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


2002 is regarded as an excellent year for reds in Burgundy,  with numerous reports on the web attesting to its virtues.  Most comparisons are with the highly-praised 1999 vintage,  many reporting that yields were less in 2002,  giving superior concentration.  So these are exciting wines to taste,  and to have a few tucked away for reference purposes,  as our winemakers strive to perfect pinot noir in New Zealand.  Mostly the 2002s were imported by wine importer / distributors keen on burgundy,  such as Peter Maude,  Maison Vauron,  Wine Direct,  and Caro's,  all in Auckland.  There are still a few bottles available in the trade.

The French part of this tasting arose from a splendid blind tasting titled 2002 Grand Cru Burgundy,  at Regional Wines,  Wellington,  12 December.  The tasting and background information were assembled and presented by Raymond Chan.  Having such useful reference wines to hand then stimulated the opening and comparing of a few New Zealand recent releases.  Raymond's notes have been augmented by website info,  where available.  

2002  de L’Arlot Vosne Romanée les Suchots
2004  Ata Rangi Pinot Noir Crimson
2003  Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir
2003  Drouhin Bourgogne / Pinot Noir Laforet
2002  Drouhin Charmes-Chambertin
2002  Drouhin Clos de la Roche
2002  Drouhin Clos de Vougeot
2002  Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin Champeaux
2002  Faiveley Chambertin Clos de Beze
2002  Faiveley Nuits-St-Georges Clos de la Marechale
2002  Girardin Bonnes Mares
  2002  Girardin Chambertin
2002  Girardin Chambertin Clos de Beze
2002  Girardin Clos de la Roche
2002  Jadot Chambertin Clos de Beze Domaine L. Jadot
2002  Jadot Echezeaux Domaine Gagey
2004  Kaituna Valley Pinot Noir Canterbury Kaituna Vineyard
2004  Kaituna Valley Pinot Noir Canterbury Summerhill Vineyard
2004  Kaituna Valley Pinot Noir Marlborough Awatere Vineyard
2002  Meo-Camuzet Clos de Vougeot
2004  Riverby Estate Pinot Noir Single Vineyard

2002  Girardin Chambertin Clos de Beze   19  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  14%;  $209   [ cork;  neither fined nor filtered;  no info on website yet;  www.avco.org/girardin ]
A great pinot noir ruby and velvet,  the second darkest of the French wines,  yet so much lighter softer and more enticing than many over-extractive New Zealand pinot colours.  Bouquet is big,  rich,  ripe,  deep,  with sultry dark lilac florals,  black cherries,  plums,  and a suggestion of savoury / gamey / lightly bretty complexity which marries in with the florals superbly.  Palate is the high point on this wine,  absolutely liquid velvet in its richness of black cherries and plums,  yet fresh and aromatic too.  Lovely Burgundy in a darker richer style,  to cellar 5 – 15 years plus.  GK 12/05

2002  Girardin Bonnes Mares   18 ½ +  ()
Chambolle-Musigny Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  14%;  $209   [ cork;  neither fined nor filtered;  no info on website yet;  www.avco.org/girardin ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  with some velvet.  In some ways this has a finer pinot noir varietal bouquet than the Girardin Clos de Beze,  in that it is more floral in a sweet boronia and dark lilac way,  and less savoury / bretty.  Palate is superb black cherries,  so fresh and crisp and crunchy as to define pinot noir.  It is a little lighter and fresher than the Beze,  yet has much of the same velvety sensation.  If one were fussed about brett levels,  this would mark higher than the Beze.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 12/05

2002  Girardin Chambertin   18 ½ +  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  14%;  $209   [ cork;  neither fined nor filtered;  no info on website yet;  www.avco.org/girardin ]
Great pinot noir ruby and velvet,  marginally the deepest of all the wines.  Bouquet on this wine is dramatic in its dark lilac florals intertwined with the savoury face of brett,  so the whole wine cries out for roast beef.  Palate has all the weight and potential velvetiness of the Clos de Beze,  but at this stage is more youthful,  perhaps due to a higher percentage of new oak.  This may one day surpass the other top Girardins,  except the brett is higher.  Aftertaste is pure black cherry.  Cellar 5 – 15 years,  maybe longer,  for though the fruit is very rich,  the ratio of brett may shorten its cellar life.  GK 12/05

