NZ Pinot

New Zealand Pinot Noir

The scores are in for the best New Zealand Pinot Noirs, as chosen by members of the Sommelier Collective. Scroll down for full results, List Champions and our Judges’ Recommendations!

Click on the buttons below to jump to the part of the results you want to see, or read on for more feedback.

Marlborough Pinot performed well in this tasting. Pic: New Zealand Winegrowers Inc, Lawson’s Dry Hills

Kiwi Pinot has moved on in the minds of somms and the public from being a Burgundy alternative to very much a category in its own right. It’s one that you need on your list and that the public often look for.

And on this evidence that is understandable. The consistency here was impressive, with an average score of 90. Central Otago was fairly pricey (though perhaps not so much when compared to the Cote d’Or), but further north – and particularly in Marlborough – there was pretty good bang for your buck.

There was plenty of variety in these wines, too; some of it terroir-driven, and some of it due to winemaking choices, with varying levels of oak, filtering and funkiness. It’s perhaps less classically ‘correct’ and a bit more stimulating than it used to be, with a fair bit of experimentation. All in all, then, a category worth exploring.

If there is a concern, it’s reduction…

The two lowest scoring wines here both suffered from it and were marked down as a result. By the end of the tasting, with a bit of swirling in the glass they were tasting pretty good, but that’s not much use to your customers.

Still, it could be worth playing around with decanting to see if and how these wines develop with a bit of aeration.

