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Wine Reviews - Pinot Noir
1999 vintage and older
by Sue Courtney
Last updated 20 Aug 2007

Click on year to go to reviews for that vintage
[2008/2007] [2006] [2005] [2004] [2003] [2002] [2001] [2000][1999] [1998] [older] [index]

1999 Vintage [top] [index]

Akarua Pinot Noir Pinot Noir 1999 (Central Otago). Feral, smoky aroma with an odd thing that blows off. Cherry and lifted acid in the palate but with a feral, mushroom note which is quickly bombarded by ripe cherry fruit. Crushed velvet tannins and a bright, sweet long finish. Quite hot though. $na 7Feb2001.

Alan McCorkindale Marlborough Pinot Noir 1999 Very forthcoming aromas - floral, spice and violets. A lovely mouthfeel with layers of flavour and a strawberry sweetness alongside savoury characters with some tannins lingering. This wine reminds me of some Central Otago pinot with its lighter, fruity flavours and elegant style. A very good wine. Tasted 9/99 NZWTF.

Ata Rangi Young Vines Pinot Noir 1999 Lovely, brilliant, light red-cherry (pink ruby) colour. Light, smoky, spicy oak flavours with refreshing cherry and strawberry fruit flavours, accompanied by a hint of mushroom complexity. Fruity with a touch of zingy, orange-like acidity appearing on the finish and a finish of cinnamon, spice and orange-peel, mulled wine-like flavours. A softly tannic and very approachable wine and I will enjoy having a few bottles of these next few months. $24.00. 23Aug99.

Ata Rangi Pinot Noir 1999 The first sample we tried was from a bottle that was opened several days earlier. Rich, full, smoky, toasty, charry oak, biscuity, red berries, cherries, tar, chocolate, earthy, mushroomy with a sweet, spicy, toasted finish say my notes.
Then we opened another bottle to compare. Varnishy oak on the nose then in the palate flavours of baby boiled beetroots, cherries, plums, spices, lots of acid, rich tannins and a savoury, spicy, lifted finish. This wine was much more closed than the other bottle. Both great textured wines and both delicious in their own way. Great to see the evolution. 18.5/20. Nov 2000.

Black Estate Pinot Noir 1999 Meaty aromas with cherries, plums, savoury herbs, leather and spice. A beautiful bright lift of flavour on the plate, a lovely thick texture, rich firm tannins and savoury flavours with lavenders and violets. I loved the complexity and the awesome length with a finish that had the sweet ripe fruit flavours and jaffa (orange citrus and chocolate) lingering. Consumed over two nights, the bottle was too small. We loved it. Apr2002.

Black Ridge Pinot Noir 1999 (Central Otago) Attractive black cherry colour. Complex, earthy aromas with forest floor scents. In the palate more pronounced barrel, tarry, oxidative characters yet a fragrant floral note. Interesting complexity of fruit, nuts and oak. Less spice and savoury than the previous but fuller and rounder overall. Broadens on the finish and leaves pleasant cherry, cherry stone, ripe fruit flavours. Quite jammy. 17.8/20. 18May2000.

Brajkovich Pinot Noir 1999 A Pinot Noir with this label was last seen in 1989 when the fruit was sourced from another grower's vineyard in Kumeu. Now, the Brajkovich's own vineyards with new plantings are producing to an extent where there is enough fruit to be selective about what goes into the premium Kumeu River Pinot Noir. This new release reminds me of a Villages wine from Burgundy. With its light cherry colour, it seems light and simple at first in the palate, but complexities emerge with savoury, strawberry and cherry stone flavours and a deceptively long finish. At $20 a bottle it represents good buying for current drinking. May2000.

Chard Farm Bragato Pinot Noir 1999 (Central Otago). Attractive cherry, berry, smoky aromas with hints of spice. Very sweet, ripe, rich, almost jammy fruit. Totally voluptuous, velvety, attractive, very drinkable wine. Fruits of the forest all sorts. -Just yummy. Lovely, long, velvety finish with those hallmark Central Otago herbs lingering. Great stuff. $47.95. 7Feb2001.

Chancellor Waipara Pinot Noir 1999 From their first harvest of their pinot. Rich ripe, almost jelly-like aromas. Sweet, savoury fruit with nice spice and good plum and cherry fruit carrying the high alcohol (14.5%). Like cherry jelly baby lollies with herb wood smokiness, full-bodied, ripe and lingering. 25Mar2002.

Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 1999 Lovely brambly, cherry, smoky, earthy, forest floor notes. Good depth of flavour with subtle tannins and char. Delicious sweet cheery fruits and a lovely long length. 18/20. Nov 2000.
An array of aromas from floral cherry to mushroom and game, and even a hint of chocolate, soon has you under the spell. At first the taste is delicate but soon bursts with richness and power as delicious Pinot flavours fill the mouth. Smoky, toasty oak adds a delicious charry character that goes so well with the sweet cherry, plum and brambly fruit and the earthy, forest floor notes. It is warm and rich in flavour with sweet spice and savoury. Soft, velvety tannins combine with a silky texture. Then after the liquid has gone and you are left with memories in the mouth, floral connotations linger with a stylish mystique. WOTW 10Jun2001.

Daniel Schuster Canterbury Pinot Noir 1999 Light cherry coloured with the purple tinges of a young wine. A touch of varnish at first on the nose. Lovely cherry flavours with savoury, a hint of fruitcake spice and a touch of caramel in the palate. Fairly simple and light with the merest of tannins. Acidity gives the wine structure. Acompanied with a duck parfait, which overpowered the flavours in the wine. 16.5/20 18May2000.

Daniel Schuster Omihi Pinot Noir 1999 Deep coloured dense pinot with very ripe fruit. Very silky in the palate. Oxidative style with meaty tannins then musky fruit emerges with cherries, plums and spice. Multi-layered. Every time you taste it you will find something different. A little varnish-like on the finish. NZ$48.95. 12Dec2001.

Dry River Amaranth Pinot Noir 1999 Deep crimson coloured with aromas of wild flowers, wild grasses, wild fruits of the forest and the mossy earth they grow in. Lashings of varnishy oak are totally in harmony with the substantial fruit, which tastes of black cherries and raspberries and richly concentrated flavours of violets, truffles and yeasty biscuits. There are terrific fruit tannins, fruit structure and awesome fruit concentration with spicy oak playing in the background and lively acid tingly a chime or two. There's a sweet tartness, reminiscent perhaps of cranberry tartness, and a fusion of savoury things. This is just the most excellent wine with the most incredible length, which has cherries and truffles lingering on the finish. It is deliciously approachable at this early stage of its life. Quality with a capital 'Q'. $55 ex-winery. WOTW 10Sep2000.
Some development to the colour. Dark fruited, earthy, sensuous to the nose with a little leather and anise, there's something quite evocative in here. Savoury and rich to the taste, ripe fruited, currants, or even dates though not sweet in any sense just the overpowering richness of the fruit that builds and lingers with lifted black spices, fragrant spices. A full-bodied, intense, incredibly flavoursome pinot and simply fantastic with 'Art Ducko's duck that has been succinctly spiced. 22Nov2003.

Felton Road Pinot Noir 1999 The grapey-red / purple colour of young pinot noir, violets and roses mingle with a touch of smoke and the scent of thyme flower on the nose. Warm and harmonious in the palate with a velvety texture, soft tannins and a potpourri of herbs, spice and savoury - it's almost acidic but just not quite. With an earthy richness the wine intensifies to have almost stewed, ripe, tamarillo flavours. It is very flavoursome, ripe and balanced. Spicy tamarillo fruit with a smattering of sugar lingers on the finish. Then, with the next mouthful, there's a touch of sweet leather complexity. Perhaps some cherry too. About $35. WOTW 18Jun2000.
The grapey-red / purple colour of youth is now a fading garnet but the semi-opaque liquid still has some cherry pink in its hue. Savoury and complexly vinous on the nose with a scent of dried roses, spiced cherry and potpourri, the lifted spices carry through to the deliciously savoury palate. It's earthy, savoury and gamey with spiced cherry and plum fruit, rose petals, hints of liquorice and anise, velvety tannins and underlying acidity that adds brightness to the mouthfilling, satisfying and persistent finish. Eight years after vintage, this wine is simply stunning. It is moving across a plateau and shows no sign of falling over. 14% alc. 17Aug2007.

Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir 1999 (Central Otago) Black cherry with bright purple tinges - a baby wine. Aromas were caramelly (I need a better descriptor than caramel - but what?) at first, then biscuity, then something that reminds me of being warm and cuddly, then soapy. Hugely flavoursome in the palate with cherrystones and the famous thyme flower scents of Central Otago. Somewhat sweetish, but awesome length and delicious, velvety texture. 18.5/20. $47.00. 23May2000.

Foxes Island Pinot Noir 1999 Ripe cherry, spice and tar on the nose with lifted, bright fruit and cherry, strawberry and earthy notes like sweet mushrooms, in the palate. Very smart. $37. 24Sep2001.

Floating Mountain Waipara Pinot Noir 1999 Well coloured, dense wine with warm toasty oak, cherry liqueur and sweet ripe fruit flavours with a hint of tamarillo, spice, savoury and forest floor characters. Very plush texture and even more so the second day. Will develop well and recommended to cellar for a few months longer. July 2001.
Brightly coloured deep cherry. Intriguing with many flavours, fruity with cherry, plum, tamarillo, savoury and subtle spice, it's a warm, silky textured wine, full and flavoursome and very long in the palate. 9Jan2002.

Gibbston Valley Central Otago Pinot Noir 1999 Showing a little development to the colour, savoury with a macerated cherry fruit sweetness and a long savoury oak finish with a gamey richness. Drinking well now. 13% alc. GV vertical tasting, 24Aug2004.

Giesen Canterbury Reserve Pinot Noir 1999 ($48.95) Smoky, meaty, honey bacon aroma. Varnishy oak in palate with excellent varietal characters, cherries, etc. Lifted acid. Long finish. Very good. 30Mar2001.

Grove Mill Pinot Noir 1999 A gorgeous bright colour with a vibrant glow. Smoky cherry and cranberry fruits with hints of a chocolate richness. Dense in texture with earthy, gamey flavours and hints of tar. It's juicy and the oak has subtle char. 18.5/20. Nov 2000.

Kumeu River Pinot Noir 1999 I smelt the red, brambly coloured wine immediately after the bottle had been opened. It emitted stinky, salmi aromas and on tasting I found it a somewhat hard and leathery in the palate. But the flavours that were left lingering in the mouth were gorgeous. So obviously this tight young wine needed some aeration or decanting to be enjoyed at this infant period of its life. $30. May2000.

Isabel Estate Pinot Noir 1999 Intense fragrance and flavour. Rich, varnishy, chocolate, vanillin and cherries. Really sweet, ripe, balanced fruit with depth of crushed velvet, forest floor, game and some earthy mushroom notes. Forward fruit, no smoke or char, but savoury spice and cherries lingering on the finish. 18.5/20. Nov 2000.

Lake Hayes Central Otago Pinot Noir 1999 Light pinky-red. Herbal woody scents. Jammy vinous style with cherry and tamarillo and infusions of thyme and rosemary on the spicy acid vibrant finish. At its peak. 13% $33 10May2002.

Main Divide Pinot Noir 1999 (Marlborough/Canterbury). Herbal - thyme scents with a woody influence. Cherry, crackling berry fruit, perhaps a little sour. Woody, herbal, earthy, beetrooty, good acidity and depth of flavour with soft tannins. 2Aug2001.

Margrain Pinot Noir 1999 Rich and smoky with plummy aromas. Just delicious, ripe, full, to the extent of being almost chocolaty with gamey, tarry, earthy complexities. A lovely lifted vibrancy with cherries, strawberries, brambles and herbal spice. Full and very long on the finish. 18/20 with an up arrow. Nov 2000.

Martinborough Vineyards Pinot Noir 1999 ($57.95)- Wild berry aroma with a little smoke. An absolutely =lovely= texture in the palate - its got "pinosity". Dense mouthfilling flavours of black cherry and tar with hints of violets.. Delicious, lifted acidity, great flare on the length. Yes, a hint of citrus along with the spicy cherry. Great stuff. 14Mar2001.

Mountford Pinot Noir 1999 Intense colour with lovely pink-red bright hues. Richly spicy flavours with ripe fruit, lavender and rose florals, very full-on rich wine with cedary oak and a caramel/toffee texture. I think this wine will reward further cellaring with its huge structure, concentration and juicy lingering fruit. A blend of two clones, 2/10 & 10/5. 25Mar2002.

Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir 1999 Vibrant, rich, deep and dense with crimson hues abounding while the aromas are full of cherries, smoky oak and savoury things. In the palate it's ripe, round and weighty with a touch of caramel or toffee at first then spicy berry fruits, hints of tamarillo and a touch of acidity to balance out the sweet fruits of the forest and a lashing of savoury and spice. The smoky oak and soft velvet-like tannins are sensual and smooth. As the wine lingers, a chocolate complexity develops and macerated cherry flavours dominate the finish. $32.95. WOTW 13Aug2000.

