Sunday, March 28, 2010

New Classification of New Zealand Pinot Noirs

Picture: The Wine Regions of New Zealand

New Classification of New Zealand Pinot Noirs

Matthew Jukes has published his new New Zealand Pinot Noir Ranking. Interestingly, my favorite New Zealand Producer, Johner Estate, is on the list.

One of the wine success stories in the past couple of decades is New Zealand. New Zealand’s wine makers have penetrated the global wine market with stunning Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines, but also with other grape varieties and sparklers. They are still a relatively small wine country, at about 10% of Germany’s wine output, on 9th place in terms of world output, or 2% of France’s output, the world’s largest wine producer.

Wine Country New Zealand

Here is how the winemakers from New Zealand advertise themselves.

New Zealand Wine – Pure Discovery. New Zealand is a land like no other. New Zealand wine is an experience like no other. Our special combination of soil, climate and water, our innovative pioneering spirit and our commitment to quality all come together to deliver pure, intense and diverse experiences. In every glass of New Zealand Wine is a world of pure discovery.

International acclaim. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is rated throughout the world as the definitive benchmark style for this varietal. The growing recognition for New Zealand Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Méthode Traditionelle sparkling wines, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blends is helping to further cement New Zealand's position as a producer of world class wines.

Picture: New Zealand's Economic Center Auckland

Diverse styles. New Zealand is a country of contrasts with dense, native forest, snow-capped mountains and spectacular coastline. With wine growing regions spanning the latitudes of 36 to 45 degrees and covering the length of 1000 miles (1,600km), grapes are grown in a vast range of climates and soil types, producing a diverse array of styles. The northern hemisphere equivalent would run from Bordeaux (between the latitudes of 44 and 46 degrees) down to southern Spain.

Temperate maritime climate. New Zealand's temperate, maritime climate has a strong influence on the country's predominantly coastal vineyards. The vines are warmed by strong, clear sunlight during the day and cooled at night by sea breezes. The long, slow ripening period helps to retain the vibrant varietal flavours that make New Zealand wine so distinctive.

Food friendly wines. New Zealand cuisine draws inspiration from the traditional kitchens of France and Italy, as well as the exotic dishes of Asia and the Pacific Rim. Wine styles have evolved to compliment this extensive menu. There are bright and zesty wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling for fresh and subtly spiced dishes, while complex, mellow Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blends and Pinot Noir offer a timeless marriage with the classical dishes of Europe.

Ensuring the future. New Zealand's small population, distant location and agricultural economy have earned the country a 'clean, green' image. Visitors often describe it as 'an unspoiled paradise'. New Zealand's winemakers and grape growers are determined to keep it this way. Innovative practices in the vineyard and winery which deliver quality in a sustainable and environmental manner, ensure that New Zealand meets a growing world demand for wines that have been produced in a 'clean and green' fashion.

Matthew Juke’s Classification of New Zealand Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc are New Zealand’s flagship grapes. Following the example of the 1855 Bordeaux classification, Matthew Juke has developed a New Zealand Pinot Noir Classification with 5 groups of winemakers. Unlike the 1855 Bordeaux classification, Luke’s Pinot Noir classification is reviewed every year.

This time, 3 wineries were awarded 5 stars: Ata Rangi (Martinborough), Felten Road and Mt Difficulty (Central Otago). The following wineries were awarded 4 stars: Bellshill, Graggy Range, Dry River, Escarpment (downgraded from 5 stars), Martinborough Vineyard, Pegasus Bay, Peregrine, Rippon and Pyramid Valley.

Karl Heinz Johner Estate

My favorite New Zealand winemaker is Karl Heinz Johner, whose Pinot Noir is now in the 5 stars category. Karl Heinz Johner studied Oenology and Viticulture in Geisenheim, Germany in the early 1970s. He then spent many years in England, making wines at the Lamberhurst vineyard in Kent.

In 1985 after ten years abroad in the UK, Karl Heinz Johner and his wife Irene founded a little Weingut (vineyard & winery) in Baden, Germany, and started to produce excellent wines there, including Pinot Nor. Today Weingut Karl Heinz Johner is considered to be one of the best winemakers in Germany. It has 3 Gault Millau Grapes.

In 2001 Karl Heinz Johner and his son, Patrick, who is also a winemaker, established a winery in New Zealand. The Johner Estate is outside of Masterton New Zealand in the northern Wairarapa Valley. Wairarapa is a young wine growing region north of Wellington over the Rimutaka Hills. Johner Estate has planted 8 ha of various Pinot Noir clones, originally selected in Burgundy, 3 ha of Sauvignon Blanc and a further hectare of 10 trial Varieties ranging from Pinot Gris to Syrah.

Patrick Johner and Web2.0

Patrick Johner is one of those German winemakers, who are very active in the Internet. He ranks number one among German winemakers who use twitter, in terms of followers. He has also organized very nice twitter wine tastings with a Skype link to his father in the cellar and the vineyard in New Zealand.

Picture: Patrick and Karl H. Johner during twitter wine tasting with Skype link to New Zealand

New Zealand Wines in London

If you want to taste New Zealand wines and if you are in London, The Providores and Tapa Room is the place to go. I have never seen such a broad and deep selection of excellent wines from New Zealand outside of New Zealand. Naturally, the focus is on Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. See more here.

Johner Estate

The New Zealand Pinot Noir Classification

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Twitter Wine Tastings - Different Models

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