2002  Drouhin Clos de la Roche   18 ½  ()
Morey-Saint-Denis Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $118   [ cork;  hand-harvested;  fermentation in oak vats;  MLF and 18 months in oak;  www.drouhin.com ]
Medium pinot noir ruby,  one of the lightest in this tasting.  This Drouhin is so close to the Charmes-Chambertin in style,  and so obviously Drouhin in a blind tasting,  that the same notes would serve perfectly well for both.  Perhaps the Clos de la Roche is even more floral,  and showing slightly less new oak.  It is a perfect expression of pinot noir the grape fully ripe,  remarkably floral,  just beautiful.  A feminine style of pinot noir,  though interestingly in the blind tasting,  several female tasters described the wine as masculine.  There is more to the parfumier’s art than one imagines.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 12/05

2002  Drouhin Charmes-Chambertin   18 ½  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $142   [ cork;  hand-harvested;  fermentation in oak vats;  MLF and c. 18 months in oak;  www.drouhin.com ]
Medium pinot ruby.  The emphasis in this wine is on the florals,  in the Drouhin style:  gorgeous sweet roses and buddleia perfumes on blackboy and red cherry fruit,  the blackboy in particular tying in with best Martinborough and Marlborough pinot varietal character.  Despite the deceptively light bouquet,  there is excellent fruit weight as measured in terms of dry extract,  accompanied by a long supple silky yet aromatic presence in the mouth and aftertaste.  A classical Drouhin presentation of fine burgundy,  in a very fragrant style.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 12/05

2002  Girardin Clos de la Roche   18  ()
Morey-Saint-Denis Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  14%;  $139   [ cork;  neither fined nor filtered;  no info on website yet;  www.avco.org/girardin ]
Good pinot noir ruby.  Bouquet is sweetly and darkly floral,  in much the same style as the Chambertin wines.  There certainly is a Girardin house style apparent in these rich black cherry wines.  Palate is a little different,  with a hint of dried herbes in the rich fruit,  only a shadow of brett,  the whole winestyle just a little ‘cooler’ than the top ones.  Still marvellous pinot noir,  which reminds me of aspects of the 2004 Felton Road Block 3 tasted recently.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 12/05

2002  Drouhin Clos de Vougeot   18  ()
Vougeot Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $173   [ cork;  hand-harvested;  fermentation in oak vats;  MLF and c. 18 months in oak;  www.drouhin.com ]
Fresh pinot noir ruby.  The florals in this Drouhin are beautiful,  clearly suggestions of boronia, violets,  darkest roses,  on red and some black cherry fruit.  Palate is fresh with piquant acid balance,  crisp cherry fruit,  subtle oak,  a fragrant expression of varietal pinot.  The finessed Drouhin style disappoints so many people looking for blockbuster wines,  but they are well worth persevering with.  In their beautiful pure floral definition of the variety pinot noir,  they include some of the most charming and feminine burgundies available,  wines which optimise subtle foods rather than dominating it.  And the richness on palate is deceptive:  there is more dry extract here than one might suppose.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 12/05

2003  Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir   18  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.6%;  $40   [ cork;  c 1.5 t/ac (frost-reduced),  hand-harvested;  de-stemmed,  several days cold soak,  some saignée;  MLF in French oak 50% new;  www.cloudybay.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby.  This pinot is very clearly in the floral style,  boronia and violets,  lovely,  with the smell of fruit below.  Palate weight is greater on this year's wine,  and much more burgundian,  with clear-cut cherry fruit more red than black,  attractive aromatics and a savoury complexity,  plus spicy but very subtle oak.  It is firmer and more aromatic than the Kaituna Summerhill,  more in the fragrant Drouhin style – in fact surprisingly close to the 2002 Drouhin Clos de Vougeot.  This is much the best Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir so far,  so the message from the frosts has to be:  great pinot needs small crops of concentrated and flavoursome berries.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 12/05

2002  Faiveley Chambertin Clos de Beze   17 ½ +  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $252   [ cork;  non-filtré ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  in the middle of the grands crus for depth.  This wine stood out in the tasting,  with prominent new oak and a pennyroyal verging on mint aroma,  seeming almost new world,  and very modern.  Actual varietal definition was less clear on bouquet at this stage,  with an almost merlot suggestion.  Palate immediately brings the wine back into line,  with ‘sweet’ rich blackboy and cherry fruit,  made aromatic and firm by the new oak.  It will take several years for the varietal fruit to get on top of the oak in this wine,  but it was rated top wine of the flight by a leading Martinborough pinot maker.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 12/05

