North Canterbury is the centre of 'the finest Pinot Noir' in the southern hemisphere – according to wine critic Matthew Jukes.
As Bell Hill winery in North Canterbury, near Christchurch on the South Island, joins Ata Rangi, Felton Road and Mt Difficulty in the top rank of Matthew Jukes’ and Tyson Stelzer‘s list of 5-star New Zealand Pinots, the region’s reputation is ensured, Jukes says.
The two wine critics produce their listing – the Great New Zealand Pinot Noir Classification – ‘to highlight the importance of New Zealand’s finest Pinot Noirs’.
They base the awards on an average rating of the five most recent vintages. Tasting entire ranges, they make it clear it is the producers’ estate wines which set the standard, not the most expensive reserves or single-vineyard wines.
The listing has now grown to 100 wineries, from the 40 which appeared in the first list.
Putting Bell Hill in the top rank, and with its neighbours Pegasus Bay and Pyramid Valley in the four-star rank, ‘has cemented [North Canterbury’s] reputation as a hotbed of some of the finest Pinot Noir south of the equator’, Jukes said.
The region – Bell Hill is situated in Waikari, just outside the Waipara Valley – is perfecctly suited to making Pinot Noirs with ‘freshness and minerality’, Jukes says.
‘It’s not red fruit like Marlborough, nor with the smoothness and sweetness of Otago, but somewhere in between. It’s a place for connoisseurs who are tiring of the richer, oaky styles of Pinot.’
Written by Adam Lechmere