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For the love of Viognier

FOR THE LOVE OF VIOGNIER

I fell in love with Viognier in the late 90’s when a bottle from Millton Vineyards in Gisborne came my way. The flower shop nose; the plush tropical fruits on the palate and the slippery, lightly oily mouthfeel was unforgettable  and ,twenty years later, Viognier still regularly  features in my year round play list.

Viognier initially made its mark in the Condrieu appellation in France’s northern Rhone Valley but it was an Australian, Robert Hill-Smith from Yalumba, who is credited with saving  Viognier from becoming an oddity and taking  the variety to a wider global audience.  We have a lot to thank him for.  Viognier (pron. vee-YOHN-yay) is a versatile grape that makes excellent wine in its own right but has quite magical properties when blended with other varieties – both red and white.

Most of our domestic production is centred here in Hawke’s Bay and we are blessed with many producers doing great things with Viognier - Elephant Hill, Te Mata Estate and Decibel spring to mind. A number of local producers also blend small percentages of Viognier into their Syrah releases; a tiny 2-3% Viognier addition can give Syrah a floral lift on the nose and a lovely unctuous texture on the palate.

Viognier also adds both tropical fruit flavours and a silky roundness when blended or co-fermented with white wines. I’ll be surprised if we don’t start seeing more Chardonnay Viognier blends in our local market. It seems like a match made in heaven to me.

Yalumba Y Series Viognier  2020 - South Australia
Available from $11.99
This is easily the best value Viognier in the world, and gets my vote as the best quaffing white wine available in the New Zealand market. On the nose it’s all orange blossom and citrus and the palate shows perfectly pitched mouthfeel and tangy dry apricot flavours. It’s a year round constant in our family fridge.

Te Mata Estate Zara Viognier 2019 - Hawke's Bay
Available from $27.99
Zara sits in Te Mata Estate's premium range and this 2019 release is a powerful, opulent rendition. The 2019 vintage in Hawke's Bay was spectacular and it has produces etheral layers of tropical fruits that are expertly balanced by tropical fruits on the finish. Another stunning release from Te Mata Estate's expert winemaking team.

Quarisa Johnny Q Shiraz Viognier 2016 – South Australia
Available from $15.99
A delicious blend of 95% Shiraz with 5% Viognier. This is a glowing example of how Viognier can add lifted florals on the nose and a lovely glycerol aspect to the palate without undermining the strength and robust nature of Aussie Shiraz. Immediately attractive wine with good mid-term cellaring ability.
 

For the love of Viognier

FOR THE LOVE OF VIOGNIER

I fell in love with Viognier in the late 90’s when a bottle from Millton Vineyards in Gisborne came my way. The flower shop nose; the plush tropical fruits on the palate and the slippery, lightly oily mouthfeel was unforgettable  and ,twenty years later, Viognier still regularly  features in my year round play list.

Viognier initially made its mark in the Condrieu appellation in France’s northern Rhone Valley but it was an Australian, Robert Hill-Smith from Yalumba, who is credited with saving  Viognier from becoming an oddity and taking  the variety to a wider global audience.  We have a lot to thank him for.  Viognier (pron. vee-YOHN-yay) is a versatile grape that makes excellent wine in its own right but has quite magical properties when blended with other varieties – both red and white.

Most of our domestic production is centred here in Hawke’s Bay and we are blessed with many producers doing great things with Viognier - Elephant Hill, Te Mata Estate and Decibel spring to mind. A number of local producers also blend small percentages of Viognier into their Syrah releases; a tiny 2-3% Viognier addition can give Syrah a floral lift on the nose and a lovely unctuous texture on the palate.

Viognier also adds both tropical fruit flavours and a silky roundness when blended or co-fermented with white wines. I’ll be surprised if we don’t start seeing more Chardonnay Viognier blends in our local market. It seems like a match made in heaven to me.

Yalumba Y Series Viognier  2020 - South Australia
Available from $11.99
This is easily the best value Viognier in the world, and gets my vote as the best quaffing white wine available in the New Zealand market. On the nose it’s all orange blossom and citrus and the palate shows perfectly pitched mouthfeel and tangy dry apricot flavours. It’s a year round constant in our family fridge.

Te Mata Estate Zara Viognier 2019 - Hawke's Bay
Available from $27.99
Zara sits in Te Mata Estate's premium range and this 2019 release is a powerful, opulent rendition. The 2019 vintage in Hawke's Bay was spectacular and it has produces etheral layers of tropical fruits that are expertly balanced by tropical fruits on the finish. Another stunning release from Te Mata Estate's expert winemaking team.

Quarisa Johnny Q Shiraz Viognier 2016 – South Australia
Available from $15.99
A delicious blend of 95% Shiraz with 5% Viognier. This is a glowing example of how Viognier can add lifted florals on the nose and a lovely glycerol aspect to the palate without undermining the strength and robust nature of Aussie Shiraz. Immediately attractive wine with good mid-term cellaring ability.
 

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Mac's Picks - 18 November 2023

Mac's Picks - 18 November 2023

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

https://www.advintage.co.nz/freixenet-cordon-negro-brutFreixenet Cordon Negro Cava Brut NV - Spain

Available from $16.99

Approximately 100 million bottles of Cordon Negro are opened every year. That’s around 3 every second – an astounding number that makes Freixenet (pron. Fresh- annette) the number one selling Spanish Cava and one of the world’s most loved sparkling wines. Cava is simply Spanish sparkling wine that is made in the same way that Champagne is produced, but with different grapes – in Freixenet’s case macabeo, parellada and xarel·lo. It comes to you with zingy flavours of apple, pear and citrus and is famously bone dry. Skillful work in the winery manages that dryness by softening out the acidity, while 10-14 months bottle-aging during the second fermentation brings roundness and body to the palate.  Having not tasted it for many years I was immediately impressed by the quality on offer for such a well-priced wine. With the festive social season now in full effect, it’s a perfect option for parties and functions, and the matt black bottles remain eternally cool.

 

Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV

Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV - France

Available from $96.99

Roederer will always be included in any conversation of the most admired Champagne houses and their latest disgorgement of Brut Premier is looking especially sharp. Established in 1776, Louis Roederer remains one of the very few remaining family-owned Grand Marques with 7th generation Frederic Rouzaud at the helm. Pinot noir dominant, this is powerfully built, textural Champagne with lots going on in the glass. Fresh, fleshy white fruits kick off the palate before bready, yeasty notes take centre stage. The finish is long and vibrant with softly expressed acidity supporting layers of creamy citrus. I love it. It’s long been a personal favourite and anyone who puts a bottle of Roederer on the table will always have my attention.


