A trio of pricey pinots

Matt Thomson of Blank Canvas (Photo: Supplied)

A student in my wine class recently asked how wineries price wine. I replied that price is a function of three factors:

  • Quality (Some time ago the Bureau of Economic Research analysed the scores and prices of wines in a large, blind panel tasting and concluded that there was not a strong relationship between price and quality).
  • Scarcity (Limited production wines tend to be pricier. The reverse is also true).
  • Hype (e.g. pinot noir from more fashionable regions such as Central Otago tend to be pricier than those from less fashionable regions such as Marlborough).

My rather simplistic analysis was put to the test the following day when I tasted three pricey pinot noirs from Marlborough and Central Otago. It proved to be unreliable. The least expensive wine from Marlborough achieved a higher score than the two pricier wines from Central Otago.

The 2016 Gibbston Valley School House Pinot Noir from Central Otago earned a creditable score of 95 points. It’s from a high altitude Bendigo vineyard. Great concentration and structure with obvious cellaring potential, the wine would certainly earn a higher score with the benefit of bottle age. (NZD $65)

Rockburn’s 2016 Seven Barrels Pinot Noir, also from Central Otago, is their most prestigious label made from a selection of best barrels in the best vintages. An impressive wine with more intensity and weight than the previous label and a higher score of 96 points. (NZD $97)

My top wine is from Matt Thomson’s relatively new Blank Canvas label. The 2015 Blank Canvas Pinot Noir is from a very favourable Marlborough vintage and a single vineyard in the Waihopai Valley. Made with 50% whole-clusters during fermentation and given 10 months maturation in oak barrels. It’s an expressive and complex wine with power and precision, and scored 97 points. (NZD $44.99)

Would the wines rate different scores in a few years’ time? Probably. Would I buy and drink Blank Canvas Pinot Noir now? Certainly.

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