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Decanter Best

Best New Zealand Pinot Noir under £20 – 12 to try

New Zealand has built a firm reputation for producing world class Pinot Noir. These great value picks, chosen by Decanter’s team and experts, may well become your favourite everyday drinking pours.

New Zealand might once have been the land where Sauvignon Blanc reigned supreme, but Pinot Noir now stands proudly alongside the white flagship grape as the country’s leading red variety.

Explore the selection below and discover the revolution which, in the past ten years, has rescued New Zealand from red wine obscurity and placed it among the leading producers of one of the world’s fussiest, but most admired, grapes.


Scroll down for tasting notes and scores of 12 great value New Zealand Pinot Noir to try


A quiet revolution

New Zealand Pinot Noir carved its place on the world stage in a relative short period, due to a serendipitous combination of factors.

The first step was awareness of the country’s potential to produce world class Pinot. Winemakers and consumers, once focused exclusively on Sauvignon Blanc, realised there was more to explore.

This in turn attracted a vibrant community of young, risk-taking producers, keen to experiment with the different terroirs, clones and winemaking approaches. Many of them focused on low intervention and sustainable practices, consolidating an important Kiwi trend.

As existing vineyard plantings matured, the resulting fruit they yielded started to produce wines of greater complexity and longevity, giving winemakers more confidence in the quality and identity of their Pinot Noirs and their ability to rival international counterparts.

Cool climate hotspot

Pinot Noir is mostly grown in New Zealand’s southern regions – Wairarapa, Marlborough, Nelson, North Canterbury and Central Otago.

These areas benefit from a cool climate, high diurnal temperature variations and intense UV exposure, ensuring a long and balanced ripening season.

Central Otago has indeed been lauded as a ‘new Burgundy’, favoured by experts, sommeliers and sustainable wine fans for the elegance and expressiveness of its Pinots. The growing conditions in Central Otago are not dissimilar to those of Burgundy and Willamette Valley, Oregon.

Some benchmark examples of outstanding New Zealand Pinot Noir, such as those produced by Felton Road and Rippon, do command higher prices.

However there’s also outstanding value New Zealand Pinot Noir to be found, as the country produces wines of consistent quality across a variety of price points.

The diversity of microclimates and terroirs in New Zealand results in individual and expressive wines, but there is a common thread to them all: excellent fruit purity, fine yet firm structure, textural presence and a moreish spiciness.

Food pairings – elegantly versatile

The laidback poise and vibrancy of New Zealand Pinots makes them ideal food companions.

Flavour complexity, texture and delicious savouriness mean they can easily handle red meat and hearty stews. On the other hand, the fruit-forwardness and gentle, but refreshing, acidity will balance the richness of oily fish, the earthiness of roast chicken or the smokiness of grilled vegetables.

Lighter examples will benefit from being slightly chilled. Make space in your fridge – New Zealand Pinot may well become your new everyday drinking red of choice.


Value New Zealand Pinot Noir – 12 to try:

Wines shown in score order


Related content:

Get to know Central Otago Pinot Noir: Good, better, best

Autumn wine under £25: 20 wines to try

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