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Global Pinot Noir Masters 2015: the results

There’s little doubt that Pinot Noir is fashionable these days, but such a sensitive grape’s transition into the mainstream is hardly guaranteed.

1

By bringing together over 350 examples from 16 countries to be scrutinised by some of the trade’s most experienced MW and MS palates, The Drinks Business Pinot Noir Global Masters offered a perfect opportunity to assess the status quo.

One thing the results made abundantly clear is that top quality examples of this grape variety can now come from just about any of the world’s major wine producing regions. Represented among this year’s gold medal winners were New Zealand, South Africa, Austria, Australia, Chile, Germany and Italy. Although both California and Oregon failed to achieve the same level of accolade as last year, they were nevertheless well represented in the medal table along with Romania, France, Argentina, Canada, Bulgaria, Spain, Switzerland and indeed England.

“My overall impression is that the competition is hotting up,“ remarked Sebastian Payne MW, buyer for The Wine Society. “There seem to be more and more places all over the world getting things right.” While noting the particular strength of New Zealand, whose clutch of gold medals and a Master proved its ongoing prowess, Payne added: “Countries like South Africa and Chile show steady improvement, and there were some surprisingly good wines at under £10 a bottle, which used to be a price point to avoid for Pinot Noir.”

Nevertheless, the feeling among most of the panel chairs was that the perfume and charm that are so intrinsic to Pinot Noir’s appeal tend to emerge at higher price brackets. “It is a tough ask to expect to produce good Pinot at under £10 a bottle with the UK tax regime and generally you need to set the sights a bit higher if you want to be rewarded,” commented Mark Savage MW, managing director of UK merchant Savage Selection. “There are certainly some possibilities at around £15,” he continued. “At over £25 then you deserve to see a good depth of Pinot character.” Excitingly for fans of this variety who are prepared to pay a bit more to indulge their passion, there was certainly no shortage of successfully ambitious examples at these upper price points. Indeed, observed Payne pointedly, “Burgundy seems too scared to enter many wines; perhaps they have more and more reason to watch the competition.”

Tender loving care

4So what is it that winemakers around the world are getting right to produce such an abundance of high quality styles?

According to the drinks business editor in chief Patrick Schmitt, “Something positive that was immediately apparent among this year’s entries to our Pinot Masters was a more sensitive handling of the grape. Not only did we rarely encounter harsh tannins from heavy-handed extraction methods or too much new oak, but there appeared to be a better balance between fruit sweetness and freshness among 2015’s entries.” What’s more, he noted, “fewer examples had fallen victim to the raisined flavours or alcohol burn that can result from picking too late in a warm climate.”

This analysis was echoed by Payne, who pointed to “much subtler wood treatment than I remember from last year, with a touch of American oak working quite successfully on some lower-priced wine.”

For those producers working to make good quality Pinot Noir at the commercially important sub-£10 price point, consultant Richard Bampfield MW had the following advice: “Restrict yields as much as possible, don’t try too hard on extraction and try to add an oak component, even if small.” More generally, Savage highlighted the right picking date as being “crucial” for producers’ success. “A day or two too early and you will get green tannins, while a day or two beyond optimum and you may have prune juice,” he warned.
For all the evidence that excellent Pinot Noir can come from very different corners of the world, he linked this picking decision closely to the importance of finding the right spot to plant such a sensitive variety. “You need to be confident that the vineyard site will allow for marginal ripening with maturity in the fruit that will render unnecessary any correction by either chaptalisation or acidification,” insisted Savage, adding: “The vast majority of vineyard locations in the world will not be suitable.”

Forgetting their roots

2Despite the abundance of high quality Pinot Noirs emanating from different corners of the world today, Bampfield questioned the clarity with which these wines express their origin. In contrast to the deeply nuanced distinctions displayed so famously by the grape in Burgundy, he remarked: “I don’t think that national and regional differences are yet nearly as clear in Pinot as they are with grapes such as Cabernet and Shiraz.” With entries for the Masters series arranged by price bracket rather than country of origin and all wines tasted blind, Bampfield suggested that it would have been “extremely difficult” to pin down wines to specific parts of the world, “whereas, with Cabernet I think I would be more sure of my ground,” he remarked. Indeed, looking ahead to the evolution of this competition in years to come, Bampfield predicted that the line-up is likely to become “more and more interesting as new sites in the New World in particular are developed.”