Nevis Bluff Pinot Noir 1999 Fading pink colour. Floral aromas. Fruity in the palate with a lifted herbal (lavendar) touch, some citrus, mushrooms and a sweet cherry berry finish. Very nice. $30. 23Aug2001.

Olssens Slapjack Creek Pinot Noir 1999 - Central Otago Cherry hues to the light-weight colour, though starting to dissipate on edges. Aromas of old school desks with savoury, moss-covered damp earth undertones. Richness and concentration in the palate with sweetness of fruit, firm velvety tannins and a long, soft, earthy finish. Drinking beautifully now and for some time in the future if you like a developed style. 14% alc. Silver medal and magazine 5-star rating. 9Sep2006.

Quartz Reef Pinot Noir 1999 (Central Otago). Cherry and smoky herb aromas. Cherry, berry, dense-ish texture, creamy hint of savoury meat character, dry herbs and an earthy (mushroom) nuance emerging. Soft, well-integrated, velvety tannins. Very attractive wine with a sweet spicy note on the lingering finish. 14% alc $26.95. 7Feb2001.

Rippon Pinot Noir 1999 Pale colour. Herbs and dry spice in the palate with some slowly evolving cherry fruit.. Cherries linger. Seems a little simple. $38. 24Sep2001.

Selaks Drylands Estate Winemakers Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 1999 Bright crimson colour of medium density with cherry and earthy smoky aromas. In the palate it is pinot through and through, with many of the typical descriptors coming and going as the flavours fill the mouth. I found cherries and raspberries, earthy mushroom notes and sweet jammy fruit with lots of smoke. Good acidity, soft tannins, a texture that is almost velvety and a good long finish. About $19. WOTW 20Feb2000.
Vibrant purple tinges in the colour in the cherry red colour. Pinot scents of cherry, fruit cake and spice. A very young wine with a spicy oak influence. Hints of bacon, hints of tamarillo and heaps of spice and flavour. Herbs abound. A wine that gives 'warm fuzzies' and makes you wonder why others are twice the price. Delicious drinking now and at around $15.95 a smart price too. 18.3/20. 24May2000.

Seresin Estate Marlborough Pinot Noir 1999 Gorgeous cherry red colour and lustfully aromatic with savoury, spice and floral nuances. Quite rich in the palate and dry at first with herbs and brambles then sweet and juicy cherry fruit with smoke, savoury, a touch of that typical pinot acidity and a hint of that pinot earthiness. Aromatic with lingering, savoury, spicy and florals. Great body and weight and a crushed velvet texture. This wine is very seductive in its youth. Quite voluptuous in fact. 19/20. Nov2000.
Dense cherry red colour, enticing berry cherry floral and vibrantly rich aromatics, probably the most evocative aromas of any the pinot noirs on show - and there were well over 70. A hint of oak and a notion of herbs on the nose adds to the complexity and mystique. In the mouth, rich spicy fruit, warm oak with a chocolate richness and vibrant lifted cherry fruit with a flash of spicy citrus zest emerges at the end. Velvety smooth, round and long, warm and a little heady too. It's a big rich beefy wine but oh so attractive and very drinkable. WOTW 11Feb2001.

Stoneleigh Pinot Noir 1999. This didn't seem to be a hit with the others but I like this wine. It is smoky, savoury and gamey with loads of flavour. Perhaps some herbs and some mushroom notes too. I love the aromas, the fruit weight and the feel in the mouth with cherry flavours lingering. It is excellent value and quality for the price - about NZ$18. Fully deserving of its silver medal win in the Air New Zealand. I scored 18/20. Nov 2000.

Stoneleigh Raupaura Series Pinot Noir 1999 Love the aromas - a little gamey but creamy, sweet fruits and a touch of musk. Complexities of flavours and some attractive floral notes. Subtle smokiness, sweet cured meats, venison and juicy black cherry. A citrus flare on the end. Just gorgeous. 5/5. 17Feb2001.
Savoury, smoked meat aromas. Cherry and earthy, almost animal characters. Lovely sweet fruit wins the battle. Creamy with very good length. $24.95 9May2001.

Two Paddocks Pinot Noir 1999 Bright colour. Strawberry, cherry fruit, savoury oak, fruit cake spice. Nicely textured. A fruity, easy drinking style, well balanced. The best so far from this label. NZ$34.95. 12Dec2001.

