Tasting the best of pinot noir 2009 blind


I hosted a tasting last week with a sommelier friend of mine, Neil Taylor, on the best of local pinot noir from the 2009 vintage. 

The aim was to blind taste 10 wines (meaning the wines were concealed in bags so we had no idea which was which) that we had chosen as our favourites from this special vintage. 

We had 40 people attend the event at Queenstown Resort College which included wine evening regulars, hospitality professionals and a couple of winemakers (some whose wines were being tasted). 

We decided we’d ask for scores on each wine, total them up and declare a winner. Wines were tasted three at a time. 

What we discovered was as we tasted through the wines, the scores got higher. This happened for a couple of reasons.

First of all, people got more confident in their decisions, aided by the social lubricant that wine is. Secondly, our palates started waking up, acclimatising to the wines, more receptive to the textures and nuances. 

Overall, the wines were of very good quality with clean vibrant fruit flavours, a concentrated and silky texture and good balance. I can recommend most of the wines but here were the crowd favourites: 

In first place was Valli Gibbston Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009. A little controversial as Grant Taylor, owner and winemaker, was in attendance and may have fudged the results somehow (only joking!). It was well deserved with a beautiful wine, complex and rich with one person saying they found it so sexy they would take it to bed with them.

In second place was Gibbston Valley Le Maitre 2009, another beauty.
I’ve recommended both of these wines in this column before as they’re both single-vineyard wines from Gibbston.

All of Central Otago’s sub-regions were represented on the night but the top two were from this small sub-region which I think is fantastic. They were not actually my favourites on the night, by the way! 

In third place was Grasshopper Rock from Alexandra. It’s well balanced and great value at $35.
All three wines were from the two coolest sub-regions of a cool-climate region, where many say pinot noir truly belongs. 

The tasting was aimed to be informative, challenging and moreover, all in the name of fun. On a different day we would probably have got a different result. Please contact me at Paul.Tudgay@qrc.ac.nz if you would like a full list of the wines tasted. 

Click here to find out more about the wines and taste notes at Paul Tudgay’s Wine Down site 

– Paul Tudgay is the Queenstown Resort College business hospitality manager, part-time wine appreciation lecturer and fulltime connoisseur