Martinborough Pinot Noirs do well in blind tasting

Posted by Joelle Thomson on

Martinborough Pinot Noir did superbly well in a blind tasting on, results of which were released this month. 

The top wine of the tasting was from North Canterbury's Pegasus Bay winery and Martinborough wines scored extremely well in the top slots, with several receiving 96/100, including the 2019 Palliser Estate Pinot Noir - which is from our winery of the month; Martinborough's Palliser Estate.

Pinot Noir is unequivocally New Zealand’s signature red grape variety and Martinborough rules the roost in quality with the current vintages on the market right now, say the founders of, who released the results of their first annual Pinot tasting this month.

“In terms of inherent quality, Pinot Noir leads the way with a much higher percentage of wines scoring top marks in our latest tasting than any other variety,” says Master of Wine Steve Bennett, director and co founder of

Pictured above is Martinborough winemaker Larry McKenna (right) with fellow winemaker at The Escarpment Vineyard, which he founded but has now sold to Torbreck, a South Australian winery. McKenna remains as managing director until April 2022.

“While it was once the speciality of just a handful of regions, the variety is now performing strongly across the country. Featuring amongst the highest 10% of the scores we awarded were wines from Auckland, Canterbury, Central Otago, Martinborough, Marlborough, and Nelson.”

Pinot Noir occupies 14% of the country’s vineyard area, which is five times that of the next most planted red variety, Merlot. Bennett and winemaker Lynnette Hudson founded their relatively new website last year and they conduct double blind tastings regularly throughout the year. Both are extremely experienced wine tasters, both in terms of New Zealand wines and global wine styles. They have travelled extensively to wine regions around the world and been working professionally with wine for decades. 

The result of their inaugural Pinot Noir tasting have been described as “A bit of a coup for the Martinborough district” by one of the region’s first winemakers, Larry McKenna of The Escarpment Vineyard.

The top wines and scores are on NZ

* We have wines from all of these brands here but not all of these specific wines. Buy here links appear next to the wines we have in stock:

2019 Palliser Estate Pinot Noir 96/100

Buy Palliser Pinot Noir here

The full list of rankings and tasting notes are here NZ

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