Bottles blinded and ready to go

Josh Castle with his first flight
Not many corks on offer…

Results 2021

New Zealand Pinot Noir Awards 2021

Full list of award winning wines from The Sommelier Collective Awards.
ScoreProducerWineImporterTasting note
95Seresin EstateRaupo Creek Pinot Noir 2015, MarlboroughEnotria & Coe
Price £25.14
Pretty nose with bright fruit, and well balanced.' GM; 'Dark ripe fruits, but farmyard, oak and earthy leaves behind.' KK; 'Strawberries, crushed cranberries, red apples and a floral note of roses and violets. Lovely balance and a long finish.' EP; 'Cherry cola and anise. The fruit is persistent and substantial with fine-boned tannins. Very classy.' JC
94Carrick WineryBannockburn Pinot Noir 2018, Central OtagoEnotria & Coe
Price £27.29
Red fruit, roses and meaty. Great balance, with a long, delicate finish.' RT; 'Cherries, plums, vanilla and nutmeg. Rich and complex Pinot.' CG; 'Red berries, orange bitters and rose petals with mineral nuances.' EP
93Nga WakaLease Block Pinot Noir 2018, MartinboroughJeroboams
Price £21.05
Beautiful fruit; floral with a hint of earthiness.' RT; 'Lots of sour cherries and redcurrants. There's good grip here. Wormwood and integrated spice.' AI; 'Red cherries and wood oil. Classic and well-defined. Lean and crisp.' JC
92Te KanoPinot Noir 2018, Central OtagoDavy's Wine Merchants
Price £23.1
Crunchy ripe fruit, intense and complex. Earth, green tobacco and fresh leather creep up on the finish. Well integrated.' CG; 'High-toned fruit, with earthy notes of black olives and a slightly bloody character.' EP; 'Bright and linear. Floral, with sour cherry, plum skin, woody spices and liquorice.' AI
90Rapaura SpringsSouthbrook Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019, MarlboroughMaison Marques et Domaines
Price £14.02
Bright vibrant nose with no shortage of fresh red cherry fruit. Tannins are succulent and neatly prop up the fruit. Outstanding.' JC; 'Dry, but really good balance between the fruit and the oak, with good concentration.' KK; 'Strawberries and red plums on the nose, merging into cranberry and sour cherry on the palate. Slight oak evidence, but balanced.' EP
90Pegasus BayMain Divide Pinot Noir 2018, Waipara ValleyNew Generation Wine
Price £14.18
Fragrant, meaty and fresh, with subtle dark spice and an oaky finish,' RT; 'Rose petals and cola - a heady, intensely aromatic wine. Ultra savoury, sinuous palate with soft, powdery tannins. Intriguing.' JC; 'Bright fruit, well-balanced and (in a good way) not overly complex.' GM
90Pyramid ValleyPinot Noir 2018, Central OtagoLouis Latour
Price £19.96
Garden berries, wet stone and Asian spices.' AI; 'Nice freshness. Youthful, ripe, balanced and long.' KK; 'Strawberries and roses. Light bodied, but nice flavour profile.' EP
89Zephyr WinesPinot Noir 2019, MarlboroughAlliance Wine
Price £14.02
Clean, bright palate with good fruit, a touch of earthiness and tight, firm tannins. Long finish.' GM; Concentrated red fruits - cherries and cranberries - but also slightly meaty and gamey on the palate. Fresh and fragrant.' CCB
89Nga WakaPinot Noir 2018, MartinboroughJeroboams
Price £18.08
Good purity of fruits, then fragrant and spicy - frankincense. Long finish but slighly hot.' AI; 'Good fruit concentration, but quite sophisticated and restrained.' HB
89Pyramid ValleyPinot Noir 2018, North CanterburyLouis Latour
Price £19.96
Good purity here, with lots of crushed cranberry and raspberry backed up with leather and a touch of sweat. Elegant.' AI; 'Fresh roses and ripe cherries, with a slightly funky unfiltered note.' CG
89AkituA2 Pinot Noir 2018, Wanaka, Central OtagoMentzendorff
Price £17.72
Cranberries, tomato skins and cherries. There's oak, but it's well integrated. Crunchy texture.' CCB; 'Juicy ripe fruit, smooth and unctuous - a good all-rounder.' CG
88Huia VineyardsPinot Noir 2016, MarlboroughFlint Wines
Price £15.95
Red cherries and crushed strawberries on the nose with a hint of new oak - vanilla and coconut. Firm tannins.' EP; 'Strawberry and tomato leaf with a savoury kick. Quite Grenache-like, almost.' JC
88Seresin EstateLeah Pinot Noir 2017, MarlboroughEnotria & Coe
Price £15.95
Tart, small-berry nose, with a compelling, chewy character.' JC; 'Interesting nose of red fruits, herbs, leather and tobacco. Fresh, fun and vibrant.' CCB
88Kelly Washington WinesPinot Noir 2018, Central OtagoJeroboams
Price £23.85
Plums, cherries and blackcurrant leaf. Quite concentrated.' CG; 'Good fruit, but rather one-dimensional.' RT
87Seresin EstateRachel Pinot Noir 2016, MarlboroughEnotria & Coe
Price £20.73
Juicy cranberries, but also a umami character coming through on the palate. Well structured and sophisticated with good length. Layered.' HB; 'Big nose, ripe. It's quite oaked, but there's good concentration.' GM
84Kumeu RiverVillage Pinot Noir 2020, KumeuNew Generation Wine
Price £9.63
Tart red fruit with crunch acidity. Quite simple, but remarkable for the money.' JC; 'Perfumed nose, light and fresh with crunchy berries. Easy drinker.' GM
84LoveblockPinot Noir 2020, Central OtagoGraft Wine Company
Price £13.75
Ripe red fruit, but slightly green tannins on the finish.' KK; 'Bright cherries and strawberries, but super spicy - cloves and cardamoms - and high acidity.' CCB

A number of tasters found sous-bois flavours in the wines. Pic: New Zealand Winegrowers Inc, Quartz Reef

Judges’ Recommendations

We know that you guys are interested in your fellow somms’ opinions. So as part of our Awards tastings, we ask our judges to pick out their own personal favourite wine from the day.

It didn’t matter if their fellow judges hated it or whether it was cheap or expensive – it just had to be a wine that spoke to them, for whatever reason. And of course, if they liked it, there’s a good chance that you will too.

Emanuel Pesqueira

Seresin Estate Raupo Creek Pinot Noir 2015, Marlborough (95 points)

This is a beautiful wine – approachable yet complex and well balanced between acidity and fruit concentration. The nose conjures images of cherry pie and rose bush, with savoury, sappy tannins and a high-toned red-fruit profile. Great balance between power and elegance. Wonderful with roast quail stuffed with figs and prosciutto.

£25.14, Enotria&Coe

Raphael Thierry

Nga Waka Lease Block Pinot Noir 2018, Martinborough (93 points)

There is beautiful fruit here – floral with a slight hint of earthiness and a fine tannic structure that will develop with tine. It’s a classic example, and proof that New Zealand Pinot can be some of the finest and most complex in the world. It would even work by the glass, but I think it would work with red meat – even stews.

