Off-piste hunting for pinot

This article first appeared in Style Magazine, April 2010
Tyson Stelzer

Next time you reach for a bottle of Kiwi pinot noir, take a look at the region you’re drinking. There’s a good chance it will be Marlborough, the place that now makes more than twice as much wine as the rest of the country put together, or Central Otago, the rising star of southern hemisphere pinot. But there’s a lot more to New Zealand pinot than these household names.

The little region of Martinborough, to the East of Wellington at the southern tip of the north island, has been synonymous with pinot noir for longer than any other region in New Zealand. If you love pinot, this is a place that will set your heart racing.

The cool wind-swept plains and rolling hills surrounding the town of Martinborough are the source of some of New Zealand’s most distinctive and long-lived pinots. These are dark-coloured wines with aromas of violets and cherries and flavours of dark berries and spice, often firmly structured in their youth. As they age in the cellar they develop flavours and aromas reminiscent of wild game and forest floor.

Every year I publish a bang up-to-date overview of New Zealand pinot with UK wine writer Matthew Jukes entitled The Great New Zealand Pinot Noir Classification (see www.winepress.com.au for the full list). In the 2010 edition, Martinborough scooped seventeen out of sixty-five places – an incredible result for a region that is home to just ten percent of New Zealand’s wine producers. It shows that Martinborough is New Zealand’s most consistent source of great pinot.


Martinborough’s top pinots

  1. Ata Rangi
  2. Escarpment
  3. Martinborough Vineyard
  4. Craggy Range
  5. Dry River
  6. Palliser
  7. Schubert
  8. Voss

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