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


Recent pinot noir tastings highlight the fine quality top New Zealand pinots are now achieving.  Comparison with the wines of Burgundy is perfectly legitimate,  provided one recalls the range of winestyles that is burgundy.  Of course we do not yet achieve the magical depths found on some of their highest-ranking sloping or hillside sites;  sites vouchsafed by centuries of experience.  Those wines provide the eternal goal.  But many burgundies made in a 'modern' style are precisely comparable.  In these reviews,  Otago again emerges as our greatest fine pinot hope,  and if there be truth in global warming,  that trend can only accelerate.  Please note that these tastings span 4 months,  and cannot therefore provide the exact relativity of scores achievable in a single large tasting.  A small measure of local pride may have crept into the scoring.


2003  Akarua Pinot Noir
2003  Akarua Pinot Noir The Gullies
2003  Allan Scott Pinot Noir
2003  Alx.gold Pinot Noir
2003  Amisfield Pinot Noir
2002  Anne Gros Chambolle-Musigny La Combe d'Orveau
2003  Astrolabe Pinot Noir Young Vines
2003  Ata Rangi Pinot Noir
2003  Auntsfield Pinot Noir Hawk Hill
2003  Black Ridge Pinot Noir
2003  de Bortoli Pinot Noir Windy Peak
2002  Carrick Pinot Noir
2002  Chard Farm Pinot Noir Finla Mor
2003  Chard Farm Pinot Noir Rabbit Ranch
2003  Chard Farm Pinot Noir River Run
2003  Churton Pinot Noir
2003  Cirrus Pinot Noir
2002  Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir
2003  Coopers Creek Pinot Noir Marlborough
2002  de Courcel Pinot Noir
2002  de Courcel Pommard Grand Clos des Epenots
2002  de Courcel Pommard les Croix Noires
2002  de Courcel Pommard les Fremieres
2002  de Courcel Pommard les Rugiens
2002  de Courcel Pommard les Vaumuriens
2003  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna Road
2002  CrossRoads Pinot Noir Collector's Edition
2002  Drouhin Bourgogne Pinot Noir Laforet
2003  Dry River Pinot Noir
2003  Escarpment Pinot Noir
2003  Fairmont Estate Pinot Noir Block 1
2003  Felton Road Pinot Noir
2003  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 3
2003  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5
2003  Forrest Estate Pinot Noir
2002  Foxes Island Pinot Noir
2003  Framingham Pinot Noir
2002  Georges Michel Pinot Noir Reserve
2002  Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir
2002  Girardin Bonnes Mares
2002  Girardin Chambertin
2002  Girardin Chambertin Clos de Beze
2002  Girardin Chambolle-Musigny les Amoureuses
2002  Girardin Chambolle-Musigny les Hauts Doix
2002  Girardin Charmes-Chambertin
2002  Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet Clos de la Boudriotte
2002  Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot
2002  Girardin Clos de la Roche Vieilles Vignes
2002  Girardin Corton Clos du Roi
2002  Girardin Corton Renardes Vielles Vignes
2002  Girardin Gevrey-Chambertin Vielles-Vignes
2002  Girardin Maranges Clos des Loyeres Vielles Vignes
2002  Girardin Pommard les Grands Epenots Vieilles Vignes
2002  Girardin Pommard Rugiens
2002  Girardin Santenay la Maladiere
2002  Girardin Savigny-les-Beaune les Serpentieres
2002  Girardin Volnay les Champans
2002  Girardin Volnay les Santenots
2003  Gladstone Pinot Noir Avatar
2002  Greenhough Pinot Noir Hope Vineyard
2002  Anne Gros Bourgogne Hauts-Cotes de Nuits
2002  Anne Gros Clos Vougeot le Grand Maupertuis
2002  Anne Gros Vosne Romanee les Barreaux
2002  Gros Frere & Soeur Bougogne Hauts-Cotes de Nuits
2002  Gros Frere & Soeur Clos Vougeot 'Musigni'
  2002  Gros Frere & Soeur Richebourg
2002  Gros Frere & Soeur Vosne-Romanee
2002  Gros Frere & Soeur Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru
2002  Michel Gros Vosne-Romanee
2002  Michel Gros Vosne-Romanee aux Brulees
2002  Isabel Pinot Noir
2002  Kaituna Valley Pinot Noir
2003  Kaituna Valley Pinot Noir Canterbury
2003  Kaituna Valley Pinot Noir Marlborough
2003  Koura Bay Pinot Noir
2003  Lake Hayes Pinot Noir
2002  Loopline Pinot Noir
2004  Lucknow Estate Gamay Noir Quarry Bridge
2003  Main Divide Pinot Noir
2003  Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir
2002  Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir
2003  Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir Te Tera
2002  Matua Valley Pinot Noir Wairarapa
2003  Mills Reef Pinot Noir
2003  Mount Maude Pinot Noir
2003  Mount Riley Pinot Noir
2003  Mount Riley Pinot Noir Seventeen Valley
2001  Mount Riley Pinot Noir Seventeen Valley
2003  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir
2003  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Roaring Meg
2003  Mt Rosa Pinot Noir
2002  Muddy Water Pinot Noir
2003  Neudorf Pinot Noir Moutere
2003  Neudorf Pinot Noir Nelson
2003  Olssen's Pinot Noir Barry Jackson
2002  Olssen's Pinot Noir Slapjack Creek Reserve
1999  Domaine Parent Bougogne / Pinot Noir
2002  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir
2003  Peregrine Pinot Noir
2003  Pisa Moorings Pinot Noir
2002  Pisa Moorings Pinot Noir
2003  Pisa Range Pinot Noir Black Poplar Block
2003  Pond Paddock Pinot Noir Hawks Flight
2002  N. Potel Chambolle-Musigny les Charmes
2002  N. Potel Clos de la Roche
2002  N. Potel Gevrey-Chambertin
2002  N. Potel Gevrey-Chambertin Combe au Moine
2002  N. Potel Santenay Premier Cru les Gravieres
2002  N. Potel Savigny-les-Beaune Vielles Vignes
2002  N. Potel Volnay Premier Cru les Mitans
2003  Rimu Grove Pinot Noir
2002  Rockburn Pinot Noir
2003  Daniel Schuster Pinot Noir Waipara
2003  Seresin Pinot Noir
2003  Sunset Valley Pinot Noir
2003  Te Kairanga Pinot Noir Wairarapa
2003  Te Mania Estate Pinot Noir
2003  Te Mania Pinot Noir Reserve
2002  Te Mania Pinot Noir Reserve
2003  Tohu Pinot Noir
2003  Vidal Pinot Noir Marlborough
2003  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Private Bin
2003  Villa Maria  Pinot Noir Reserve
2003  Voss Pinot Noir
2002  Vynfields Pinot Noir
2003  Vynfields Pinot Noir Reserve
2003  Wairau River Pinot Noir
2002  William Hill Pinot Noir
2002  William Hill Pinot Noir Reserve

2002  Girardin Bonnes Mares   19  ()
Chambolle-Musigny Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  14%;  $209
A good pinot ruby,  a little older than some.  Though still a little new-oaky (as most of the Girardin Grands Crus are),  this is a magically burgundian bouquet.  Stunning florals come first,  with roses and boronia,  then marvellous cherry fruit,  all totally pure and ripe.  Palate is long,  aromatic,  supple,  re-stating the bouquet,  and leaving florals on the palate  –  the so-called (and elusive) peacock's tail.  Very beautiful wine,  richer than the Girardin Clos de la Roche or Chambertin.  Cellar 10 – 20 years.  GK 11/04

2002  Girardin Chambertin Clos de Beze   19  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  14%;  $195
Rich pinot noir ruby.  From the moment of pouring,  bouquet on this wine is one kind of pinot noir perfection,  showing clearcut florals embracing both violets and suggestions of boronia (both gorgeous sweetly-scented flowers,  yet it is amazing how many people cannot smell boronia),  all made aromatic by finest fragrant oak.  Palate is equally sublime,  model pinot noir,  soft,  velvety,  caressing,  yet firmly aromatic on crunchy cherry fruit,  rich yet as light as a feather.  Nearly as rich as the Charmes,  more floral,  a little more new oaky at this stage.  Cellar to 20 + years.  GK 08/04

2002  Girardin Charmes-Chambertin   19  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  14%;  $125
Rich pinot noir ruby.  Initially opened,  this is softly charry and looking quite modern in its oak treatment.  With just a little breathing however,  exquisite florals including violets blossom in the glass,  in a wine of stunning purity.  Palate is essence of pinot,  potentially velvety,  no excess of oak despite the first impression,  saturated dark cherries yet no plummy heaviness,  completely beautiful and one of the richest of the Girardins.  Cellar to 25 + years.  GK 08/04

2003  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 3   18 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $65   [ screwcap;  $56 ex vineyard,  when available ;  www.feltonroad.com ]
A full pinot noir ruby,  fractionally deeper than the standard Felton,  lighter than the Block 5.  Bouquet is the most complete statement of pinot noir on the day,  combining deep florals as in dark roses,  with black cherries in profusion.  There is no trace of pennyroyal adding spurious aromatics,  and the oaking is much subtler than some previous Block wines.  Palate follows through perfectly,  rich and crunchy cherries,  a little more new oak now apparent,  excellent acid balance.  This looks to me like the fruit of a perfect season for pinot noir in Otago,  much more floral,  piquant and aromatic than the sometimes over-ripe,  ponderous,  yet widely-hyped 2002s.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 11/04

2002  Girardin Clos de la Roche Vieilles Vignes   18 ½  ()
Morey-St-Denis Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy ,  France:  14%;  $125
Rich pinot noir ruby.  On bouquet,  this wine combines many of the good points of the Beze and Pommard Girardins into an attractively floral and fragrant,  highly varietal cherry pinot.  There is new oak showing,  but not quite as much as the Beze.  Palate is delicious red and black cherries beautifully fresh and flavoursome,  long and sweet in the mouth,  lingering delightfully.  Not as rich as the Pommard or Corton,  but a little more floral and complex all through.  Clos de la Roche is a marvellous site,  often under-estimated.  Cellar to 20 years +.  GK 08/04