Chateau Garage Orca Corca Rosato

Chateau Garage Orca Corca Rosato 2023 - Hawke’s Bay

Available from $34.99

The quirkily named Orca Corca is the latest Chateau Garage release from Ollie Powrie - former head viticulturist for the Villa Maria group. It’s been vinted from whole bunch pressed organic sangiovese from the Osawa vineyard in Maraekakaho, that has been wild-fermented in seasoned French oak. Four months ageing on its yeast lees has brought a fine texture to this delightful rosé, which bursts with bright flavours of stone fruit, red berries and almond. In the style of the classic Italian Sangiovese Rosés, it has some underlying savoury / tannic structure, and that added dimension makes it an obvious partner for alfresco foods. It's a lovely glass of wine that is calling out for an antipasto platter, a sunny afternoon and some great company.



Wine Gringo


Wine Gringo Grenache Nouveau 2023 - Australia 

Available from $14.99

Though Kiwis have been a bit slow on the uptake, lighter-bodied chilled red wines are becoming mainstream in global markets, as buyers discover the simple joys of this deliciously satisfying wine style. Wine Gringo is produced from South Australian Grenache that, in many ways, has been treated like a white wine in the winery. The soft plum and cherry flavours synonymous with grenache remain front and centre, but the tannin and grippy mouthfeel associated with red wine is nowhere to be seen. What you get is a crunchy, full-bodied rosé style that comes alive after half an hour in the fridge, but still carries the distinct flavours of those glossy grenache fruits. If you want to be the first in your book club to bust out a chilled red this summer, Wine Gringo Grenache Nouveau would be a very friendly place to start. Go on. You know you want to. 




Maude Riesling

 

Maude Reserve East Block Riesling 2023 – Central Otago 

Available from $28.99

This was one of the wines of the vintage for me; a spectacular expression of Central Otago Riesling that was wonderful to taste. Opulent fruit weight and a good dollop of residual sugar frame a palate that’s redolent with green apple, sweet citrus, lemon and lime. Those lush, juicy fruits are perfectly countered by layers of creamy acidity and the interplay between those two key components could not be more harmonious. Everything is in balance and the overall impression far exceeds the sum of its parts. The finish goes on forever. Do yourself a favour and get your hands on a bottle of this special release. Ideally serve lightly chilled as an aperitif so you can see it in its entirety – or match with lightly spicy Asian dishes.


Bodegas Beronia Rioja Crianza 2018 - Spain

 

Bodegas Beronia Rioja Crianza 2018 – Spain

Available from $24.99

This is a very satisfying example of Crianza level Rioja that has been vinted from tempranillo with splashes of garnacha and mazuelo adding further interest to the blend. Barrel-aging in a mix of French and American oak has brought depth and complexity to the core tempranillo fruits but those ripe, spicy raspberry / cherry flavours carry the conversation through to a long finish that’s complexed with some tobacco herbal and anise notes. It’s textbook mid-tier Rioja; ripe, accessible and loaded with flavour but not too extracted or over-developed. Enjoy with a charcuterie platter or a slow cooked, rosemary spiked lamb shoulder.

Mac's Picks - 18 November 2023

Mac's Picks - 18 November 2023

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

https://www.advintage.co.nz/freixenet-cordon-negro-brutFreixenet Cordon Negro Cava Brut NV - Spain

Available from $16.99

Approximately 100 million bottles of Cordon Negro are opened every year. That’s around 3 every second – an astounding number that makes Freixenet (pron. Fresh- annette) the number one selling Spanish Cava and one of the world’s most loved sparkling wines. Cava is simply Spanish sparkling wine that is made in the same way that Champagne is produced, but with different grapes – in Freixenet’s case macabeo, parellada and xarel·lo. It comes to you with zingy flavours of apple, pear and citrus and is famously bone dry. Skillful work in the winery manages that dryness by softening out the acidity, while 10-14 months bottle-aging during the second fermentation brings roundness and body to the palate.  Having not tasted it for many years I was immediately impressed by the quality on offer for such a well-priced wine. With the festive social season now in full effect, it’s a perfect option for parties and functions, and the matt black bottles remain eternally cool.

 

Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV

Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV - France

Available from $96.99

Roederer will always be included in any conversation of the most admired Champagne houses and their latest disgorgement of Brut Premier is looking especially sharp. Established in 1776, Louis Roederer remains one of the very few remaining family-owned Grand Marques with 7th generation Frederic Rouzaud at the helm. Pinot noir dominant, this is powerfully built, textural Champagne with lots going on in the glass. Fresh, fleshy white fruits kick off the palate before bready, yeasty notes take centre stage. The finish is long and vibrant with softly expressed acidity supporting layers of creamy citrus. I love it. It’s long been a personal favourite and anyone who puts a bottle of Roederer on the table will always have my attention.


Chateau Garage Orca Corca Rosato

Chateau Garage Orca Corca Rosato 2023 - Hawke’s Bay

Available from $34.99

The quirkily named Orca Corca is the latest Chateau Garage release from Ollie Powrie - former head viticulturist for the Villa Maria group. It’s been vinted from whole bunch pressed organic sangiovese from the Osawa vineyard in Maraekakaho, that has been wild-fermented in seasoned French oak. Four months ageing on its yeast lees has brought a fine texture to this delightful rosé, which bursts with bright flavours of stone fruit, red berries and almond. In the style of the classic Italian Sangiovese Rosés, it has some underlying savoury / tannic structure, and that added dimension makes it an obvious partner for alfresco foods. It's a lovely glass of wine that is calling out for an antipasto platter, a sunny afternoon and some great company.



Wine Gringo


Wine Gringo Grenache Nouveau 2023 - Australia 

Available from $14.99

Though Kiwis have been a bit slow on the uptake, lighter-bodied chilled red wines are becoming mainstream in global markets, as buyers discover the simple joys of this deliciously satisfying wine style. Wine Gringo is produced from South Australian Grenache that, in many ways, has been treated like a white wine in the winery. The soft plum and cherry flavours synonymous with grenache remain front and centre, but the tannin and grippy mouthfeel associated with red wine is nowhere to be seen. What you get is a crunchy, full-bodied rosé style that comes alive after half an hour in the fridge, but still carries the distinct flavours of those glossy grenache fruits. If you want to be the first in your book club to bust out a chilled red this summer, Wine Gringo Grenache Nouveau would be a very friendly place to start. Go on. You know you want to. 




