The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Little-known wine most awarded NZ Pinot Noir in 2022

Matt Connell

A little-known wine from Alexandra has been named New Zealand’s most awarded Pinot Noir for 2022.

McArthur Ridge Southern Tor Pinot Noir 2020 scooped a gold medal at the New Zealand International Wine Show (NZIWS) last month.

It was also awarded 96 points at the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) mid-year, and received two trophies and a gold medal at the International Wine Challenge in London.

In New Zealand, the wine was awarded Champion Pinot Noir at the New Zealand International Wine Show in February, and winemaker Matt Connell was named Winemaker of the Show.

Connell – who has been at McArthur Ridge since 2020 – says the Alexandra location plays a large role in creating a wine with the depth Southern Tor displays.

“Because of our position and our very cool climate, we ripen later – and that gives the grapes the opportunity to develop some really interesting flavours,” he says.

“When it comes to harvest, Chief Viticulturist Murray Petrie and myself are out on the vineyard checking on the vines all the time, with the intention of leaving the fruit hanging as long as possible before hand-picking and pressing.”

He says the method of “growing grapes right up to the edge” of what’s possible, balanced alongside the threat of frosts and weather events, keeps the work interesting.

He’s passionate about the site, which delivers “natural complexity, exuberance, with earthy tones and herbal notes like thyme”.

“These vines are almost 20 years old,” he says, “so they’re not babies anymore. Pairing that with fairly new soil – rather than soil that has been farmed for hundreds of years – gives the wine a special clarity.”

McArthur Ridge Sales and Marketing Director, Mike Herrick, says it’s been “an unbelievable run” for the winery this year, but agrees that the DWWA wins are the icing on the cake.

“Being judged among over 18,000 wines from 54 countries and coming out on top is both exceptional and hugely exciting,” he says.

“It’s also wonderful to help shine a light on Alexandra as a wine-growing sub-region – we’re very proud of our little corner of the world, and the delicious wines that are produced here.”

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