Top Spot by Bob Campbell
I've just tasted 241 samples of New Zealand pinot noir in the search of the best bottle. "Which region do you think produced my number-one wine?" I asked 25 students in my class. Eighteen picked Central Otago, six chose Martinborough and one person indicated Nelson (she was born there). Not one correctly identified the source of the winning wine, which was Marlborough.
With 58 percent of the national vineyard, Marlborough is clearly our largest wine region, and is primarily known for its sauvignon blanc, of which it makes this nation's lion share.
It is easy to see why more people expect high-quality wine to come from small, specialist pinot noir-producing regions such as Central Otago and Martinborough than a large sauvignon blanc-dominated region like Marlborough. The reality, however is rather different to popular perception.
As well as being placed first. Marlborough pinot noirs occupied six out my top 10 places. Marlborough certainly deserves a place on the shopping list of all pinot noir buyers. Although the region was a late-starter in the production of fine pinot noir, careful site selection - including the development of several hillside vineyards - has resulted in many great wines, often at bargain prices when compared to the wines of the sexier regions.
Marlborough also appears to have more consistent pinot noir vintages than other regions, which gives it an edge when adverse weather makes the going tough in more glamorous areas.