What do you get when you cross a world famous American alternative rock singer with a trail-blazing Japanese wine expert and the world’s most influential wine commentator? The answer is Pinot Noir NZ 2017…touted as the largest event of its kind on the globe to be held on Wellington’s waterfront over three days early next year.
As well as Japan’s first Master of Wine and Sake Ken Ohashi and renowned British wine critic Jancis Robinson, the event – run by Pinot Noir NZ – will be attended by Tool and A Perfect Circle frontman Maynard James Keenan (MJK), the man behind Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards in Northern Arizona.
In his first visit to New Zealand in a wine capacity, Keenan says he’s keen to share his own journey, along with hearing and learning about how New Zealand winemakers use Pinot Noir to express their individual sites, styles and persona.
“I feel like there is a huge range of expression in New Zealand Pinot Noir, compared to other countries,” the partner in Los Angeles restaurant Cobras & Matadors says. “I’m intrigued to see how a relatively young wine industry is able to move collectively to produce and promote a first-class, world-renowned product.”
Ben Glover, head of Pinot Noir NZ, says Keenan’s story of music and wine will be fascinating, along with expert input by Ohashi, Robinson and a range of guest speakers. “Adding the artistic talents of MJK, who is initially from another expressive medium, to our event is a real point of difference and allows us to really challenge our boundaries,” he says.
As the first Japanese expert to attain a Master of Wine and Master of Sake at the same time, Ohashi says New Zealand is one of the world’s most perfect places to make Pinot Noir. “It is a variety that is one of the best at reflecting its terroir,” he says. “Pinot Noir NZ 2017 provides me with an opportunity to share and introduce a completely Japanese Pinot Noir perspective to an international Pinot Noir audience.”
Robinson is a British wine critic, journalist and editor of wine literature, currently writes a weekly column for the Financial Times, runs a website and provides advice for the wine cellar of the Queen.
“I’m really looking forward to getting to grips with how New Zealand’s different regions now express themselves through Pinot Noir,” she says.
Glover says Robinson is international acclaimed as the most powerful woman in the wine world, and her presence will add the x-factor to what he promises will be an amazing event for both the wine industry and the public.
“Jancis has built an international reputation as a highly respected, disciplined and professional wine critic and writer who is always open to new ideas and discussion,” he says. “She is a dynamic injection into the event, and will get us all energised and thinking about where we are now, how we have evolved and where we see our potential as we embark on a fantastic future.”
Pinot Noir NZ 2017 will run from January 31 for three days, with the programme exploring and embracing New Zealand Pinot Noir, its people and its sense of place. Held every four years, the event will attract nearly 120 producers from the country’s diverse Pinot Noir-producing regions showcasing more than 300 wines.