2004  Kaituna Valley Pinot Noir Canterbury Summerhill Vineyard   17 ½  ()
Banks Peninsula,  Canterbury,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $33   [ screwcap ]
Deep ruby,  some velvet,  virtually as deep as the Awatere wine,  a maximum for pinot noir.  Initially opened,  an unintegrated but fragrant bouquet with hints of smoked oak and aromatic syrah.  The wine opens up with decanting into a clearly floral pinot noir in an attractive deeper style,  some violets and daphne.  Palate shows good aromatic cherry fruit,  good pinot weight and finesse,  and an attractive balance between fruit and oak.  It is the lightest and most elegant and burgundian of the three Kaitunas.  With another year or two in cellar,  this should rate higher.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 12/05

2002  Jadot Echezeaux Domaine Gagey   17 ½  ()
Vosne-Romanée Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $172   [ cork;  www.louisjadot.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  a little velvet.  Bouquet is clean and quiet on this one,  and one has to search to find darkest rose florals,  and black cherry fruit,  with a little gamey brett adding spice.  Palate is vivid pinot noir,  clearly black cherry,  zingy acid and noticeable newish oak aromatics,   long in flavour,  and firmer than most in this Grand Cru tasting.  This should blossom with another three years in cellar,  and may then well merit re-rating.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 12/05

2002  Jadot Chambertin Clos de Beze Domaine L. Jadot   17 +  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $256   [ cork;  www.louisjadot.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  some velvet,  not quite as fresh as the Jadot Echezeaux.  Bouquet is odd on this wine,  more oak affected as the colour would suggest,  but also a vanilla sweetness verging into fresh subtlest caramel.  Palate is still youthful on the new oak,  good fruit richness but a lactic undertone,  all tasting more new world than old.  Needs a couple of years to get its act together and show more varietal quality relative to the oak,  since the fruit weight is there and the balance is good.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 12/05

2002  Meo-Camuzet Clos de Vougeot   17  ()
Vougeot Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $221   [ cork;  www.meo-camuzet.com ]
Good ruby,  a touch of velvet,  one of the deepest.  This is a much more New Zealand bouquet,  reminiscent of the earlier styles from Marlborough.  It shows big blackboy peach fruit,  but there is a clear leafy / floral edge to it.  Red fruits on palate are good,  there is a suggestion of mushrooms and nearly blueberry,  but the leafy note continues,  with an almondy undertone giving a long aftertaste.  Not quite the rigour of berry selection here,  perhaps,  but it has the richness to cellar well,  5 – 12 years.  GK 12/05

2004  Kaituna Valley Pinot Noir Marlborough Awatere Vineyard   17  ()
Awatere River,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $42   [ screwcap ]
Deep ruby,  some velvet,  pretty well the maximum for pinot noir.  This wine opens in the pennyroyal  aromatic style of Martinborough and some Marlborough pinots,  with some floral suggestions on red cherry and blackboy fruit.  It is more or less between the other two Kaitunas,  in style.  Palate is coarser,  though,  with the oak tending boisterous at this stage,  and the fruit a bit stewed-plummy and ‘sweet’.  It will look subtler and better in two years,  for it has plenty of richness.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 12/05

2002  Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin Champeaux   16 ½ +  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $93   [ cork;  www.drouhin.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  one of the lightest.  An intriguing red fruits and floral pinot bouquet,  with a piquant aromatic herbes component verging on balsam,  but very subtle.  The whole wine is so much lighter than the Faiveley premier cru,  yet of comparable quality.  Palate is fresh red fruits,  blackboy and red cherries,  remarkably in the style of Martinborough / Marlborough.  Charming simple pinot,  which will be accessible early.  Cellar 2 – 8 years.  GK 12/05

2002  Faiveley Nuits-St-Georges Clos de la Marechale   16 ½ +  ()
Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $98   [ cork;  Faiveley monopole ]
Fresh good pinot noir ruby,  benchmark.  An understated bouquet,  clean,  darkly floral maybe,  black cherry suggestions,  benefitting from decanting.  Palate is amazingly tannic at this early stage,  with both grape and ripe stalk tannins as well as older oak.  Aftertaste is stern,  with a suggestion of almond in the tannins.  This must be cellared for 3 – 5 years,  to soften,  when it will be more clearly varietal and attractive.  It should hold another 10.  GK 12/05