Vidal Pinot Noir 1999 A blend of Hawkes Bay and Marborough fruit.
Biscuity scents, floral and fruit with black cherry and spice, fairly dry, quite rich and full with savoury fruit. Hints of leather, a varnishy, caramel texture, and upfront tannin. ***1/2 tasted 31Oct2000.
A lovely floral smelling wine with flavours of black cherry, raspberry and something reminiscent of stewed guava. Savoury, with caramel overtones, lifted acidity, smooth and tasty with that elusive pinot character and a fresh button mushroom nuance emerging on the full and delicately spicy finish. ****1/2 tasted 8Jan2001.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Bacchus Pinot Noir 1999 ($33.95). Lovely cherry, very ripe, very balanced. A very fine vinous texture. A touch of boot polish. Perhaps not a favourite with many punters because it doesn't have the plush velvety texture that some of the pinots have but still has a pretty charm. 17.5. 7Mar2001.

Wither Hills Marlborough Pinot Noir 1999 Deep colour. Savoury, oaky nose. Creamy oak, black fruit. But very rich in the mouth. Very big for a pinot. Blackcurrant fruit and a touch of apples. Really juicy. Lots of weight and alcohol. Lovely lingering flavours and the typical profiles of sweet cherries emerge and linger. Enjoyed by everyone on the night $44.95. 20Mar2002.
Almost a tawny port colour, probably what people call 'brick'. It smells like old Burgundy with its floral, old roses scent, quite alluring if you like older wines like this. Much richer in the palate than the colour and smell would suggest with good texture, lovely vinosity, surprisingly firm tannins, macerated fruitcake cherry flavours and a winey, sweet fruit finish. The wine evolves nicely in the glass to become quite rich and warm and yes, just a hint of chocolate on the finish with excellent length. Don't let the colour put you off and for the best result pour into a decanter to aerate the wine before pouring into your glass. 14% alc. $47.95. 23Jun2004.

1998 Vintage [top] [index]

Alana Estate Martinborough Pinot Noir 1998 Plums and berry fruits, charry oak and earthy notes on the nose. Rich and concentrated - a very nice wine. Retail about $36. Tasted 9/99 NZWTF.

Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir 1998 There's a lovely ruby glow to this wine of medium intense colour. What delightful aromas - that's one of the best things I like about Ata Rangi Pinot Noir - the olfactory sensation. It's lifted, almost minty in its character at first becoming floral - perhaps roses? While the oak seems a little hard when the wine first enters the mouth, I'm sure that is because it had just been bottled. Soft tannins build up in the palate and the flavours emerge - cherries, plums and boysenberries. Creamy, sweet oak and spicy barrel flavours combine to make an amazingly easily drinkable wine at this stage of it early life. It finishes with a lovely length leaving a lingering flavour of black cherries and cream. Delicious! $40.00. 23Aug99.

Babich Winemakers Reserve Pinot Noir 1998 Marlborough fruit. Smooth and chocolaty. Soft and savoury with lots of fruit. Very nice. I wrote 'Follow this one up'. Retail about $24.95 which makes this excellent value. Tasted 9/99 NZWTF.

Daniel Schuster 'Omihi Selection' Pinot Noir 1998 (North Canterbury) Subtle barnyard aromas and vinous Burgundian scents, later fragrantly floral enhanced with spice. In the palate, sweet fruit with cherries and raspberries and lots of florals with roses and violets in abundance. A gorgeous velvety texture. Good tannins although a touch dry. I like the mouthfeel, the integration and the creamy length. It was an excellent match for the duck parfait - it pronounced the acidity and spiciness of the wine while the flavour of the duck becomes more subtle. 18.9/20. 18May2000.

Gibbston Valley Central Otago Pinot Noir 1998
I have tried this purple, black cherry coloured, wine twice now and each time I thought the wine was excellent. The first time the wine had the benefit of being decanted into a jug prior to serving. I wrote "dreamy aroma - chocolate, earthy, berry - just gorgeous. In the palate it is rich and chocolaty, full and creamy. There's heaps of flavours with some gamey, savouriness." The second time, some six weeks later, was from a newly opened bottle. I did not find any of the chocolate I found the first time. Perhaps the chocolate had evolved from the aeration brought about by the decanting. My notes said "Closed on the nose at first, later sweet fruit aromas soon evolve. There's a lovely texture in the palate with well integrated tannins and oak. Clove-like spices, perhaps a wee hint of cinnamon, and an array of berry, cherry fruits with a touch of earthiness and a hint of tar on the finish. A very complex and interesting wine." About $32.95. WOTW 20Jun1999.
A touch of animal with subtle smoke and savoury on the nose. Upfront savoury in the palate. A spicier, more tannic and at first a less harmonious wine than the Giesen with a touch of tar. But it takes a while to evolve in the palate. It is hugely mouthfilling with savoury and plum and Christmas cake fruits and spice. It has a huge finish packed full of power, which explodes. Lovely lingering pinot flavours. This is a wine that needs more than one tasting glass full to appreciate fully and will live on for a while to come. 18.7/20 About $36.00. 24May2000.

