In April 2021 we tasted a New Zealand Pinot Noir that impressed us greatly. It turned out to be the brainchild of a winemaker Simon had worked with in Marlborough in early 2000. The wine was Novum Pinot Noir 2019, made by Will Hoare.
Since then, Will and his wife Rachel Jackson-Hoare have continued their project of identifying interesting and unique parcels of vines in Marlborough to make the very best expressions they can, a philosophy Will had absorbed from his 19 years at Fromm (where Simon knew him) and during which time he gained detailed knowledge of the region’s vineyards and developed close relationships with its growers. In their own words: Most wineries will harvest entire blocks at a time, but we have learnt that the best fruit usually comes from just a small pocket of a good vineyard, due to soil type, microclimate etc. It might be just a few rows, the eastern side of a slope, or a rocky swale running through a vineyard site. Pinpointing these pockets takes additional time, but in our experience it is these tiny parcels of fruit that produce the most intense and interesting wines.
This week we tasted the 2021 Chardonnay and the 2020 Pinot Noir and they hugely exceeded already high expectations. The fruit clarity and texture, the tension and energy of both wines was extraordinary. As we know from so many of the great wines of the world, it is an incredible skill to be able to do very little, to not interfere, to not make the wine but to merely harness what you have helped the vineyard yield. Will and Rachel are consummate artists in this respect. The result is wines that are so natural, so pure, so transparent. What is more, the value here is astonishing; the mere £180 per six at which we are delighted to be able to offer both wines.
2021 Chardonnay, Novum
£180 per 6 bottle case in bond
Simon Larkin, Atlas Fine Wines, September 2023
A pale hue in the glass, with restrained aromas, that gently express themselves with air. Leesy notes meld with citrus peel and toasted nut. There is a surprising tension evident in this taut, minerally Chardonnay. It is less evidently a NZ Chardonnay, as its fruit veers more towards lemony notes, a touch of fresh nectarine too. The oak influence is beautifully judged, just adding some discreet toasty notes of complexity, but allowing the chalky, mineral finish to be expressed with great clarity. Another classy effort from Will Hoare. It's probably time people started to take note of this impressive Chardonnay. Drink 2023 -2029+.
95 points, Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous, January 2023
If there were a New Zealand Chardonnay that could compete with Barry White, here it is. The 2021 Chardonnay Marlborough is an all-sexy soul singer, savory and lightly spiced. There's well-judged salt, a pepper-like struck match note, caramelized pineapple, cloves and cinnamon. There's excellent concentration and power within its suave core, but it never becomes heavy. Drink 2022 - 2030.
2020 Pinot Noir, Novum
£180 per 6 bottle case in bond
Richard O’Mahony, Atlas Fine Wines, September 2023
Clean, pure, fresh raspberry and cherry fruit adorn the nose. The sense of purity and vibrancy is arresting. So clean and scented yet with a subtle spicy touch too. The palate is lithe, silky, flowing, caressing. The fruit is bright and clear but what is so appealing here is the dry finish, none of the lingering sweetness that can often detract from many a New World Pinot Noir. Instead beautifully integrated, fine tannins provide a gentle yet definite structure and give length to that fine fresh fruit all the while bringing focus and a mouthwatering moreishness. This really is a smart Pinot Noir and something of a steal. Drink 2023-2030+.
93 points, Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous, January 2023
Pleasure and suavity seem to be the name of the game for Novum, which specializes in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The 2020 Pinot Noir corroborates my suspicions: this is round, mouthfilling and satisfying. It offers plenty of concentration and delightful tannins that seem to coat the palate in a waterfall-like movement. It's part of the wine's substance and texture, which the French might call gourmandise but us Anglophones lack a translation for that. Drink 2023 - 2035.