An extensive tasting of Pinot Noir from North Canterbury, New Zealand

waipara north canterbury pinot noir

North Canterbury is the new-ish term used to describe the vineyard region close to Canterbury, which includes the Waipara Valley. In the couple of days I spent here, I tasted my way through many of the the wines, and these are my notes on the Pinot Noirs that I’ve tried. It’s a region that I’ve visited a few times, and I really like it. When Pinot hits highs here, it hits real highs. But it’s a cool region, and there’s sometimes a bit of inconsistency. For those unfamiliar with the region, this introduction is a good place to start. More notes to come.

Ataahua Pinot Noir 2013 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Juicy with taut red fruits and a touch of spicy reduction. Sweet and savoury notes here with fresh crunchy cherries and grip on the finish. 90/100

bell hill

Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2013 North Canterbury, New Zealand
Very fine and expressive, this has substance and also elegance. There’s a lovely freshness to the palate with sweet red fruits and a bright structure that has a lot to do with the well integrated acidity. Fine herbal notes and really fine-grained tannins here, as well as fresh red cherries and a bit of plum. Lovely wine with a long future ahead of it. 96/100

Bellbird Spring River Terrace Pinot Noir 2015 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Light and distinctive with red cherries, herbs and some spiciness. Grippy and light with a hnt of medicine. 89/100 

Bellbird Spring Block Eight Pinot Noir 2015 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Supple and detailed with fresh red cherries and a bit of spiciness. Made in a lighter style, this is fine and detailed, savoury and sappy. 90/100

Bellbird Spring The Pruner’s Reward Pinot Noir 2014 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Supple and fresh, and a bit spicy and savoury. Bright red cherries and some grip. Lighter styled. 89/100

Black Estate Home Pinot Noir 2015 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Nice depth here: textural with vivid, tightwound cherry and berry fruits. Has some herby undertones and fine spiciness. 93/100

black estate dam steep

Black Estate Damsteep Pinot Noir 2015 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Beautifully focused with pure, silky, fresh cherry fruit and fine spiciness. Real elegance here with nice grainy structure. 94/100 

Black Estate Netherwood Pinot Noir 2015 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Fine, fresh and sappy with bright, mineral cherry and plum fruit. Really elegant. Has a lightness to it and a mineral core. 94/100

the boneline

The Boneline Waimanu Pinot Noir 2014 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Fresh sweet raspberry jam and cherry nose. Floral and direct. Supple palate with sweet, smooth cherry and berry fruits. Very friendly, fruity and approachable, but with really nice fruit. Modern and glossy. 92/100

The Crater Rim Pinot Noir 2013 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Fresh, juicy and supple with bright cherries and plums. Expressive with nice freshness and some grip. 90/100

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The Crater Rim Omihi Rise Pinot Noir 2012 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Fresh, supple and elegant with a bit of savouriness. Fine structure supports the fresh red cherry fruits with nice acidity. Restrained and mineral. 94/100 

Fancrest Estate Pinot Noir 2011 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Supple, fresh, lively and tangy with some cherry fruit and a bit of cola spiciness. Sweet and sour. 88/100 

Georges Road Williams Hill Pinot Noir 2014 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Sweet and supple with a slightly herby edge to the bright raspberry fruit. Slightly green edge here, but attractive with nice sweet fruit. 90/100

Greystone Pinot Noir 2015 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Juicy and bright with vigorous, tight cherry and plum fruit. Juicy and vivid with nice youthful grip. Nicely focused. 93/100

greystone pinot noir

Greystone Thomas Brothers’ Pinot Noir 2013 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Lovely aromatics here: sweet, pure, with lovely red cherries and raspberries. It has a bit of liqueur-like richness and fine spicy notes. Very pretty but also structured. Seductive but not overdone. 94/100 

Main Divide Pinot Noir 2013 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Supple and juicy with herbs and spices. Nicely savoury with a juicy, drinkable quality. Has nice weight and freshness. 90/100

alan mccorkindale

Alan McCorkindale Single Barrel Pinot Noir Pinot Noir 2014 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Beautifully floral red cherry nose with a really smooth, liqueur-like quality. The palate has density and also purity with good structure, some fine spices, red cherries and a hint of leather. Very attractive with real substance. 95/100

