If you thought great New Zealand pinot noir only poured out of Central Otago, then here’s a nugget of knowledge for you.  Waipara is fast becoming where it’s at.  Well, this week it was anyway, with the announcement that the Greystone ‘Brothers Reserve’ 2012 ($69) scooped the prestigious International Pinot Noir Trophy at the Decanter World Wine Awards.  Not only is this a massive pat on the back for their vineyard and winemaking team, it also means that in addition to Central Otago, Marlborough and Martinborough – the North Canterbury region of Waipara is letting in the limestone love.  To come out on top over thousands of entries from around the world is huge, however this award has not come out of nowhere.  You may remember Greystone won the Champion Pinot Noir trophy at the 2013 Air New Zealand Wine Awards for the ‘little brother’ Greystone Pinot Noir 2012 – and that certainly got people talking.  But what a vintage!  Dom Maxwell, Greystone’s winemaker says the 2012 vintage ‘provided fruit with intensity and vibrancy, accompanied by alluring poise and aromatic abundance’. The Brothers Reserve Pinot Noir comes from the highest block of vines on Greystone’s Omihi hill site with deep limestone soils. Maxwell says, “We’re just now seeing the results of the vines getting down into this limestone and are very excited to see the future for Pinot Noir from these hills.”

The team of international judges said the wine had all the classic textural and fruit hallmarks you could ask for in great Pinot Noir. Their notes described it as “a delicious wine with real presence, this is generous, rich and fleshy, with lots of bright redcurrant and raspberry aromas and concentrated plum, dark cherry and violet flavours. With an earthy character, smoky oak notes and an interesting savoury element, it’s robust but with very supple tannins, a silky-soft mouthfeel and a finish full of Christmas pudding spices.

Dom has been with Greystone since its inception in 2004 following stints in Rheingau, Burgundy and Oregon. All Greystone pinot is handpicked and sorted, with the wines being neither fined nor filtered. Dom uses wild yeasts to initiate his fermentations but he’s also experimenting with more unusual practices, such as vineyard fermentations. This involves the fermenter being placed out in the vineyard for the entire fermentation period (usually about 30 days) He believes the native yeasts in the vineyard change from year to year and so to express each vintage in its purest form, it’s important to capture that in each ferment.  Well whatever Dom and his team are doing – they’re doing it right.  Congratulations to them.

While I doubt I’ll be able to get my mits on a bottle of Greystone pinot noir anytime soon, I’ve been lucky enough to taste a smorgasbord of great wines this week, so without further ado let’s launch into it!  But first, a motivational wine fact from the internet: Consuming excess wine does not make you fat.  It actually makes you lean.  Against walls, furniture, people and trees and stuff.  Now on with the show:

Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva 2007 $19 ★★★★

If you’re looking for an exotic, international red wine that won’t make your wallet wince, then this is all your prayers answered and then some.  A blend of tempranillo, graciano and mazuelo (otherwise known as carignan), this Spanish star oozes chocolate and cherry, plum, raspberry and liquorice loveliness.  On the palate a savoury, smokey note wraps itself around the fruit core and the wine finishes with a velvety smoothness and attractive warmth.  www.centrecity.co.nz

Flying Sheep Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013 $20 ★★★★

Crafted by the team at Osawa Wines, this sauvignon has the distinct taste of peach stone and lemongrass, and loads of zingy, tropical tastiness.  It’s a very easy, soft sauvignon that also has good tension, freshness and length of flavour.  www.osawawines.co.nz

Crooked Apple & Blackcurrant Cider 500ml $7.99

Crafted by Nigel Knowles from Hawke’s Bay apples and blackcurrants from Nelson, this cider is a pretty crimson colour and scented with blackcurrant leaf, apple skin and lifted berry notes.  It’s cleansing and dry with pure berry and apple flavours that are very refreshing and tangy – and most importantly – it’s one I could definitely drink more of.  Great stuff. www.crookedcider.co.nz

Mahi Ward Farm Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012 $45 ★★★★

If you love the smell of sandalwood, 5-spice and cherries then it’ll be hard to take your nose out of the glass with this one.  Juicy and fresh, this pinot noir is packed with red berry fruit and finishes with a lovely cocoa and spice complexity.  It is drinking nicely now, but another two or three years in the cellar will deliver something more delicious I’m sure.  www.mahiwine.co.nz

Maimai Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2013 $18 ★★★½

Aromas of fresh peach melba and apricot lead the way to a creamy, tropically-focused wine that’s smooth, juicy and dangerously drinkable.  A fruity, fresh crowd-pleaser.  www.maimai.co.nz

Terra Sancta Slapjack Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011 $69 ★★★★½

Chock full of cherries and creamy-soft spices, raspberry coulis and robust, earthy characters – the Slapjack is always a highlight in the glass.  To taste, it is plush and succulent, boasting a ripe core of seductive spices and smoked plum and leaving a warm, velvety finish.  Superb potential for the cellar.  www.terrasancta.co.nz

Sherwood Estate Waipara Collection Huntaway Late Pick Riesling 2013 $26 ★★★★

Best check you’ve been to the dentist to see to your cavities before sipping this one!  Deliciously tangy honey flavours, candied mandarin, lime curd and all sorts of loveliness will coat the inside of your mouth and leave a ribbon of zingy acidity and punchy, tropical textures on the finish.  Yum.  www.sherwood.co.nz