Owners and winemakers at Alexander Vineyard, Roz Walker and Michael Finucane. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Wairarapa may have been overlooked in the New Zealand Wine Awards, but Martinborough’s Alexander Vineyard has earned plaudits.

Acclaimed New Zealand wine writer Michael Cooper named Alexander’s 2018 Dusty Road pinot noir as the nation’s best value red wine.

Cooper’s latest book, New Zealand Wines 2020: Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide, was out yesterday.

And the veteran taster was full of praise for the 2018 vintage, created at the Hinakura Road vineyard by Michael Finucane and Roz Walker.

“It’s an absolutely wonderful buy, and I thought it was deserving of celebration,” Cooper said.

“What’s amazing is, that it’s come out of a small vineyard. Whereas typically, the wines that get celebrated as the best buy of the year tend to be from big companies because they have a crucial advantage in terms of economies of scale.”

Cooper has been writing his guide for almost three decades. He said he rated the Dusty Road at “four-and-a-half out of five-star quality”, and said it compared favourably with wines that typically cost much more.

“It’s a wine of genuinely high quality. It’s got everything you would look for in a pinot noir.

“It’s perfumed, its complex. It’s savoury. It’s got depth. It’s got harmony. It’s delicious, already, it’s made for early consumption, it’s not their top pinot noir, so it’s one that’s been specifically crafted to be delicious when young and it certainly fulfils that goal.

“It is age worthy, so you could definitely lay it down for three years and it’s going to be improving over that time.

“So, the miracle is, what it proves is, that you can make excellent pinot noir at under $30, which is quite rare in New Zealand.”

New Zealand Wines 2020: Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide was out yesterday [RRP, $39.99].