2002  Girardin Corton Renardes Vielles Vignes   18 ½  ()
Aloxe-Corton Grand Cru,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy ,  France:  14%;  $80
Deep for pinot noir,  fractionally deeper than the Pommard,  ruby with a touch of carmine and velvet.  A good sweet ripe burgundian bouquet,  not as floral and aromatic as the better Cote de Nuits wines,  but with fine dark cherry approaching plum in weight,  and lifted by lightest new oak.  Palate is classically grand cru Corton in style,  soft,  rich,  beautiful flavours not as complex as the Chambertins,  but maybe exceeding them in generosity and richness.  It is silkier and finer than the Pommard.  This will be a wonderful food wine,  and,  with a less prestigious address,  it is a more realistic role model for New Zealand winemakers favouring bigger pinots.  Cellar 25 + years.  GK 08/04

2002  Girardin Chambertin   18 ½  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  14%;  $209
Good pinot noir ruby.  A classic pinot noir,  showing beautiful florals,  fragrant cherries,  softly aromatic oak,  and total appeal:  one just wants to drink such a wine,  even knowing it is an infant.  Palate is concentrated red and black cherries,  saturating the tongue with their flavour.  There is a lovely aromatic lift to this wine,  partly Chambertin,  partly new oak.  Cellar 10 – 20 years.  GK 11/04

2003  Akarua Pinot Noir   18 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ screwcap;  www.akarua.com ]
Ruby,  suggestions of carmine and velvet,  deep for pinot,  but no weightier than some of the Girardins.  Bouquet is phenomenal:  here at last is another wonderfully floral,  complex,  and cherried wine to match the 1999 Felton Road.  The florals are soft,  sweet,  and sensuous,  reminiscent of lilac and violets,  almost drowning the fruit.  Palate matches with attractive cherry flesh,  suggestions of fresh-baked jam tarts,  subtle oak,  and totally burgundian poise.  It is deceptively rich,  particularly in the cherry fruit component,  though it seems lighter than the Felton Block 3.  Oaking is beautifully subtle,  so flavour as well as bouquet display New Zealand pinot at its varietal best.  Indeed,  if anybody asks what pinot noir should smell like,  this is the (affordable) bottle to display the answer.  This kind of pinot is a so much more fragrant and beautiful expression of the variety than some of the fatter,  plummier,  '02 Otago wines.  In two or three years this should settle down into one of New Zealand's finest pinot noir achievements so far.  Cellar 3 – 12 years.  Tasted three times.  GK 11/04

2002  Gros Frere & Soeur Richebourg   18 ½  ()
Vosne-Romanee Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  14%;  $351
Classic pinot noir ruby.  An understated bouquet,  showing rich florals of red roses and boronia,  red and black cherry fruit,  and a complex oak-related savoury char quality a bit like roasted stuffed chicken.  Palate is clearly the greatest dry extract and weight of the sub-set,  fresh cherry flavours,  taut tannins,  quite aromatic with almost an herbes de Provence savoury quality getting close to good Cote Rotie.  Gets better and better as it breathes.  Cellar 10 – 20 years,  easily.  GK 09/04

2002  Girardin Pommard les Grands Epenots Vieilles Vignes   18  ()
Pommard Premier Cru,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $80
Deep for pinot noir,  ruby with a touch of carmine and velvet.  Bouquet for this wine is straight into gorgeous aromatic more than floral,  ripe dark cherry,  grading into dark plum fruit.  Palate is all black crunchy cherry,  as rich as cherry can be without being overtly plummy,  showing attractive older oak handling.  This wine is big yet manages to remain subtle and highly varietal,  without the gloss the new oak shows up on the grands crus.  It should mature beautifully.  Some of the more aromatic 2002 Otago wines had suggestions of this style,  when not over-oaked.   Cellar 20 years +.  GK 08/04

2003  Felton Road Pinot Noir   18  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $47   [ screwcap;  $40  ex vineyard;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Big pinot noir ruby.   Bouquet on this Felton is initially understated,  but breathes to be even more fragrant than the Block 3,  the florals sweeter and stronger,  nearly perfumed and buddleia-like.  Palate is total cherries red and black,  seemingly more aromatic than the richer Block 3,  wonderfully varietal.  This shows beautiful oaking,  but is not quite as concentrated as the Block 3.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  Tasted twice.  GK 11/04

2002  Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot   18  ()
Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $48
Ruby,  a touch of carmine and velvet.  Bouquet on this wine is just beautiful,  everything pinot noir should be,  great florals from jasmine to violets (i.e. lighter and more ethereal florals than the Chambertins),  total purity of varietal character.  Palate is lighter than the grands crus,  but shows perfect balance of red and black cherries,  and utmost respect for the floral beauty of the fruit  –  no clumsy over-oaking here.  Morgeot has been one of the few Burgundy vineyards widely available here,  during the dark decades of import licensing in New Zealand,  so I can say that this is the most beautiful Morgeot I have seen here in the last 35 years.  I can also imagine latterday commentators brought up on Barossa Shiraz dismissing this as light and inconsequential.  But,  taste it again,  actually smell it:  this is perfection in miniature,  just beautiful pinot.  At $48 it provides a pricing and reality check for many overly-expensive New Zealand pinots,  few of which bear comparison with this.  A copy-book wine,  for those inclined to read.  Cellar 15 years +.  VALUE  GK 08/04

2002  Olssen's Pinot Noir Slapjack Creek Reserve   18  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $48   [ www.olssens.co.nz ]
Rich pinot noir ruby,  vibrant.  This bouquet is truly floral,  fragrant,  and youthfully burgundian,  with the scents of boronia and darkest roses in black cherry fruit.  Palate has layers of fruit,  gorgeous texture which is velvety without being unduly soft,  and it is not over-oaked.   A very attractive Otago pinot noir which will cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 10/04

2002  Foxes Island Pinot Noir   18  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $40   [ www.foxes-island.co.nz ]
Big ruby for pinot,  a touch of carmine and velvet.  Initially opened,  there is a charry / bacony oak-related character on bouquet,  but this soon dissipates.  It becomes soft,  rich and generous,  in this sub-set of pinots arguably the one best reconciling florals against fruit.  The fruits are very ripe,  but the wine stops short of the plumminess of merlot.  There are violets and boronia florals,  black cherry and blackboy fruit,  and fragrant oak.  The palate is plush,  yet still pinot,  sweetly fruited and concentrated,  with the length in the mouth to imply a conservative cropping rate.  Tannins are beautifully ripe,  unlike a number in this batch,  and despite the initial bouquet,  it is not too oaky.  This is distinctively New Zealand pinot,  a little deeper and riper than is optimal maybe.  It will be interesting wine in cellar,  for 5 – 12 years.  GK 09/04

2003  Peregrine Pinot Noir   18  ()
Gibbston Valley,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $29   [ screwcap;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Big ruby with a flush of carmine and velvet,  youthful,  at a max for pinot noir.   This is the first of the southern wines to show a trace of pennyroyal aromatics on bouquet.  Below,  it is redolent of pinot noir,  deeply floral boronia and violets,  dark cherries,  quietly and deeply interesting.  Palate suggests blackboy peach,  as well as  red and black cherries,  with enough acid to be refreshing,  and beautiful body.  Alcohol and oak are standing apart as yet,  but the potential for burgundian complexity is there.  Even so,  it is a pity that some of these 2002 Burgundies show alcohols to an unprecedented 14%,  for excess alcohol in our pinots is a real issue.  We don't need alcoholic overseas models !  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  Tasted twice.  GK 11/04

2003  Pisa Range Pinot Noir Black Poplar Block   18  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $40   [ screwcap;  www.pisarangeestate.co.nz ]
Classic pinot noir ruby.  Oh boy,  Otago is an exciting place for pinot noir (and particularly in the 2003 vintage)  Bouquet on this wine combines boronia and dark rose florals with beautiful black cherry fruit  –  total pinot,  exquisite.  Palate has that lovely crunchy more-ish feeling of eating cherries (a combination of texture and appropriate acid),  gorgeous flavour,  mouthfeel and length of fruit,  subtly aromatic yet no hint of the stalkiness or pennyroyal character so frequent in Marlborough and other northern places.  The high alcohol is surprisingly well hidden.  This is wonderful New Zealand pinot noir which can be tasted in confidence alongside burgundies such as the Girardins (in this instance).  The major difference is this wine is not as concentrated as their grands crus.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 11/04

2003  Framingham Pinot Noir   18  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $27   [ screwcap;  www.framingham.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.   If the burgundy style,  or at least the classical burgundy style,  is about understatement,  then this Framingham is close to the real thing.  Bouquet is quietly floral,  totally pure flowers and cherries,  maybe a hint of barrel fermentation complexity.  Palate is very attractive,  the same layers of texture as the Coopers Creek,  again with exemplary oaking.  Cellar to 10 years.  GK 10/04

2002  Girardin Corton Clos du Roi   18  ()
Aloxe-Corton Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  14%;  $93
Good pinot noir ruby.  A more straightforward pinot noir bouquet than the top Nuits wines,  cherries and dark plums.  A subconscious feeling this bottle may not be optimal (as happens with cork).  Palate shows the concentration of palate Corton is famous for,  richly cherry,  aromatic on oak,  a sturdier wine than some marked more highly,  but one which will please greatly with food.  Not quite the concentration of the Corton Renardes Vielles Vignes.  Cellar 10 – 15 years.  GK 11/04

2002  Gros Frere & Soeur Clos Vougeot 'Musigni'   18  ()
Vougeot Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  14%;  $145
Classic pinot noir ruby.  This wine is a little different from the batch,  on bouquet showing the light fermentation complexities some call farmyard,  others funk,  or if one is to be less positive,  the wine is slightly reductive.  It needs a good splashy decanting.  Below are red and black cherry fruits,  almost a hint of plums in this ripe year,  and considerable fruit weight and concentration.  Palate is as rich as the Richebourg,  possibly richer. The farmyard note should be no great problem to the future of the wine,  after appropriate cellaring for 10 – 20 years.  GK 09/04