2003  Drouhin Bourgogne / Pinot Noir Laforet   16 ½ +  ()
Burgundy,  France:  12.5%;  $25   [ cork;  mostly Cote de Beaune;  hand-picked,  de-stemmed;  some oak fermenters,  cuvaison c. 16 days,  some oak maturation,  some s/s;  www.drouhin.com ]
Classic pinot noir ruby !  Bouquet is quiet and unshowy,  not really floral,  but clearly varietal and related to cherries and darker plums,  and all made interesting by totally academic brett and older but clean and subtle oak – ideal.  The degree of physiological maturity shown by this fruit at the given alcohol sends an important message to us in New Zealand.  Palate likewise has exact cherryberry generalised pinot flavours,  and a suggestion of the velvety mouthfeel of good pinot noir,  balanced by neat acid.  This bourgogne rouge bears no relation to so much of the dreadful stuff labelled and peddled by negociants generally in the 70s and 80s.  It is a very pleasant drinking experience,  in quality matching for Burgundy what Guigal’s Cotes du Rhone achieves there,  and equally scoffable.  Cellar 2 – 6 years.  VALUE  GK 12/05

2004  Kaituna Valley Pinot Noir Canterbury Kaituna Vineyard   16 ½  ()
Banks Peninsula,  Canterbury,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $42   [ screwcap ]
Weighty ruby,  carmine and velvet,  not appropriate for pinot noir.  This is a difficult wine to assess,  for it  follows in the heavy / ponderous style of pinot pioneered in New Zealand by Dry River and Pegasus Bay  Prima Donna.  In the blind tasting,  with its weight and pennyroyal / macrocarpa aromatics rather than floral complexity,  and its unclear varietal characters,  it seemed Australian.  Palate is extraordinarily rich and ripe,  with nearly buttery oak augmenting the raw fruit and blackberry richness.  The rich boysenberry and darkest plum fruit on palate checks with Australian shiraz,  but the oak is lower than Australia usually supplies,  and there is no suggestion of added tartaric acid.  So given the soft palate feel,  the revealed identity of pinot noir after the blind tasting makes some sense.  But as pinot noir,  this wine is seriously over-ripe,  much though the concentration of fruit and dry extract can be praised.  Interestingly,  the descriptors given on the back label include blackberry and boysenberry,  both true to the wine,  but off the sensory scale for pinot noir,  as an international concept.  The wine gives the impression of setting out to show just how well pinot can be ripened in the home vineyard,  but in achieving super-ripeness,  the wine has somewhat lost the plot in terms of varietal character,  complexity,  and finesse.  It is therefore hard to score meaningfully.  If the above-named comparison wines appeal,  this wine will too.  The dry extract might break the 30 g/L barrier.  Cellar 5 – 15 years,  on weight.  GK 12/05

2004  Ata Rangi Pinot Noir Crimson   16 +  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $28   [ screwcap;  young vines,  hand-harvested;  de-stemmed,  whole berries, 14 days cuvaison, 9 months including MLF in French oak 25% new;  www.atarangi.co.nz ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  fractionally lighter than the Drouhin Bourgogne.  Bouquet is fragrant and floral in the Cloudy Bay style,  but the florals are lighter,  more buddleia,  in fair cherry fruit.  Palate shows fresh red cherry fruit,  all a little more stalky and acid than the Drouhin or Cloudy Bay,  and the oak at a maximum or beyond for the fruit weight.  Comparison with the Drouhin wine is instructive,  for desirable levels of oak in pinot.  Clearly varietal though,  and will look much better with a couple of years in cellar,  to soften.  Cellar 2 – 6 years.  GK 12/05

2002  de L’Arlot Vosne Romanée les Suchots   16 +  ()
Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $104   [ cork ]
Older light pinot noir ruby,  quite different from the other wines.  Bouquet is in a totally different style too,  very fragrant indeed,  but with a clear leafy / oaky nearly varnishy component in light red fruits.  Palate follows through similarly,  but gives the impression of being chaptalised,  considering the green thread,  with noticeable acid.  Actual fruit weight is good,  in a savoury and oaky red fruits way.  The whole style is remarkably reminiscent of some of the Omihi Selection pinots from North Canterbury.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 12/05

2004  Riverby Estate Pinot Noir Single Vineyard   16  ()
Wairau Valley,  Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $28   [ cork;  hand-picked @ c. 2.5 t/ac;  14 months in French oak;  no wine info on website yet;  www.riverbyestate.com ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby,  the lightest of the pinots,  though several Drouhins are close.  Bouquet is tending muddled at this stage,  fair fruit,  but some buttery and retained fermentation odours to marry away.  It benefits from decanting.  Palate is more pleasing,  with fragrant blackboy fruit in the Marlborough / Martinborough typical style and flavour,  firmed by a stalky note and light oak.  It is richer than the Ata Rangi,  and like it needs another year in bottle to harmonise.  Ultimately it will be the better wine.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 12/05