We are proud to announce The Seventh Great New Zealand Pinot Noir Classification to highlight the importance of New Zealand’s finest pinots.
New in 2014
In 2014, The Great New Zealand Pinot Noir Classification highlights 122 estates, representing the top quarter of New Zealand’s 493 pinot noir makers. This reinforces the strength of endorsement of achieving even our One Star rating. Every estate awarded a coveted position in this list is producing this mesmerising grape variety at a level of sophistication that we believe is worthy of your attention.
The record number of estates in this year’s Classification reflects the rise of New Zealand in producing pinot noir more successfully at every price point than any other country in the world today. Burgundy, California and even Australia cannot keep pace with New Zealand’s top estates in offering exciting pinot noir at affordable prices.
While last year saw an unprecedented jump in the standard of New Zealand pinot noir and something of a changing of the guard in our Sixth Classification, this year we have observed a smaller amount of movement. Vines and minds are gaining maturity and estates are increasingly finding their feet as they enter our ‘bold’ territory of five or more vintages of pinot noir production.
The excellent conditions of 2012 across most regions produced outstanding wines of elegant distinction. This had something of a smoothing effect on placements in our Classification, quite a contrast to the ramifications of the more difficult 2011 vintage last year.
As always, our rolling five year Classification is a strong buffer against vintage effects. We purposely avoid the temptation of upgrading or downgrading an estate based on a single strong or weak season, but rather look for long-term trends and let the five year average tip the result one way or the other.
We are delighted to welcome eleven estates to the Classification for the first time in 2014: Akitu, Aurum, Elephant Hill, Gardo & Morris, Mahi, Main Divide, Mischa’s, Nanny Goat, Terrace Edge, The Elder and Vidal.
Fourteen estates are to be applauded on their superb performances in recent years, and have been promoted one or more levels: Archangel, Astrolabe, Black, Burn Cottage, Cambridge Road, Charcoal Gully, Dog Point, Envoy, Esk Valley, Greywacke, Kusuda, Mount Edward, Terra Sancta and Zephyr.
We congratulate Burn Cottage, Dog Point, Envoy, Kusuda and Mount Edward on joining our Four Star Classification. For the past four years, this tier has never represented more than nine estates and it is a sign of the coming of age of New Zealand pinot noir that it has grown to thirteen for the first time.
The Great New Zealand Pinot Noir Classification is a rolling classification, based on an average assessment of the five most recent vintages, so as to provide an up-to-date assessment every year, while maintaining the perspective of recent history. Estates which are performing well now, but which were not producing wine of the same standard (or not producing wine at all) five years ago, are ranked accordingly. Light font is used to position estates for which we have yet to taste five vintages. This rolling classification has been carefully devised to highlight producers who make consistently excellent wines year after year. This is a purposeful contrast to static classifications such as the famous Bordeaux 1855 Classification, sporadic endorsement from wine show success or critiques of a single vintage release.
An estate worthy of One Star has produced pinot noir that averages a silver medal standard in our assessment over the past five vintages. Five Stars are reserved for estates consistently performing at top gold medal standard.
This body of work has taken ten years to research and a tremendous amount of attention is put into its update every year. Every winery’s position is considered at great length. The entire range of pinot noirs from each producer is tasted, but it is ultimately the estate wines which set the standard, not the most expensive reserve or single vineyard wines. An estate’s inclusion is based wholly and exclusively on the standard of its pinot noir wines and not on any other factors.
To ensure this Classification is as comprehensive as possible, we work tirelessly throughout the year to taste every New Zealand pinot noir we can. This Classification is the culmination of tastings of some thirteen vintages and 493 estates.
While the scope and complexity of this Classification does not permit us to provide commentary on every placement and every wine, we both publish extensively on New Zealand pinot noir in many publications throughout the year and readers interested in further detail can follow us at www.matthewjukes.com and www.tysonstelzer.com.
We are very proud of The Great New Zealand Pinot Noir Classification and will continue to finesse and improve this work every year, in order to offer consumers and the wine trade an accurate and up-to-date assessment of the dynamic and thrilling landscape of the finest pinot noirs of New Zealand.
Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer.