Where is your favourite Pinot Noir region? If your first love is the traditional classics, it might be Burgundy but with availability and prices more variable than ever before, perhaps the Alto Adige and Sudtirol in the far north of Italy beckon?
Most likely, it could be Central Otago, North Canterbury, Marlborough or... Martinborough. The last region on the list was one of the first places to make Pinot and Burgundy lovers sit up and take notice. Together with North Canterbury, Martinborough winemakers were at the forefront of producing outstanding and promising Pinot Noirs in this country. Today, their early success has been somewhat eclipsed by larger regions and bigger scale production.
An event to be held in the middle of this year in Martinborough is intended to grow the profile of Martinborough and its early Pinot pioneers. In fact, the event is called just that; Pinot Pioneers. It will be a dinner at Union Square, the bistro in in the historic Martinborough Hotel; the heart of the quaint Martinborough village. It is a fitting location to celebrate the success of the broader region, the Wairarapa Wine Region (the official title of the broader area), which has a current total of 1090 hectares of producing vineyard land. It may be surprising to discover that only about a third of that - an estimated 400 hectares - is devoted to Pinot Noir, the region’s flagship wine but, then, many of the world's greatest wine regions are small. The example that always springs to my mind is one of the great strong holds of Nebbiolo, namely, Barbaresco DOCG. The name Barbaresco is the name of a village and also the wines made from the delineated area which has just 680 hectares of producing vines. It's never going to be big.
The Pinot Pioneers dinner will highlight the role that the first winemakers in Martinborough played in pioneering wine in the 1980s in what was, then, a mostly forgotten, remote rural village. The location may remain remote but Martinborough and Wairarapa wine is far from forgotten and the quality is better than ever, so the Pinot Pioneers event is all about championing the early wineries and celebrating the future. The first wineries were Ata Rangi, Dry River and Martinborough Vineyards, with others following closely in their wake, including Chifney Wines, which morphed into Margrain many years ago.
Regional Wines stocks a wide range of wines from the other three, including these top picks from staff...
Explore top Martinborough Pinot Noirs here... or buy from our faves list...
2019 / 2020 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir RRP $87.99 Buy here
2020 Craggy Range Pinot Noir RRP $42.99 Buy here
2020 Dry River Pinot Noir RRP $110.99 Buy here
2020 Nga Waka Pinot Noir RRP $38.99 Buy here
2018 Porters Pinot Noir RRP $44.99 Buy here
2020 Te Tera Martinborough Vineyards Pinot Noir Special $25.99 RRP $28.99 Buy here
2021 Te Kairanga Runholder Pinot Noir Special $29.99 RRP $35.99 Buy here