Jancis Robinson’s NZ report card

Jancis Robinson (Photo: www.jancisrobinson.com)

During a brief break at the Pinot Noir 2017 celebration I had a chance to meet with Jancis Robinson, a keynote speaker at the event. I noted that she had been the keynote speaker at the very first pinot noir celebration in 2001 and asked her for a New Zealand report card on the state of our wine industry. Here are some of the points she made:

  • Winemakers appear to be much more confident than they were 16 years ago. They are no longer comparing their wines with those of Australia or Burgundy. There seems to be a lot more Kiwi pride in pinot noir.
  • The wine world is deeply envious of the success of Marlborough sauvignon blanc but rather than rest on their laurels, Kiwi winemakers seem to have a desire to differentiate sauvignon by exploring new winemaking and regional styles. That’s a good thing.
  • The wine world is also deeply envious of NZ’s high average prices.
  • There is a strong trend on Jancis’ online “Purple Pages” forum suggesting interest in NZ pinot noir. An example is a current thread about which NZ pinot noir should people chase as an alternative to Burgundy.
  • Jancis’ current Wine of the Week is Vidal Reserve Syrah 2014.
  • She plans to publish her pinot noir notes gathered at the celebration on her website.
  • Aromatic wines are now less sweet than they were, which is a good thing.
  • Jancis is very pleased to see the increase in new grape varieties. New Zealand has been so reliant on sauvignon blanc and pinot noir it was in danger of becoming boring.
  • Jancis is a longtime fan of NZ chardonnay and is pleased to see the development of more interesting styles. She likes the funky, reductive complexity in chardonnay as long as it is supported by good fruit intensity.
  • Good to see the emergence of confident and interesting New Zealand style of pinot noir, although some are still using Burgundy as their model and making delicious wines (Bell Hill is a good example – tastings) but she is not sure that clinging to the Burgundy template is a wise move in the long term.
  • The fact that NZ pinot noir and sauvignon blanc are so easy to like can be a negative with wine critics.

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