2002  Girardin Pommard Rugiens   17 ½ +  ()
Pommard Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $104
Rich pinot noir ruby,  towards the darker end of the Girardin field,  much richer than the average of a set of Rousseaus,  for example.   Against the set of relatively clumsy de Courcel Pommards,  this wine shows exactly what Pommard is about:  beautiful cherry liqueur bouquet,  some florals but not of the intensity in the Cote de Nuits,  but making up for that with the smell of ripe fruit.  Yet there is no hint of over-ripeness.  Palate is rich,  round,  firmed with oak older than the grands crus,  just slightly tannic (as yet) burgundy which will cellar 10 – 20 years.  GK 11/04

2003  Main Divide Pinot Noir   17 ½ +  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13%;  $26   [ www.pegasusbay.com ]
A big ruby for pinot noir,  but not as weighty as several in this batch.  Bouquet is clearcut pinot noir,  with fragrant florals reminding of violets and buddleia,  on cherry / berry fruit which is a notch more aromatic than the Foxes.  There is some blackboy peach below,  making it lighter than the Otago wines,  but no weaker.  Palate is crisply aromatic on black cherry fruit,  yet showing the essential texture and even succulence of pinot noir,  on beautifully understated oak.  Palate weight is not quite as rich as the Foxes or the Pegasus,  and the wine is slightly more acid,  but the total achievement is attractively varietal.  And the quality for price is good – as production of the variety  increases,  good New Zealand pinot is finally becoming affordable – great news. Cellar 5 – 10 years.  Tasted twice.  VALUE  GK 11/04

2003  Alx.gold Pinot Noir   17 ½ +  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $24   [ screwcap;  Alexandra Wine Co ]
Good pinot ruby.  Here is a fine pinot bouquet,  highly varietal,  beautiful florals hinting at violets and boronia,  and red and black cherry fruits.  Palate is fresh,  crisp,  gorgeous mouthfeel though relatively light,  capturing many of the nuances of mainstream burgundy (e.g. Volnay Premier Cru),  and beautifully oaked.  One is tempted to score such a wine more highly,  but if some parity to international standards is to be maintained,  17.5 it is.  The marketing name is ill-chosen.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  VALUE  GK 09/04

2002  William Hill Pinot Noir Reserve   17 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $46   [ www.williamhill.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Another distinctive wine,  with big red and black cherry fruit and some florals,  made savoury by textbook Brettanomyces.   Palate is well-fruited,  attractively oaked to give length without dominating,  and clearly burgundian.  Disregard the technocrats and others who have just discovered brett,  and affect to rejecting any wine in which it is detectable.  This William Hill Reserve will be terrific with food,  casseroles and the like.  But it won't cellar as long as some.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 10/04

2003  Chard Farm Pinot Noir River Run   17 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $28   [ screwcap;  www.chardfarm.co.nz ]
Attractive pinot noir ruby.  This is a distinctive wine,  clearly floral,  but in the florals is a hint of sweet lavender – is this,  to quote the Rhone,  herbes d'Otago ?  There is fragrant red cherry fruit in the bouquet,  too.  Palate is light but not weak,  fragrant,  reminiscent of a Cote de Beaune wine,  with attractive acid balance.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 10/04

2003  Coopers Creek Pinot Noir Marlborough   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $20   [ screwcap;  www.cooperscreek.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is understated,  but very good,  with red and black cherries,  and florals hinting at boronia,  red roses,  and violets.  This is the kind of wine smell one can luxuriate in  –  like a balmy evening garden.  Palate is exciting too.  Pinot aficionados speak of layers of texture in great pinot,  and here one gets some inkling of that.  There is real viscosity on palate,  yet the wine is dry and beautifully under-oaked.  The actual quality of flavour is perhaps not as promising as the top Otago wines,  but this will be delightful drinking with food.  And how great to see prices for good pinot becoming affordable.  With the Framingham,  Churton and Mount Riley,  this wine shows that Marlborough pinot is quietly catching up with Martinborough and Otago.  Delightful already,  or cellar to 10 years.  VALUE  GK 10/04

2003  Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna Road   17 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $39   [ www.craggyrange.co.nz ]
This is marginally the deepest colour in this sub-set of pinots,  showing some carmine and velvet in the ruby – solid for pinot.  Fruit on bouquet is very ripe,  riper,  more plummy and less floral than the Foxes,  and the oaking is noticeable.  Fruit on palate continues these themes,  ripe and ample yet still varietal,  but with greater aromatics from oak,  which is pretty well at a maximum.  This is a bit big and new world for pinot finesse,  but it will be popular.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 09/04

2003  Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5   17 ½  ()
Bannockburn,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $65   [ screwcap;  $56 ex vineyard,  when available;  www.feltonroad.com ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  deeper than pinot needs to be.  This is a deeper,  more aromatic and more oaky pinot,  reminiscent of the dark Villa Maria Reserve wines which have pushed the conventional concept of pinot noir to the outer limits – or even beyond,  if Burgundy be the reference.  Even so,  it is recognisably pinot,  and retains some dark florals.  In mouth the wine is enormously rich,  richer than the other two Feltons.  Many would rate this the top wine of the three.  When the blinded wines are revealed,  and this one turns out to be the Felton Block 5,  I feel disappointed.  This wine has followed a populist taste for more colour and oak in pinot noir,  achieved through over-ripeness,  rather than pursuing the more classical pinot virtues of haunting floral aromas,  subtlety,  and velvety and seamless yet crisp exciting textures.  Leaving aside the oak,  flavours in this wine are so ripe and rich as to be approaching densely plummy,  rather than cherry.  It is almost confusable with merlot.  Perhaps florals and finesse will emerge in cellar,  after most have been drunk,  for there is black cherry in the aftertaste.  Meanwhile,  it will be popular.  Cellar to 15 years.  Tasted twice.  GK 11/04

2003  Kaituna Valley Pinot Noir Canterbury   17 ½  ()
Banks Peninsula,  Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $45   [ 1 vineyard;  low yield;  hand-harvested ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  much too heavy for pinot noir.  Newly opened,  first impressions are of minty,  even euc'y,  oak,  and big spirity fruit in which one can discern darkest cherry and maybe even some dark floral complexities.  But in the blind tasting,  now well-breathed,  the wine again looks more like McLaren Vale grenache or similar,  on both bouquet and palate.  But to be positive,  once one knows it is in fact pinot noir,  the palate does seem to reveal floral and fragrant darkest cherry flavours,  and there is a certain lightness of finish which might have lead an astute taster away from South Australia,  despite the big oak.  So it is another of our alcoholic New Zealand pinot monsters,  out of step with fine pinot,  by international standards.  But it is also much more varietal than the roasted '03 Dry River Pinot Noir,  for example.  The Kaituna may have the richness to bury the oak.  I would like to see it in,  say,  5 – 8 years.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 11/04

2002  Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14%;  $45   [ 30% new oak;  www.pegasusbay.com ]
Ruby with some carmine and velvet,  getting marginal for pinot noir.   Initially opened,  oak-related smells and suggestions of recently-fried batter predominate.  These breathe out to a deeper kind of pinot noir,  with some suggestions of florals rising from blackest cherries,  dark plums,  and blackboy peaches.  Palate is rich,  youthfully tannic,  but the fruit flavours swing more to black cherries than plums.  The Pegasus style is lightening a little as the years go by,  and the wines are better for it,  more varietal,  less obviously new world.  This should be a worthwhile bottle to cellar for 5 – 12 years,  and may rate higher,  later.  GK 09/02

2002  Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet Clos de la Boudriotte   17 ½  ()
Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $58
Rich pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is good burgundy,  not the floral excitement of the Cotes de Nuits wines or the Girardin Morgeot from the same village,  but lots of sweet ripe cherry fruit.   Palate is equally as good,  just ripe black cherries,  with invisible oak and lovely mouthfeel.  It is remarkably close to the Pond Paddock in style,  but just a little richer,  darker,  and drier.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 11/04

2002  Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $45   [ screwcap;  11 months French oak;  www.gvwines.co.nz ]
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  quite deep for pinot noir.  On initial opening,  the wine is just a little reductive,  needing a splashy decanting to reveal darkest cherry fruit and some dark plums too,  in a bouquet which compares remarkably well stylistically with some of the Girardin 2002s examined recently.  Palate has good dark cherry fruit,  but is a little stalky / stemmy and phenolic.  Total flavours are nonetheless highly varietal,  carefully oaked,  and long in mouth.  Powerful wine,  big by even modern pinot noir standards,  but retaining varietal quality.  Cellar 5 – 10 years,  maybe longer.  GK 08/04

2003  Churton Pinot Noir   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $30
Ruby,  carmine and some velvet,  too dark for pinot noir.  Bouquet is reminiscent of the deeply aromatic Marlborough pinot style followed by Villa Maria,  showing dark boronia and violet florals which almost smell 'tannic',  and dark cherry-like fruits.  Palate is clearly varietal,  sweetly fruited,  skin tannins dominant over oak with a hint of stalks,  all somewhat raw and youthful at this stage.  With a little age and fining down in bottle,  this could be much more interesting pinot noir than the initial colour impressions suggest.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  Tasted twice.  GK 10/04

2003  Akarua Pinot Noir The Gullies   17 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $33   [ screwcap;  www.akarua.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  This is classical Otago pinot noir,  with mixed florals and red and black cherries on bouquet,  followed by a totally matching palate.  It is similar in style to the senior Akarua,  not quite so concentrated,  and perhaps a lower ratio of new oak.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 10/04

2003  Pond Paddock Pinot Noir Hawks Flight   17 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:   – %;  $29   [ screwcap;  www.pondpaddock.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby.  In a field of mainly French pinot noirs,  this wine is astonishing in the degree to which it hides away amongst the originals.  Bouquet is quiet yet totally sweet and varietal,  more redfruits than floral,  beautifully ripe.  Palate is understated yet pleasing,  having the succulence of Burgundy,  lingering cherry flavours,  fresh and fragrant yet no hint of stalks,  and not over-oaked as so many new world wines are.  A New Zealand pinot of rare appeal,  which one could drink all night.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 11/04