Alan McCorkindale Chalky Pinot Noir Pinot Noir 2007 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Some development on the nose with a warm, subtly malty red fruit character. The palate is really beautiful with very fresh, well integrated acidity and bright cherries and herbs. There’s a silkiness here but also the bright acidity provides nice framing. A lovely Pinot with some maturity. 94/100

Mount Brown Estates Grand Reserve Pinot Noir 2014 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Supple and bright with nice sweet juicy berry and cherry fruits, but also a bit of creamy, sweet vanilla character in the background. The floral cherry fruit is really appealing. 90/100

Mount Brown Estates Pinot Noir 2016 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Juicy, fresh, berryish and bright with supple, sweet fruit. Very drinkable and easy, this is Pinot Nouveau in style. 88/100 

Muddy Water Pinot Noir 2013 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Rounded and yet compact at the same time, with sweet cherries and plums. Very appealing with sweet fruit core and a balanced personality. 91/100

Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2013 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
There’s a lovely sappy elegance to this wine. Savoury, spicy and a bit grippy with some herbal hints and bright red cherry and plum fruit. Dense black fruits and some spicy structure. Tangy, spicy, savoury finish. Needs time. 93/100

Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2014 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Vivid, spicy and ripe with dense black fruits and a slight cherry cola tang. Edgy and spicy with nice fruit character but also a bit of angular wildness. Needs taming: will age do this? 90/100

Pyramid Valley Vineyards Angel Flower Pinot Noir 2015 North Canterbury, New Zealand
Beautiful, haunting aromatics with floral sweet cherries and plums. Really expressive with a tiny bit of sweet lift. The palate is elegant, supple and quite pure with real detail and lovely fine-grained tannins. Sweetly fruited, floral and a bit edgy, with a fresh finish. Some sour cherry, too. Lovely. 95/100

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Pyramid Valley Vineyards Earth Smoke Pinot Noir 2015 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Fresh, floral, slightly sappy nose with lovely, pretty, expressive red cherry and herb fruit. Fine and fruity on the palate but with real sappy elegance. Fresh and focused and very pretty with nice acid structure. So more-ish and beautiful, this captures the elegant heart of Pinot on a good terroir. Very mineral. 96/100 

Terrace Edge Pinot Noir 2012 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Very aromatic with fine sweet cherries and nice finesse. Supple and sweetly fruity with a sappy edge. Refined and with real finesse. 93/100

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Tongue in Groove Cabal Pinot 2014 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Focused red fruits nose is tightwound. The palate has real density and focus to the red cherry, plum and raspberry fruit. Lovely freshness and structure here: this has fruit sweetness but it’s also quite serious and brooding. 94/100

Waipara Hills Isolated Hill Pinot Noir 2014 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Supple, smooth and focused with nice red cherry and plum fruit. There’s a savoury, mineral core as well as appealing elegant fruit. Nice acidity and tannin providing structure. 92/100

Waipara Hills Equinox Pinot Noir 2015 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Floral, slightly herby red fruits nose with a taut, compact, green edge. Fresh red fruits palate with a hint of reduction and some grippy tannins. Nice restraint here. Compact and savoury. 91/100

Waipara Springs Premo Reserve Pinot Noir 2014 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Supple red cherry fruit here: nicely understated with some silky texture and an appealing mineral core. So supple with fresh acidity and fine-grained structure. 92/100

Whistling Buoy Half Acre Pinot Noir 2015 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Very sweetly aromatic with a cedary, spicy, slightly roast coffee edge. Spicy roast coffee and cedar palate. Unusual and a little oak dominated at the moment. 87/100

Whistling Kokolo Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Very attractive sappy red fruits here. Juicy but elegant with restraint and savouriness, as well as sweet red cherry and plum fruit. Very impressive and shows beautiful balance, with some floral detail. A bit of grip on the finish. 93/100

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1 comment to An extensive tasting of Pinot Noir from North Canterbury, New Zealand

  • Hi Jamie,
    Loved your review of our wines, thanks, but Whistling Buoy is located on Banks Peninsula rather than in Waipara, although both regions are recognised within the North Canterbury GI. We also enjoy the advantage of the Waipara Valley region re hot summers and protection from the cooling Easterly winds but in addition we have the advantage of the maritime influence of Lyttelton Harbour, mitigating the extremes sometime seen in other regions of Canterbury.
    Cheers
    Neil

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