£21.05, Jereboams

Charles Carron Brown

Pyramid Valley Pinot Noir 2018, Central Otago (89 points)

This is a lovely wine. Vibrant, fun and great value for money. Flavour wise, there’s lots of red/dark fruits. It’s very concentrated, but backed up with earther aromas of mushrooms and truffles. I’d pair this with guinea fowl and a sauce based on sumac and honey.

£19.96, Louis Latour

Chris Goodale

Carrick Winery Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2018, Central Otago (94 points)

This is just everything that you want from New Zealand Pinot Noir. It’s already super-complex, but there’s great ageing potential too. It’s a complex nose and palate – black olive tapenade, ripe cherries and plum flavours that are very well integrated with vanilla and nutmeg spices. It would be great with game dishes, like duck confit.

£27.29, Enotria&Coe

Guillaume Mahaut

Seresin Estate Raupo Creek Pinot Noir 2015, Marlborough (95 points)

I was struck by just how pretty this wine’s nose was – lots of joyful bright fruit makes it really approachable. But it’s never over the top and has a really good structure too. I’d serve this with young lamb that’s been cooked on the barbecue.

£25.14, Enotria&Coe

Harry Ballman

Seresin Estate Rachel Pinot Noir 2016, Marlborough (87 points)

There’s a bit more bottle age on this wine, and it seemed very gastronomic to me – quite Burgundian almost. It’s got a savoury nose that unfurls gradually towards a long, umami palate with a gentle mushroom character. I’d love to try this with game, like grouse or venison loin with lentils.

£20.73, Enotria&Coe

Klearhos Kannellakis

Rapaura Springs Southbrook Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019, Marlborough (90 points)

This is just a great value wine. It has good Pinot varietal expression – lots of ripe, red fruits with a slightly smoky oak note – but there’s a really good balance between the two. It’s very expressive. It would work well on its own, but it would be great with duck confit.

£14.02, Maisons, Marques et Domaines

Andres Ituarte

Nga Waka Lease Block Pinot Noir 2018, Martinborough (93 points)

There’s lots of red cherry and sour currant flavours in here – even with a touch of wormwood, and integrated spice. But it’s well balanced and complex, with excellent secondary and tertiary flavours. I’d have it with game – or, at Tamarind, with crispy lobster.

£21.05, Jereboams

Joshua Castle

Seresin Estate Raupo Creek Pinot Noir 2015, Marlborough (95 points)

This is a very classy, but restrained wine. The nose is cherry, cola and anise flavours and this goes through onto a palate that is persistent and substantial, backed up by fine-boned tannins.

£25.14, Enotria&Coe

Fog in North Canterbury, famed for its Pinots. Pic: New Zealand Winegrowers Inc, Greystone Wines

New Zealand Pinot Noir Awards Tasting – List Champions

One of the things that makes our Awards tastings unique is that they’re totally focused on the on-trade. Not just because they’re judged by sommeliers, but also because we ask our tasters to select wines for very specific restaurant list roles.

These include Best for By The Glass, Best for Group Dining and Best for Preservation System. But we also give out an award for the best overall wine in the tasting (Best in Class) and for the wine with the best score to price ratio – Best Value.

They’re a bit different – certainly we don’t know of any other competition that has an award system like this. But these awards are highly practical – designed to reward wines whose style, price and quality all make them perfect for the job.

We hope you like them and find them useful.

And many congratulations to our winners, who have come through three rounds of judging to pick up these awards.

Best In Class

Seresin Estate Raupo Creek Pinot Noir 2015, Marlborough

This award goes to the wine with the best overall score from the tasting, and the Seresin Raupo Estate was a strong performer with all of our judges.

In fact, three of them picked it as their favourite wine of the tasting (see Judges’ Recommendations above) which is quite an endorsement.

It was one of the more expensive wines in the line-up but, on this evidence, well worth it.

