Waitaki Valley pinots impress

Mark Henderson
Mark Henderson

Today's tasting saw my regular panellists Mr Collins and Mr McLaren joining me to delve into the world of Waitaki Valley pinot noir.

I was looking forward to this selection as pinot noir is very much the flagbearer for this young region, which has barely a dozen or so harvests under its belt.

Vintage variation clearly plays a part here and the vignerons are learning fast what nature and their region will give them. I've come out of this with admiration for what they have already achieved.




2013 Black Stilt Waitaki Valley Pinot Noir
Price: $39 (cellar door) 
Rating: Very good

Smoky, charry oak is to the fore here, the underlying plum and dark fruits becoming brambly with time. The palate displays woodsy, earthy and dried herb notes finishing with a stony, schisty note. Cool, upright, and displaying quite firm, grippy tannins that will work well with food.

Draws you back for more.




2016 Black Star Waitaki Valley Pinot Noir
Price: $29
Rating: Good to very good

A rather funky, wild nose overlaying wood smoke and animal fur on the red fruits. A cooler note on entry adding wild herb notes and perhaps whole bunch, stalk elements to the firm and grippy palate with a woodsy close. Quite different, pushing the envelope and tilting its hat to Europe.

Challenging yet stimulating.




2015 Q Wines Waitaki Valley Pinot Noir
Price: $54 (cellar door)
Rating: Excellent

Perfumed with a slightly wild, earthy hint and red currant. Powerful palate entry with red and black currant at first, cooked fruits and rhubarb with time.

A bright tanginess with hints of wild herb/stalk providing a nice counterpoint to the building savoury and smoky notes, fine tannic grip and long, dry, savoury finish.




2016 River-T Waitaki Valley Pinot Noir
Price: $29 (cellar door)
Rating: Very Good to excellent

Juicy and attractive nose with plum, cherry, a whisper of oak spice and savoury nuances. Nice weight in the mouth, good balance offering stewed fruits and rhubarb, red fruits and raspberry with aeration. Savoury, spicy, refreshingly lifted with a long, green herb-tinged close.

Youthfully bright and juicy, with promise.




2016 Valli Waitaki Vineyard Pinot Noir
Price: $69
Rating: Excellent

Toasty oak scents to the fore in this youthfully, bright wine adding currants and floral scents. Ripe, brightly red fruited and spicy with a graphite/lead pencil core. Lovely mouthfeel with fine tannins making their presence felt.

I may be underscoring this: time will work more magic, I’m sure.




2015 Ostler Caroline’s Waitaki Valley Pinot Noir
Price: $59
Rating: Excellent

Fragrant nose with tilled earth, forest floor, savoury elements and red fruits. The palate adds cherry to the mix, the savoury notes a core to the wine with real freshness on the front palate, leading to a deliciously earthy close. Subtlety and delicacy, yet with real complexity and balance.

Lots of interest here.



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