Intense, expressive, fruit-driven. Native to Burgundy and notoriously fickle, the Pinot Noir grape has found a home away from home in New Zealand.
New Zealand winemakers tease an array of distinctive regional and terroir-driven Pinot Noir styles from the land.
Pinot Noir is predominantly grown in the cooler southerly regions: Wairarapa, Marlborough, Nelson, North Canterbury and Central Otago.
The huge diversity in climates and soils enables a wide range of styles from these main Pinot Noir producing regions. Common to all, however, is structure and elegance overlaid by power and fruit-driven intensity.
Since the 1990s, plantings have expanded throughout all regions in the South Island and select sites in the North Island.
New Zealand Pinot Noir has seen impressive growth in export sales in the last five years, with 1.5 million cases exported in the 12 months to June year-end 2018. It is now second only to Sauvignon Blanc in production volume.
It’s staggering how quickly New Zealand has built a reputation for quality Pinot Noir considering the first commercial bottling of Pinot Noir in the country was in 1987.
Climate is a major factor in defining regional styles.
Varietal aromatics of cherry, berry fruits, plum, florals and spice, through to more savoury and earthy examples, all with beautifully soft and supple tannins and great richness of flavour.
Darker fruit aromas, often with a savoury component. Rich, full, sweet fruit on the entry with flavours in the dark plum and chocolate spectrum. The structure of the wine is based around long, fine tannins.
Fragrant, complex, earthy and savoury textured wines with rich, spicy, cherry and plum flavours. These wines are concentrated, balanced and supple with fine lingering tannin.
Red fruit spectrum aromatically and bright raspberry, cherry and plums on the palate. Wines typically have freshness from subtle acidity that is complemented by their linear structure and even tannin backbone. The Southern Valleys tend to produce fuller-bodied wines.
Red and dark berry fruit with spicy notes. Firm structure and acidity. Savoury earthy characteristics.
Gibbston Valley district has sweet, soft, upfront fruitiness with flavours of raspberry, strawberries and fresh herbs and spicy notes. The warmer Bannockburn and Lowburn areas produce fuller, more tannic wines with cherries and dark fruit. Undertones of dried thyme are most prevalent in Pinots from Alexandra.
All regions in New Zealand are turning out seriously interesting Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir is easy to please when it comes to pairing with food. It is light enough for salmon or chicken, but complex enough to complement richer red or game meats.
When everyone orders a vastly different meal while dining, Pinot Noir will probably make everyone happy.
A large round bell-shaped glass is perfect to serve Pinot, as it collects the delicate aromas of the wine.
For the best New Zealand Pinot Noir experience, cellar for 2-5 years and serve at 15 degrees Celsius.