Battle of the $120 pinots
Brave is the winemaker (or, more likely, wine marketer) who breaks through the $100 price barrier. Add an extra digit to a two-digit price tag and the dynamics change. Prospective buyers thin out and purchasing motivation changes. Welcome to the world of collectors, investors and luxury goods marketing.
My records reveal that just 15 local pinot noir labels have been released with a three digit price tag. They are:
- Craggy Range Aroha, Martinborough $120
- Akarua “The Siren”, Central Otago $100
- Greystone Little Brother Reserve, Waipara $120
- Prophet’s Rock Retrospect, Central Otago $119
- Pyramid Valley Angel Flower, North Canterbury $120
- Pyramid Valley Earth Smoke, North Canterbury $120
- Amisfield RKV Reserve, Central Otago $120
- Gibbston Valley Reserve, Central Otago $120
- Bell Hill Pinot Noir, North Canterbury $120
- Seresin Sun & Moon, Marlborough $135
- Mountford “The Gradient”, Waipara $160
- Mountford “The Rise”, Waipara $160
- Peregrine “The Pinnacle”, Central Otago $175
- Crown Range Cellar Pinot Noir, Central Otago $179
- Martinborough Vineyard Marie Zelie, Martinborough $225
By coincidence, I received samples of two Central Otago Pinot Noirs, each with a $120 price tag, on the same day. I put them in a blind head-to-head tasting to establish which had more merit.
Amisfield RKV Pinot Noir 2013 (NZD $120) is made from grapes grown on “a one-hectare stony and steep block within the estate” in the Pisa Range sub-region of Central Otago. It was the more accessible wine of the pair, but should I judge these heavyweights on present condition or potential? I’ve always adopted the view that while I should make some allowance for a long-distance wine being in a youthful and slightly inaccessible state, it is dangerous to judge it on what I think it might be rather than what it is right now.
For that reason, the Amisfield Pinot Noir scored a point ahead of the tighter, more structured and restrained Gibbston Valley Reserve Pinot Noir 2014 (NZD $120). This more youthful wine is a blend of 90% Bendigo and 10% Gibbston grapes. Clearly built for the long haul it appears to have greater development potential.
If I were to taste both wines in another five years’ time would they each achieve the same scores? Probably not, but I intend to buy a bottle of each and find out.