This was the second time we compared New Zealand Pinot Noirs (the first was in October 2007), and while there was one runaway winner, most tasters felt that these were all fairly good wines.  David felt that these were extremely difficult to rate, simply because so many of them were admirable.  He also liked that none were very expensive.  Kristin, however, was not impressed with the group, feeling that they lacked a wow factor.

In a rare occurrence, two tasters brought the same exact bottle, and while we didnít guess that they were identical, they were unanimously our least favorite of the night.

First Place:  Matua Pinot Noir 2014 (Marlborough).  Complex scents of rubber, popcorn, plums, cherries, paper bag, butter, cream, and some skunk.  Ali felt that it "smells like pot".  Good texture and balance, featuring flavors of raisins, pomegranates, smoke, and cherries.  Has a nice progression to it, with a soft texture.  Ali noted that it was "less of a flavor and more of a texture".  Everyoneís favorite, except for Andy P.  Easily the best value of the night.  Received 34 points.  Kristinís bottle.  About $12.

Second Place: Brancott Estate Pinot Noir Letter Series T 2011 (Marlborough).  Tasters found musty notes on the nose, reminiscent of basement, mushrooms, dark spices, glue and tomatoes.  Andy felt that it was "a little more rottenĒ, while Kristin found "candied apple and then cheese".  Richer body, with more balance compared to some others.  Builds on the palate to reveal currant, tart grapefruit, and tar flavors.  Coffee on the finish, and some brightness with air.  Everyone gave this at least 3 points.  Received 21 points.  Davidís bottle.  About $20.

Third Place:  Dashwood Pinot Noir 2013 (Marlborough).  Very unfiltered.  Smells brighter, with scents of cherry cola, beef, Desitin cream, cinnamon, and violets.  More spices on the palate, some tannin, but also hard candies, cloves, toasted wood and anise.  Has a fuller texture that's not as Pinot Noir like.  Received 12 points.  Andy Pís bottle.  About $17.

Kim Crawford Pinot Noir 2014 (South Island).  Unfiltered.  Starts out with some mustiness, then cherries, cough syrup, and plums.  Ali described "tomato sauce, the second time".  Smooth texture, with flavors of paprika, smoke, black cherry, and Band-Aid.  A bit richer.  A bit hot on the finish, with burnt sugar, black pepper, and black tea notes.  Turns tart with air.  Andy P noted "Sears tire store".  Andy Pís favorite of the night.  Received 11 points.  Andy Rís bottle.  About $15.

Twelfth Night Pinot Noir 2012 (Central Otago).  A bit dusty, with a nose of cherries, currants, cranberry, cola, pomegranate, grapefruit, acetone, seafood, and cigarette ash.   Black pepper on the attack, turning to tart citrus (with rind), then finishing dark (licorice), with lots of acidity.  Received 6 points.  Aliís bottle.  About $23.

Twelfth Night Pinot Noir 2012 (Central Otago).  Unfiltered.  Medicinal nose, plus tire rubber, dates, dark spices, black pepper, and tar.  Andy R felt that it "has a generic, manufactured quality", while Ali described "one of those really obese dudes on a motorbike".  Needs acidity.  Andy P said that thereís ďsomething false about itĒ.  Starts off well, but goes away.  David noted that it was "a bit simple".  No points.  Resaís bottle.  About $23.
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