Pi-not a dud among the bunch

Over the course of 48 hours prior to putting this column together, I managed to taste more than 20 pinot noirs ranging in price from $22 to $120 (with a number of those north of $75 a bottle).

It certainly puts this sub-$35 collection into the value category.

Mind you, the perception of what equates to value, or not, is very much in the eye of the beholder.

In comparison to the sea of $10-$20 Australian reds, pinot noir may always seem a little dear, but then making good pinot is never a cheap exercise.

2019 Domaine Thomson Explorer Central Otago pinot noir

Price: $30
Rating: Very good to

Musk, roses, dust and tilled
earth, savoury too, a yeasty
note with aeration. Ripe fruit
without being over-sweet,
the tannic structure evident,
flowing to a long, dry
finish. The fruit grows
nicely giving a ripe fruit
core, adding earthy notes,
nice depth here. Time
sees the tannins soften,
while the youthful
zestiness gives a playful


2019 Chard Farm River Run Central Otago pinot noir

Price: $34
Rating: Very good to

A lighter expression yet
nicely composed with red
fruits, hints of spice and a
woodsy element, a little
funk later. Greater weight
in the mouth than the
nose might suggest, as
the structure becomes
more evident too. Not
trying to be a bruiser,
clearly Pinot, with good
fruit depth and a long,
attractive finish. Made to
be lashed back with


2016 Mountford Liaison pinot noir

Price: $30
Rating: Very good

Lifted florality, potpourri,
savoury notes and dried
herb. Initially the palate
dances in the sweet ‘n’ sour
spectrum with balsamic
influences and racy acidity
before evolving into a
much more rounded
fellow with secondary
characters of earth,
leather, bramble,
savoury notes and sweet
dried fruits. A bittersweet
note frames the finish.
Ready to drink now.


2016 Brennan B2 Central Otago pinot noir

Price: $35
Rating: Very good

Intriguing nose with earth,
forest floor, humus and
dustiness, leather with time.
Supple and sweetly fruited
in the mouth, the flavours
echoing the nose adding
some wild herbs. Neatly
balanced and with a
good carry of flavour on
the close. Tightens a little
with aeration showing
some grippiness, so
should work well with
food too.


2014 McArthur Ridge Southern Tor pinot noir

Price: $29.90
Rating: Very good to

Subtly expressed nose with
tilled earth and forest floor
nuances, growing in volume.
The palate is bolder than the
nose might suggest with
red fruits and rhubarb,
crunchiness and vibrancy
and a nice interplay
between the tannins and
acidity. There’s bright,
tangy cranberry and
tamarillo on the finish,
which brings added


2019 Misha’s Vineyard Cantata Central Otago pinot noir

Price: $32
Rating: Very good to

Smoke, coolmint, herbs, and
wine-gum-like sweet fruit
lead on this youthful wine:
perfume and strawberry
later. A lighter-bodied
style yet brimming with
crunchy and youthful
tannins and sheer
drinkability. Tingly fruit
sherbet and smokers’
lolly notes grow flowing
to dried fruits on the long
finish. Playful, bright and
eminently drinkable now.


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