Gibbston Valley Reserve Pinot Noir 1998 (Central Otago) So balanced, with a gorgeous, silky, velvety texture. Biscuits and luscious cherries dominate the flavours then thyme flowers again - similar to the herb scents in Wine 1 of this tasting (the Felton Road) - and a touch of savoury too. Plenty of florals with roses and violets and forest floor characters. This wine just seems to have everything. Perfectly integrated with lovely structure and power. A great pinot noir. 19.2/20. About $50. 23May2000.

Giesen Canterbury / Marlborough Pinot Noir 1998 Light bright cherry colour. Smoky, savoury scents. Earthy, gamey, with crushed redcurrants, sweet/tart cranberry and spicy cherry flavours. Progresses to be warm and a little jammy. Tasted 20/6/2000.

Giesen Reserve Pinot Noir 1998 (Canterbury) Gentle pinot scents of delicate cherries and biscuits. In the palate, juicy cherry and cherry stone with savoury, game and mushroom flavours emerging. Then some herbs and later some oak. Silky texture with very soft tannins and a gorgeous long finish with a subtle toastiness and a lingering flavour reminiscent of macerated cherries and strawberries. A truly harmonious wine that seems to have everything in a delicate way. 18.9/20 About $34.00. 24May2000.

Floating Mountain Waipara Pinot Noir 1998 Sweetly scented with roses and violets, a touch of licorice - a textural rather than a fruity wine. Lovely development with warm savoury silky characters. Very long and warm textural wine with lingering sweet cherry and a savoury nuance. 9Jan2002.

Fromm La Strada Pinot Noir 1998 Minty aromas almost like the fresh mintiness in toothpaste. Lovely fruit, good structure, integrated but slightly noticeable tannins. Excellent weight and length. Tasted 9/99 NZWTF.

Highfield Estate Elstree Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 1998 Another delicious Marlborough Pinot. Different to the Fromm La Strada (see above) being more attractive and approachable at this stage. Quite savoury in style. Good concentration. Tasted 9/99 NZWTF.

Kumeu River Pinot Noir 1998 100 cases made (cf. 50 cases last year). Deep, black cherry colour of medium density with a smoky bacon character on the nose with a little varnish and a hint of yeast. In the palate the oak is fairly obtrusive and smoky at this stage. Then emerges excellent, clean, soft, subtle Pinot characters. It is not so much strawberry and cherry fruit but more earthy, mushroom and 'fruit of the forest'. The wine opens right up to be big, rich, flavoursome and complex. It has good acidity, excellent length, and lovely texture. Tannins linger on the finish and a delicious, rich Pinot flavour overlain with berry fruit, emerges. Needs time. $33 ex-winery. WOTW 8Aug1999.

Main Divide Pinot Noir 1998 Quite densely coloured with youthful 'pinot' highlights. Strong black cherry and stewed plum flavours with a touch of lavender and other herb flowers. A little jammy for my liking, however good acidity lifted the wine. 3.5 stars 3Jan01.

Margrain Martinborough Pinot Noir 1998
Coloured like a bright ruby gemstone with a rich deep centre, the aromas are of cherry with a touch of moss covered and a whiff of smoky oak, while the flavour is typically Martinborough with smoky oak, tamarillo, mushrooms, cherry and strawberry with a lifted finish and lingering savoury spice. $30. WOTW 29Aug1999.

Nga Waka Pinot Noir 1998 ($37.95) Oaky - a little hard and varnishy smelling. But then the cherries emerge. Light bodied, earthy, forest floor mossy characters. Velvety texture and nice characters emerge on the finish. A little nutty character lingers. 3.5/5 14Mar2001.

