Day 4 Pinot Noir NZ 2013 – the Grand Finale


Final Day of Pinot Noir NZ 2013 was highly anticipated and didn’t disappoint!

The Tastings for today were two blind tastings of pinots from Burgundy and NZ. The idea was to examine ‘La Régionalité’ in the tasting and not to compare Burgundian wines to NZ or visa versa.  It is hard not to compare the two sets of wines as they were tasted back to back and I cant resist drawing some comparisons, if not any conclusions!

Firstly what was meant by ‘La Régionalité’? We had a panel of ‘experts’ including Jasper Morris MW expand on their thoughts regarding the concept. I gathered that it is not terroir which is much more site or vineyard specific concept of place. Perhaps the easiest to understand explanation was using the illustration of Burgundy. When you taste Burgundian wines you might get a vivid image of the quaint villages, fine cheeses and food, tightly packed close planted vineyards bounded by ancient stone walls.  But what does this taste like? or is it a specific taste at all or to use a crude modern term – Is it just ‘branding’? Well the idea of the Burgundy tasting was to explore this concept by tasting 6 wines from 6 different villages or sub-regions. Just to further complicate the tasting each successive wine was from different classifications from Bourgogne Epineuil & Bourgogne Cote Chalonaise to Village Vielles Vignes (old vines) to Premier Cru and finally to Grand Cru.

My notes on these wines are as follows:

1. Domaine de l’Abbaye de Petit Quincy Bourgogne Epineuil Cote de Grisey 2010

Pale, insipid colour in the glass. The palate is dominated by acid. Indiscreet flavours hide behind the acid. Lacks character although it has no faults just poor fruit.  Light weighted, with light red fruits, Straightforward or simple.

2. Domaine A. et P. de Villaine Bourgogne Cote Chalonaise ‘La Digoine’ 2010

A little better than the Epineuil but still acid dominated. Light ruby-red, pale appearance. The nose is still closed but displays some red berry fruit aromas. Medium-bodied and better length. Pure red fruits are initially dominated by the acidity: after re-looking at this wine towards the end of the tasting, the acid had somewhat softened opening the way for the fruit but still a relatively simple unassuming wine.

3. Domaine de Bellene Sauvigny-Les-Beaune ‘Vielles Vignes’ 2010

Moderately deep ruby-red reflections in the glass. The nose is closed but a little red fruits and spice are showing through. Good acid, tannin and fruit balance with some grip on the finish. The middle palate has some nice but straight forward cherry fruit combined with a little earthiness.

4. Domaine Nicolas Rossignol Volnay 1er Cru ‘Chevret’ 2010

Brilliant ruby-red colour, perfect clarity displaying beautiful reflections in the glass. Great start. The nose is lifted red fruit, dried flowers (potpourri) and cinnamon.  A wine that is finely balanced with a lot of finesse showing. Seamless tannins and good length. A little reductive or even a touch of brettanomyces but not enough to cause a serious problem and may help add interest.

5. Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair, Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru ‘Les St Georges’ 2010

Deep ruby colour signaling a more substantial presence. Some volatility on the nose with aromas of dark berries and cherry, herbs, oak and earth. This is a bigger, richer wine with good power and structure but currently finishes a little short.  The tannin is soft and adequately supports the fruit and charry oak flavours. This is a youthful yet powerful wine that will develop over time.  There is plenty of potential here to become a complex and interesting wine of substance. Probably my favorite in the line-up.

6. Anne Gros Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru ‘Les Grand Maupertuis’ 2010

Fine colour & clarity. A perfumed nose with fruit, floral & mineral notes that continued to develop during the tasting. A sensuous wine with perfect balance, quite tightly bound at the moment but possessing a powerful mid palate of red fruits. The finish is less powerful but it has good persistence. A wine that will age graciously as its potential develops. Note – I have met Anne and seen how passionate she is about her terroir and how meticulous she is in her wine making. This wine definitely attests to these qualities.

Well did these wines exhibit a common Burgundy Régionalité?  Well perhaps they did if you exclude the first two or three in the line-up. Can I be more specific about what this means? Probably not!

The next tasting was the New Zealand Regional Tasting. What a delight – 12 pinots selected by a panel consisting of Tim Atkin MW, Cameron Douglas, Rebbecca Gibb, Philip Rich, Indra Kumar & Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW. Each panelist selected 2 wines from a single region. As the tasting was completely blind, it was a great opportunity to not only explore the Régionalité but also to rank the wines into a “best of NZ” ladder. So here we go…

Region – Martinborough

Wine 1 Kusuda Pinot Noir 2010 Rank # 5

  •  Lifted aromas of Flowers and red fruits
  • Lovely balance
  • Extreme freshness and clean flavours
  • Nice acid and balance

Wine 2 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir 2010 Rank # 8

  • Nose is dusty
  • Lacks balance at moment/a little awkward
  • Nice dark fruits
  • Coffee on finish

Region – Marlborough

Wine 3 Dog Point Pinot Noir 2010 Rank # 9

  • Deeply coloured
  • Sweet fruit
  • Nice oak
  • Youthful – needs time
  • A little drying on the finish

Wine 4 Fromm Clayvin Pinot Noir 2010 Rank # 12

  • Closed and tight
  • Slightly reductive
  • good acid/tannin

Region – Nelson

Wine 5 Woolaston Estates Pinot Noir 2010 Rank #3

  • Fine appearance
  • perfumed but slightly warm
  • Nice structure with cherry and plums
  • Well balanced and good length

Wine 6 Neudorf Vineyards Home Pinot Noir 2010 Rank #1

  • Brilliant colour and clarity
  • Lovely lifted nose with loads of interest
  • Good balance and body
  • Cherry, dried herbs, tarry oak and a touch annise
  • Good length
  • Age worthy

Region – Waipara

Wine 7 Bellbird Spring Pinot Noir 2010 Rank #2

  • Dark brooding colour
  • Nose a little closed initially
  • Complex palate of dark fruits, herbs (thyme and bay leaves)
  • Concentrated and good length

Wine 8 Black Estate Omihi Series Pinot Noir 2010 Rank #10

  •  Darkly coloured
  • Slightly cloudy
  • Aroma of dark fruits and musk
  • Rounded and dense but a little unbalanced

Region – Waitaki Valley

Wine 9  Valli Waitaki Pinot Noir 2010 Rank #11

  • Dark ruby with good clarity
  • Lifted but some volitile notes
  • Reductive
  • Powerful fruit but unsettled/unbalanced
  • Needs time

Wine 10 Ostler Carolines Pinot Noir 2010 Rank #6

  •  Nice colour
  • Powerful nose
  • Cherries, roasted meats, herbs
  • Layered palate with good interest

Region – Central Otago

Wine 11 Two Paddocks The First Paddock Pinot Noir 2010 Rank #7

  •  Good colour
  • Lovely nose – flowers, red fruits, herbs and a touch of cedar
  • Great purity of fruit (typical of Central Otago)
  • Crisp acid
  • Reasonable length

Wine 12 Rippon Tinker’s Field Pinot Noir 2010 Rank #4

  • Dark and Brooding
  • A touch hazy but doesn’t detract
  • Nice mouth feel – rounded
  • Good cherry fruit
  • Polished finish, a little drying astringency

Conclusions – It is very hard to compare Burgundy to NZ pinot noirs. Completely different vine age and different Régionalité and Terroirs. However, that is to some extent a cop-out!  I think one thing that stands out for NZ is the consistency and clear potential of the wines as the vine age improves. On this tasting for me the NZ pinots take the prize. But that wasn’t what the tasting was about, was it.









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