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A five-star pinot noir from New Zealand


2016 Mt Difficulty, Bannockburn Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand £25.99, waitrosecellar.com

I released the first ever The Great New Zealand Pinot Noir Classification 15 years ago with my friend, Aussie wine writer Tyson Stelzer. We announced the release of the eighth edition this month and it is published free to view and download on my website for both friends and members.

I came up with the idea for this classification because there was an enormous explosion of wineries making pinot noir in the early noughties and every bottle seemed to be priced around the £25 mark. I thought that this confusing mass of labels needed sorting out, so I devised a rolling, five-year average scoring system that converts the top estates in the country into a one- to five-star table.

Only 120 estates out of the 512 who make pinot in New Zealand make it onto the classification, so every single winery mentioned is doing a superb job. This enormous body of work is neatly condensed into two pages of A4, which I find rather satisfying!

Mt Difficulty is one of only seven estates to which Tyson and I have awarded five stars and the price of this wine hasn’t moved in more than a decade, while its quality has soared. I am thrilled, this week, to alert you to the stunning 2016 vintage, which is available in 123 branches of Waitrose. This is one of the finest wines made in New Zealand and I cannot recommend it highly enough.


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