Maude Riesling

 

Maude Reserve East Block Riesling 2023 – Central Otago 

Available from $28.99

This was one of the wines of the vintage for me; a spectacular expression of Central Otago Riesling that was wonderful to taste. Opulent fruit weight and a good dollop of residual sugar frame a palate that’s redolent with green apple, sweet citrus, lemon and lime. Those lush, juicy fruits are perfectly countered by layers of creamy acidity and the interplay between those two key components could not be more harmonious. Everything is in balance and the overall impression far exceeds the sum of its parts. The finish goes on forever. Do yourself a favour and get your hands on a bottle of this special release. Ideally serve lightly chilled as an aperitif so you can see it in its entirety – or match with lightly spicy Asian dishes.


Bodegas Beronia Rioja Crianza 2018 - Spain

 

Bodegas Beronia Rioja Crianza 2018 – Spain

Available from $24.99

This is a very satisfying example of Crianza level Rioja that has been vinted from tempranillo with splashes of garnacha and mazuelo adding further interest to the blend. Barrel-aging in a mix of French and American oak has brought depth and complexity to the core tempranillo fruits but those ripe, spicy raspberry / cherry flavours carry the conversation through to a long finish that’s complexed with some tobacco herbal and anise notes. It’s textbook mid-tier Rioja; ripe, accessible and loaded with flavour but not too extracted or over-developed. Enjoy with a charcuterie platter or a slow cooked, rosemary spiked lamb shoulder.

Mac's Picks - 4 November 2023

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Awatere River Methode Traditionelle NVAwatere River Méthode Traditionelle NV - Marlborough

Available from $26.99

It’s aways a pleasure tasting good New Zealand Méthode and this new release from Awatere River was a very impressive effort from a producer who has a well-won following for their excellent still wines. Produced using the time-honoured bottle fermentation process from the classic Champagne varietals of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, it is a bright and vibrant style with plenty of complexity in the glass. Citrus, white flowers, brioche and yeast characters dominate the bouquet, while a dry, elegant palate is enhanced with some toasty back notes and nicely rounded mouthfeel. The finish is long and very refreshing with good acid drive, and plenty of tangy citrus flavours. In my book, this wine is very good value for small batch Marlborough Méthode. It comes highly recommended. 



Rapaura Springs RESERVE Pinot Gris 2022

Rapaura Springs Reserve Pinot Gris 2022 - Marlborough

Available from $16.99

Here is another outright winner from a Marlborough company with a big reputation for sharply priced, high-quality wines. In typical Rapaura Springs fashion, there is a lot going on in the glass for pinot gris in this price band. You are sure to find a lovely medley of spicy pear and sweet citrus on the nose, and a nicely textural palate that picks up those flavours and adds some tropical fruits into the mix. The finish is long and fresh with good acidity - and the lasting impression is very clean, with those spicy pear notes rounding out the conversation. The fruit weight / acid interplay is nicely harmonious and it’s that balance that sets this wine part from so many of its peer group. This is lovely wine. If you’re a fan of Marlborough Pinot Gris and don’t give it a crack, you’re missing a trick.



Fortant de France Terroir dAltitude Chardonnay 2022Fortant de France Terroir d’Altitude Chardonnay 2022 – France 

Available from $23.99

Thankfully, the days of bulk, uninspiring wines from the engine room of Southern France are now largely behind us - and the rise in quality from appellations such as Pays d’Oc continue to impress. Chardonnay has certainly come on in leaps and bounds, and the 2022 vintage of Fortant de France Terroir d’Altitude is a definite case in point. Fragrant and inviting with aromas of sweet nectarine, cashew and lemon, this is creamy, fulsome wine with punchy flavours of peach, melon and lemon butter. It’s robust and rounded but carries enough acidity to keep the palate focused and bright, and the finish is long and rewarding with tangy citrus brûlée characters to the fore. Fans of bold New Zealand Chardonnay will find lots to like here, and I far prefer this chardonnay style to the flabbier Californian wines that currently dominate our imported chardonnay sales.



Wooing Tree Beetle Juice Pinot Noir 2020


Wooing Tree Beetle Juice Pinot Noir 2020 – Central Otago 

Available from $28.99

Produced by Cromwell winery Wooing Tree as an entry point to their portfolio of pinot noirs, Beetlejuice has become a well-known option for buyers looking for Central Otago Pinot in the hotly contested sub $30 bracket. Vinted as an immediately accessible style to be opened without the need for further aging, the 2020 is a satisfying wine that brings a bouquet of plum and savoury cherry to the table - with some undernotes of game and mushroom if you look a bit more closely. Those characters carry through to a palate that flows nicely in the mouth with good length and supple mouthfeel, while the finish is softly rounded with nicely integrated tannins.  It’s uncomplicated but nonetheless highly enjoyable; exactly what Central Otago Pinot in this price band should be.




Wild Grace Syrah 2021

 

Wild Grace Syrah 2021 – Hawke’s Bay 

Available from $16.99

Here’s this week’s outright bargain. Wild Grace may come from the catalogue of international drink giant Constellation Brands, but there is nothing ‘commercial’ about this well-made syrah. 2021 was an excellent vintage in Hawke’s Bay and this very affordable wine shines with glossy fruits in the plum and blackberry spectrum. Silken texture is the main calling card here and those lovely layers of dark fruits effortlessly fill the mouth with hints of oak and fruit spice adding another level of complexity. With the price of good Hawke’s Bay Syrah continually on the rise, it’s clearly good buying - but seeing wine of this quality well under the $20 mark is a golden opportunity for any syrah buyer looking to increase the calibre of their mid-week drinking.


Altemura Apulo Primitivo 2021

 

Altemura Apulo Primitivo 2021 – Italy

Available from $16.99

Produced in Salento – a Puglia sub-region within the southern ‘heel of the boot’ of Italy - this is another wine that fights well above its weight. Vinted from unoaked primitivo, it’s a fleshy and ripe style with plenty of red plum and black cherry flavours with some vanilla and spice notes providing the detail that elevates this wine to a higher plane. It’s rounded and quite velvety – but those dark red fruits always remain the star of the show. Anise and black pepper nuances close out proceedings and leave you looking for that second glass. Match with a spicy pizza or a hearty ragout when the gang calls around, and your ‘wine cred’ is sure to go up.

Mac's Picks - 4 November 2023

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Awatere River Methode Traditionelle NVAwatere River Méthode Traditionelle NV - Marlborough

Available from $26.99

It’s aways a pleasure tasting good New Zealand Méthode and this new release from Awatere River was a very impressive effort from a producer who has a well-won following for their excellent still wines. Produced using the time-honoured bottle fermentation process from the classic Champagne varietals of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, it is a bright and vibrant style with plenty of complexity in the glass. Citrus, white flowers, brioche and yeast characters dominate the bouquet, while a dry, elegant palate is enhanced with some toasty back notes and nicely rounded mouthfeel. The finish is long and very refreshing with good acid drive, and plenty of tangy citrus flavours. In my book, this wine is very good value for small batch Marlborough Méthode. It comes highly recommended. 



Rapaura Springs RESERVE Pinot Gris 2022

Rapaura Springs Reserve Pinot Gris 2022 - Marlborough

Available from $16.99

Here is another outright winner from a Marlborough company with a big reputation for sharply priced, high-quality wines. In typical Rapaura Springs fashion, there is a lot going on in the glass for pinot gris in this price band. You are sure to find a lovely medley of spicy pear and sweet citrus on the nose, and a nicely textural palate that picks up those flavours and adds some tropical fruits into the mix. The finish is long and fresh with good acidity - and the lasting impression is very clean, with those spicy pear notes rounding out the conversation. The fruit weight / acid interplay is nicely harmonious and it’s that balance that sets this wine part from so many of its peer group. This is lovely wine. If you’re a fan of Marlborough Pinot Gris and don’t give it a crack, you’re missing a trick.



Fortant de France Terroir dAltitude Chardonnay 2022Fortant de France Terroir d’Altitude Chardonnay 2022 – France 

Available from $23.99

Thankfully, the days of bulk, uninspiring wines from the engine room of Southern France are now largely behind us - and the rise in quality from appellations such as Pays d’Oc continue to impress. Chardonnay has certainly come on in leaps and bounds, and the 2022 vintage of Fortant de France Terroir d’Altitude is a definite case in point. Fragrant and inviting with aromas of sweet nectarine, cashew and lemon, this is creamy, fulsome wine with punchy flavours of peach, melon and lemon butter. It’s robust and rounded but carries enough acidity to keep the palate focused and bright, and the finish is long and rewarding with tangy citrus brûlée characters to the fore. Fans of bold New Zealand Chardonnay will find lots to like here, and I far prefer this chardonnay style to the flabbier Californian wines that currently dominate our imported chardonnay sales.



Wooing Tree Beetle Juice Pinot Noir 2020


Wooing Tree Beetle Juice Pinot Noir 2020 – Central Otago 

Available from $28.99

Produced by Cromwell winery Wooing Tree as an entry point to their portfolio of pinot noirs, Beetlejuice has become a well-known option for buyers looking for Central Otago Pinot in the hotly contested sub $30 bracket. Vinted as an immediately accessible style to be opened without the need for further aging, the 2020 is a satisfying wine that brings a bouquet of plum and savoury cherry to the table - with some undernotes of game and mushroom if you look a bit more closely. Those characters carry through to a palate that flows nicely in the mouth with good length and supple mouthfeel, while the finish is softly rounded with nicely integrated tannins.  It’s uncomplicated but nonetheless highly enjoyable; exactly what Central Otago Pinot in this price band should be.




Wild Grace Syrah 2021

 

Wild Grace Syrah 2021 – Hawke’s Bay 

Available from $16.99

Here’s this week’s outright bargain. Wild Grace may come from the catalogue of international drink giant Constellation Brands, but there is nothing ‘commercial’ about this well-made syrah. 2021 was an excellent vintage in Hawke’s Bay and this very affordable wine shines with glossy fruits in the plum and blackberry spectrum. Silken texture is the main calling card here and those lovely layers of dark fruits effortlessly fill the mouth with hints of oak and fruit spice adding another level of complexity. With the price of good Hawke’s Bay Syrah continually on the rise, it’s clearly good buying - but seeing wine of this quality well under the $20 mark is a golden opportunity for any syrah buyer looking to increase the calibre of their mid-week drinking.


Altemura Apulo Primitivo 2021

 

Altemura Apulo Primitivo 2021 – Italy

Available from $16.99

Produced in Salento – a Puglia sub-region within the southern ‘heel of the boot’ of Italy - this is another wine that fights well above its weight. Vinted from unoaked primitivo, it’s a fleshy and ripe style with plenty of red plum and black cherry flavours with some vanilla and spice notes providing the detail that elevates this wine to a higher plane. It’s rounded and quite velvety – but those dark red fruits always remain the star of the show. Anise and black pepper nuances close out proceedings and leave you looking for that second glass. Match with a spicy pizza or a hearty ragout when the gang calls around, and your ‘wine cred’ is sure to go up.

Mac's Picks - 7 October 2023

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Au Fil de la Loire Rose dAnjou 2021Fistonich Family Forest Flower Collection Rosé 2022 – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $19.99

This is one of the first of a series of new wines that have been released by Sir George Fistonich, the founder of the Villa Maria vinous juggernaut. Clearly not ready to retire after Villa Maria was dismantled and sold off in a bitterly fought receivership, Sir George has re-entered the market with a new family of brands including the Forest Flower Collection. The 2022 Forest Flower Rosé is vinted from a blend of Hawke’s Bay Malbec (55%) and Syrah. It’s a very balanced release with a bouquet that blossoms with red berry fruits, watermelon, and red apple aromas. The palate is just off-dry with juicy characters that reflect the nose, with some ripe peach / apricot flavours adding extra texture and weight. The finish is fresh and tangy and carries the acidity needed to keep things crisp and refreshing. Match with a ham sandwich on a summer’s day and life will be good. 



Rockburn Stolen Kiss ROSE 2023

Rockburn Stolen Kiss Rosé 2023 – Central Otago

Available from $26.99

It’s always a pleasure tasting a new vintage of Stolen Kiss, and this important wine continues to be one of the most sought-after rosés released in New Zealand each season. After a few years where the winery was experimenting with residual sugar levels, the team now seem to be working in the 9-12g/l zone – and in my mind, that’s the sweetness level that works best for this ‘luxe’ wine style. Vinted from pinot noir, this is plush and decadent rosé that brims with candy apple and strawberry flavours. It’s exuberant, creamy and those glossy pinot noir fruits fill every corner of the mouth with flavour – before layers of soft acidity kick in to balance out those sweeter notes. With the proliferation of just off-dry roses in our domestic market, it’s so refreshing to see Rockburn refine the unapologetically frivolous style that has put Stolen Kiss on the New Zealand Rosé map – and the 2023 will go down as one of the best vintages to date.



Kim Crawford Small Parcels Chardonnay 2021Kim Crawford Small Parcels Chardonnay 2021 – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $24.99

The Small Parcels range allows the Kim Crawford winemaking team to stretch their legs and produce wines with more interest and depth than their well-known, commercial range. There have been some lovely wines released under the Small Parcels banner, and fans of premium barrel-fermented chardonnay will certainly find a lot to like here. Robustly framed and loaded with stonefruits, lemon brulee, cashew and oak spice, this 2021 release reflects the riches provided by an excellent Hawke’s Bay growing season. A subtle reductive / struck note on the nose adds a modern touch before those powerhouse chardonnay flavours kick in - and the finish is a very satisfying amalgam of toasty oak and rounded, creamy acidity. This wine is already looking very well balanced. Cellar over the coming 5+ years to further develop those delicious lemon brulee flavours.



Little X Hawkes Bay Syrah 2020


Little X Syrah 2020 – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $18.99

With the price of Hawke’s Bay Syrah seemingly always on the rise, this is a very good value offering from Marlborough vintner, Tim Adams. Using fruit sourced from the wonderful Ohiti Road sub-region, Little X is relatively complex for syrah in this price band, and the excellent 2020 vintage has brought plenty of depth and texture to the table. Look for those spicy plum and black fruit characters that Hawke’s Bay Syrah is known for, wrapped in a medium-bodied palate that shows hints of anise, pepper and barrel toast. A generous, juicy mid-palate adds a very friendly aspect, and the finish is long and clean with soft acidity and further spicy notes. It would be a great match with smoky meats and summer BBQs. Enjoy over the coming 4 years.




Yalumba Samuels Collection Barossa Shiraz 2021

 

Yalumba Samuel’s Garden Collection Shiraz 2021 – Australia

Available from $19.99

My admiration for the Yalumba wine group is well known, and I continue to be dazzled by the quality of wine that this family-owned empire produces under its various brand tiers. From the excellent Samuel’s Garden Collection, this 2021 shiraz is a shining example of the value that the bigger South Australian producers can offer when the stars align, and this delicious shiraz should be on the radar of any Aussie red fan. Fragrant and ripe on the nose, this is classic Barossa all the way. Notes of black and blue fruits mingle with anise, vanilla and mocha, while the palate is full-bodied and generous - with spicy plum and blackcurrant flavours taking centre stage. In my book, this wine could be twice this price and still be considered obvious value. It’s already drinking well but cellar over the coming decade to further to soften down the acid / tannin components and see those lush Barossa fruits command the stage.


Boccantino Nero dAvola Nerello 2019

 

Boccantino Nero d’Avola Nerello 2019 - Sicily

Available from $21.99

This is a lovely example of modern Sicilian winemaking using nero d’avola and the lesser known nerello mascalese to form the blend. Fulsome and plush on the palate, the powerful flavours from the darkly fruited nero d’avola component are ably supported by the softer, juicier nerello mascalese fruits – and it’s a special combination when those two varietal worlds collide. Look for lots of succulent blackberry flavours with tobacco / herbal nuances and spicy highlights of liquorice, lavender and cola. It’s a perfect wine to match with a gutsy ragu or perhaps a pepperoni pizza, but it’s generosity and soft tannin structure make it a great option to settle into with a good Netflix session. It comes highly recommended.

Mac's Picks - 7 October 2023

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Au Fil de la Loire Rose dAnjou 2021Fistonich Family Forest Flower Collection Rosé 2022 – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $19.99

This is one of the first of a series of new wines that have been released by Sir George Fistonich, the founder of the Villa Maria vinous juggernaut. Clearly not ready to retire after Villa Maria was dismantled and sold off in a bitterly fought receivership, Sir George has re-entered the market with a new family of brands including the Forest Flower Collection. The 2022 Forest Flower Rosé is vinted from a blend of Hawke’s Bay Malbec (55%) and Syrah. It’s a very balanced release with a bouquet that blossoms with red berry fruits, watermelon, and red apple aromas. The palate is just off-dry with juicy characters that reflect the nose, with some ripe peach / apricot flavours adding extra texture and weight. The finish is fresh and tangy and carries the acidity needed to keep things crisp and refreshing. Match with a ham sandwich on a summer’s day and life will be good. 



Rockburn Stolen Kiss ROSE 2023

Rockburn Stolen Kiss Rosé 2023 – Central Otago

Available from $26.99

It’s always a pleasure tasting a new vintage of Stolen Kiss, and this important wine continues to be one of the most sought-after rosés released in New Zealand each season. After a few years where the winery was experimenting with residual sugar levels, the team now seem to be working in the 9-12g/l zone – and in my mind, that’s the sweetness level that works best for this ‘luxe’ wine style. Vinted from pinot noir, this is plush and decadent rosé that brims with candy apple and strawberry flavours. It’s exuberant, creamy and those glossy pinot noir fruits fill every corner of the mouth with flavour – before layers of soft acidity kick in to balance out those sweeter notes. With the proliferation of just off-dry roses in our domestic market, it’s so refreshing to see Rockburn refine the unapologetically frivolous style that has put Stolen Kiss on the New Zealand Rosé map – and the 2023 will go down as one of the best vintages to date.



Kim Crawford Small Parcels Chardonnay 2021Kim Crawford Small Parcels Chardonnay 2021 – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $24.99

The Small Parcels range allows the Kim Crawford winemaking team to stretch their legs and produce wines with more interest and depth than their well-known, commercial range. There have been some lovely wines released under the Small Parcels banner, and fans of premium barrel-fermented chardonnay will certainly find a lot to like here. Robustly framed and loaded with stonefruits, lemon brulee, cashew and oak spice, this 2021 release reflects the riches provided by an excellent Hawke’s Bay growing season. A subtle reductive / struck note on the nose adds a modern touch before those powerhouse chardonnay flavours kick in - and the finish is a very satisfying amalgam of toasty oak and rounded, creamy acidity. This wine is already looking very well balanced. Cellar over the coming 5+ years to further develop those delicious lemon brulee flavours.



Little X Hawkes Bay Syrah 2020


Little X Syrah 2020 – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $18.99

With the price of Hawke’s Bay Syrah seemingly always on the rise, this is a very good value offering from Marlborough vintner, Tim Adams. Using fruit sourced from the wonderful Ohiti Road sub-region, Little X is relatively complex for syrah in this price band, and the excellent 2020 vintage has brought plenty of depth and texture to the table. Look for those spicy plum and black fruit characters that Hawke’s Bay Syrah is known for, wrapped in a medium-bodied palate that shows hints of anise, pepper and barrel toast. A generous, juicy mid-palate adds a very friendly aspect, and the finish is long and clean with soft acidity and further spicy notes. It would be a great match with smoky meats and summer BBQs. Enjoy over the coming 4 years.




