After tasting ten years of Martinborough’s Ata Rangi pinot noirs recently, I was impressed with their closed structure and lack of steroid characters found in Central Otago pinot.

If by common luck the trophy wine for New Zealand pinot noir over $14.75 at the recent Decanter Awards was another Martinborough wine-Schubert Block B 2008 ($36.50).

The 2008 NZ pinots generally are big wines, pushing with greater colour than expected of the grape and they have a lot of coiled up flavour which seems to evolving quite slowly.

The Geisenheim-trained Schuberts had two of the three gold medal contenders for the trophy with another wine, Marion’s Vineyard 2008 ($36.50).

According to the Great New Zealand Pinot Classification the standard pinot of Schubert is rated three star (based on four vintages).

Splitting the two was the remaining gold medal, Tarras Vineyards 2008 from Central Otago (USD 29).

Curiously there is no regional trophy for Kiwi pinot under $14.75 as there are few wines meeting that price break, despite some recent urging from the UK trade pundits. If there were any entries they needed gold to land a trophy.

In Australia decent Kiwi pinot seems to not drop below $17 (AUD 20).

There was no regional trophy for NZ chardonnay and there were no golds. As usual there was a profusion of them for the regional sauvignon blanc trophy.

The top gong went to Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (USD 20.50) from Marlborough. After that came seven golds, three to Saint Clair.

Look for Invivo 2009 (USD 14.75), Kim Crawford 2009 (USD 16.20), Mud House 2009 (USD 16.20), Saint Clair Pioneer Block 6 ‘Oh’ Block 2009, Block 19 ‘Bird’ Block 2009 (both USD 23.50), Wairau Reserve 2009 (USD 28), and Villa Maria Clifford Bay Reserve 2009 (USD 19).

Other whites to receive golds were both Hawkes Bay viogniers; Alpha Domus The Wingwalker 2008 (USD 17.50) and Moana Park Tribute 2009 (USD 22.50) the latter from the Gimblett Gravels.

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