Cuisine Wine

NZ Pinot Noir Tasting results

08 April 2015 (Cuisine magazine Issue 170)

As John Saker writes, the pinot noirs of the 2013 vintage had a lot to live up to.

Not since 1998 has a New Zealand vintage arrived so brightly lit by pre-release hype as 2013. For most white varieties, already released, the quality has largely matched the talk. Likewise, most of the reds from Hawke’s Bay and points north have been impressive. So for the Cuisine panel, this tasting of pinot noir, drawn almost entirely from the 2013 vintage, was eagerly anticipated. And yet, the great expectations proved largely unfounded. “I came away with a sense of disappointment,” said panel chair John Belsham. “Clearly there are some excellent wines (13 of 180 entries were awarded five stars), but I think a number of winemakers didn’t understand the fruit they had to work with.” Added Sam Harrop: “New Zealand needs to embrace the perfume and harmonious expression of pinot noir and leave the super-charged versions to the pretenders.”

The Tasting Panel

Panel chair John Belsham, an international wine judge and owner of Foxes Island Wines, Marlborough, was joined in this Cuisine tasting by Sam Harrop – Master of Wine, winemaker and international wine consultant – and Michael Ivicevich, Delegat’s Wine Estate Chief Winemaker. Cuisine’s New Zealand wine writer John Saker was associate judge (non-scoring).

Top 10 NZ Pinot Noir

Lowburn Ferry Home Block Pinot Noir 2013

This stunner from Central leaves nary a box unticked. “It’s a powerful, hedonistic style, but still has delightful freshness and definition,” noted Sam Harrop. Lilac, ripe strawberry, dried thyme and mocha scents provide lift-off. Pure dark fruit flows seamlessly and silkily across the palate, enlivened by fresh acidity, and the finish is long and fine. As a food match, try slow-cooked lamb shoulder, spiced with preserved lemon, cumin and coriander seeds.

Top Wine Profile

A Fine Judge Of Soil
“When Roger and Jean took the farm…” The story of Lowburn Ferry is a modern, far happier version of Denis Glover’s ode to the New Zealand experience, The Magpies. In this instance, Roger and Jean Gibson bought their 40-hectare spread in the Lowburn Valley in 1991. But it wasn’t until 2000, after they’d converted the original old stone stable to be their home and were running a flock of merinos, that they decided to plant pinot vines. As a soil scientist, Roger was well placed to assess the suitability of the land for vines and his judgement has clearly paid off: from its first vintage in 2003, the Lowburn Ferry Pinot Noir has won numerous plaudits and gold medals. It’s a boutique operation with an average of only 1700 cases produced annually, but Gibson says the plan is to put in more vines over the next few years. He’s also full of praise for his winemaker, Pete Bartle. “Pete doesn’t have a big ego and he’s not a control freak…I can’t speak more highly of him and his team.”

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→ more 1 View All Results in the Lowburn Ferry Home Block Pinot Noir 2013 Tasting

Star ratings for this tasting

» How ratings work

  • Outstanding 13
  • Excellent 10
  • Very Good 32
  • Good 18
  • No Award 107
  • Total Entries 180