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New Zealand Pinot Noir: tasting 25 of the best 

The wines

Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir 2000, Martinborough
Deep coloured. Wonderfully intense nose of cherries, herbs and dark chocolate. Brilliantly balanced palate is savoury with rich berry fruit. Thereís a bit of sweetness to the fruit. Good complexity and density. Excellent (c. £15)

Waipara West Pinot Noir 2000, Waipara
Very intense nose showing bright, herby berry fruit with lots of earthy complexity. Delicious. Lovely balance on the concentrated palate, displaying rich herby fruit, some tannins and a spicy edge. It all pulls together brilliantly. Excellent (c. £14)

Isabel Estate Marlborough Pinot Noir 2000
Iím always pleased to see a new world Pinot Noir that isnít too darkly coloured, so the cherry red colour of this example is promising. It has a lovely intense nose showing an attractive medicinal edge to the bright berry fruit. The palate displays a good concentration of savoury, herb-tinged fruit, and although this is a young wine itís already showing a good degree of complexity. A deeply impressive Pinot Noir that gets it just right. Excellent (c. £14)

Highfield Estate ĎElstreeí Pinot Noir 1999, Marlborough
Dark coloured. Spicy, herby berry fruit on the nose. The palate shows a nice balance of juicy fruit with some medicinal, spicy complexity. Quite tight, but with potential. Very good/excellent

Villa Maria Pinot Noir 2000, Marlborough
Quite deep coloured. The nose shows lovely bright cherry and berry fruit with a medicinal edge. Lovely balance on the palate with a delicious savoury edge to the fruit. This is a fresh wine thatís not too full on, and shows lovely balance. Very good/excellent (c. £13)

Villa Maria Reserve Pinot Noir 2000, Marlborough
Deep coloured red/purple. Quite a tight nose showing berry fruit, spicy oak and a chocolatey richness. Concentrated palate is very rich: the juicy flavours work well with a bit of spicy oak. Youthful. Very good/excellent (c. £17)

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Lloyd Pinot Noir 2000, Marlborough
Deep coloured, this is an intense, brooding wine. Muted nose leads to a super- concentrated palate  displaying deep black/berry fruits and some new oak. Itís tight knit now, but could be sensational in five years time. A hard one to call; currently quite wood dominated, but this may well integrate better. Very good/excellent (£20+)

Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Pinot Noir 2000, Marlborough
Rich, savoury medicinal-tinged nose with a herby edge. Juicy cherry fruit and herb palate is quite rich and chunky. Tasty stuff. Very good/excellent (c. £13)

Tohu Pinot Noir 2000, Marlborough
Quite intense nose: rich, taut and herby with cherry and berry fruit. Good concentration of chunky, juicy fruit on the palate with spicy complexity and some wood influence. Needs time. Very good/excellent (c. £13)

Felton Road Pinot Noir 2000, Central Otago
Deep red/purple colour. Intense nose showing vibrant cherry fruit with rich savoury herbal undertones; quite complex. Rich juicy palate with a nice herbal complexity to the bright fruit. In a new world style, but not at all jammy. Very good/excellent (c. £18)

Felton Road Pinot Noir ĎBlock 5í 2000, Central Otago
Deep red/purple, verging towards black. Intense nose shows medicinal/herbal complexity, some cherry/berry fruit and a touch of spice. Juicy, concentrated palate is intense with a spicy edge and good acidity. Savoury and quite fresh. Quite a powerful wine but still varietally true. Very good/excellent (c. £25)

Palliser Estate Pinot Noir 2000, Martinborough
Deep red/purple colour. Lovely enticing nose with spicy medicinal complexity to the ripe berry fruit, with a bit of chocolatey richness to boot. Good concentration on the palate, which displays herby berry fruit. Quite a rich style of Pinot, but still varietally true. Very good/excellent (c. £11)

Matua Valley ĎWairarapaí Pinot Noir 2000, Wairarapa
Vibrant juicy berry fruit on the nose with a herby edge. The palate is well balanced with herb tinged fruit and a lovely juicy character. Good concentration but perhaps just a touch of herbaceousness on the palate. Very good/excellent (c. £11)

Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2000, Marlborough
Intense, bright cherry fruit on the nose with a savoury edge. Good concentration on the bright juicy palate with some herby, spicy complexity. Quite tight at the moment, but it may develop. Very good/excellent (c. £18)

Giesen Reserve Pinot Noir 2000, Marlborough
Pronounced medicinal edge to the nose, which displays a rich smoky edge to the ripe fruit. Concentrated, savoury palate showing juicy berry fruit and some oak influence. Tasty in a Ďbigí style. Very good+

Hunterís Pinot Noir 2000, Marlborough
Mid-density. Slightly muted nose shows pure juicy fruit with a touch of herbiness. Juicy fruit on the palate with good acidity. Not a big wine, made in a fresh style. May improve? Very good+ (c. £11)

Montana Reserve Pinot Noir 2000, Marlborough
Nose is a little muted with spicy, savoury berry fruits. Slightly chunky, spicy berry fruit on the palate with some oak evident. Good concentration; an attractive wine. Very good+ (£10)

Mount Difficulty Pinot Noir 2000, Central Otago
Quite deep coloured. Pronounced intense nose of ripe berry fruit: itís slightly sweet with a herbaceous edge. The palate is full flavoured and concentrated. Thereís lots of fresh bright fruit here with an almost chocolatey edge. Quite intense, but if Iím being picky, perhaps there is just a hint of unripeness here? Very good+ (c. £16)

Morton Estate Stone Creek Pinot Noir 2000, Marlborough
Quite a faded colour. Thereís a rich caramel edge to the ripe berry fruit on the nose. Attractive ripe palate with some soft fruit and a chocolately, herby edge. Very good+ (c. £11)

Alpha Domus Pinot Noir 2000, Hawkes Bay
Deep red/purple. Slightly restrained cherry and berry fruit on the nose with some rich spicy oak. Fruity palate with a spicy edge: this is concentrated stuff, and although itís quite a classy wine itís probably a bit too rich for a Pinot Noir? Very good+ (c. £14)

Matariki Reserve Pinot Noir 1999, Hawkes Bay
Lovely rich sweet caramel-edged nose with some savoury notes. Rich, juicy, savoury berry fruit on the palate. Quite a ripe style with a very spicy finish. Very good+ (c. £13)

Vidal Estate Pinot Noir 2000, East Coast
Cherry fruit and herbs on the nose. Juicy, savoury palate. Tiny bit simple, but it has good varietal character. Very good+ (£9)

Seifried Estate Pinot Noir 1999, Nelson
Lighter red colour with a fading rim. The spicy nose has a sweet herbal character; the ripe juicy palate displays sweet cherry fruit. A bit simple and a tiny bit jammy. Very good (c. £8)

Forrest Estate Pinot Noir 2000, Marlborough  
Quite  a sweet confected edge to the cherry/berry fruit on the nose. Medium bodied juicy fruit on the palate. Very fruity and accessible, but perhaps lacks a little complexity? Very good (c. £10)

Nautilus Estate Pinot Noir 2000, Marlborough
Bit of bright fruit on the nose. Juicy, rounded palate is ripe and attractive. A tiny bit simple. Very good (c. £13)

(These wines were tasted in February 2002 at the Wines of New Zealand Trade fair.

see also: Spotlight on Central Otago, New Zealand; tasting notes of New Zealand Wines

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