That suggestion certainly opens up an exciting future direction for Pinot Noir’s international development. As this in-depth assessment of the current state of affairs demonstrated, winemakers have certainly secured a solid base of quality on which to refine their offer in ever more nuanced directions.

About the competition

In a crowded wine competition arena, The Drinks Business Global Pinot Noir Masters stands out for its assessment of wines purely by grape variety rather than region. Divided only by price bracket and, for ease of judging, whether the style was oaked or unoaked, the blind tasting format allowed wines to be assessed without prejudice about their country of origin. The wines were scored out of 100, with those gaining more than 95 points being awarded the top title of Master. Those earning more than 90 points were given a gold, those more than 85 points a silver, and those more than 80 points a bronze.

The wines were judged by a group of Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers on 4 February at The Drapers Arms in Islington, London.

Click through to see this year’s medal-winning wines….

Sparkling white Pinot Noir

Company Wine Vintage Country Medal
£10 – £20
Ca’ del Gè Pinot Nero Metodo Classico 2009 Italy Bronze
Gauchezco Wines Gauchezco Sparkling Extra Brut 2014 Argentina Bronze
Travaglino Gran Cuvée Oltrepò Pavese Pinot Nero DOCG Metodo Classico 2008 Italy Bronze
£20 – £30
Champagne Gremillet Blanc de Noirs NV France Silver
The Daily Drinker Champagne Larnaudie-Hirault Blanc de Noirs NV France Silver
Champagne Devaux Blanc de Noirs NV France Silver
Akarua Akarua Brut NV New Zealand Silver
Tenuta Fornace Pinot Nero Metodo Classico 66 2008 Italy Bronze
Juvé & Camps Blanc de Noirs 2011 Spain Bronze
£30 – £50
Champagne Gremillet Millésime 2009 2009 France Silver
Champagne Philipponnat Blanc de Noirs 2008 France Silver
Akarua Akarua Vintage Brut 2010 New Zealand Silver
Over £50
Champagne Chassenay d’Arce Cuvée Confidences NV France Silver

Sparkling rosé Pinot Noir

Company Wine Vintage Country Medal
Under £10
Cono Sur Sparkling Rosé NV Chile Silver
£10 – £20
Familia Schroeder Rosa De Los Vientos 2014 Argentina Silver
Freixenet Elyssia Pinot Noir NV Spain Bronze
Manuelina Metodo Classico Pinot Nero Brut DOCG Cruasé “145” 2011 Italy Bronze
Quaquarini Francesco Oltrepo Pavese DOCG Metodo Classico Pinot Nero Brut Cruasé 2010 Italy Bronze
Juvé & Camps Brut Rosé NV Spain Bronze
Canals & Munné Cava Pinot Noir Brut 2012 Spain Bronze
Edoardo Miroglio EM Brut Rosé 2009 Bulgaria Bronze
£20 – £30
Akarua Akarua Rosé Brut NV New Zealand Silver
Giorgi Cruasé 2010 Italy Silver
Halewood Romania “Rhein Extra” Brut Rosé, Cramele Halewood NV Romania Bronze

Sparkling red Pinot Noir

Company Wine Vintage Country Medal
£30 – £50
Schug Carneros Estate Winery Schug Rouge de Noirs Brut 2011 US Bronze

White Pinot Noir

Company Wine Vintage Country Medal
£10 – £20
Litmus Wines Litmus White Pinot Noir 2011 England Silver
Edoardo Miroglio EM Blanc de Noirs 2012 Bulgaria Bronze

Rosé Pinot Noir

Company Wine Vintage Country Medal
£10 – £20
Juvé & Camps Aurora D’Espiells Rosé 2013 Spain Bronze
£20 – £30
Ousterhout Wine Vineyard Woods Vineyard 2013 US Silver

Unoaked red Pinot Noir

Company Wine Vintage Country Medal
Under £10
Bouchard Ainé et Fils Pinot Noir Réserve du Conseiller NV France Bronze
Sileni Estates Grey Rock Pinot Noir (UK bottled) 2014 New Zealand Bronze
Domaines Paul Mas Domaines Ferrandière Pinot Noir 2013 France Bronze
Cramele Recas Paparuda Pinot Noir 2013 Romania Bronze
Trapiche Mar & Pampa Pinot Noir 2014 Argentina Bronze
Sileni Estates Sileni Nano Pinot Noir (French bottled) 2014 New Zealand Bronze
Boutinot Le Fou Pinot Noir 2013 France Bronze
Domaine De Castelnau Domaine De Castelnau, Les Mûriers Pinot Noir 2013 France Bronze
Halewood Romania Surprisingly Good Pinot Noir, Cramele Halewood 2014 Romania Bronze
Zimmermann-Graeff & Müller Peter & Peter Pinot Noir Trocken 2012 Germany Bronze
Sileni Estates Sileni Cellar Selection Pinot Noir (UK bottled) 2014 New Zealand Bronze

