We are proud to announce The Sixth Great New Zealand Pinot Noir Classification to highlight the importance of New Zealand’s finest pinots.
New in 2013
In 2013, The Great New Zealand Pinot Noir Classification highlights 120 estates, representing the top quarter of New Zealand’s 484 pinot noir makers. This reinforces the strength of endorsement of achieving even our One Star rating. Every estate awarded a coveted position in this list is producing this mesmerising grape variety at a level of sophistication that we believe is worthy of your attention.
The record number of estates in this year’s classification reflects the rise of New Zealand in producing pinot noir more successfully at every price point than any other country in the world today. Burgundy, California and even Australia cannot keep pace with New Zealand’s top estates in offering exciting pinot noir at affordable prices.
We have never witnessed a jump in the standard of New Zealand pinot noir across all price points as dramatic as that of the past twelve months. In a land of largely young vineyards, an additional year of vine age has pushed roots deeper into the chalk of Waipara, the schist of Central Otago and the gravels of Martinborough and Marlborough. Meanwhile, growers and makers are embracing a new sensitivity in drawing out the unique personality of their region. New Zealand pinot noir has never spoken more articulately of the character of its place.
The favourable conditions of 2010 across most regions produced flamboyant pinot noirs of immediate appeal, but the more difficult 2011 season could hardly have been a more profound contrast, and some estates did not even produce a wine at all. As always, it is the challenging vintages that define the finest estates, and those ranked in the highest echelons of our Classification produced equally thrilling wines in both seasons. Our rolling five year Classification is a strong buffer against vintage effect, but these contrasting seasons have contributed toward something of a changing of the guard, particularly among our One and Two Star estates.
We are delighted to welcome twenty-three estates to the Classification for the first time in 2013: Astrolabe, Bannock Brae, Black, Bracken’s Order, Brennan, Clos Marguerite, Earth’s End, Folding Hill, Gibbston Highgate, Greenhough, Jules Taylor, Kusuda, Nga Waka, Stanrock, Te Kairanga, Terra Sancta, Two Rivers, Two Sisters, Vynfields, Waipara Hills, Whitehaven, Woollaston and Zephyr.
Thirteen estates are to be applauded on their superb performances in recent years, and have been promoted one or more levels: Auntsfield, Black Quail, Burn Cottage, Framingham, Fromm, Grasshopper Rock, Julicher, Lowburn Ferry, Maude, Muddy Water, Nautilus, Quartz Reef and Rippon.
We congratulate Rippon on joining Ata Rangi, Bell Hill, Felton Road and Mount Difficulty at our highest Five Star classification. The Mills family has worked tirelessly to elevate one of Central Otago’s most historic vineyards to a truly world class standard.
The Great New Zealand Pinot Noir Classification is a rolling classification, based on an average assessment of the five most recent vintages, so as to provide an up-to-date assessment every year, while maintaining the perspective of recent history. Estates which are performing well now, but which were not producing wine of the same standard (or not producing wine at all) five years ago, are ranked accordingly. Light font is used to position estates for which we have yet to taste five vintages. This rolling classification has been carefully devised to highlight producers who make consistently excellent wines year after year. This is a purposeful contrast to static classifications such as the famous Bordeaux 1855 Classification, sporadic endorsement from wine show success or critiques of a single vintage release.
An estate worthy of One Star has produced pinot noir that averages a silver medal standard in our assessment over the past five vintages. Five Stars are reserved for estates consistently performing at top gold medal standard.
This body of work has taken nine years to research and a tremendous amount of attention is put into its update every year. Every winery’s position is considered at great length. The entire range of pinot noirs from each producer is tasted, but it is ultimately the estate wines which set the standard, not the most expensive reserve or single vineyard wines. An estate’s inclusion is based wholly and exclusively on the standard of its pinot noir wines and not on any other factors.
To ensure this Classification is as comprehensive as possible, we work tirelessly throughout the year to taste every New Zealand pinot noir we can. This Classification is the culmination of well in excess of 1000 tastings in New Zealand, Australia and London in recent months alone. Last year we emailed all 350 of New Zealand’s 484 pinot makers whose wines didn’t cross out path, in the hope of tasting their latest vintage. Thank you to the 125 who opened our email. To the remaining 225, you’ll find it unopened in your inbox. It’s not too late for next year’s Classification.
While the scope and complexity of this Classification does not permit us to provide commentary on every placement and every wine, we both publish extensively on New Zealand pinot noir in many publications throughout the year and readers interested in further detail can follow us at www.matthewjukes.com and www.tysonstelzer.com.
We are very proud of The Great New Zealand Pinot Noir Classification and will continue to finesse and improve this work every year, in order to continue to offer consumers and the wine trade an accurate and up-to-date assessment of the dynamic and thrilling landscape of the finest pinot noirs of New Zealand.
Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer.