The Buyer
Roger Jones’ highlights at the Great New Zealand Wine Tasting

Roger Jones’ highlights at the Great New Zealand Wine Tasting

Our Wine Editor at Large is inspired by a glass of Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir 2015 whilst journeying back from The Cape (sat at the impressive on board Emirates Business Bar in the Sky) to come straight to the Great New Zealand Wine Tasting. There he picks three Chardonnays that caught his fancy and highlights three Pinot Noir producers that he particularly liked.

Roger Jones
20th January 2017by Roger Jones
posted in Tasting: Wine ,

Roger Jones picks three Chardonnays from Hawke’s Bay and three great producers of Pinot Noir that stood out at the Great New Zealand Wine Tasting.

Rather late for the Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay Master Class, the efficient team behind Emma Wellings PR had sorted a late sitting for a couple of us and it was a showcase of the variance of age, soils and styles that Hawke’s Bay can achieve, and a great way to start a tasting.

My favourites were:

Craggy Range Kidnappers Vineyard 2014A great value Chardonnay that has always showcased the quality available from Hawke’s Bay – clean and bright flavours, soft gentle acidity, gentle flavours, delicate burst of juicy stone fruit, zesty everything you want from a Chardonnay at this price levelElephant Hill Reserve 2013Tight clean stone fruit that evolves on the palate, delicate fine perfume on the nose, the luxurious depth of this wine gently comes to the fore, great balance and complexity.Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels, 2015This is much cleaner and delicate than previous vintages I have tried, a more feminine style, delicate juicy flavours that bounce gently on the palate, a hint of perfumed exotic fruits, and again good value.And so to the second course, a trio of top rate Pinot Noir producers

Of course with my imminent trip to the Pinot Conference, Pinot Noir NZ 2017, I wanted to indulge and find out as much as I could to be in a better position to partake and be fulfilled at the Conference. When New Zealand produces so many quality Pinot Noir it would be foolish to highlight my best but I have listed the ones that interested me the most for many different reasons.

Burn Cottage Pinot Noir, Central Otago 2014 (Liberty Wines)

Andy Crozier

I had previously bought and enjoyed these wines through Melanie of NZ Cellar, and it was a delight to catch up with sales manager Andy Crozier and get the story of the business, from the wine loving investor, owner and president Marquis Savage from Colorado, winemaker and vice president (they like their titles) Ted Lemon, whose career included being the first American to manage an estate in Burgundy (Domaine Guy Roulete) to setting up his own stunning Littorai Wine Estate in Sonoma. Then the general manager and associate winemaker Claire Mulholland, with previous experience as head winemaker at Martinborough.

Burn Cottage, Moonlight Race Pinot Noir, Central Otago 2014

More of a declassified wine compared to the one below with Cromwell Basin fruit as a base balanced with some bought in from outside these farms, this is a beautiful forward drinking polite Pinot, with luscious rumbling light berries packed with sprites and fresh flavours. Drink now.

Burn Cottage Pinot Noir, Cromwell Basin, Central Otago 2014

Serious, taught, complex, this is a one to keep and evolve, a true definition of Pinot at its very best.


A rarefied wine distributed by a few specialist importers, Goedhuis and Farthinghoe Fine Wines amongst them.

Planted vines in 2002, but waited ten years before releasing its first wine, Akitu is founded by Andrew Donaldson, with a few stars in the background team including PJ Charteris as consultant winemaker, I have know PJ for over a decade from his involvement with Brokenwood in The Hunter Valley.

Akitu A2 Pinot Noir, Wanaka, Central Otago 2015

Ripe cherry and plums, aged in oak but only 25% new, giving it a stunning velvety, long lingering fruit-filled mouth but there was also a calming purity. It is a bold wine which carries it well.

Akitu A1 Pinot Noir Wanaka Central Otago 2015

Loved the purity of this wine, the fruit rippled on the palate, delicate perfume, spiced and some juicy ripe plums.

Rock Ferry (Buckingham Schenk Vintners)

Rock Ferry also produces some lovely white wines including the Trig Hill Pinot Gris 2013.

Rock Ferry, 3rd Rock Pinot Noir Central Otago 2013

Savoury, luscious cherries, spices, textured, touch of earthiness but balanced

And what about the Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir 2015 served on Emirates Business Class, made by Phil Handford?

OK Roger, enough plugging I’m sure you’ll get your upgrade!

It is just delicious a perfect Pinot that evolves gracefully in the mouth some dark spice hidden behind luscious delicate fruit, and no finer place to drink it but in the Emirates Bar in the Sky.

Later this month Roger Jones will be journeying to Pinot Noir NZ 2017 hosted in Wellington in the North Island of New Zealand, where he will be reporting on all that is good about Pinot Noir.

Roger enough!