Northern (high)lights

There is a wine term called "developing a cellar palate", which is particularly topical for winery staff, but pertinent for anyone who drinks the same wines over and over again.

In essence, the premise of a cellar palate is that you can, over time, become blind to the failings of your own wines if you are not regularly benchmarking them against others.

Today’s tasting fulfils that goal with a marvellous set of pinot noirs from Canterbury and Marlborough that offer flavour profiles distinctly different from the Central styles that we often see.

Diversity, I’m all for it.





2015 Dog Point Pinot Noir

Price: $47
Rating: Excellent to outstanding

Fragrant, perfumed nose showcasing plum; oak scents in support. Concentration to the plum and spice-led palate, yet not heavy; a delicious savoury and earthy aspect building, adding pencil shavings, over time. There’s intent here, the fine tannins adding a tactile chewiness, while the whole shows real energy and freshness. Time will be a friend too.





2016 Framingham F Series Pinot Noir

Price: $39.99
Rating: Excellent

Intriguingly wild nose with smoke, struck match, tilled earth and plum, developing a lovely florality. A bright freshness to the youthfully brash front palate, the sweet fruit a foil to the light, chewy tannins. There’s nice purity to the fruit, a little raspberry perhaps; the whole remaining juicy and vibrant and relatively primal for

2015 Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir

Price: $51
Rating: Excellent to outstanding

Subtly attractive nose mixes earth, mixed fruits and a little funk, adding liqueur fruits in time. A real punch to the fruit in the mouth, obvious intensity with lashings of cherries, a slippery, supple mouth-feel and an attractive, stalky (whole bunch?) note on the long finish that hangs in the mouth. Juicy, neatly balanced and already in a great place to enjoy.





2015 Greywacke Pinot Noir

Price: $48
Rating: Excellent to outstanding

A wild hint is backed by intense darker fruits, building in fragrance all the while. Concentrated, sweet fruit countered by evolving notes of lead pencil, spices, bramble, bonfire embers and smoke as the initially powerful, drying tannins melt into the wine. This creeps up on me, building gracefully in intensity to the delightfully long, smoky





2015 Tongue in Groove Cabal Vineyard Pinot Noir

Price: $45
Rating: Excellent

Smoke and toasty oak lead, adding toffee, a funky hint and fine fragrance. Loganberry and mixed berryfruit, initially a real earthy note, flirting with a sweet and sour element. Slow out of the blocks but really improves in the glass as it all comes together in supple harmony, building in depth and richness. A lovely piquant spiciness with real zest and energy on the close.





2015 Churton Marlborough Pinot Noir

Price: $39
Rating: Excellent to outstanding

Rather than primary fruits this leads with beguiling secondary nuances. A little forest floor, balsam, spices and stony minerality. Powerful minerally and savoury palate with darker fruits, still chewy, with a salivatory freshness. A vein of fruit sweetness but this appeals for its savoury and complex dryness, Not a shout from the rooftops wine, but complete and quite lovely.

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