Unoaked red Pinot Noir

Company Wine Vintage Country Medal
£10 – £20
Sileni Estates Grey Rock Pinot Noir (NZ bottled) 2014 New Zealand Silver
Juris Pinot Noir Selection 2012 Austria Silver
Direct Wines Le Secret des Etoiles Pinot Noir, Le Chai au Quai 2013 France Silver
Sileni Estates Overstone Pinot Noir (NZ bottled) 2014 New Zealand Bronze
Mario J Burkhart 2 Gewächs Blauer Spätburgunder 2012 Germany Bronze
Domaines Paul Mas Domaines Martinolles Pinot Noir 2013 France Bronze
£20 – £30
Schug Carneros Estate Winery Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2013 US Silver
Sileni Estates Cellar Selection Pinot Noir (NZ bottled) 2014 New Zealand Bronze

Oaked red Pinot Noir

Company Wine Vintage Country Medal
Under £10
Domaine des Dieux Josephine Pinot Noir 2011 South Africa Silver
Trapiche Oak Cask Pinot Noir 2014 Argentina Silver
Gérard Bertrand Domaine de l’Aigle Pinot Noir, IGP Haute Vallée de l’Aude 2013 France Silver
Trapiche Broquel Pinot Noir 2014 Argentina Silver
Domaines Paul Mas Paul Mas Estate Pinot Noir 2013 France Silver
Australian Vintage Nepenthe Altitude Pinot Noir 2013 Australia Silver
Montgras Estates Degras Reserva Pinot Noir 2014 Chile Bronze
Viña San Pedro Castillo de Molina Reserva, Curico Valley 2013 Chile Bronze
Carolina Wine Brands Viña Casablanca Cefiro Pinot Noir 2013 Chile Bronze
Maycas del Limari Sumaq Pinot Noir 2014 Chile Bronze
Chateau de la Tour François Labet Pinot Noir 2013 France Bronze
Domaines Paul Mas La Forge Estate Pinot Noir 2013 France Bronze
Vistamar Sepia Reserva Pinot Noir 2013 Chile Bronze
Crown Cellars/Carlsberg UK Las Ondas Pinot Noir, Cono Sur 2013 Chile Bronze
Cremaschi Furlotti Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 Chile Bronze
Domaines Paul Mas Domaines Astruc Reserve Pinot Noir 2013 France Bronze
Terranoble Reserva Terroir Pinot Noir 2013 Chile Bronze

Oaked red Pinot Noir (continued)

