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New Zealand's best pinot noirs for under $30

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It’s never been easier to find a good, mid-priced pinot noir.

A few years ago, we paid a lot more for a good bottle of pinot noir than an equally good bottle of merlot or cabernet sauvignon. Pinot noir’s delicious, easy-drinking nature was attracting a host of new fans and the supply couldn’t keep pace with demand.

Since then, a tsunami of pinot noir has hit the shelves. Wineries that once made a single $45 red now also often produce a second-tier $35 model and a $25 drink-young charmer. It’s never been easier to find a good, mid-priced pinot noir.

Macro alias: ModuleRenderer

Akarua Rua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017 ••••

For a third-tier label, this regional blend is seductive. Ruby-hued, it is floral and softly mouth-filling (14% alc/vol), with fresh plum and cherry flavours that are rich and smooth. $25

Alexander Dusty Road Martinborough Pinot Noir 2017 ••••½

This second-tier red offers great value. Deeply coloured and full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol), it has plum, cherry and spice flavours, savoury notes adding complexity and excellent density. $27

Delta Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017 ••••

Here’s a bargain. Deep ruby, fresh and full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol), it has vibrant, ripe cherry, plum and spice flavours, showing good concentration and even some ageing potential. $20

Aronui Single Vineyard Nelson Pinot Noir 2016 ••••

This savoury, sweet-fruited red is drinking well now. Full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol), with delicate cherry, plum, spice and nut flavours, it shows good complexity and harmony. $25

Black Cottage Marlborough Pinot Noir 2018 •••½

Offering good, early drinking, this vibrant red is medium- to full-bodied (13% alc/vol), with cherryish, plummy, slightly spicy flavours that are fresh and well-rounded. $20

Brightside Organic New Zealand Pinot Noir 2017 •••½

Certified organic, this Nelson red is mouth-filling (13% alc/vol), with plummy, spicy flavours, an earthy streak, fresh acidity and good depth. $19

Forrest Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017 ••••½

Fresh and fruit-packed, with substantial body (13% alc/vol), concentrated, plummy, spicy flavours and savoury, nutty notes, this is a serious, ageworthy red. $29

Bronte Nelson Pinot Noir 2017 ••••

From Rimu Grove, this red has good body (13.5% alc/vol) and depth of cherryish, plummy, slightly spicy flavours, a touch of savoury complexity and drink-young charm. $25

Carrick Unravelled Central Otago Pinot Noir 2018 ••••

Certified organic, this is a vibrant, supple Bannockburn red. Full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol), it has good depth of ripe, plummy, spicy, slightly nutty flavours and considerable complexity. Already enjoyable. $29

Clos Henri Petit Clos Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017 ••••

An organically certified red that was matured in large oak vats. It is an elegant wine, mouth-filling (13.5% alc/vol) and supple, with ripe cherry, plum and spice flavours, some earthy, savoury notes and velvety tannins. $26

Huntaway Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017 •••½

Drinking well now, this barrel-aged red is mouth-filling (13% alc/vol), fruity and supple, with good depth of cherryish, spicy, nutty flavours. $22

Domaine-Thomson Explorer Central Otago Pinot Noir 2018 ••••½

As good as many much pricier pinots, this classy red is fragrant and full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol), with strong, ripe, plummy, spicy flavours showing excellent depth, complexity and harmony. $29

Durvillea by Astrolabe Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017 ••••

This is great value. Full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol) and sweet-fruited, with generous, plummy, spicy, slightly nutty flavours, it is smooth and has an appealing fragrance. $20

Lake Chalice The Falcon Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017 •••½

A bargain-priced red that is fragrant and supple, with mouth-filling body (13.5% alc/vol) and good depth of youthful cherry/plum flavours, gently seasoned with nutty oak. $19

Lawson’s Dry Hills Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017 ••••

Barrel-aged, this full-bodied red (13% alc/vol) is fresh and savoury, with strong plum/spice flavours and good cellaring potential. $25

Luna Martinborough Pinot Noir 2017 ••••

Sharply priced, this full-bodied (13% alc/vol) red has strong, ripe, berryish, plummy, spicy flavours and a savoury, moderately firm finish. $24

Main Divide North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2015 ••••

As good as many $35 pinot noirs, this deep-ruby, full-bodied red (13.5% alc/vol) has cherry, plum and spice flavours, showing barrel-aged complexity and excellent depth. $25

Mount Brown Estates North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2018 •••½

This ruby-hued, medium-bodied red (12% alc/vol) is lively, with good depth of plummy, spicy flavours showing some savoury notes. Enjoyable young. $20

Mount Riley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017 •••½

A fresh, full-bodied red (13.5% alc/vol) with ripe cherry, plum and spice flavours, a touch of complexity and a seductively smooth finish. Bargain-priced. $20

Vidal Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017 ••••

Delicious young, this is a fragrant, rich and harmonious red with satisfying body (13% alc/vol), strong cherry, plum and spice flavours, good complexity and a rounded finish. $27

Nor’Wester by Greystone North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2017 ••••½

This refined, harmonious Waipara red is fragrant and savoury. Full-bodied (13% alc/vol), it has youthful, ripe, plummy, spicy flavours that show good richness and complexity. $29

Rocky Point Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017 ••••½

A lovely young red, this is fragrant and supple, mouth-filling (13% alc/vol) and buoyantly fruity, with cherryish, plummy, spicy flavours that show excellent depth and harmony. $30

Ruru Central Otago Pinot Noir 2018 ••••

An attractive Alexandra red that has ripe, cherryish, plummy, spicy flavours. Full-bodied (14% alc/vol), it is fresh and lively, with nutty, savoury notes adding complexity. $26

Saint Clair Origin Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017 ••••

Fresh and youthful, this is a full-bodied red (13.5% alc/vol), vibrant and supple, with strong, ripe, plummy, spicy flavours and a floral bouquet. $25

Te Kairanga Runholder Martinborough Pinot Noir 2017 ••••½

A classy red that is mouth-filling (13% alc/vol), with generous, youthful cherry, plum and spice flavours, a gentle oak influence and a well-rounded finish. $29

Wither Hills Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016 •••½

Still developing, this graceful red is ruby hued, with good body (13.5% alc/vol), ripe, cherryish flavours, nutty, savoury notes adding complexity and a rounded finish. $22

Terra Sancta Mysterious Diggings Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017 ••••½

A top example of the drink-young style. Fragrant, full-bodied (13% alc/vol) and smooth, with a strong surge of cherry, plum and spice flavours, it offers fine value. $27

The Last Shepherd Central Otago Pinot Noir 2018 •••½

This fresh, supple red is already enjoyable. Finely balanced (13% alc/vol), it has moderately concentrated cherry, plum and spice flavours, gentle tannins and an easy-drinking charm. $25

Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Pinot Noir 2017 •••½

Bargain-priced, this graceful, ruby-hued, vibrantly fruity red is invitingly scented, with satisfying body (13% alc/vol) and ripe cherry and plum flavours that are fresh and smooth. $17

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

This Cromwell red is deeply coloured, full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol) and fruit-packed. A full-on style, with concentrated cherry, plum and spice flavours, it’s already delicious. $28

This article was first published in the August 3, 2019 issue of the New Zealand Listener.