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Cuisine's record-breaking Pinot Noir tasting

Wed 22 October 2008

Cuisine's record-breaking Pinot Noir tasting the best line-up ever

With Christmas fast approaching, Cuisine magazine has reviewed an impressive and unprecedented number of New Zealand Pinot Noirs and sparkling wines from around the globe to produce the definitive guide for enjoying the festive season.

The results of these annual Cuisine tastings have provided a star-studded lineup of outstanding wines for those wanting to select a show-stopper.

A record number of 29 five stars were handed out in a Cuisine New Zealand Pinot Noir tasting with 91 wines receiving either four or five stars. Judge Larry McKenna said it was the best line-up of current vintage Pinot Noirs he had ever seen in any show at any time.

Pinot Noir may have a reputation for being "tantrum-prone" but the Cuisine judging panel described the 2007 vintage across the regions to be simply outstanding.

The exceptionally high entry rate (242) was another record breaker. "In terms of numbers of wines presented and overall quality, it's the most significant showing of one-year-old Pinot Noirs I've ever seen," said panel chair John Belsham.

Top honours went to the Villa Maria Single Vineyard Seddon Pinot Noir 2006, with the panel "unanimously enraptured" from the outset.

Following its great annual tradition, the Christmas issue of Cuisine has also assessed the best bubbles - a great guide for buyers looking for quality and value. Separate tastings of Champagnes and Sparkling Wines showcase just what's on offer and demonstrate you don't need a deep pocket to enjoy world class sparklers.

Sifting through the heavenly French beauties in the Champagne tasting was demanding but pleasurable. This year's expert Cuisine panel found the line-up "worthy of the best tables and the best company" and, surprisingly, some of the lower-cost wines gave nothing away to their more pricey peers.

The stand-out Champagne was Pol Roger Vintage Brut 1999. "Nutty and bready complexities add elaborate dimensions to opulent peaches-and-cream-like fruit character...a simply lovely Champagne to share with the closet of friends," was the panel's description.

On the sparkling side, the panel found the wines from both sides of the Tasman just "keep getting better", clearly outclassing competition from the rest of the world.

Leading Australian sparkler Yellowglen Vintage Perle 2005 topped the tasting. The judges described it as a "bright, foaming wine with a vibrant, zesty nose that shows delicate hints of strawberry and a suggestion of crème brulee." At just $24.99 a bottle, it substantiates Cuisine's view that many of the moderately priced sparkling wines offer unbeatable value for money.

New Zealand entries make up the balance of the Top Five Sparkling Wines.

Complete results of the Pinot Noir and Champagne tastings, the very latest in wine news and great food and wine matches are all revealed in the Christmas issue of Cuisine, on sale from 27 October.

TOP TEN NEW ZEALAND PINOT NOIRS (all awarded five stars)

1 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Seddon Pinot Noir 2006

2 = Domain Road Pinot Noir 2007

2 = West Brook Blue Ridge Marlborough Pinot Noir 2007

4 Craggy Range Pinot Noir Zebra Vineyard 2007

5 Peregrine Pinot Noir 2007

6 Montana Letter Series 'T' Terraces Marlborough Pinot Noir 2007

7 Wooing Tree Beetle Juice Pinot Noir 2007

8 Rockburn Pinot Noir 2007

9 Waipara Hills Southern Cross Selection Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007

10 Voss Estate Pinot Noir 2007


Five stars

Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007 $22-$28

Four stars Aspire Pinot Noir 2007 $20 (high four stars)

Capricorn Wine Estates One Tree Pinot Noir 2007 $22 (high four stars)

Dashwood Marlborough Pinot Noir 2007 $21-$22

Mount Riley Pinot Noir 2007 $18.90-$21.90


1 Pol Roger Brut Vintage 1999

2 Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Brut NV

3 Champagne Deutz Cuvée William 1998

4 Champagne Perrier Jouët Grand Brut NV

5 Louis Roederer Vintage Brut 2002

6= Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé NV

6= Champagne Deutz Brut Classic NV

8= Champagne Henriot Millésimé 1998

8= Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Réserve Particulière NV

10 Duval-Leroy Femme de Champagne 1996

TOP FIVE SPARKLING WINES (other than Champagne)

1 Yellowglen Vintage Perle 2005

2 Summerhouse Blanc de Blancs 2005

3 Daniel Le Brun Vintage 2001

4 Nobilo Méthode Traditionnelle 2005 (also Best Buy)

5 Twin Islands Cuvée Brut NV (also Best Buy)


Taste the top New Zealand Chardonnays at Cuisine Top Ten fine-wine stores throughout the country.


First Glass Wines & Spirits Ph: 09-486 6415 Wed 30 April 7pm $15, no reservation required

Glengarry Victoria Park Ph: 0800-733 505 Sat 3 May 11am-4pm (free)

La Barrique Ph: 09-638 5000 Thurs 1 May 7pm

Waiheke Wine Centre Ph: 09-372 6139 Thurs 22 May 7pm, booking essential


Hamilton Wine Company Upstairs at Embargo Restaurant, Garden Place Ph: 07-839 1190 Tues 27 May 7pm $15, book ahead


Glengarry Thorndon Quay Ph: 04-472 7051 Sat 3 May 3pm-6pm (free)


Vino Fino Ph: 03-3655134 Tues 13 May 6pm $15


Allan Hamilton Wine Cellars Ph: 03-442 1026 Thurs 8 May 4pm-7pm


Wanaka Fine Wines Ph: 03-443 7539 Thurs 13 May 6pm, booking essential


Editor's Notes:


Conducting Cuisine's annual New Zealand Pinot Noir tastings were:

* John Belsham (panel chair), owner-winemaker at Foxes Island Wines, Marlborough

* Larry McKenna, from Escarpment Vineyard and instrumental in putting Martinborough on the global Pinot stage in 1980s

* Olly Masters, rebuilt Ata Rangi into an internationally respected brand and consultant to several wineries.

* Cameron Douglas, New Zealand's first Master Sommelier.

Conducting Cuisine's annual Champagne and sparkling wine tastings was led by wine panel chair, John Belsham, ably assisted by Cuisine's Australian based judge and wine writer Ralph Kyte Powell, Sam Kim (manager at First Glass and author of Wine Orbit) and Jane Boyle (brand strategy manager at NZ Wine Cellars) as an associate judge.


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