The wines of Palliser Estate, Martinborough
Part 6 of my series on New Zealand's Martinborough/Wairarapa region


I have a fondness for this winery: Palliser Estate’s Pinot Noir was the wine that turned me on to Pinot Noir back when I was first getting into wine in a big way.

Richard Riddiford

I met here with Richard Riddiford, managing director and one of the founding shareholders (he’s also one of the great characters of the Kiwi wine scene), and associate winemaker Pip Goodwin. I was visiting along with Oz Clarke, so, as you can imagine, there was a lot of banter, as well as a bit of tasting.

Pip Goodwin

Planting its first vines in 1984, Palliser Estate was one of the pioneers of the Martinborough region, and with over 80 hectares of vineyards it is also one of the biggest players in the region. 

The wines, made by chief winemaker/vitculturalist Alan Johnson who’s been here since 1991, are consistently good, with the stand-outs being the aromatic, linear Sauvignon Blanc, a rich but balanced Chardonnay and a full flavoured, complex Pinot Noir.


Pencarrow Sauvignon Blanc 2009 New Zealand
A bit of Marlborough fruit goes into this. Crisp, lively and fresh with some grassy notes and good acidity. Attractive green pepper notes, not overdone. 88/100

Palliser Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Martinborough, New Zealand
Lovely mineral, herb and passionfruit character here. Bright with lovely weight and transparency. Long finish. 91/100

Pencarrow Chardonnay 2009 New Zealand
Toasty, rich and bold with subtle buttery notes. Quite bold but still fresh with nice balance and lovely fruit. 85/100

Palliser Estate Chardonnay 2008 Martinborough, New Zealand
Toasty and subtly buttery with nice soft texture to the bold fruit. Stylish and rich with a great combination of fruit. A bit peachy with some some pear notes and nice minerality. 90/100

Pencarrow Pinot Noir 2008 Martinborough, New Zealand
Beautifully vivid, bright and supple with cherry fruit and some berry fruit richness. Fresh and delicious with a bit of grip. 88/100

Palliser Estate Pinot Noir 2008 Martinborough, New Zealand
Aromatic, fresh and cherryish with nicely focused cherry and berry fruits. Sweet profile here to the fruit which is deliciously focused with good acidity. Stylish. 92/100

Palliser Estate The Great Walter Pinot Noir 2008 Martinborough, New Zealand
The fourth in the great dog series of limited release Pinots. Super elegant, sweet and spicy with nice density and a mineral core. Good structure and acidity. Stylish stuff. 93/100


Part 1,Martinborough Pinot Noir: a remarkable vertical tasting
Part 2, Dry River
Part 3, Ata Rangi
Part 4, Gladstone Vineyard
Part 5, Martinborough Vineyard
Part 6, Escarpment
Part 7, Palliser Estate

Wines tasted as 02/10  
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Here's an earlier report, from 2003:

Founded in 1989, Palliser Estate is reasonably old by New Zealand standards, and is one of the pioneers of the now-trendy Martinborough region, known to be especially good for Pinot Noir. The substantial estate has 84 ha of vines, and makes a full complement of varietal wines. Of those tasted here, my favourite is the Pinot Noir. As an aside, it was the 1996 Palliser Pinot Noir that first really turned me on to this beguiling variety some four or five years ago, when I was just getting into wine in a serious way. I drunk my last bottle of this wine a year ago (tasting note here): it was still very much alive, although I wouldn’t hold it much longer.

UK agent: Justerini & Brooks (0207 7484 6000;

Riesling 2001, Martinborough, New Zealand
The fresh, crisp limey nose is quite intense, and leads to a palate displaying bright lime and spice characters. Great concentration of flavour; a rich style. Very good+

Sauvignon Blanc 2001, Martinborough, New Zealand
Very intense nose with a herbal edge to the grassy fruit. Richly flavoured palate shows more of the herbal character. A full on, slightly herbaceous style. Very good

Chardonnay 2000, Martinborough, New Zealand
Quite a restrained nose with some nutty, bready elements complementing the herbal fruit. Lovely rich, concentrated palate with nicely savoury fruit. Very good+

Pinot Noir 2000, Martinborough, New Zealand
Deep red/purple colour. Lovely enticing nose with spicy, medicinal complexity to the ripe berry fruit and a bit of chocolatey richness, too. Good concentration of herby berry fruit on the palate: quite a ripe style of Pinot but still varietally true. Very good/excellent  

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