2003  Villa Maria  Pinot Noir Reserve   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $53   [ screwcap;  www.villamaria.co.nz ]
Rich pinot noir ruby,  just within the bounds of the darkest Girardins,  which is good to see after the excessively weighty numbers of earlier years.  For New Zealand seekers after pinot noir truth,  it is worth noting that in Burgundy,  darker colours are usually (traditionally) associated with plainer wines.  In the sub-set of burgundies,  this wine has some of the  florals and cherries of the better Girardins,  and more clearly varietal fruit than the generally clumsy de Courcels.  Where it loses marks against the better wines of Burgundy is in the stalky thread that creeps into the bouquet and through to the palate.  Actual fruit weight is  good,  though,  and there is no debating it is pinot.  This stalky thread is a key issue in our evolving New Zealand pinots,  and its relative absence in Otago wines is a major factor setting that district apart,  if world-class pinot is the New Zealand goal.  The Villa will cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 11/04

2002  Gros Frere & Soeur Vosne-Romanee   17 ½  ()
Vosne-Romanee,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $74
Good pinot ruby.  This is the purest and most floral expression of pinot noir varietal character in this batch of Gros wines,  the characters extending from white flowers to daphne in depth.  Palate shows succulent soft fruit and cherries,  very lightly oaked,  yet in its apparently lighter style there is beautiful acid and tannin balance,  and length.  If pinot noir is feminine,  this is the wine to illustrate it.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 09/04

2002  Gros Frere & Soeur Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru   17 ½  ()
Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $94
Good pinot ruby.  A fragrant and aromatic bouquet with light florals including fleeting hints of violets and daphne,  on cherry fruit.  Palate is crisp red cherries,  quite aromatic phenolics,  more body and backbone than the straight Village wine,  all  taut and reserved at this stage.  The mark is more for potential,  and value.  Cellar 10 – 15 years.  GK 09/04

2002  Michel Gros Vosne-Romanee aux Brulees   17 ½  ()
Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $127
Lightish ruby.  A more old-fashioned burgundy bouquet,  showing some florals,  some cherry-like fruit,  some farmyard complexities,  and oak which is slightly charry,  but mostly older (as if there were one new barrel amidst many much older).  This wine is not as sweet and pure on bouquet as the Girardins.  Palate however is attractive,  with quite rich red and black cherries and some blackboy peach,  the fruit sweet and concentrated,  yet the finish very dry on the older oak,  with a touch of chocolate.  Cellar 10 – 20 years.  GK 11/04

2002  N. Potel Gevrey-Chambertin   17 ½  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $70
Good pinot noir ruby.  This seems the purest,  most fragrant,  and most varietal / uncluttered of the available Potel range.  It shows some floral lift on aromatic red and black cherries,  gentle oak,  and fair fruit.  Flavour is simply attractive pinot noir,  totally varietal,  supple,  faintly leafy,  nothing standing out or worth shouting about.  Not very rich,  but model burgundy,  and a pleasure to taste.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 08/03

2003  Ata Rangi Pinot Noir   17 +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $67   [ screwcap;  c. I tonne / acre;  www.atarangi.co.nz ]
Ruby,  a touch of carmine and velvet,  one of the deeper colours.  A mixed and youthful bouquet at this stage,  with distinctive pennyroyal and marcy qualities,  and plenty of berry which is not exactly floral (apart from the pennyroyal).  Palate produces rich dark cherry,  mixed berry,  and plum fruit,  but it is slightly stalky and the oak is raw and unknit as yet.   It has the concentration to develop well – much richer than the Martinborough Te Tera, for example.  I may have under-rated this,  in which case time will prove me wrong,  but the wine seems to be moving to a heavier and less fragrant style.  Or perhaps that is merely the expression of a riper year.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 09/04

2002  Greenhough Pinot Noir Hope Vineyard   17 +  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $40
Older pinot ruby.  A good volume of floral and faintly leafy varietal fruit, in style with the blind tasting of some Girardins,  but cooler.   Palate has attractive fruit richness,  red cherries and red currants,  good length,  beautiful oaking,  and is clearly varietal.  Against this top year in Burgundy (as the 02s are),  the Hope looks a little leafy,  but in other years it would fit in with Burgundy more easily.  Rated five stars,  top equal,  of 102 New Zealand pinot noirs,  by Decanter magazine July 2004.  Given that the threshold for Decanter five-stars is now 18.75 points (curious in itself),  and the 2002 Hope is relatively lighter,  leafier and less savoury / complex than the 2001 Hope,  Decanter's application of numbers / ratings in their tasting seems curious.  In contrast,  the 2001 Greenhough Hope Vineyard is one of New Zealand's best pinot noirs to date,  opened here to check,  and now ranking about the level of the Corton in this tasting.  I reviewed it in the precursor to these reviews 9/02,  commenting "a good Premier Cru level.  An exciting wine for this country."  [ Unfortunately,  those reviews are now off the web. ]  See also the 2002 Kaituna Valley notes.  Cellar 3 – 5 years,  though against the burgundies it is distressingly forward.  GK 08/04

2002  Girardin Gevrey-Chambertin Vielles-Vignes   17 +  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $60
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  one of the deeper burgundies.  A quiet clean straightforward bouquet,  showing aromatic dark cherry moving more to bottled dark plums,  hinting at but not quite embracing florals.  Palate has ripe round fruit,  attractive plummy flavours,  subtle oak,  all attractive,  sound and beautifully varietal in a slightly plump way.  There is not however quite the magic one is always seeking in pinot noir.  Cellar to 20 years.  GK 08/04

2002  N. Potel Gevrey-Chambertin Combe au Moine   17 +  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $110
Good pinot noir a little deeper than the village wine.  Bouquet here shows more oak influence on the mixed cherry fruit than the village wine,  and hence is less floral and varietal at this stage.  Palate may be a little richer,  but the phenolic older oak in some senses detracts from the simple pinot beauty the lesser appellation displays.  Richer though,  so may surprise in cellar 10 – 15 years.  GK 08/04

2002  Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir   17  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $38   [ www.cloudybay.co.nz ]
Light ruby,  light even for pinot.  This wine is the opposite extreme from the Foxes Island,  Craggy Range or Carrick wines,  but no less legitimate an expression of pinot.  It is fragrant and gently floral on bouquet,  and  highly varietal,  as if inspired by the wines of a traditional burgundy house such as Drouhin.  It thus contrasts vividly with the bolder,  darker,  new world models,  which all too often can be so ripe as to lose varietal delicacy,  and be confuseable with merlot.  Palate on the Cloudy is similarly varietal,  admittedly not as deep as fine burgundy,  but showing attractive blackboy and red cherry fruit,  and gentle tannins.  Only the red currant suggestions,  and a hint of stalks,  detract,  pointing to less than ideal pinot ripeness.  Cellar 3 – 6  years. Tasted twice.  GK 10/04

2003  Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir   17  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:   – %;  $67   [ release Feb. '05;  pre-release sample courtesy Claire Mulholland;  www.martinborough-vineyard.co.nz ]
Full ruby,  getting deep for pinot.  This is the most distinctive of this particular sub-set of pinots,  the bouquet showing a strong floral element reminiscent of carnations as in Cote Rotie,  plus a suggestion of leafiness – a two-edged sword.  Palate shows plenty of fruit,  subtle oak,  and attractive flavours,  but there is a stalkiness too.  It reminds me of some of the fragrant Domaine Gramenon wines,  in the northern part of the southern Rhone Valley.  Interesting wine therefore,  but a little outside the ripe pinot square.  With Martinborough Vineyard's recent introduction of a second label,  it is surprising there was not more careful selection for ripeness in the premium 2003 wine.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 11/04

2003  Mount Riley Pinot Noir   17  ()
Nelson & Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $20   [ screwcap;  www.mountriley.co.nz ]
Good pinot ruby.  Fragrant red cherries are the first impression,  and rose-like florals,  lighter than the top wines but totally varietal.  Palate is the same,  very cherry-like,  beautifully under-oaked or should I say appropriately oaked,  and with a silky mouthfeel as in light burgundy.  This is Mount Riley's basic pinot noir,  and it is an enormous step forward in their approach to this variety.  Cellar to 8 years.  GK 10/04

2003  Mt Rosa Pinot Noir   17  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $32   [ screwcap;  www.mtrosa.co.nz ]
A good pinot ruby.  Initially opened,  bouquet is clean and lightly fragrant.  It expands with air to reveal sweet red and black cherries,  with some dark rose florals,  and appropriate oak.  Palate introduces a faint pennyroyal mint to the crisp cherry fruit,  not greatly complex but delightfully pure.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 10/04

2003  Voss Pinot Noir   17  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $38   [ www.vossestate.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  deeper than pinot noir needs to be.  This is another wine in the deeply aromatic Villa Maria or Felton Block 5 style,  with oak more apparent than florals on bouquet.  Palate is more dark cherry and plum,  and total winestyle is lighter and a little more oaky than the Block 5.  But in truth,  it would be hard to separate them consistently,  in triangulated blind tests.  Cellar 5 to 12 years.  GK 10/04

2003  Rimu Grove Pinot Noir   17  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13.4%;  $38   [ screwcap;  10 months in 40% new French oak;  www.rimugrove.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and some velvet,  nearly as deep as the Churton.  Initially opened,  the wine seems a little reductive.  With air it clears reasonably well to a dark style of pinot more black plummy than cherry.  Palate sharpens the wine up,  clear black cherries,  rich fruit,  slightly new-oaky for the weight of fruit.  With cellaring this could blossom into a dramatic example of New Zealand pinot noir,  which may score more highly than now.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 09/04