Yalumba Samuels Collection Barossa Shiraz 2021

 

Yalumba Samuel’s Garden Collection Shiraz 2021 – Australia

Available from $19.99

My admiration for the Yalumba wine group is well known, and I continue to be dazzled by the quality of wine that this family-owned empire produces under its various brand tiers. From the excellent Samuel’s Garden Collection, this 2021 shiraz is a shining example of the value that the bigger South Australian producers can offer when the stars align, and this delicious shiraz should be on the radar of any Aussie red fan. Fragrant and ripe on the nose, this is classic Barossa all the way. Notes of black and blue fruits mingle with anise, vanilla and mocha, while the palate is full-bodied and generous - with spicy plum and blackcurrant flavours taking centre stage. In my book, this wine could be twice this price and still be considered obvious value. It’s already drinking well but cellar over the coming decade to further to soften down the acid / tannin components and see those lush Barossa fruits command the stage.


Boccantino Nero dAvola Nerello 2019

 

Boccantino Nero d’Avola Nerello 2019 - Sicily

Available from $21.99

This is a lovely example of modern Sicilian winemaking using nero d’avola and the lesser known nerello mascalese to form the blend. Fulsome and plush on the palate, the powerful flavours from the darkly fruited nero d’avola component are ably supported by the softer, juicier nerello mascalese fruits – and it’s a special combination when those two varietal worlds collide. Look for lots of succulent blackberry flavours with tobacco / herbal nuances and spicy highlights of liquorice, lavender and cola. It’s a perfect wine to match with a gutsy ragu or perhaps a pepperoni pizza, but it’s generosity and soft tannin structure make it a great option to settle into with a good Netflix session. It comes highly recommended.

Mac's Picks - 23 September 2023

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Au Fil de la Loire Rose dAnjou 2021Au Fil de la Loire d'Anjou 2021 - France

Available from $19.99

Hailing from the Loire Valley and predominantly vinted from the lesser known grolleau noir variety, this is delicious French Rosé with lots of action going on in the glass. Fragrant and bright, with very attractive red summer berry fruits and watermelon notes on the nose, the palate opens with plush bursts of cranberry, pomegranate, watermelon and tangy citrus competing for your attention. A gentle kiss of fruit sweetness adds a luxe element to the conversation, but those retained sugars are adeptly balanced by a nice vein of tangy acidity on the finish. This is one seriously user-friendly wine. That gentle line of sweetness on the mid-palate makes it attractive with or without food, and at just 10% al/vol, it’s a perfect lunchtime option when the sun is out, and a glass of good, chilled rosé is the order of the day. Match with lawn sports or a poolside lounger – or a lightly spicy prawn salad if you need a bite.



Prophets Rock Pinot Gris 2022

Prophet's Rock Pinot Gris 2022 - Central Otago

Available from $34.99

Prophet’s Rock winemaker Paul Pujol is one of the gems of the Central Otago scene. He’s a man with an understated character that blossoms as you spend time with him, and the wines he produces all share a similar calling card. I have long been a fan of Prophet’s Rock Pinot Gris and it’s always an automatic starter in my list of the best New Zealand examples of this delicate varietal.  As expected, the 2022 vintage is another excellent effort that operates in the just off-dry spectrum. The bouquet is classic nashi pear, apple and white flowers, while the palate builds on those pear characters - adding elements of sweet lemon / grapefruit and touches of spice into the mix. It’s a restrained and elegant style that nonetheless carries the swagger and charm to impress the most discerning palate – and every sip will taste better than the one before. Shout yourself a bottle. You won’t be disappointed.



Blank Canvas Anandale Farm Riesling 2022Blank Canvas Anandale Farm Riesling 2022 – Marlborough

Available from $26.99

Another small batch South Island aromatic white that impressed me over the last month was the Blank Canvas 2022 Anandale Farm Riesling 2022 – from powerhouse Marlborough winemaking couple Matt Thomson and Sophie Parker-Thomson MW.  This is a luscious, juicy expression that very clearly takes its inspiration from the Kabinett Rieslings of Germany. The nose is a wonderful amalgam of sweet grapefruit and lemon, with some floral notes and honey-lime undertones. All those characters drive through to a medium-dry palate that’s alive and very lush – with that decadent fruit sweetness balanced with layers of tangy acidity. It’s a party in your mouth, but always manages to stay focussed - and that fresh citrus finish just goes on and on. Like every other wine writer in the world, I wonder why riesling as delicious as this is not front and centre in the minds of the wine buying public. Help me change that, will you?



Tempus Two Prosecco NV


Tempus Two Prosecco NV - Australia

Available from $16.99

Here’s this week’s bargain. Vinted from the traditional glera grape, this is bright and lively Prosecco from Tempus Two. Softly creamy in the mouth with rounded flavours in the stonefruit zone and subtle citrus characters bringing both freshness and gentle acidity, it’s a lovely take on the famous sparkling wine that is ever-present in Italy. Just a touch off-dry, this non-vintage release is a very solid option to open whenever the urge calls, and it’s a perfect ‘one size fits all’ bubbles for functions or summer parties.  Prosecco’s beauty lies in its effortless charm, and that’s exactly what you get here. The mouthfeel is a little fuller and rounder than its Italian cousins but that easy going nature shines through loud and clear.




Yalumba Samuels Collection Barossa GSM 2019Yalumba Samuels Collection Barossa GSM 2019 - Australia

Available from $19.99

The Aussies call grenache, shiraz and mourvèdre / mataro ‘the Holy Trinity’ of red wine with good reason. It’s a magical combination with the grenache component bringing glossy weight and juiciness, while shiraz kicks in the mid-palate power and drive. Mataro brings structure and dryness - acting as the counterpoint to the generosity of those exuberant grenache fruits – and this excellent 2019 release from Yalumba’s Samuel’s Collection shows how well this varietal trio can work together. The nose is all sweet black fruits with layers of oak spice with some toasty barrel notes adding another layer of complexity.  The palate is juicy and rich, with silky dark fruits taking centre stage, before some more serious mataro notes close things out. It’s delicious – and only now entering its ideal drinking window. Highly recommended.




Lowburn Ferry Central Otago Pinot Noir 2021

Lowburn Ferry Central Otago Pinot Noir 2021 – Central Otago

Available from $39.99

Lowburn Ferry is now part of the Smith & Sheth and Pyramid Valley consortium of brands, with their wines made under the steady hand of Pyramid Valley’s, Huw Kinch. It’s always been a winery I have admired, so it was good to find that this 2021 pinot is another very strong offering. With fruit sourced from the sub-regions of Gibbston, Wanaka and Lowburn itself, it’s fragrant and very attractive on the nose with regional notes of black cherry and plum, accompanied by subtle hints of game, thyme and anise. The palate is supple and quite full, with softly expressed sweet fruits and nicely integrated tannins. This lovely wine is already looking harmonious and should mature gracefully over the coming 5+ years. Very good value.

Mac's Picks - 23 September 2023

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Au Fil de la Loire Rose dAnjou 2021Au Fil de la Loire d'Anjou 2021 - France

Available from $19.99

Hailing from the Loire Valley and predominantly vinted from the lesser known grolleau noir variety, this is delicious French Rosé with lots of action going on in the glass. Fragrant and bright, with very attractive red summer berry fruits and watermelon notes on the nose, the palate opens with plush bursts of cranberry, pomegranate, watermelon and tangy citrus competing for your attention. A gentle kiss of fruit sweetness adds a luxe element to the conversation, but those retained sugars are adeptly balanced by a nice vein of tangy acidity on the finish. This is one seriously user-friendly wine. That gentle line of sweetness on the mid-palate makes it attractive with or without food, and at just 10% al/vol, it’s a perfect lunchtime option when the sun is out, and a glass of good, chilled rosé is the order of the day. Match with lawn sports or a poolside lounger – or a lightly spicy prawn salad if you need a bite.



Prophets Rock Pinot Gris 2022

Prophet's Rock Pinot Gris 2022 - Central Otago

Available from $34.99

Prophet’s Rock winemaker Paul Pujol is one of the gems of the Central Otago scene. He’s a man with an understated character that blossoms as you spend time with him, and the wines he produces all share a similar calling card. I have long been a fan of Prophet’s Rock Pinot Gris and it’s always an automatic starter in my list of the best New Zealand examples of this delicate varietal.  As expected, the 2022 vintage is another excellent effort that operates in the just off-dry spectrum. The bouquet is classic nashi pear, apple and white flowers, while the palate builds on those pear characters - adding elements of sweet lemon / grapefruit and touches of spice into the mix. It’s a restrained and elegant style that nonetheless carries the swagger and charm to impress the most discerning palate – and every sip will taste better than the one before. Shout yourself a bottle. You won’t be disappointed.



Blank Canvas Anandale Farm Riesling 2022Blank Canvas Anandale Farm Riesling 2022 – Marlborough

Available from $26.99

Another small batch South Island aromatic white that impressed me over the last month was the Blank Canvas 2022 Anandale Farm Riesling 2022 – from powerhouse Marlborough winemaking couple Matt Thomson and Sophie Parker-Thomson MW.  This is a luscious, juicy expression that very clearly takes its inspiration from the Kabinett Rieslings of Germany. The nose is a wonderful amalgam of sweet grapefruit and lemon, with some floral notes and honey-lime undertones. All those characters drive through to a medium-dry palate that’s alive and very lush – with that decadent fruit sweetness balanced with layers of tangy acidity. It’s a party in your mouth, but always manages to stay focussed - and that fresh citrus finish just goes on and on. Like every other wine writer in the world, I wonder why riesling as delicious as this is not front and centre in the minds of the wine buying public. Help me change that, will you?



Tempus Two Prosecco NV


Tempus Two Prosecco NV - Australia

Available from $16.99

Here’s this week’s bargain. Vinted from the traditional glera grape, this is bright and lively Prosecco from Tempus Two. Softly creamy in the mouth with rounded flavours in the stonefruit zone and subtle citrus characters bringing both freshness and gentle acidity, it’s a lovely take on the famous sparkling wine that is ever-present in Italy. Just a touch off-dry, this non-vintage release is a very solid option to open whenever the urge calls, and it’s a perfect ‘one size fits all’ bubbles for functions or summer parties.  Prosecco’s beauty lies in its effortless charm, and that’s exactly what you get here. The mouthfeel is a little fuller and rounder than its Italian cousins but that easy going nature shines through loud and clear.




Yalumba Samuels Collection Barossa GSM 2019Yalumba Samuels Collection Barossa GSM 2019 - Australia

Available from $19.99

The Aussies call grenache, shiraz and mourvèdre / mataro ‘the Holy Trinity’ of red wine with good reason. It’s a magical combination with the grenache component bringing glossy weight and juiciness, while shiraz kicks in the mid-palate power and drive. Mataro brings structure and dryness - acting as the counterpoint to the generosity of those exuberant grenache fruits – and this excellent 2019 release from Yalumba’s Samuel’s Collection shows how well this varietal trio can work together. The nose is all sweet black fruits with layers of oak spice with some toasty barrel notes adding another layer of complexity.  The palate is juicy and rich, with silky dark fruits taking centre stage, before some more serious mataro notes close things out. It’s delicious – and only now entering its ideal drinking window. Highly recommended.




Lowburn Ferry Central Otago Pinot Noir 2021

Lowburn Ferry Central Otago Pinot Noir 2021 – Central Otago

Available from $39.99

Lowburn Ferry is now part of the Smith & Sheth and Pyramid Valley consortium of brands, with their wines made under the steady hand of Pyramid Valley’s, Huw Kinch. It’s always been a winery I have admired, so it was good to find that this 2021 pinot is another very strong offering. With fruit sourced from the sub-regions of Gibbston, Wanaka and Lowburn itself, it’s fragrant and very attractive on the nose with regional notes of black cherry and plum, accompanied by subtle hints of game, thyme and anise. The palate is supple and quite full, with softly expressed sweet fruits and nicely integrated tannins. This lovely wine is already looking harmonious and should mature gracefully over the coming 5+ years. Very good value.

Mac's Picks - 9 September 2023

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Mount Riley Albarino 2023Mount Riley Albarino 2023 - Marlborough

Available from $14.99

Let’s kick off with a total bargain. Albarino is a dry white wine that hails from the coastal regions of northwest Spain, but it’s global reach is widening as more and more international growers lock into the crisp flavours of this very attractive varietal. These days there are quite a few albarino producers in New Zealand and this is the third vintage of this varietal for well-known Marlborough winery, Mount Riley. Their 2022 vintage is an especially strong effort with quintessential lemon, lime and stonefruit flavours that sit over a very brisk palate that brims with zingy acidity. Though technically dry, it nonetheless carries a juicy core of citrus fruits to counter those zesty acids, while a trademark saline touch mark it unmistakably as albarino. Traditional sauvignon blanc or dry riesling fans will find much to like here. Try it with seafoods, shellfish or crisp salads – but in my book, few things in life can beat a cold bottle of albarino and a generous plate of freshly shucked oysters. Trust me on that. 




