The best red wines in New Zealand for under $30

by Michael Cooper / 24 August, 2018

Photo/Getty Images

Mouthfilling pinot noirs for less than $30 are in plentiful supply in this country.

The shelves are packed with high-priced pinot noirs; a wine that is genuinely deserving of a gold medal or five-star rating is typically hard to find for less than $45. But the good news is that you can buy highly satisfying, four-star pinot noirs in the $25-to-$30 range, and even some decent, enjoyable bottlings at around $20.

12,000 Miles Gladstone Pinot Noir 2016 •••½

From Gladstone Vineyard, in the northern Wairarapa, this fragrant, ruby-hued red is a good, drink-young style. Fresh and full-bodied (13% alc/vol), it has very satisfying depth of plum, spice and dried herb flavours, with savoury notes adding complexity and a smooth finish. $27

Askerne Hawke’s Bay Pinot Noir 2016 •••½

Offering good value, this mouthfilling red (13.5% alc/vol) has a slightly earthy bouquet. Barrel-aged for 10 months, it is deep ruby and sweet-fruited, with gentle tannins and generous, ripe cherry, plum and spice flavours, showing considerable complexity. Drink now or cellar. $23

Bannock Brae Goldfields Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016 ••••

Fragrant and savoury, this deep-ruby red was hand-picked at Bannockburn and Bendigo, then matured in French oak barriques. Mouthfilling (13.5% alc/vol), it has strong, ripe cherry, plum and spice flavours, showing good complexity, fine-grained tannins and obvious cellaring potential. $30

Coopers Creek Select Vineyards Razorback Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016 •••½

Barrel-aged, this is a youthful, ruby-hued, full-bodied wine (14.5% alc/vol), with very good depth of ripe, plummy, spicy, slightly nutty flavours, revealing some complexity, and a slightly chewy finish. Best drinking 2019+. $28

Discovery Point Martinborough Pinot Noir 2015 ••••

This good-value red was made in a Burgundy-inspired style. Ruby hued, it is a floral, supple, medium-bodied wine (13% alc/vol) with an array of cherry, plum and spice flavours, hints of dried herbs and nuts, and lots of current-drinking appeal. $25

Gold Digger Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017 ••••

This fragrant, savoury red from Māori Point Vineyard was barrel-aged for 11 months. Bright ruby, it is mouthfilling (13.5% alc/vol), with strong, vibrant plum and spice flavours, showing good ripeness, concentration, vigour and harmony. $30

Hunter’s Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015 ••••

This graceful, harmonious red was barrel-matured for 10 months. Bright ruby, it is scented and supple, in a medium to full-bodied style (13.5 % alc/vol) with ripe, youthful plum and spice flavours, very good depth, gentle tannins and obvious cellaring potential. $29

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2017 •••½

This is clearly one of the best sub-$20 pinot noirs around. Ruby hued, with a scented, strawberryish, slightly nutty bouquet, it is softly mouthfilling (13.9% alc/vol), with moderately rich cherry, plum and spice flavours, gentle tannins and lots of drink-young charm. $16

 

Kim Crawford Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016 •••½

Still unfolding, this is a moderately firm, full-bodied red (13% alc/vol), bright ruby, with ripe cherry, plum and spice flavours, slightly toasty and nutty notes adding moderate complexity and good depth. $20-$27

Lake Hayes Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016 ••••

From the Amisfield winery, this attractive red was estate-grown. Deep ruby, with a fragrant bouquet, hinting of herbs and spices, it is full-bodied (14% alc/vol), generous and supple, with ripe flavours, showing good delicacy and harmony, some savoury complexity and a well-rounded finish. $30

Luna Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016 ••••

Offering fine value, this red was designed for early drinking. Bright ruby, with a fresh, fragrant bouquet, it is medium to full-bodied (12.5% alc/vol) and vibrantly fruity, with strong, ripe, plummy, spicy flavours, and funky, earthy, savoury notes adding interest. $26