Company Wine Vintage Country Medal
£10 – £20
Framingham Wines Ribbonwood Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013 New Zealand Gold
De Bortoli Wines Villages Pinot Noir 2013 Australia Gold
Viña Errazuriz Pinot Noir Max Reserva 2013 Chile Gold
Accolade Wines Waipara Hills Pinot Noir 2013 New Zealand Gold
MP Wines Salentein Barrel Selection Pinot Noir 2013 Argentina Silver
Stoneleigh Latitude Pinot Noir 2013 New Zealand Silver
Albert Bichot Bourgogne Pinot Noir “Secret de Famille” 2013 France Silver
Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir 2012 Canada Silver
Edoardo Miroglio EM Pinot Noir Reserve 2011 Bulgaria Silver
Stonier Pinot Noir 2013 Australia Silver
Brancott Estate Letter Series T Pinot Noir 2012 New Zealand Silver
TerraVin Wines Pinot Noir Estate 2011 New Zealand Silver
Heirlroom Vineyards Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2014 Australia Silver
Framingham Wines Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013 New Zealand Silver
Jascots Wine Merchants The Quercus Vineyard, Bellvale, Gippsland 2009 Australia Silver
Singlefile Pinot Noir 2013 Australia Silver
Matahiwi Estate Winery Holly Pinot Noir 2013 New Zealand Silver
Marisco Vineyards The King’s Wrath Pinot Noir 2012 New Zealand Silver
Cono Sur 20 Barrels 2012 Chile Silver
TerraVin Wines Pinot Noir Estate 2012 New Zealand Silver
Vinultra Insight Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 New Zealand Silver
Viña Tarapacá Tarapacá Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2013 Chile Silver
Sileni Estates Selection “The Plateau” Pinot Noir (NZ bottled) 2013 New Zealand Silver
Viña Valdivieso Single Valley Lot Reserva Pinot Noir 2013 Chile Silver
Carolina Wine Brands Viña Casablanca Single Vineyard Nimbus Pinot Noir 2012 Chile Silver
Moehr-Niggli Wines Pinot Noir Maienfeld 2012 Switzerland Silver
HDN Wines Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Lucien M 2012 France Bronze
Cockburn + Campbell Mission Vineyard Selection Pinot Noir, Mission Estate 2013 New Zealand Bronze
Viña Valdivieso Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 Chile Bronze
Lawson’s Dry Hills Wines Reserve Pinot Noir 2013 New Zealand Bronze
Familia Schroeder Saurus Barrel Fermented Pinot Noir 2013 Argentina Bronze
Matahiwi Estate Winery Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2013 New Zealand Bronze
Viña Valdivieso Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Chile Bronze
Kellerei Meran Burggrafler Alto Adige Blauburgunder Riserva Zeno 2012 Italy Bronze
Brancott Estate Terroir Series Pinot Noir 2013 New Zealand Bronze
Wakefield/Taylors Wines Wakefield Pinot Noir 2013 Australia Bronze
Cavit Bottega Vinai Pinot Nero Trentino DOC 2012 Italy Bronze
Edoardo Miroglio EM Pinot Noir 2012 Bulgaria Bronze
Australian Vintage Nepenthe Good Doctor Pinot Noir 2013 Australia Bronze
Accolade Wines Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 New Zealand Bronze
Viu Manent Secret of Viu Manent Pinot Noir 2013 Chile Bronze
Elephant Hill Elephant Hill Pinot Noir 2012 New Zealand Bronze
Halewood Romania La Catina Vineyard Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011 Romania Bronze
Maycas del Limari Reserva Especial Pinot Noir 2014 Chile Bronze
Iona Mr P 2013 South Africa Bronze
Hush Heath Estate Hush Heath Manor Pinot Noir 2013 England Bronze
Viña Errazuriz Pinot Noir Aconcagua Costa 2013 Chile Bronze
Stoneleigh Pinot Noir 2013 New Zealand Bronze
Cavit Masi Trentini Pinot Nero Trentino Superiore DOC 2011 Italy Bronze
Marisco Vineyards The Ned Pinot Noir 2013 New Zealand Bronze
Bodega Luigi Bosca, Familia Arizu Luigi Bosca Grand Pinot Noir La Consulta 2013 Argentina Bronze
Elephant Hill Elephant Hill Pinot Noir 2013 New Zealand Bronze
Celler de Capçanes Pinot Noir de Capçanes 2012 Spain Bronze
Gonzalez Byass UK Jackson Estate Vintage Widow Pinot Noir 2012 New Zealand Bronze
The Goose Wines Pinot Noir 2012 South Africa Bronze
Bolney Wine Estate Foxhole Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 England Bronze
Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Pinot Noir 2013 New Zealand Bronze
Bodega del Desierto Desierto 25 Pinot Noir 2013 Argentina Bronze
Edoardo Miroglio Soli Pinot Noir 2012 Bulgaria Bronze
Ehrmanns Wine Giesen The Brothers Pinot Noir 2011 New Zealand Bronze
Viña Valdivieso Winemaker Reserva Pinot Noir 2014 Chile Bronze
Marisco Vineyards The King’s Wrath Pinot Noir 2013 New Zealand Bronze
Familia Schroeder Saurus Select Pinot Noir 2013 Argentina Bronze
Stonier Reserve Pinot Noir 2013 Australia Bronze

Oaked red Pinot Noir (continued)

