly stalky but otherwise well-balanced,  subtly oaked.  Cellar 3 – 6 years.  GK 01/07

2003  Forrest Estate Pinot Noir Doctor's Creek Vineyard   16  ()
Waitaki Valley,  Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $ –    [ screwcap;  this is the original Waitaki Valley vineyard;  not on website,  may not be a commercial wine;  www.forrest.co.nz ]
Older pinot noir ruby.  This is one of the first pinots to be made from Waitaki Valley fruit.  Bouquet is quite European and mellow in style,  relatively fragrant on stewed red plums and some savoury brett.  Palate is rich,  mature,  almost a dark tobacco note creeping in with a sweet ensilage complexity factor which is becoming a bit too rustic – ratings will differ on this wine.  This is another pinot more suited to food than to scoring well in technical judgings.  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 01/07

2005  Greenhough Pinot Noir Nelson   16  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $26   [ screwcap ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is pure,  lightly floral and red cherried,  clearly varietal.  Palate does not quite live up to the promise of the bouquet,  being good as far as it goes,  pleasant red fruits and red cherries,  some mouthfeel,  but a little stalky and short.  This has not turned out how I hoped from an earlier barrel sample.  It does not match the 2003.  It will probably be relatively early-maturing.  Cellar 3 – 6 years.  GK 01/07

2004  Alan McCorkindale Pinot Noir Montserrat Vineyard   16  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.7%;  $ –    [ supercritical cork;  on limestone;  no website ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is light red fruits,  slightly cardboardy in the way so many minor burgundies are,  reasonably varietal.  Palate is fresher,  red cherries,  a hint of redcurrant,  a village Cote de Beaune quality to it,  with relatively little new oak.  Simple but pleasing wine,  good extract but a little short in flavour.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 01/07

2004  Fromm Pinot Noir Clayvin Vineyard   16  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $70   [ cork;  c 2 t/ac;  www.frommwineries.com ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet opens a little reductive,  and needs splashy decanting.  Breathed,  red cherry and red plum fruits are apparent,  but no florals.  Palate is firm,  rich plummy fruit,  subtle oak,  all remaining a little veiled from the reductive thread.  Cellar 3 – 10 years,  maybe longer,  when it should open up after splashy decanting.  GK 01/07

2005  Waimea Estates Pinot Noir   16  ()
Waimea Plains,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $19   [ screwcap;  all hand-picked;  www.waimeaestates.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is most unusual on this wine,  there being a whole basket of spring flowers,  with some fresh-cut fragrant notes like sweet-vernal hay.  With air,  red cherries emerge too.  Palate has fair fruit richness,  but a certain warm-climate looseness to its strawberry and cherry flavours,  reminiscent of  commercial Christian Brothers Californian Pinot of many years ago.  Pleasant quaffing pinot,  but not rigorously varietal (but nor is the price),  to cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 01/07

2004  Valli Pinot Noir Waitaki Vineyard   15 ½ +  ()
Waitaki Valley,  Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $45   [ screwcap;  three wines from different sites but made similarly by Grant Taylor,  to illustrate district variation;  hand-picked,  25% whole bunch;  French oak 30 – 40 % new;  not on website;  www.valliwine.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  lightish.  Bouquet is moderately varietal,  slightly oxidised red currants and red cherry pinot,  again like many minor bourgognes rouges.  Palate is clean,  faintly stalky yet sweet-fruited,  easy drinking,  more QDR pinot than cellaring wine.  Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 01/07

2004  Forrest Estate Pinot Noir John Forrest Collection   15 ½  ()
Waitaki Valley,  Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $50   [ screwcap;  irrigated vines on the south bank of the river,  in a 400 mm rainfall zone,  on interbedded calcareous and terrace materials;  www.johnforrest.co.nz ]
Light pinot noir ruby,  ageing.  Bouquet is modest,  slightly cardboardy,  red-fruited pinot noir.  Palate has light redcurrant and red cherry flavours,  reasonable fruit,  slightly acid.  More a QDR pinot than a cellar wine,  but it will cellar 2 – 5 years or so.  These initial Waitaki wines on part-calcareous parent materials do not display the promise one had hoped for the district.  GK 01/07

2005  Millton Pinot Noir Clos St Anne Naboth's Vineyard   15 ½  ()
Gisborne,  New Zealand:  14%;  $50   [ cork;  organic;  hand-tended;  non-irrigated;  release March '07;  not on website yet;  www.millton.co.nz ]
Light pinot noir ruby.  I have seen other vintages of this pinot from Gisborne several times,  and each time it surprises me.  It epitomises the sweet pea and buddleia florals grading through into strawberry pinot of warmer climates,  but as such it is clearly varietal.  Palate has fair red-fruited flesh,  no stalks,  it is clean and carefully made,  perhaps not totally bone dry,  easy drinking.  From a total New Zealand pinot point of view,  it is more a quality QDR pinot than a cellar one,  but it illustrates the climatic component of pinot physiological performance beautifully.  Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 01/07

2004  Alan McCorkindale Pinot Noir Teviotdale Vineyard   15  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.9%;  $ –    [ supercritical cork;  on terrace;  no website ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is leafy rather than floral,  distinctly lacking physiological maturity.  Palate is tending short,  red currants as well as red cherries,  stalky and slightly green tendencies,  yet with a feeling of flesh.  More ripeness needed here,  for dry red pinot.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 01/07

2005  Kumeu River Pinot Noir   14 ½  ()
Kumeu,  Auckland district,  New Zealand:  13%;  $30   [ screwcap;  hand-harvested;  100% de-stemmed,  wild yeast;  up to 3 weeks cuvaison,  11 months in barrel;  www.kumeuriver.co.nz ]
Light pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is varietal in a simple minor Beaune-like way,  but is let down by a curious rank plasticine-like note,  perhaps old-cooperage related.  Palate brings up that flavour rather more,  drying the wine,  detracting from simple red currants / red fruits.  More QDR pinot,  not worth cellaring.  GK 01/07

2005  Kathy Lynskey Pinot Noir Block 36 Reserve   14  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $55   [ cork;  2005 not on website;  www.kathylynskeywines.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is disorganised,  raw and estery,  with some VA on coarse raspberry fruit.  Palate is reasonably rich,  but out of style for the variety,  quite wayward in its raspberry styling and VA.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 01/07

2004  Fromm Pinot Noir Fromm Vineyard   13 ½  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $ –    [ cork;  c 2 t/ac;  www.frommwineries.com ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is clearly reductive,  and with retained fermentation and malolactic odours as well.  Palate though rich is made short,  hard,  almost bitter by these components,  masking varietal qualities almost completely.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 01/07