‘Persistent and substantial, but with lovely fine-boned tannins. Classy but restrained.’ Joshua Castle

‘Violets and black olives with a long finish. Lovely balance between acidity and fruit.’ Emanuel Pesqueira

‘Intriguing. There’s a real concentration of fruits – cranberries and damsons mixed with herbs and tobacco, but the oak is subtle. Really nice wine.’ Charles Carron Brown

£25.14, Enotria&Coe

Best Value for Money

Rapaura Springs Southbrook Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019, Marlborough

For the first time in our Awards Tastings we had the same wine become a List Champion in two categories, so well done to Rapaura Springs for this fine effort.

In terms of value for money, this was a stand-out. There were cheaper wines in the tasting, but none that performed as well as this. Several judges remarked on how much class you got for the price.

Whatever your venue, this is worth a look.

‘Dry and balanced, with great concentration of fruit and a nice balance of oak and acidity.’ Klearhos Kannellakis

‘Bright red fruit and slightly savoury – even gastronomic. Not overdone and great value for money.’ Harry Ballman

‘Bags of ripe dark fruit with cherries, cocoa, spice and flowers.’ Charles Carron Brown

£14.02, Maisons, Marques et Domaines

Best for By The Glass

Rapaura Springs Southbrook Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019, Marlborough

To win the Best for By The Glass Award a wine doesn’t just have to be the right price – it has to be the right style, too.

And following up on its Best Value triumph, the Rapaura Springs ticked those boxes brilliantly. It was typical, accessible and approachable, yet never dumbed down or simple.

Would be great with food or without. A super-versatile addition to any list.

‘Bright and vibrant, with no shortage of fresh red fruit – cherry and cola.’ Joshua Castle

‘Bags of fruit with balanced acidity and tannins. Fresh, straightforward and very tasty!’ Charles Carron Brown

‘Smoky ripe nose with a mid-weight palate. Easy to like.’ Guillaume Mahaut

£14.02, Maisons, Marques et Domaines

Best for Group Dining

Pegasus Bay Main Divide Pinot Noir 2018, Waipara Valley

In the Group Dining award, our judges were looking for a wine that was typical, approachable, good with food and an obvious (but affordable) trade up on more basic offerings.

In other words, it’s the kind of wine that everyone will like, but feel good about drinking – a trade-up that isn’t challenging or left-field – and that offers you some good margin-making opportunities as a result.

The Pegasus Bay delivered on all of those criteria quite beautifully.

‘Fragrant and meaty with subtle spices and a long dark finish.’ Raphael Thierry

‘Bright fruit and earth, this is well-balanced and accessible without trying to be over complex.’ Guillaume Mahaut

‘Heady and intensely aromatic with a savoury, sinewy palate and soft, powdery tannins.’ Joshua Castle

£14.18, New Generation Wine

Best for Preservation System

Carrick Winery Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2018, Central Otago

When it comes to a wine for your preservation system, price is less important than character. So our tasters weren’t looking at the right hand column too much, but instead searching for a wine that had something unusual that they could hand-sell.

The Carrick Bannockburn ticked all of those boxes. It had plenty of character, would work with a wide variety of food, or as a luxury by-the-glass pour and it will age happily for many years to come.

Oh, and it’s organic, which could be an extra selling point for some of your customers.

‘Gamey barnyard notes with good structure and a solid fruit core.’ Andres Ituarte

‘Red berries, orange bitters and rose petals. High toned with silky tannins and crunchy acidity to break the fall.’ Emanuel Pesqueira

‘Red fruit and roses, but also meaty. Great balance, with a long delicate finish.’ Raphael Thierry

£27.29, Enotria&Coe

Many thanks to the Collective members who tasted this category (in alphabetical order): Harry Ballman, Cépage; Charles Carron Brown, Henrock; Joshua Castle, Noble Rot; Chris Goodale, Frederic Bistro; Andres Ituarte, Tamarind Collection; Klearhos Kanellakis, Eksted at The Yard; Guillaume Mahaut, ETM Group; Emanuel Pesqueira, 67 Pall Mall; Raphael Thierry, Bon Vino.

And last, but not least, many, many thanks to Collective member, Andre Luis Martins, and his team at the Royal Cavalry and Guards Club on Piccadilly for looking after us all so brilliantly on the day – even providing us with an unexpected crème brulée!

Winter in Central Otago Pic: New Zealand Winegrowers Inc, Misha’s Vineyard