Comparing New Zealand and Ontario Pinot Noirs

canada new zealand pinot noir

Comparing New Zealand and Ontario Pinot Noirs

Yesterday I took part in a really interesting event in Toronto. It brought together 12 Ontario Pinot Noirs with 12 New Zealand Pinots in a blind tasting, and I was one of the three session leaders, along with John Szabo (who coordinated the tasting) and Cameron Douglas. We had different winemakers on our panel as we tasted in two sessions. The first had a theme of stems and berries, and the second was focusing on subregionality.

Why New Zealand and Ontario Pinots together? There are some parallels: both industries entered their modern eras in the 1970s, and both are cool climate wine regions. We tasted the following wines blind, and here are my notes and scores as written.

Stems and berries

Clos Henri Pinot Noir 2016 Marlborough, New Zealand
20% whole cluster. This is bright and fresh with sweet cherries and fine herbs. Has nice brightness to the fruit. Shows elegance and nice fruit expression, together with an appealing meaty savouriness in the background. 93/100

Martinborough Vineyards Te Tera Pinot Noir 2017 Martinborough, New Zealand
Destemmed. Lovely sweet, direct, pretty cherry fruit here. Silky and fruit driven with fine herb notes in the background. Lovely purity with fine-grained structure. Shows finesse. 93/100

Churton Pinot Noir 2016 Marlborough, New Zealand
No stems. Green herbal note on the nose. Quite rich and powerful with a touch or rhubarb and some nice raspberry brightness. Has a lift here. Has some crunch to the fruit. 92/100

Hidden Bench Rosomel Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 Beamsville Bench, Niagara, Canada
100% Destemmed. Fresh and expressive with a savoury cedary edge to the structured cherry and plum fruit. Nice freshness and structure, with some supporting oak. Stylish wine. 93/100

Adamo Wismer-Parke Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara, Canada
50% whole cluster. Pale coloured and delightfully leafy and elegant. Has lovely savoury hints and fine-grained structure. Very finely poised with nice purity and elegance. Lighter styled but still has some structure. 94/100

Bachelder Wismer-Parke Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara, Canada
Destemmed, not crushed. Sweetly aromatic with some candied fruit character. Has a jelly-ish edge to the sweet red fruits. Fruity style with some appeal. Also has some leafy, slightly herby hints. 92/100

Burn Cottage Pinot Noir 2016 Central Otago, New Zealand
23% whole cluster. Dense but elegant with nicely structured black cherry fruit. Has nice brightness. Silky and fine with some meaty hints. Lovely stuff showing lushness allied to elegance. 95/100

Rockburn ‘The Art’ Pinot Noir 2016 Central Otago, New Zealand
30% whole cluster. Meaty, spicy and quite savoury with some grunt under the bright cherry and berry fruits. Has good structure and a hint of mint, too. Very attractive in a rich, structured style. 93/100

Toi Toi Reserve Pinot Noir 2014 Central Otago, New Zealand
Dense and structured with bold, substantial black cherry and blackberry fruit. Lovely structure with great concentration to the fruit. Lots going on here. 94/100

Southbrook Laundry Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 Niagara, Canada
60% whole cluster. Lighter in colour with fresh, supple raspberry and cherry fruit. Has some rhubarb and sour cherry character. Very supple and quite elegant, with nice brightness. 93/100

Trius Clark Farm Vineyard Showcase Pinot Noir 2016 Four Mile Creek, Niagara, Canada
100% destemmed. Lovely floral aromatics here with sweet cherry and raspberry fruit. Lovely textured mid-palate with nice precision. Generous fruit here. Very stylish. 93/100

Leaning Post Senchuk Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara, Canada
40% stems. Supple bright and expressive with light red cherry fruit. Light in colour with nice spicy hints and some supple red fruits. A little edgy. Nicely expressive. 92/100

Same, but different

Greystone Omihi Pinot Noir 2016 Waipara, New Zealand
Compact with nice sweet red berry fruits and good purity. Has a fruity ease to it with some fine grained tannins and a sweetly fruited finish. 92/100

Stanners Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 Prince Edward County, Canada
Fresh, bright and nicely structured with robust cherry and plum fruit. Has some density. A fresh, vivid style with some meaty hints. Quite compact. 93/100

Stoneleigh Latitude Pinot Noir 2017 Marlborough, New Zealand
Vivid and bright with sweet cherry and plum fruit. Has a savoury twist on the palate. Shows fresh raspberries and a bit of meaty spiciness, too. Lovely freshness. 94/100

Tawse Quarry Road Pinot Noir 2015 Vinemount Ridge, Niagara, Canada
Lovely texture here: has some silkiness to the fresh, sweet raspberry and cherry fruit. Lots of fruit here. Lovely weight in the mouth. Silky and rounded but still fresh. 94/100

Nautilus Southern Valleys Pinot Noir 2015 Marlborough, New Zealand
Ripe, smooth and sweet with a hint of ginger spice. Has nice depth and texture here: a broad wine with lovely fruit intensity. 93/100

Flat Rock Estate Pinot Noir 2016 Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara, Canada
Open and fleshy with a green herbal edge to the smooth berry and cherry fruits. Quite an elegant style with a seductive quality to the red cherry fruit on the palate. 94/100

Luna Estate Eclipse Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 Martinborough, New Zealand
Generous, smooth and ripe with sweet berry fruits and some floral cherry character. Very fruity with good concentration and a smooth, silky mid palate. Rich but still in balance. 93/100

Malivoire Mottiar Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 Beamsville Bench, Niagara, Canada
Light and expressive. Has some plum and stewed rhubarb with fine herbal hints. Nicely weighted. 92/100

Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 Four Mile Creek, Niagara, Canada
This has nice density to the fruit. Sweet black cherries and plums with good structure. Very polished and generous. Has a smoothness to the mid palate but also some structure. 93/100

Loveblock Someone’s Darling Pinot Noir 2016 Central Otago, New Zealand
Has a green edge to the sweet berry fruits. Fresh and supple. Quite a ripe style with lots of polish, but also some greenness. 92/100

Thirty Bench Small Lot Pinot Noir 2016 Beamsville Bench, Niagara, Canada
Ripe and sweetly fruited with a supple leafy edge to the cherry fruit. Lovely open style with some complexity. Very nicely poised and quite elegant. 94/100

Felton Road Bannockbury Pinot Noir 2010 Central Otago, New Zealand
Has a little bit of development here. Lovely green herbal hints and meaty, sweet berry and cherry fruit. Ripe and seductive with lovely weight. 95/100


5 Comments on Comparing New Zealand and Ontario Pinot NoirsTagged , ,
wine journalist and flavour obsessive

5 thoughts on “Comparing New Zealand and Ontario Pinot Noirs

  1. Indeed, a great idea and exactly what we are doing this year at the Judgement of Kingston (2 November 2019) – blind tasting great pinot noirs from The County compared with some of New Zealand’s best, with proceeds from our silent auction going to local and regional charities. More information on our website: (and tickets are on sale now and will sell out as they do every year). Cheers!

  2. How successful were you at guessing the origin of each wine? Are there differences that distinguish a CDN from a NZ one?

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