I attended NZ Pinot Noir 2010 conference with my beautiful friend and fellow pinot lover Pat Landee of Patty’s Pinot Closet fame ( This is a great event  held every 3 years and is an outstanding opportunity to learn about growing and making pinot noir but also to meet 100’s of wine makers and wine industry professionals. The next event will be held 28-31 January, 2013 and information can be found at

Overall wines shown at NZ Pinot Noir 2010 were of very consistent quality with every possible variation in style of pinot noir. Regionality was not always obvious during the tastings. Winemaking demonstrated a great dedication to the variety, passion and technical knowhow. Sustainability in NZ vineyards and Wineries is a commitment and not just a marketing ploy.

107 exhibitors at NZ Pinot Noir 2010 – there is no shortage of Pinot Noir in NZ from all over the country!

NZ vines are now getting some decent age and it is starting to show in terms of quality and complexity. Last time I attended the Pinot Noir conference was in 2004 where one of the wines in the tasting line-up was made from 2 year old vines! Now wines were more likely made from vines with an average age of more than 10 years.

Wide variation in pricing of NZ pinot noir is based on reputation of the producer but my impression is that the competition is pulling prices down a little. Oz Clark made a stinging speech warning NZ not to kill off their reputation by continuing the downward price spiral that they have with their Sauvignon Blanc. He also warned NZ not to go the way of Australia that has destroyed its international reputation for premium reds.

I tended to think of Martinborough and Central Otago when thinking of NZ pinot but this is a mistake. Great wines are coming from many all other wine growing areas as well including Wairarapa, Marlborough, Canterbury, Waipara and Nelson.

A comparative blind tasting of 10 older NZ pinot noirs from 2003 showed me that these wines have not improved with age, losing freshness and the finesse and aromas they explode with as 2-4 year old wines. This may be a function of vine age and only time will tell whether future vintages will age better. Not that the wines weren’t still worth drinking and it may be a question of personal taste. This bracket caused a lot of heated discussion with some people loving the aged wines but perhaps they were in the minority! Note that this bracket included some iconic NZ pinots including Ata Rangi, Felton Road Block 5 and Pegasus Bay Prima Donna. The later scoring the best of the bracket from me

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