Company Wine Vintage Country Medal
£20 – £30
Accolade Wines Mud House Estate Claim 431 Pinot Noir 2012 New Zealand Master
Cederberg Ghost Corner Pinot Noir 2013 South Africa Gold
Akarua Pinot Noir 2011 New Zealand Gold
Lowburn Ferry Wines Home Block Pinot Noir 2011 New Zealand Gold
Santolin Wines Individual Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Australia Gold
Cantina Andriano Anrar Pinot Noir Riserva Alto Adige 2012 Italy Silver
Colombo, Cascina Pastori Apertura, Piemonte Pinot Nero DOC 2011 Italy Silver
Rex Hill Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2012 United States Silver
Vinultra Little Beauty Black Edition Pinot Noir 2010 New Zealand Silver
Bottega Family Wines Whalehaven Conservation Coast Pinot Noir 2013 South Africa Silver
Lemelson Vineyards Six Vineyards 2012 US Silver
Hahn Family Wines Hahn SLH Pinot Noir 2012 United States Silver
Rockburn Wines Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 New Zealand Silver
Schug Carneros Estate Winery Carneros Pinot Noir 2013 US Silver
Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir 2013 South Africa Silver
Jackson Family Wines Cambria Julia’s Pinot Noir 2012 US Silver
Akarua Akarua Pinot Noir 2012 New Zealand Silver
Chehalem Winery Three Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 US Bronze
Akarua Akarua Pinot Noir 2013 New Zealand Bronze
De Bortoli Wines Riorret Ponderosa 2012 Australia Bronze
Juris Pinot Noir Breitenteil 2012 Austria Bronze
Cristom Vineyards Mt Jefferson Cuvée Pinot Noir 2012 US Bronze
Cantina Terlano Montigl Pinot Nero Alto Adige Riserva 2012 Italy Bronze
Moss Wood Pinot Noir 2012 Australia Bronze
Borgo Isolabella Pinot Nero, Brico Del Falco 2010 Italy Bronze
Iona Pinot Noir 2013 South Africa Bronze
Seifried Aotea by Seifried Nelson Pinot Noir 2012 New Zealand Bronze
Maycas del Limari San Julian 2013 Chile Bronze
Moehr-Niggli Wines Pilgrim, Pinot Noir Maienfeld 2012 Switzerland Bronze
Boutinot Assmannshäuser Höllenberg Spätburgunder QBA Trocken Crescentia’ 2012 Germany Bronze
MP Wines Salentein Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 Argentina Bronze
Juris Pinot Noir Haide 2012 Austria Bronze
Franz Keller Scharzev Adlev Spatburgunder “S” 2012 Germany Bronze
Bomb Wines Oregon Pinot Noir 2011 US Bronze
TerraVin Wines Pinot Noir Hillside Reserve 2011 New Zealand Bronze

Oaked red Pinot Noir (continued)

Company Wine Vintage Country Medal
£30 – £50
Leo Hillinger Pinot Noir Terroir 2013 Austria Gold
Ehrmanns Wine Giesen Single Vineyard Selection Brookby Road 2012 New Zealand Gold
Mario J Burkhart Rarus Noir Blauer Spatburgunder 1 Gewächs 2012 Germany Gold
Castelfeder Pinot Nero Riserva Alto Adige DOC ‘Burgum Novum’ 2011 Italy Gold
Moorooduc Estate The Moorooduc McIntyre Pinot Noir 2010 Australia Gold
Accolade Wines Eillen Hardy Pinot Noir 2012 Australia Gold
Pol Roger Portfolio Pinot Noir Los Carneros, Robert Sinskey Winery 2011 US  Silver
Cono Sur Ocio 2012 Chile Silver
Weingut Markgraf Von Baden Durbacher Schlossberg “Sophienberg” VDP Grosselage 2012 Germany Silver
TerraVin Wines Pinot Noir Eaton Family Vineyard 2011 New Zealand Silver
Cakebread Cellars Two Creeks Vineyards Pinot Noir Anderson Valley 2012 US Silver
Jackson Family Wines Hartford Court Russian River Pinot Noir 2013 US Silver
Tapanappa Wines Foggy Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Australia Silver
Ehrmanns Wine Giesen Single Vineyard Selection Clayvin Pinot Noir 2012 New Zealand Silver
Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2013 South Africa Silver
Jackson Family Wines La Crema Willamette Pinot Noir 2012 US Bronze
Chehalem Winery Ridgecrest Vineyards Pinot Noir 2012 US Bronze
Jackson Family Wines Champ de Rêves Pinot Noir Anderson Valley 2012 US Bronze
Cristom Vineyards Jessie Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 US Bronze
The Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2012 US Bronze
Sileni Estates Sileni Exceptional Vintage Pinot Noir 2013 New Zealand Bronze
Lemelson Vineyards Thea’s Selection 2012 US Bronze
Bomb Wines Carden Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011 US Bronze
Over £50
Bouchard Finlayson Tête de Cuvée Pinot Noir 2012 South Africa Gold
Albert Bichot Chambolle Musigny Les Chabiots 2010 France Bronze

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