2003  Vidal Pinot Noir Marlborough   17  ()
Awatere Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $27   [ screwcap;  www.vidal.co.nz ]
Big ruby,  a touch of carmine and velvet,  getting big for pinot.  This wine has a big volume of aromatic bouquet,  but one has to decide  if it is aromatic on an extrinsic minty plant oil (akin to pennyroyal),  or from the grape itself.  Below the aromatics are blackboy peach and cherry fruits.  Palate is quite rich,  tending extractive,  the flavours plummy and blackboy rather more than cherry – a sturdy pinot.  The minty suggestion is a bit pervasive.  Such flavours are becoming frequent in the mid-latitude Martinborough and Marlborough pinots,  and though they are not universal,  they are starting to make these wines distinctive.  Open question whether the character is attractive,  though looking westwards,  I have my doubts.  Cellar 5 – 10 years,  to lose some phenolics and fine down.  Tasted twice.  GK 11/04

2003  Amisfield Pinot Noir   17  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $40   [ screwcap;  www.amisfield.co.nz ]
Good pinot ruby.  Light rosy florals and clean and fragrant redfruits are attractive on bouquet.  Flavours follow on,  red cherries more than black,  subtle oak,  a fair weight of fruit in fine ratio to the phenolics.  In fact,  the wine is so sweetly-fruited,  one wonders if there is a gram or two of residual sugar.  It can be hard to tell,  when dry extract is good.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 09/04

2002  Carrick Pinot Noir   17  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ screwcap;  www.carrick.co.nz ]
Another big ruby for pinot,  with a touch of carmine and velvet.  Initially opened the bouquet is confused,  but it breathes to clearly varietal but very ripe black cherries and blackboy peaches,  with a suggestion of dark plum.   Palate continue these ripe-pinot characters,  and is quite rich,  but becomes somewhat phenolic presumably from oak.  The 2002 vintage was very ripe and even hot in Otago,  so perhaps a mainstream vintage will show increased florals and varietal delicacy,  in a softer palate profile.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  Tasted twice.  GK 10/04

2002  Chard Farm Pinot Noir Finla Mor   17  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $34   [ screwcap;  www.chardfarm.co.nz ]
Attractive pinot ruby.  To first sniff,  this is a deep aromatic wine in the style of the Villa Maria Reserve,  from Marlborough,  showing a suggestion of pennyroyal.  There is good cherry fruit as well.  Palate continues the good fruit,  and the aromatic oil note too,  but there is also a stalky thread robbing the wine of a little burgundian charm.  Needs to soften in cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 10/04

2002  Girardin Santenay la Maladiere   17  ()
Santenay Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $46
Pinot noir ruby.  A clean ripe bouquet of red cherries leads into a straightforward palate tasting exactly the same.  It is hard to imagine a more frank expression of healthy ripe pinot than this beautifully crunchy cherry fruit,  not stalky or acid,  not oaky,  just plump and crisp on palate and eminently drinkable.  And it will cellar 5 – 8 years,  and perhaps build a little more bouquet.  GK 11/04

2002  Kaituna Valley Pinot Noir   17  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $49
Deepish ruby,  but markedly older than the field.  This is a distinctive and particular kind of wine,  which can safely be categorised as love it or hate it.  Loosely speaking,  bouquet is for all the world reminiscent of some vintages of Cheval Blanc,  showing the red currants and fragrant sweet pale malt extract and subliminal aniseed characters of cabernet franc,  in a St Emilion wine style.  Palate is rich,  sweetly fruity on the one hand,  yet clearly leafy too (St Emilion again).  Personally I find a lot to like in this wine,  and it is good drinking with food,  but as a pinot noir it is unusual to say the least.  However,  Decanter magazine thought otherwise,  rating it five stars,  top equal,  of 102 New Zealand pinot noirs,  in July 2004.  Interesting stuff,  therefore.  See also the comments for the 2002 Greenhough wine.  Cellar 5 – 8 years,  becoming more distinctive.  GK 08/04

2003  Neudorf Pinot Noir Nelson   17  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  14%;  $36   [ screwcap;  grapes from Waimea Plains and Moutere Hills sites;  www.neudorf.co.nz ]
Full pinot noir ruby,  not too different from the Felton Block 3.  Initially opened,  bouquet is aromatic with suggestions of pennyroyal,  plus smoky oak-related smells suggestive of smoked fish or bacon.  Breathed,  it shows more the blackboy peach side of clearly varietal pinot noir,  with cherry and floral components subdued.  Palate is firmer than many wines,  rather oaky and aromatic / stalky too,  but the ripeness of fruit seems good.  Flavours of cherry and florals become more apparent in the mouth with tasting,  but it is not as supple as the top Otago pinots.  Finish is youthful and tannic.  Needs time to marry up.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  Tasted twice.  GK 11/04

2002  Pisa Moorings Pinot Noir   17  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $30   [ screwcap ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Another wine in which the first impression is plums more than cherries,  and thus the wine of a bigger,  hotter year than is optimal for pinot.  The high alcohol is distracting too.  Palate shows good fruit with more cherry suggestions than anticipated on bouquet.  The oak is rendered more obvious by the high alcohol,  but it is nonetheless attractive drinking in its burly style.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 10/04

2003  Wairau River Pinot Noir   17  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $28   [ screwcap;  www.wairauriverwines.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  A fragrant and varietal bouquet,  but more oaky than the top wines in the batch,  and a little more savoury.  Palate shows good black cherry fruit and attractive length,  but some of the subtleties of the variety have been lost in the oaking.  Cellar to 8 years.  GK 10/04

2003  Neudorf Pinot Noir Moutere   17  ()
Moutere Hills,  Nelson,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $59   [ screwcap;  grapes from Moutere Hills only;  www.neudorf.co.nz ]
Fractionally deeper ruby than the Nelson wine.  Bouquet is clean pure plummy fruit,  with undertones of cherry and dark florals.  This Moutere wine bears the same relationship to the Nelson one,  as the Felton Block wines do to the standard one.  Often there is greater ripeness,  and more oak treatment,  in pursuit of one perception of quality.  In the case of pinot noir,  however,  this entails the risk of losing exact varietal character as expressed via the floral component  –  a hazard evident in a number of 'big' New Zealand pinots.   In this example of the Moutere Pinot,  the added peril of raised alcohol lessens the subtlety of bouquet and palate which pinot should  ideally show.  So,  though the Nelson and Moutere are clearly different wines,  I am scoring them similarly.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 11/04

2002  de Courcel Pommard les Fremieres   17  ()
Pommard Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $94
Rich ruby.  A strong bouquet,  with black cherries,  nutmeggy oak,  and suggestions of dark energy chocolate clamouring for attention  –  far from classical burgundy.   Palate improves things,  much more clearly pinot noir,  with rich dark cherry fruit of great concentration,  but let down by the weight of oak.  The charm of pinot noir is lost,  as if this were a new world wine.  Cellar 10 – 20 years with interest,  though I suspect it may end up an oaky shell.  GK 11/04

2002  Anne Gros Clos Vougeot le Grand Maupertuis   17  ()
Vougeot Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $205
Colour on these more serious Anne Gros wines is quite different from the Gros Freres,  a much more new world ruby with quite a flush of carmine and velvet.  Bouquet is new world too,  with new oak the overwhelming first impression,  and an unsubtle aromatic edge almost hinting at eucalyptus.  In mouth the wine redeems itself somewhat,  with a depth of black cherry going on plummy fruit which,  with the oak,  is reminiscent of some of the weightier '02 Central Otago pinots.  Very modern wine,  which should cellar for 10 – 15 years.  GK 09/03

2002  N. Potel Chambolle-Musigny les Charmes   17  ()
Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $120
Good pinot noir ruby.  This wine is akin to the Potel Combe au Moine,  with good pinot cherry / berry complicated by oak,  and in this case the wine seems a bit spirity too.  Palate is richer than the village Gevrey-Chambertin,  but a notch more oak-affected than the Combe au Moine.  Cellar 10 – 15 years.  GK 08/04

2003  Pisa Moorings Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $30   [ screwcap ]
Lightish pinot ruby.  An understated bouquet,  faintly floral,  some red cherries.  Palate is crisp red cherry and careful oak,  lightly aromatic,  in an attractive but lighter,  more aromatic,  varietal style than the '02.  If the '02 is a little heavy,  this is a little light.  Cellar 3 – 6 years.  GK 10/04

2002  Girardin Volnay les Santenots   16 ½  ()
Volnay Premier Cru,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $65
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  extraordinarily deep for fine pinot.  This wine is different from all the others in the sub-set,  being made in a broad,  rich,  soft plummy presentation which is reticent on bouquet.  On palate it has some aromatics,  and is deeply plummy with furry tannins,  as rich as some Dry River and Pegasus Bay pinot noirs have been in New Zealand.   It is hard to capture much of the subtle beauty of pinot here,  but its fruity ample approach will appeal to many.  It should cellar for 10 – 20 years,  and maybe will fine down.  It is not typical of Volnay,  and reflects more the Girardin house style at the more affordable end of its red burgundy range:  good colours and relatively rich juicy fruit,  big and modern.  GK 08/04

2003  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ www.mtdifficulty.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot ruby.  This wine is very distinctive on bouquet,  smelling strongly of coffee grounds.  OK if you like coffee,  but not my concept of pinot noir.  Palate presents the wine in a better light,  with attractive black cherries,  good mouthfeel and burgundian style,  but ultimately let down again by the finish from this eccentric oak (which may include some barrel fermentation).  Undoubtedly some will love this wine,  but the reasons need analysing.  Cellar 3 – 10,  to perhaps come into line.  GK 10/04

2002  Girardin Chambolle-Musigny les Hauts Doix   16 ½  ()
Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $90
Ruby.  The least bouquet in this sub-set of pinots,  lightly fragrant to perhaps faintly reductive.  In a black glass it would be hard to tell it from a big chardonnay,  and an unoaked one at that.  Mouth picks up more varietal character,  pleasing soft blackboy peach,  fair body,  finer texture and fruit quality than the Savigny,  but no aromatics.  Just soft and supple pinot,  easy drinking,  in style.  Cellar 5 – 10 years,  probably to improve.  GK 08/04