Pegasus Bay Waipara Pinot Noir 1998
Richly coloured, dense ruby with a crimson hue and a glowing brilliance. Very perfumed, it has aromas of violets, biscuits, licorice, damp forest floor and perhaps even a hint of animal. At first in the palate it is quite sweet and floral and the tannins are fine. Then follows a savoury note followed by dried herbs. A chocolate creaminess fills the mouth while a dusty note creeps into the tannins. The concentrated ripe blueberry fruit integrates well with the creamy, soft oak, richness. There's a little acid, just enough to tell me that this wine is a good cellaring prospect (if one can be disciplined enough). And on the finish there's a hint of freshly gathered field mushrooms amongst the other sweeter flavours. The underlying power is amazing, it builds up and goes on and on and the flavours linger and hang around the mouth for ages. 14% alc. About $32. WOTW 14Nov1999.
Smoky, floral, violet-like aromas. Quite seductive. Silky texture in the palate. The wine glides across the tongue and gently coats the cheeks. Just delicious and an awesome length. Words cannot describe this wine. 19.5/20. Tasted in a blind tasting line-up, my favourite of the tasting. About $35.00. 23May2000.

Quartz Reef Pinot Noir 1998 First wine for the vineyard and the label. Richly coloured with aromas of oak and chocolate. Rudi says the wine attacks in the following order - "sweet on the front palate, then grape tannins, then oak tannins, then the chewiness". It is at first quite oaky in the mouth but once that has gone all the fruit emerges. And some interesting complexities. I detected marmalade, or perhaps spicy orange, and a savoury note. The finish leaves a fantastic mouth feel.

Saints Pinot Noir 1998 The light colour is that of a expensive ruby gemstone - clear and bright and glistenly translucent. The smell is of ripe cherries and strawberries. The taste is even more cherry-like, with silky alcohol coating the mouth and a touch of sweet savoury and a splash of toasty oak on the finish. Soft tannins, smooth caramel texture and amazingly long finish means this will be an appealing wine. Tasted 12/8/99.

St Helena Pinot Noir 1998 Smoky aromas with tamarillo fragrance (reminds me of the 1998 in its youth). I like the smoky tamarillo flavour in the palate and there is an excellent, spicy, lingering finish. Very good. Tasted 9/99 NZWTF.

St Helena Pinot Noir Reserve 1998 Similar aromas to the non-reserve version but more intense. And the flavours too - more oak, more brooding fruit. The flavours intensify on the finish. Tasted 9/99 NZWTF.

Sandihurst Premier Pinot Noir 1998 Spice and floral aromas. Lovely flavours - subtle pinot noir with an elegant note. Some creaminess in the texture. Fantastic balance and excellent length. Tasted 9/99 NZWTF.

Vidal Pinot Noir 1998 Floral aromas - roses come to mind. Developing savoury characters with spicy tannins alongside lovely, ripe, perfumed smoky, cherry fruit. Grapes were grown on Gimblett Road in Hawkes Bay. Very Good. Sep 1999.

Wai-iti River Vineyard Nelson Pinot Noir 1998 A denser wine that is both youthful in colour and flavour - a nice change from some of the big jammy styles from this vintage. Herbal, dry, smoky and savoury with mushroom nuances and a long leathery musky finish. 20Aug2002.

Wither Hills Pinot Noir 1998 Sweet and ripe and creamy, heading to the black cherry spectrum. Elegant use of oak. Much more forward than the 1997 and easy to drink at this early stage although has the potential to age. Good ripe tannins - more rounded than the 1997. A decent wallop of alcohol. Creamy, chocolate-like texture on the finish. Quite yummy, really. 12Oct99.

Older Vintages [top] [index]

Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir 1997
Earthly, berry, floral, gamey, musky, smoky, heady vinous scents. Lovely fruit ripeness, soft tannins and a velvety texture, hints of strawberry licorice twisted sticks but without the sweetness. It's a compote of berry fruit with the intense richness of strawberry jam, blackberries and extra-ripe tamarillos with their distinctive acid bite. Layers of interesting flavours. $38 ex winery. WOTW 21Feb1999.

Domaine Dujac Morey St Denis 1982 (Burgundy). Orange-copper with a pinky tinge - glowing with light opacity. Developed aroma - cedar, earthy, floral. Sweet ripe marinated cherries and macerated strawberries dominate in the palate. A hint of tannins (this wine was hugely tannic a few years ago) - just slightly drying on the finish, and still good acidity. There is some 'just starting to sour' orange citrus in this wine. A nice, sweetish, satisfying fullness and a lovely silken texture. Incredible length! Tasted 24/7/99

Dry River Pinot Noir 1997 (Martinborough) Lovely aromas of plummy fruit and cedar. Further up the fruit spectrum than the other pinots tasted so far. In the palate the cedary smokiness is combined with plums and cherry fruit and forest floor characters. Ripe and balanced and well-structured with good tannins, it is a very elegant wine and so complete in the palate. 19/20. 23May2000.

Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir 1997: The best NZ Pinot I have tried recently. Complex cherry and earth flavours mingle and the texture is luscious and velvety. Divine. *****

Martinborough Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir 1997 (Martinborough) A tad oxidised on the aroma and oxidative, tarry, fruity, earthy, spicy, savoury flavours - lots of interest as the flavours wax and wane. Now there are florals, spice, herbs, acidity, smooth tannins and integrated oak. Duck Parfait enhances the spiciness of this wine and tones down that oxidative component. A mealiness, that I did not detect without the food. lingers on the finish. This is a definite "needs food" wine but what about that oxidation! 17.5/20. 18May2000.
Tasted just a few days ago, it was easy to pick this wine with its oxidised characters. It smelt oxidised again and biscuity as well, but also emitted an acidic sharpness tonight (this wine had not been decanted but had been poured into a jug for anonymity when serving). It opened up in the palate with sweet, ripe, stewed cherry and a touch of spice hitting the roof of the mouth. Very rich and full and long, with a smoky, cigar box finish. 17.5/20. 23May2000.

Martinborough Vineyards Pinot Noir 1989 An absolute delight. Fantastic aromas - true pinot with chocolate and cherry, forest floor, earthy notes. Quite hedonist, very mellow and velvety. A little jammy but good acidity which I likened to poached tamarillos. It became almost caramelly on the finish. This wine was in very good condition and was on its plateau for drinking. Tasted with food, Dec 2000.

Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 1996. Quite pronounced acidity. Vibrant cherry, smoky, citrus flavours, yet dense and chocolate-like - the chocolate character of oak. Tasted with food, Dec 2000.

Seresin Marlborough Pinot Noir 1997 Deep in colour, almost black. The nose is quite blackberry - more like Cabernet than Pinot. But the taste - rich and intense with berry, earthy and savoury tones. Its smooth silken texture, full bodied richness, soft tannins and integrated oak (which was barely discernible in the background) makes it quite luscious and very very enjoyable. And the high alcohol at 14 percent, left a lovely warm feeling. WOTW w/e 29Nov1998.

Vidal Pinot Noir 1997: Rich flavours with complex cherry/earthy/savoury characters, soft fruit tannins, good body, balanced structure and a dry finish. Very palatable with a long lasting satisfying pinot flavours. Tasted 24/8/98. ****1/2

Walnut Ridge Pinot Noir 1997 - Martinborough. Attractive plum and spice scents - almost cinnamon, together with the instantly recognisable pinot smell. Lovely development of flavours in the palate and I liken this somewhat to acid-free stewed tamarillos with spice, although it could be tending toward the rhubarb spectrum of fruit. Some earthy, almost slightly gamey notes. Lovely integration, balance and mouthfeel with a satiny texture and everlasting flavour with a touch of jamminess. Yes, this is Martinborough Pinot at its best. Another glass please. 26May2000.

Wither Hills Pinot Noir 1997 (Marlborough) Floral aroma. Chewy, stewy fruit. Lots of tannins with tamarillo fruit trying to peek through. I think the tannins are just too intense at this although this is clearly a very classy wine with excellent weight, body and balance. 17Feb99. Very good.
From a first crop of Pinot from the Wither Hills vineyard. "Pinot's a pain" says winemaker Brent Marris. "How much crop do you drop. If you don't drop enough the wine has too much acid. If you drop too much the wine is too plummy". This wine has a chocolate-like texture. Bready nuances (from the yeast). Good fruit. Medium to high tannins, medium acid. Not too earthy although perhaps some mushrooms can be detected. Great length. 12Oct99.

Comments [top] [index] At the Wine Trade Fair. September 1999, I noted that the Canterbury Pinot Noirs had many similarities to the Central Otago pinot noirs with their floral gracefulness and layers of flavour. Tasted 9/99 NZWTF.

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Index to Varietal Tastings
Chardonnay Gewurztraminer
Pinot Gris Sauvignon Blanc Other Whites
Bubblies Sweeties Pinks
Cabernet dominant Merlot dominant Pinotage
Pinot Noir Shiraz Other Reds

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