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31 July 2023

New Zealand Pinot Noir Part 2: Marlborough.

NZW Inc. Yealands.Estate from www.nzwine.com

Marlborough region, which occupies a large part of South Island's northeast coast inland from Cloudy Bay, has 'almost 30,000 hectares of vines (2/3 of the national total),' and a staggering 80% of this is dedicated to Sauvignon Blanc. Thankfully, the second most important grape is Pinot Noir at 2733 ha, half of all plantings of this variety in NZ. There are three subregions: Southern Valleys (composed of the Omaka, Fairhall, Brancott, Ben Morvan and Waihopai Valleys), Wairau Valley and Awatere Valley. Here's a dozen tasty Marlborough Pinots.
Babich Black Label Pinot Noir 2021, Waihopai and Wairau (13% abv): 6 months in barrel. Fairly intense and youthful still, delicate quite tight finish yet showing delicious sweet / savoury fruit and subtle concentration. Lovely Pinot. €33-€34 (Solera Wine Merchants, The Corkscrew, Baggot Street Wines - Dublin). UK £22. Aus $30.
Babich Family Estates Organic Pinot Noir 2019, Wairau Valley (14% abv): They have a 50 hectare organic vineyard, one of the largest in New Zealand. 10 months in barriques. Enticing sweet / savoury fruit nose, smooth mature palate while still structured and quite fresh, lingering weight vs elegance; another delicious Pinot. Ireland €40. NZ $35-$40. Aus $30. SG $72.
Caythorpe Family Estate Pinot Noir 2020, Central Wairau (13.5% abv): Aged 11 months in new and seasoned French oak. Underlined by a little structure and fresh acidity while offering perfumed sweet / savoury fruit, quite elegant and long; good wine. €26.50 (The Irish Cellar). NZ $25. UK £16.50-£19. US $25-$27. Germany €16.

Jules Taylor Pinot Noir 2020, Southern Valleys (14% abv): Less expressive with firmer texture at first then riper fruit and smoky notes develop; good quality Pinot showing promise in a maturing yet still youthful way. €21-€26 (Curious Wines Cork). UK £20. NZ $31. US $21-$24. Poland 97zł.
Oyster Bay Pinot Noir 2020 (Wairau and Awatere Valleys, 14% abv): 11 months ageing in tanks and different types of barrel. One of, if not the biggest brand(s) but it's well made with an attractive mix of fruit, sweet / savoury undertones and subtle oak, slightly structured while drinking nicely too. UK £11-£12. US $17-$20. CA $21-$23.
Hunter's Pinot Noir 2021 (13.5% abv): 12 months in French oak. Lightly 'reductive' at first, developing tasty savoury fruit on the palate with subtle oak underneath, good texture and balance. Ireland (Bulmers, Wine Online) €21-€24. UK £16-£19. NZ $27-$29. CA $28. Aus $30. HK $195.
Stoneburn Pinot Noir 2021, Wairau Valley (14% abv): 8 months in used French oak. Wilder edges with smoky sweet / savoury tones, quite rich and ripe then maturing meatier flavours, fairly intense lingering finish; good value Pinot. Ireland €19 (as above). UK £13-£17. US $13-$16. NZ $16-$19. Aus $22.

OTU Estate Pinot Noir 2021, Awatere Valley (13% abv): Aged 8 months in new and used barriques. Light and fruity nose with subtle oak notes, tasty and intense mouthfeel with light grip and freshness, sweet / savoury fruit finish, although closes up a little promising more. Ireland €25 (Boutique Wines). NZ $24.
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2021 (Awatere and Wairau, 13% abv): 10 months in mostly used French oak. Another big brand, this is their second tier Pinot and it's pretty good. Fairly intense aromatic nose offering typical sweet / savoury Pinot fruit notes, quite structured and meaty on the palate. Ireland €21 (Barry & Fitzwilliam). UK £14-£16. NZ $22-$26. US $20+. Aus $38-$43.
Whitehaven Pinot Noir 2020 (13.5% abv): 11 months in French oak (25% new). Perfumed and juicy with savoury edges, tasty tangy mouthfeel, quite intense yet elegant too. Very nice Pinot. Ireland €23 (O'Briens). NZ $35. Germany €27.50. CA $25-$26.50. HK $199.
Wither Hills Pinot Noir 2018, Wairau Valley (13.5% abv): One year in barrels. Light and mature with tasty sweet / savoury fruit, drinking very nicely yet still fresh and structured. Classic subtle style. Ireland €20-€22.50 (Comans Beverages, Wine Online, Jus de Vine). SG $40-$45. NZ $19. US $16-$22.

Nautilus Southern Valleys Pinot Noir 2016 (13.5% abv): Hints of oak (aged 11 months in French barriques) and wild yeast-lees notes, plenty of intense sweet / savoury flavours and lingering fruit with nice fresh bite still despite its maturing style. Delicious. Ireland €30-€32 (Cassidy Wines, Wine Online). UK £23-£25. NZ and Aus $40-$44. CA $30-$33. SG $63. US: Winebow NY.

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