2003  Kaituna Valley Pinot Noir Marlborough   16 ½  ()
Awatere Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $45
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  big for pinot noir.  Bouquet shows some attractive varietal qualities,  freshly opened:  boronia florals,  black cherries,  blueberries,  plus a curious marcy quality reminiscent of gewurztraminer.  Palate is not as promising,  the plummy cherry tending stewed,  the florals now tasting a little stalky,  and oak more noticeable.  May just be too young,  and needing to integrate.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 11/04

2003  Escarpment Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $43   [ www.escarpment.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.   Initially opened,  this wine is dulled by retained fermentation odours.  Below there are redfruits.  The wine does breathe up slowly,  but not enough to display any floral beauty.  Palate is crisp with red and black cherry fruit,  and some aromatics.  But the whole wine is veiled,  tending reductive.  Cellar 5 – 10 years,  perhaps to clear and merit re-rating.  GK 11/04

2003  Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir Te Tera   16 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $30   [ second wine;  www.martinborough-vineyard.co.nz ]
Big pinot ruby.  This is a distinctive and attractive,  floral and fragrant bouquet,  with clear lilac and boronia suggestions,  and fragrant red fruits.  On palate however the wine pulls up short,  with some peppery notes which,  combined with the florals,  are reminiscent of the well-known Cote du Rhone wine Domaine Gramenon.  That wine is intensely fragrant too,  but all too often it is the fragrance of under-ripe or over-cropped grapes.  The stalkiness here certainly suggests one or both of these conditions.  Even so,  this is a style of wine I tend to like,  since (given appropriate dry extract) they age quite well,  and are pleasant with food.  Many however consider them unattractive,  finding them too stalky,  and tending acid.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 09/04

2003  Te Kairanga Pinot Noir Wairarapa   16 ½  ()
Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $21   [ screwcap;  75% Martinborough,  25 Wairarapa;  10 months in 20% new French oak;  www.tkwine.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  A very fragrant rendering of pinot noir indeed,  showing big daphne florals as well as a leafy note,  and an aromatic suggestion reminiscent of pennyroyal.  Palate picks up the leafy / stalky note more than is ideal,  and that is exacerbated by oak,  but richness and mouthfeel are attractive.  Just lacks the soft complexity of full physiological maturity.  Interesting wine.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 08/04

2002  William Hill Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $35   [ www.williamhill.co.nz ]
Big pinot noir ruby,  fractionally darker than the Reserve.  Bouquet is tending estery,  detracting from unfocussed red fruits.  Palate shows VA too,  on fair fruit and more obvious oak than the Reserve wine.  It is not as elegant therefore,  but has pleasing flavour and will be good with food.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 10/04

2002  Girardin Chambolle-Musigny les Amoureuses   16 ½  ()
Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $139
Pinot noir ruby.  This example of one of the most romantic vineyard names in all France is very floral with suggestions of lilac,  but it is also tending leafy.  Palate confirms the leafiness,  in straightforward lightish red cherry  and pinot fruit,  which finishes a little stalky.  This is the same weakness as is seen in the Villa,  but there less obvious because of the richer fruit.  Cellar 3 – 5 years only.  GK 11/04

2002  Anne Gros Chambolle-Musigny La Combe d'Orveau   16 ½  ()
Chambolle-Musigny,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $94
Lightish pinot ruby.  Bouquet is tending closed at this stage,  showing a suggestion of stalky florals,  and fruit ranging from red currants to red cherries.  Palate fleshes the wine out more,  to show fair red cherry fruit on light oak which includes a touch of new.  This is very close in style to similarly-scored Otago wines.  It will make agreeable QDR pinot in 3 – 8 years,  but it is too pricey for that.  GK 09/04

2002  Muddy Water Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14%;  $40   [ screwcap;  www.muddywater.co.nz ]
Good pinot ruby.  A subdued bouquet, with a whisper of wet washing taking the shine off red cherries and faint florals.  Palate is much better,  with attractively crisp cherry / berry flavours,  beautifully oaked,  clearly varietal.  Palate quality is clearly silver medal rating in style and weight,  and in another year when the bouquet has opened out some more,  this may score more highly.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 09/04

2003  Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Roaring Meg   16 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $28   [ screwcap;  www.mtdifficulty.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot ruby.  Clean simple red cherries and pinot to the bouquet,  a hint of barrel char,  fragrant,  slightly leafy.  Palate is beautifully balanced to subtlest oak,  all red fruits,  refreshing or perhaps slightly excess acid,  all in style but on the light side.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 10/04

2003  Auntsfield Pinot Noir Hawk Hill   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $40
Good pinot ruby.   Several of the wines have a crisp red cherry and slightly savoury character to them almost reminding of sangiovese,  and this is one.  Palate continues the idea,  quite firm to slightly acid,  cherry fruit,  older oak,  attractively done.  Cellar to 8 years.  GK 10/04

2003  Koura Bay Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:   – %;  $37   [ usually labelled Blue Duck ]
Pinot noir ruby.  There is a faintly medicinal note in the cherry / berry bouquet on this wine,  which translates into a hint of stalks in the clearly cherry-varietal but slightly oaky palate.  It will mellow in a year,  be good with food,  and cellar for 5 or so.  GK 10/04

2003  Cirrus Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $30   [ screwcap;  30% new French oak;  www.cirrusestate.com ]
Ruby,  about as deep as pinot noir needs to be.  Bouquet is in the clean fresh black cherry style,  but with a hint of stalks and mint aromatics.  Palate follows on well,  with cherry flavours,  clearly pinot noir,  attractive length on medium weight,  slightly stalky.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 09/04

2002  Loopline Pinot Noir   16 ½  ()
Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  13%;  $27
Attractive pinot noir ruby.  A dried herbes / bouquet garni quality is distinctive in the smell of the wine,  on sweet red cherry fruit.  Palate shows supple red cherry attractively integrated with the year's extra bottle age,  slightly savoury on the herbes,  attractively under-oaked,  relatively light but very drinkable.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 10/04

2002  de Courcel Pommard Grand Clos des Epenots   16 ½  ()
Pommard Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $106
Rich ruby.  Varnishy oak is the first impression on bouquet,  though one can believe there is pinot fruit in behind.  Palate is more clearly black cherry pinot,  and there is a good weight of fruit in this and the other de Courcels,  but the dark chocolate and heavy oak swamps the charm of the grape.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 11/04

2002  de Courcel Pommard les Rugiens   16 ½  ()
Pommard Premier Cru,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $115
Older ruby,  the lightest of the Courcels,  but still fairly weighty.  The volume of bouquet is good,  but it is dominated by varnishy oak.  Palate brings in plenty of blackboy peach fruit and cherries,  but the oak makes the whole wine clumsy.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 11/04

2002  Anne Gros Vosne Romanee les Barreaux   16 ½  ()
Vosne-Romanee,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $119
Colour on this wine is a bit too carmine for comfort,  still acceptable under tungsten,  but suspicious under more sophisticated artificial lighting.  Bouquet isn't too encouraging either,  being overtly new oaky,  to the point of virtually obliterating desirable varietal character.   Palate is soft,  rich and oaky in a new world style,  the fruit plummy and blackboy.  There are no negative flavours obviously correlating with the dubious colour,  though the pH may be high.  A quite rich international / new world pinot,  not showing much of the classical charm of Burgundy.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 09/04

2002  N. Potel Volnay Premier Cru les Mitans   16 ½  ()
Volnay Premier Cru,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $90
Medium ruby.  Clean red cherry and berry fruit on bouquet make this a sound and varietal wine.  Palate shows fair weight,  pleasant length,  and attractive flavours.  Copybook straightforward burgundy,  as Volnay can so often be.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 08/04

2002  Girardin Savigny-les-Beaune les Serpentieres   16 +  ()
Savigny-les-Beaune Premier Cru,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $40
Ruby,  some carmine and velvet,  one of the deeper.  Bouquets become plainer and fruitier at this end of the Girardin pinot range,  still varietal and in style,  but more the bottled plums characters of straightforward pinot noir – no charms,  no florals,  no magic.  Palate is plump and ample,  and in its fat ripe way is clearly varietal,  and will be good with food.  Pricewise,  one couldn't be disappointed with it.  Cellar 10 + years.  GK 08/04

2003  Sunset Valley Pinot Noir   16  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13%;  $25   [ organic producer;  www.sunsetvalley.co.nz ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  too big for pinot noir.  Bouquet is in a big brash new world pinot style,  showing deep beetrooty fruit,  obvious spicy new oak,  and more alcohol than the label is admitting,  I suspect.  Flavours are ripely varietal,  black cherries and dark plums,  much too oaky.  The mark allows for the wine too mellow in bottle.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 10/04

2002  Isabel Pinot Noir   16  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $40   [ www.isabelestate.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Here we come to the point of deciding:  is it floral,  or is it leafy ?  The window of complexity in the degree days / ripening curve of pinot noir is so narrow.  This wine is pleasantly fragrant / leafy through a berry bouquet and palate,  but it becomes a little too stalky on the red fruits and clearly varietal finish.  Cellar to 5 years.  GK 10/04

2003  Fairmont Estate Pinot Noir Block 1   16  ()
Gladstone,  Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $34   [ screwcap;  www.handcraftedwines.com ]
Rich pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet on this wine is out of the ordinary,  with a perfumed floral component which nearly includes a suggestion of feijoa,  which is tending OTT for pinot noir.  Palate is varietal on red fruits,  but it is also stalky,  plus this exotic perfumed note.  It may marry up in bottle,  and reconcile that bouquet into something more mellow,  but meanwhile it could be a love or hate proposition.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 11/04

2003  Te Mania Estate Pinot Noir   16  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13%;  $20   [ www.temaniawines.co.nz ]
Good pinot ruby.   A slightly congested and sacky bouquet,  improving on breathing to suggestions of florals and light cherries.  Palate is lightly savoury and bretty,  aromatic,  pleasantly cherry-fruited,  lingering on noticeable oak.  This should look better in a year or so,  and cellar to 6.  GK 10/04

