The main regions for Pinot Noir in New Zealand are Marlborough, Central Otago, and Canterbury on the South Island; then Hawkes Bay and Martinsborough on the north island. The wines I chose were mostly from Marlborough as those were the better priced wines and more widely available. Central Otago was the second most widely available followed by wines from Hawkes Bay.
I decided to run the gamut and try to get a wine from each popular region, price scale and style. I purchased a few in the $8-$15, $20, $25 and $30 bottle to try over the past week. A good amount of $35-70 bottles exist, but at that price point I would use that kind of money on red Burgundy or even a high end American Pinot Noir from Oregon or California.
2007 Mt. Difficulty Pinot Noir (South Island, Otago, Central Otago)
2006 Delta Vineyard Pinot Noir Hatter's Hill (South Island, Marlborough)
2008 Yealands Estate Pinot Noir (South Island, Marlborough)
2006 Tohu Pinot Noir Marlborough Cuvée (South Island, Marlborough)
2008 Sileni Pinot Noir Cellar Selection (North Island, Hawkes Bay)
New Zealand's wine regions are split in half like the islands themselves with regions on both the North and South Islands. Just look at the logo that starts this post! Pinot Noir was first planted in NZ in the 1970's with little to no success. Later in the late 90's after more attention, know-how, and most importantly investment funds from the success of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir became the next grape to focus on the 2000's. Many clones and plantings were experimented with varied success. By the mid-2000's NZ was able to produce Pinot Noir wines with large enough production that could make it to the USA in enough quantities to sell (I am sure you have heard of Kim Crawford?). I wonder if similar to South Africa, many of the smaller and better wines never leave the shores to foreign buyers, but I am only speculating by saying that.
2006 Tohu Pinot Noir Marlborough Cuvée $9
Blows away the oak laden, under $20 crowd of generic Cali Pinot Noir.
2008 Sileni Pinot Noir Cellar Selection $20(Hawkes Bay)
A nice medium styled Pinot Noir, the most like the Hatter’s Hill yet slightly less complex and concentrated. Less fruit and more earth and acidity, a little bit of funk.
Color: Medium red core with rose edges
Nose: Strawberry, cherry, sandalwood, a secondary faint touch of green herbal tea and earth
Palate: Spicy red fruits, sour cherry, citrus peel, bright acidity. Finishes a tab short.