Main Divide North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2014 ••••

From Pegasus Bay, this is a bargain. Grown at Waipara, it is deep ruby, full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol) and fresh, with strong, plummy, spicy flavours, savoury notes adding complexity and a finely textured, persistent finish. $25

Misha’s Vineyard Cantata Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015 ••••½

Offering top value, this is a bright ruby, very elegant, savoury and full-bodied red (14% alc/vol), with vibrant, ripe plum and spice flavours, showing excellent depth and complexity and a silky-textured, lingering finish. $30

 

Monowai Hawke’s Bay Pinot Noir 2016 •••

Enjoyable now, this ruby- hued red was estate-grown at Crownthorpe, a cool, elevated, inland district. Barrel-aged, it is a fresh, lively, medium to full-bodied style (13% alc/vol), showing some complexity with good depth of plumy, slightly spicy and nutty flavours. $23

Mount Brown Estates Waipara Valley Pinot Noir 2017 •••½

Worth cellaring, this barrel-aged, North Canterbury red is deep ruby, with a floral bouquet. Mouthfilling (13 alc/vol), it is fresh, supple and plummy, with hints of spices and herbs, a touch of complexity and good harmony. $22

Mount Riley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017 •••½

Priced right, this skilfully crafted red was grown in the Wairau Valley and barrel-aged. Bright ruby, it is mouthfilling (13% alc/vol) and smooth, with fresh, ripe cherry, plum and spice flavours, and savoury notes adding complexity and good depth. $19-$22

Saint Clair Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015 ••••

Enjoyable now, this well-priced red was grown in the Southern Valleys and partly barrel-aged. Fragrant, mouthfilling (13.5% alc/vol) and supple, it is sweet-fruited, with a savoury, nutty complexity and very good depth. $26

Selaks Reserve South Island Pinot Noir 2017 ••½

Offering smooth, easy drinking, this is a full-bodied (13% alc/vol), slightly rustic red with plummy, spicy, earthy flavours. A decent quaffer, it’s priced sharply. $13

Sileni Cellar Selection Hawke’s Bay Pinot Noir 2017 ••½

From by far the biggest producer of pinot noir in the bay, this is an easy-drinking, fruity, medium-bodied red (12% alc/vol), with vibrant, berryish, plummy flavours and a fresh, smooth finish. $15-$19

 

The Luminary Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2017 •••

From Palliser Estate, this brand is made for sale in supermarkets. Grown principally at Gladstone, it’s an easy-drinking style, light (12.5% alc/vol) and supple, with gentle, ripe, plummy flavours, fresh acidity, and some spicy, earthy notes adding a touch of complexity. $20

Shaky Bridge Pioneer Series Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017 ••••

This fragrant, generous red was grown at Alexandra. The colour is deep and purple-flushed; the palate mouthfilling (13.5% alc/vol), very fresh and youthful, with strong, plummy, cherryish flavours and a seductively smooth finish. $25

The People’s Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017 •••½

Priced right, this fragrant, deep-ruby red is a medium-bodied style (12.5% alc/vol). Vibrantly fruity, it has strong cherry, plum and spice flavours, showing a touch of complexity and a fairly firm finish. $18-$21

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016 ••••

As good as many over-$30 pinot noirs, this barrel-aged red is mouthfilling (13% alc/vol) and vibrantly fruity, with strong cherry, plum and spice flavours, showing good complexity and a finely balanced, smooth finish. $25

Wither Hills Single Vineyard Taylor River Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015 ••••

This is great value. Mouthfilling (14.5% alc/vol) and supple, with a fragrant, slightly earthy bouquet, it has ripe cherry and plum flavours, showing good complexity and a very harmonious finish. $26

Wooing Tree Beetle Juice Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017 ••••½

Designed for early enjoyment, this delicious, single-vineyard Cromwell red is dark, with fresh, plummy, slightly spicy aromas. Full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol) and fruit-packed, it is sweet-fruited and supple, in a “full-on” style with concentrated cherry, plum and spice flavours. $28

This article was first published in the August 18, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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