2003  Te Mania Pinot Noir Reserve   16  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $30   [ screwcap;  www.temaniawines.co.nz ]
Ruby and velvet,  deeper and more lurid than most,  not a good pinot colour.  Bouquet is fumey with a touch of VA,  slightly smokey from oak,  with indeterminate berry / plummy character below.  Palate is rich but on the clumsy side,  more bottled fruit plus slightly varnishy oak,  raw and youthful.  May settle down,  in its OTT style,  but for now,  needs time to harmonise.  Cellar to 10 years,  maybe.  Tasted twice.  GK 11/04

2002  Drouhin Bourgogne Pinot Noir Laforet   16  ()
Burgundy,  France:  12.5%;  $25   [ www.drouhin.com ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Initially opened,  faintly reductive with a high-solids character dulling it down somewhat,  and introducing almond overtones.  Breathes to a palate clearly European in style alongside the New Zealand ones,  some pleasant brett complexity,  ripe,  plummy,  and varietal,  more substance than many Bourgogne rouges.  More a QDR burgundy than a cellaring one (naturally),  but in fact will cellar 3 – 5 years easily.  GK 09/04

2003  Tohu Pinot Noir   16  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $24   [ www.tohuwines.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Clean ripe red berries on bouquet,  all suggesting raspberry,  redcurrant and blackboy peach.   Flavour is juicy,  plump,  not very complex but nicely balanced to oak,  with a clean acid balance.  This should pick up complexity in the next couple of years.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 08/04

2003  Chard Farm Pinot Noir Rabbit Ranch   16  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $24   [ screwcap;  www.chardfarm.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot ruby.  A slightly veiled bouquet,  below which is an unusual fruit character reminiscent of stewed sturmer apples.  Palate introduces red fruits including red currants and even raspberries,  all a bit 'cool climate',  yet the tannins taste reasonably ripe.  Unusual but pleasant light pinot,  which should cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 10/04

2003  Dry River Pinot Noir   16  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $69
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  dense,  the colour of a big syrah – unthinkable for pinot.  Bouquet is soft,  rich and pruney,  with milk chocolate undertones.  The wine shows no relation to the ethereal and floral beauties of pinot noir the grape,  as it is usually understood around the world.  Palate is however velvety rich,  and enormously concentrated,  but so over-ripe as to be a curiosity.  Oaking is gentle,  and acid appropriate.  McCallum's pinots have been over-ripe and weighty for some years now,  but this latest example is perverse – pinot made in a shiraz style.  Any number of fat rich wines from the south of France offer similar sensory qualities,  and as such,  this is good wine.  But I am scoring it as pinot.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 11/04

2002  Girardin Maranges Clos des Loyeres Vielles Vignes   16  ()
Maranges Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $41
Rich ruby, one of the deeper Girardins.  Bouquet is fruity in a mixed small redfruits way,  suggesting currants and red plums as well as red cherries,  but at a straightforward level.  Palate is a little hard and short,  though clearly varietal.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 11/04

2003  Olssen's Pinot Noir Barry Jackson   16  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $35   [ www.olssens.co.nz ]
Lightish pinot ruby.  There is a stewed character to this wine,  detracting from red cherry fruit.  Palate is clearly varietal,  slightly lactic and confectionery,  pleasantly balanced.  Quite a quality gap between the '02 Reserve and this.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 10/04

2003  Villa Maria Pinot Noir Private Bin   16  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $23   [ screwcap;  www.villamaria.co.nz ]
Ruby,  an attractive pinot ruby,  welcome after some of the firm's black pinots !  Bouquet is a straightforward version of pinot noir,  fragrant,  berried,  obvious,  with almost a suggestion of raspberry simplicity to it.   Palate is similar,  with the raspberry thought rather haunting it.  Fruit and berry sweetness is so good,  one wonders if there might be a gram or two of residual in this one,  too.   In style,  accessible,  popular,  but not a wine for cellaring beyond 3 – 5 years.  GK 09/04

2003  Mount Maude Pinot Noir   16  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $37   [ www.mountmaude.co.nz ]
Big pinot ruby.  A very youthful bouquet,  still showing some fermentation odours in simple berryfruit,  slight VA and some oak perhaps including barrel char.  In mouth a stalky / astringent suggestion grows in the fruit,  and there is a varnishy hint.  The wine is clearly varietal,  and should marry up into a straightforward medium-weight example of the variety.  Not such a good cellar wine,  maybe 3 – 5 years.  GK 10/04

2002  de Courcel Pommard les Croix Noires   16  ()
Pommard Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $94
Rich ruby.  Given a batch of these de Courcel burgundies,  the omnipresent varnishy oak becomes oppressive,  rendering clumsy wines which should be showing the beauty and subtlety of the pinot grape.  This one smells and tastes first and foremost of oak,  though there is healthy cherry fruit below.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 11/04

2002  Gros Frere & Soeur Bougogne Hauts-Cotes de Nuits   16  ()
Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  12.5%;  $38
Good pinot ruby.  To first impressions, this is attractive straightforward pinot noir,  the bouquet showing volumes of slightly stalky red fruits suggesting cherries and plums.  Palate continues relatively rich,  clearly varietal,  old oaky,  again a bit stalky.  At this price level from Burgundy, one can hardly expect the florals,  finesse and subtle new oak of the higher-ranked crus,  but this is pretty good Bourgogne Rouge.  It is clearly varietal,  totally in style,  and will cellar for 3 to maybe 10 years.  GK 09/04

2002  N. Potel Clos de la Roche   16  ()
Morey-Saint-Denis Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $165
Good pinot noir ruby.  This wine should be among the top of the class,  in these Potels,  but there is an off-odour in it I associate with defective cooperage – a smell reminiscent of crushed cape ivy,  Senecio mikanoides.  Many composites are aromatic,  e.g. chrysanthemums.  Palate is relatively rich,  but this resiny character permeates it,  quite taking the charm off the pinot fruit.  Disappointing – conceivably a corked bottle.  Would cellar 5 – 15,  but not worth it for me.  GK 08/04

2003  Daniel Schuster Pinot Noir Waipara   16  ()
Waipara,  North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $40   [ www.danielschusterwines.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet on this one is more complex,  with smokey,  herbes,  and black pepper notes in reddish berries.  There are also some botrytis-like and VA suggestions,  detracting.   Palate is moderately fruity,  but also leafy,  and has not married up yet awhile.  Better in a year,  and cellar to 5 or so.  This is a new label,  introduced between the premium Omihi one for the top years,  and the everyday Twin Vineyards label for the wine including some Canterbury Plains material.  GK 10/04

2003  Forrest Estate Pinot Noir   15 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $25   [ screwcap;  www.forrest.co.nz ]
Good pinot ruby.  This is another pinot with some sangiovese / chianti undertones,  partly due to the savoury and lightly bretty complexities on the red cherry fruit.  Fruit is supple but quite leathery in flavour,  European in style,  good with food, but a bit too funky – if this word is to be used as a euphemism for brett.  Short-term cellar 3 – 5 years,  since the tail is drying a little.  GK 10/04

2003  Black Ridge Pinot Noir   15 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $35   [ www.blackridge.co.nz ]
Pinot ruby.  A reticent bouquet,  vaguely redfruits,  a shadow of reductiveness.  Palate combines fleshy red fruits with a crisp acid balance,  all lightly oaked.  Straightforward pinot noir,  to cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 10/04

2002  Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir   15 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $67   [ www.martinborough-vineyard.co.nz ]
Good pinot ruby.  Bouquet is subdued,  marcy,  even stalky,  not right.  Palate is pinot weight,  but the flavours are more English gooseberry at the red stage,  stewed,  finishing very stalky.  A seriously-styled wine which doesn't make the grade it is priced at.  Should have been declassified.  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 09/04

2002  N. Potel Savigny-les-Beaune Vielles Vignes   15 ½  ()
Savigny-les-Beaune,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy ,  France:  13%;  $50
A deeper pinot noir ruby,  as so often seems to be the case with cheaper burgundies.  Bouquet is modest,  with an unattractive older oak component and suggestions of clog weighing on straightforward cherry and red plum.  Recognisably pinot noir and burgundy,  but straightforward.  Might look a little better with time in cellar,  5 – 10 years.  GK 08/04

2003  Vynfields Pinot Noir Reserve   15  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14.6%;  $39   [ screwcap;  www.vynfields.com ]
Good pinot ruby.  A fragrant and lightly varietal wine on bouquet,  with some floral and cherry suggestions,  and some smokey oak.  Palate lets the wine down,  being too stalky for the weight of fruit,  and finishing a little astringent and oaky.  If the given alcohol is natural,  this wine is a dramatic illustration of the difference between sugar ripeness,  and physiological or flavour ripeness.  Cellar to 3 years.  GK 10/04

2003  Mount Riley Pinot Noir Seventeen Valley   15  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $27   [ www.mountriley.co.nz ]
A big ruby,  for pinot.  Bouquet is off-putting,  with tarry and coffee notes dominant,  and petrochemical themes below – another wine woefully mishandled in oak.  Palate is better,  with what would have been good dark cherry fruit.  But pinot of international quality  stands or falls on bouquet,  a fact which some of our winemakers overlook.  Cellar 5 – 10 years,  to remain eccentric.  GK 11/04

2002  Girardin Volnay les Champans   15  ()
Volnay,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $75
Ruby,  the darkest of the Girardins,  and dark for pinot.  An awkward bouquet,  combining stewed and estery notes with plain red fruits,  plus stalky qualities.  Palate is plainer still,  rich but oaky and coarse,  with a silage suggestion amongst the stalks.  Would cellar,  but not worth it.  It is possible this is a cork-affected bottle,  but the characters displayed are unusual for that condition.  GK 11/04

2002  Georges Michel Pinot Noir Reserve   15  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $33   [ www.georgesmichel.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  Newly opened,  this wine is dominated to an unpleasant degree by charry and varnishy oak,  which disrupts both smell and taste.  Decanted and well-aerated,  it improves into something much more like pinot noir (or grenache),  except it is still too oaky.  The breathed bouquet includes faded florals and cherry suggestions,  while the palate is nutmeggy on oak,  and cherry / plummy on tired fruit.  In the blind tasting,  it is readily confused with mature southern Rhone grenache,  and the fruit is short relative to the oak.  Would be more interesting with a subtler approach to elevation.  More QDR (price apart),  but would cellar 3 or so years.  Tasted twice.  GK 11/04

