New World Pinot Noir | Pinot Beyond Burgundy

Harry Lambourne
4th September 2023

Pinot Noir, (along with the white grape Chardonnay), are most well-known for the wines which they produce in their homeland of Burgundy. Here, you get rich and complex offerings that command some of the highest price tags in the world of wine. Then, Germany has also found great success with this grape variety. However, New World Pinot Noir is on the rise and there’s a lot of great stuff out there.

We’ll cover three continents to give you our top picks for New World Pinot Noir. If this light and luscious grape variety is one of your favourites, but you rarely stray beyond the French borders, then this article is for you.

Great Pinot Noir can be found across the globe and it is not a one trick pony. It presents itself in a variety of styles that are sure to keep you coming back for more and never getting tired of it!

So, let’s dive into the world of New World Pinot Noir and give you a chance to find your new favourite tipple.

New World Pinot Noir – New Zealand

New Zealand Wine - Pinot Noir & Sauvignon Blanc
Central Otago – New Zealand

New Zealand Pinot Noir seems an obvious place to start. Nowhere in the new world has captured Pinot Noir lovers attention as much as New Zealand. Their meteoric rise to fame has largely been based around Sauvignon Blanc. However, following close behind is Pinot Noir.

Legend has it that Pinot Noir in New Zealand comes from the ‘Gumboot Clone’, (gumboot being a colloquial term for a rain boot). Supposedly, a New Zealand rugby player has snuck a cutting from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti back in his gumboot after an away game in Paris.

This clone didn’t make it past customs, instead it found its way into the hands of a customs agent, (and winemaker), called Malcolm Abel. Many claim that a large percentage of the Pinot Noir cuttings in New Zealand come from this original cutting, (although that is a matter of some legal dispute).

The New Zealand wine area is split into two. One is the North island, the other is the South island. The North island is far smaller and has less of a reputation for Pinot Noir. Instead Chardonnay and Bordeaux style blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot hold the focus.

Yet, the small area of Martinborough has established itself as somewhere that Pinot Noir lovers should pay attention to. They’ve done studies on the terroir of this area and found the soil types to be incredibly similar to Burgundy. Expect New World Pinot Noir from Martinborough to show depth, structure and a deep concentration.

Then, when we move to the South island we will find the world-famous Marlborough region. Here, high-quality Pinot Noir can be found in droves. By comparison, it is far fresher and fruitier than other New Zealand wine regions.

Last on the list of New Zealand Pinot Noir hotspots is Central Otago. In this area, Pinot Noir has a far earthier character, often with a herbaceous kick and a higher alcohol content. Central Otago Pinot Noir is regularly around 14.5% ABV.

These New Zealand wines regions are some guaranteed hot spots for New World Pinot Noir.

New World Pinot Noir – South Africa

Walker Bay - South African Wine
Walker Bay – Home of Great South African Wine

Now, we move onto the African continent. South Africa is perhaps most well known for Chenin Blanc and the native Pinotage. However, high-quality New World Pinot Noir can be found here as well.

Pinot Noir thrives in cool to moderate climates. It isn’t made for hot temperatures which is why there are vast areas of South Africa where this grape variety can’t grow. Yet, there is a place known as the Cape South Coast area where it excels and we really mean excels!

South African wine regions can be cooled by the Benguela Current. This brings cooling winds up from the Antarctic. Then, a wind pattern known locally as the ‘Cape Doctor’ brings these cooling breezes far inland. This means that the vines can be protected from the blazing hot sunshine.

The Cape South Coast area has great exposure to the ocean which helps cool the vines. Then, ripening is achieved thanks to ample sunshine. The number one area to look out for New World Pinot Noir in South Africa is the Walker Bay, in particular the smaller sub-region of Hemel-en-Aarde.

It is a stunning area of natural beauty and high quality grapes. Subtle spiced and floral notes will sit on top of fresh and vibrant fruit flavours. Structured, elegant and unbelievably delicious. Don’t miss out on these New World Pinot Noirs.

New World Pinot Noir – USA

Last on our list of New World Pinot Noir is America, but we aren’t stopping in California as so many lovers of American wine tend to do. Instead, we are heading to the Pacific North-West. More specifically, we are heading to Oregon. Now, this region might not be particularly well known, but it is quickly making a name for itself as the American Burgundy.

Indeed, Pinot Noir is close to the sole focus of this unique wine region. It is a region fraught with issues. Sunlight and heat are both hard to come by which can mean that the grapes may not ripen.

Oregon Wine Region - Hub For New World Pinot Noir
Stunning Views of the Oregon Wine Region

This can be a source of stress as grapes can struggle to ripen, but if they do – the rewards are great. They ripen slowly which means that when they do reach the finish line, they’re complex offerings that have allowed the flavours to concentrate slowly.

Pinot Noir is king here and nowhere does it reign more supreme than in the Willamette Valley. These powerful and complex offerings can give much of Burgundy a run for its money – definitely one to watch for New World Pinot Noir.

If you love Pinot Noir, then we highly recommend you give one, (or all), of these New World Pinot Noir regions a go! You’re guaranteed to find something delicious as you dive into these hubs for world-class wine.

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