2002  Te Mania Pinot Noir Reserve   15  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13%;  $27   [ www.temaniawines.co.nz ]
Good pinot ruby.  A more fragrant bouquet than the Tohu,  but in the floral fragrance is a leafy quality which is worrying.  Palate confirms,  with leafy to stalky flavours prominent in more interesting fruit flavours than the Tohu (which is a year younger),  but also more acid.  Nett impression is not so good,  therefore.  Clearly varietal,  but lacking the flavours of physiological maturity.  Marginally worth cellaring,  3 – 5 years.  GK 08/04

2002  de Courcel Pinot Noir   15  ()
Burgundy,  France:  12.5%;  $41
Good ruby.  Bouquet is nutmeggy and varnishy oak,  on fruit which is by default pinot noir.  This wine is a lot richer than most bourgogne rouges.  Behind the oak one can see fair fruit in there,  but it is wearying to drink,  because of this all-pervasive wood.  Like most of the other de Courcels,  the wine could have been much better with subtler oak-handling.  Cellar 3 – 5 years at least,  probably longer.  GK 11/04

2002  Anne Gros Bourgogne Hauts-Cotes de Nuits   15  ()
Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  12.5%;  $47
Lightish pinot ruby.  Light clean stalky red berries show on bouquet,  reminiscent of red currants and red cherries.  Palate is similar,  tending cool-climate but reasonably well-balanced,  light old oak,  slightly stalky and acid to the finish,  light and wholesome.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 09/04

2001  Mount Riley Pinot Noir Seventeen Valley   14 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $36   [ www.mountriley.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Very distinctive wine on bouquet,  like an old Hunter.  By old I mean decades.  Bouquet is intensely leathery,  somewhat oxidised,  fragrant on indeterminate fruit,  but non-varietal.  Palate is mellow,  speaking of a long time in old cooperage.  This is perfectly good oldtime dry red,  Australian 'burgundy' class,  and could be marked higher in such a tasting.  Marked as pinot here.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 10/04

2002  Rockburn Pinot Noir   14 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $37   [ www.rockburn.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet on this wine is stewed,  reminiscent of simple red plums,  plus estery and leafy suggestions.  Palate is similar,  a fair quantity of fruit,  but the leafiness tending astringent,  even though masked by a suggestion of residual sweetness.  QDR pinot,  cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 10/04

2003  Lake Hayes Pinot Noir   14 ½  ()
Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $33   [ screwcap;  second wine of Amisfield;  www.amisfield.co.nz ]
Good pinot ruby.  A distinctive bouquet at this stage,  still very uncoordinated and youthful.  Fermentation odours  linger in an aroma smelling for all the world like Fresh-Up (apple juice) tinged with red berries,  more like a rosé.   Palate is light and juicy,  scarcely oaked,  almost a red chardonnay,  pleasantly innocuous.  Another one a bit sweet to the tail.  Summer picnic quaffer,  which will cellar for a year or two.  GK 09/04

2003  Mills Reef Pinot Noir   14 ½  ()
New Zealand:  13%;  $15   [ screwcap;  www.millsreef.co.nz ]
A big pinot noir ruby.  Very fragrant wine in an 80s style of New Zealand pinot,  the florals grading into leafy and stalky notes as in the Henderson-grown Babich wines of the time.  Flavour is clean and sweet,  but also green-tinged and leafy.  An attractive QDR light pinot,  but not physiologically ripe enough for a higher score.  Presumably from the North Island.  Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 09/04

2003  Allan Scott Pinot Noir   14 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $27   [ screwcap;  www.allanscott.com ]
Full pinot ruby.  A drab bouquet veiled by reductive characters,  not recognisably varietal.  Palate shows fair plummy fruit in a slightly stalky and acid balance,  carefully oaked.  Finish is tending metallic,  which may correlate with the bouquet deficiencies.  Plain pinot noir which will cellar for 5 – 8 years,  and may improve a little.  GK 09/04

2002  Matua Valley Pinot Noir Wairarapa   14 ½  ()
Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  13%;  $29   [ www.matua.co.nz ]
Older pinot ruby.   A strange wine in the new world line-up of pinots,  though it would look more at home in a batch of bourgogne rouges.  Bouquet shows kippered herrings and brett,  on indeterminate red fruit. Palate is drying on the brett,  and very savoury.  Could be pleasant with casseroled or savoury foods,  but modest in a blind judging.  Cellar a year or two.  GK 10/04

2002  de Courcel Pommard les Vaumuriens   14 ½  ()
Pommard,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $81
Rich ruby.  A very strong and distinctive bouquet,  with a pungent aromatic daisy-like (e.g. crushed chrysanthemum stalks) odour,  reminiscent of certain wines from the Rhone Valley and from Chile,  and  usually associated with syrah.  Palate is for all the world like a minor and stalky Crozes-Hermitage.  At least the oaking is  restrained on this wine,  and the flavours though wayward,  are interesting,  not unpleasant.  Not worth cellaring as pinot,  though.  GK 11/04

1999  Domaine Parent Bougogne / Pinot Noir   14 ½  ()
Burgundy,  France:  12.5%;  $31
Pleasant older pinot noir ruby,  appropriate to age.  A more rustic and European light pinot,  when seen in the context of the Kiwi wines.  But the fruit is varietal and ripe,  even if a bit too savoury from brett.  Palate is light,  but it is easy drinking  –  more enjoyable with food than some of these lesser pinots,  even if more faulty.  Burgundy QDR, but will keep for a few years too.  GK 08/04

2003  Astrolabe Pinot Noir Young Vines   14  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $23
Ruby flushed with carmine and velvet.  This is a strange wine,  showing an ersatz raspberry cordial suggestion through bouquet and palate which is not very flattering,  on plummy fruit.  Perhaps it has a splash of something else in it.  It is a perfectly pleasant soft dry red in a QDR style,  but it doesn't look happy in a blind pinot line-up.  Cellar a year or two.  GK 10/04

2003  de Bortoli Pinot Noir Windy Peak   14  ()
Yarra Valley,  Australia:  14%;  $19
Good pinot noir ruby.   Initially opened,  the wine smells so euc'y,  it is hard to take it seriously as pinot noir.  Otherwise,  it is clean and fragrant.  Palate is pinot weight and berry,  not over-oaked,  a bit fleshy and stalky,  but continuing euc'y.  Doesn't really improve with breathing,  so the wine is too idiosyncratically Australian to be varietal.  Nonetheless,  it would cellar 5 – 8 years.  Good enough as (euc'y) QDR.  GK 08/04

2002  N. Potel Santenay Premier Cru les Gravieres   14  ()
Santenay Premier Cru,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $55
A deeper ruby,  like the Savigny.  This is the least of the wines in the Potel range,  with old-fashioned sulphury clog exacerbated by the same kind of old cooperage taints as the Clos de la Roche shows.  Flavour is more modest,  with almost a weedy note creeping into light fruit.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 08/04

2002  CrossRoads Pinot Noir Collector's Edition   13 ½  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $28   [ www.crossroadswinery.co.nz ]
Older ruby,  some garnet.  Varnishy and VA characters dominate vaguely mushroomy and earthy undertones,  all bearing tenuous relation to old pinot noir.  Palate is modest too,  with some suggestions of botrytis on the fruit,  fading red berries scarcely varietal,  all ageing prematurely.  QDR,  not worth cellaring.  GK 09/04

2003  Seresin Pinot Noir   13 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $42   [ 15 months in 25% new oak;  www.seresin.co.nz ]
As big a ruby as pinot needs.  Bouquet here is big and fruity,  but non-varietal due to reductive characters.  Palate likewise is rich and fruity,  darkly plummy, more merlot flavours than pinot,  but too reductive.  Finish is short and tending bitter.  This will cellar well on size 5 – 15 years,  but to dubious advantage quality-wise.  GK 09/04

2003  Gladstone Pinot Noir Avatar   13 ½  ()
Te Horo,  Manawatu,  New Zealand:  14.9%;  $39   [ www.gladstone.co.nz ]
Slightly dull pinot ruby.  In the blind line-up,  this wine smells leafy and even stalky,  largely lacking the charm of physiologically mature pinot fruit.  Palate tastes similarly,  a green streak through the red fruits,  and a sugary finish.  Whether the high alcohol is from the raisining of the berries,  or chaptalisation,  is not clear.  Either way,  the wine is a dramatic illustration of the contrast between sugar ripeness,  and tannin ripeness and physiological maturity,  in flavour development of red grapes.  Clean,  wholesome,  but QDR pinot at a top-shelf price – misjudged.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 10/04

2002  Michel Gros Vosne-Romanee   13 ½  ()
Vosne-Romanee,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $127
Pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet combines smoked fish and mercaptan / reductive odours,  on indeterminate red fruit of fair weight.  Palate is almost bitter on the reductive faults,  and the smoky component is pervasive.  Needs severe aeration jug to jug.  Not worth cellaring.  GK 11/04

2002  Vynfields Pinot Noir   13  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $32   [ www.vynfields.com ]
Light ruby going on rosé,  light even for pinot.  Bouquet is intensely leafy / floral,  almost jonquils,  posing the same question as the Isabel,  but clearly on the wrong side of the line.  Palate is fragrant but acid and short,  lacking fruit,  stalky,  varietal only in a physiologically un-ripe sense,  even more suggesting over-cropping (than the Reserve).  Not worth cellaring.  GK 10/04

2004  Lucknow Estate Gamay Noir Quarry Bridge   12  (-)
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $17   [ screwcap;  judged with pinots;  www.lucknowestate.com ]
Bright light ruby.  A stalky and peppery drab smell with retained fermentation odours,  not at all winey.  Palate likewise is stalky,  phenolic,  acid,  and lacking the charm found so uniquely in the gamay grape from Beaujolais.  Un-ripe QDR,  not suited to cellar.  GK 11/04