Save our Souls Vermentino 2020

Save our Souls Vermentino 2020 - Australia

Available from $27.99

Keeping on the quirky white theme, here is a wonderful vermentino I discovered on a recent visit to Melbourne. Most of the world’s vermentino comes from Italy – especially from the island of Sardina in the western Mediterranean – but this one was grown in Australia’s Heathcote region. Beautifully presented with textural labels and lightly golden in the glass, this was a lovely expression that showed more weight and concentration than the vermentinos I have tried before. Classically, vermentino can often present as quite a simple wine, but here there is honey, pineapple / tropical fruits and subtle spice on the palate – and it wasn’t as dry as I expected either. Those lusher fruit characters perfectly countered vermintino’s natural acidity, and the lasting impression was fresh, but very satisfying indeed. If you’re looking for something to kick off a casual glass with friends when the sun is out and a drinks platter has just been put on the table, this would be a stellar choice. 



Mission Estate Jewelstone Chardonnay 2020Misson Jewelstone Chardonnay 2020 – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $38.99

Let’s get back to something a little more familiar with this fine example of modern Hawke’s Bay barrel-fermented Chardonnay. 2020 was an excellent chardonnay vintage in the Bay and this small batch release has enjoyed every possible attention in the vineyard and winery. The bouquet shows classic, regional barrel-ferment characters with toasty oak and vanilla sitting over a solid core of stonefruits and lemon. A reductive touch adds some flinty notes while the palate brings good depth and creamy richness – but always keeps the conversation focused and tight. The finish is long and clean with soft acidity carrying those creamy lemon flavours on and on. This is top class wine; a very good example of how power and restraint can sit alongside each other in the glass. It comes highly recommended.



Marques De Nombrevilla Garnacha 2019


Marque's De Nombrevilla Garnacha 2019 – Spain

Available from $15.99

Spanish Grenache is typically a bold, glossy wine with flavours that share much in common with the fuller-bodied, darker pinot noirs we know from Central Otago – but those savoury Otago cherry notes are amplified so it can have almost Australian Shiraz-like palate weight. Marque's De Nombrevilla is not like that. The cherry, plum and spice that you expect from grenache are there in full effect but are expressed in an understated fashion that I found very attractive. It’s soft and supple with very fine tannins and lovely flow in the mouth – and really blossomed once the wine had been in the glass for a minute or two. It’s a great anytime option and a very worthy pinot noir alternative. Decant before service. 






Burn Cottage Moonlight Race Pinot Noir 2020Burn Cottage Moonlight Race Pinot Noir 2020 – Central Otago

Available from $49.99

Burn Cottage has established quite the reputation in the hierarchy of Central Otago Pinot Noirs and the excellent 2020 vintage will do nothing but enhance that pedigree. Wonderfully fragrant, it shows an amalgam of red and black fruits with spice, forest floor and wild herbage notes adding further interest. The palate is finely expressed with those fruit characters looking very fresh and pure, and the acid line that begins mid-palate brings a lovely tension within the mouth that pushes through to a long and rewarding finish. This is a gorgeous wine; indeed it’s hard to think when I have seen Moonlight Race looking better. Already attractive and very harmonious, I expect this vintage to develop beautifully over the coming years, reaching peak condition around 2025.





Sticks Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Sticks Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 – Australia

Available from $18.99

Let’s end this column with another bargain. Vinted from Yarra Valley fruit, this is quality Aussie Cabernet all the way. The nose shows textbook dark fruits that are complexed by notes of cigar box, leather and eucalypt leaf. The palate is almost medium-bodied by Australian Cabernet standards, but that touch of elegance does nothing but elevate the enjoyment this wine provides. There is lots going on in the glass here. Those dark fruits are supported by toasty wood spice (the 2019 vintage used 10% new oak) while sturdy tannins that make this wine more suited to food than casual drinking.  The finish is nicely persistent with lingering characters of tobacco leaf and anise. Enjoy now or over the coming decade should you choose to lay some down.

Mac's Picks - 9 September 2023

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Mount Riley Albarino 2023Mount Riley Albarino 2023 - Marlborough

Available from $14.99

Let’s kick off with a total bargain. Albarino is a dry white wine that hails from the coastal regions of northwest Spain, but it’s global reach is widening as more and more international growers lock into the crisp flavours of this very attractive varietal. These days there are quite a few albarino producers in New Zealand and this is the third vintage of this varietal for well-known Marlborough winery, Mount Riley. Their 2022 vintage is an especially strong effort with quintessential lemon, lime and stonefruit flavours that sit over a very brisk palate that brims with zingy acidity. Though technically dry, it nonetheless carries a juicy core of citrus fruits to counter those zesty acids, while a trademark saline touch mark it unmistakably as albarino. Traditional sauvignon blanc or dry riesling fans will find much to like here. Try it with seafoods, shellfish or crisp salads – but in my book, few things in life can beat a cold bottle of albarino and a generous plate of freshly shucked oysters. Trust me on that. 




Save our Souls Vermentino 2020

Save our Souls Vermentino 2020 - Australia

Available from $27.99

Keeping on the quirky white theme, here is a wonderful vermentino I discovered on a recent visit to Melbourne. Most of the world’s vermentino comes from Italy – especially from the island of Sardina in the western Mediterranean – but this one was grown in Australia’s Heathcote region. Beautifully presented with textural labels and lightly golden in the glass, this was a lovely expression that showed more weight and concentration than the vermentinos I have tried before. Classically, vermentino can often present as quite a simple wine, but here there is honey, pineapple / tropical fruits and subtle spice on the palate – and it wasn’t as dry as I expected either. Those lusher fruit characters perfectly countered vermintino’s natural acidity, and the lasting impression was fresh, but very satisfying indeed. If you’re looking for something to kick off a casual glass with friends when the sun is out and a drinks platter has just been put on the table, this would be a stellar choice. 



Mission Estate Jewelstone Chardonnay 2020Misson Jewelstone Chardonnay 2020 – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $38.99

Let’s get back to something a little more familiar with this fine example of modern Hawke’s Bay barrel-fermented Chardonnay. 2020 was an excellent chardonnay vintage in the Bay and this small batch release has enjoyed every possible attention in the vineyard and winery. The bouquet shows classic, regional barrel-ferment characters with toasty oak and vanilla sitting over a solid core of stonefruits and lemon. A reductive touch adds some flinty notes while the palate brings good depth and creamy richness – but always keeps the conversation focused and tight. The finish is long and clean with soft acidity carrying those creamy lemon flavours on and on. This is top class wine; a very good example of how power and restraint can sit alongside each other in the glass. It comes highly recommended.



Marques De Nombrevilla Garnacha 2019


Marque's De Nombrevilla Garnacha 2019 – Spain

Available from $15.99

Spanish Grenache is typically a bold, glossy wine with flavours that share much in common with the fuller-bodied, darker pinot noirs we know from Central Otago – but those savoury Otago cherry notes are amplified so it can have almost Australian Shiraz-like palate weight. Marque's De Nombrevilla is not like that. The cherry, plum and spice that you expect from grenache are there in full effect but are expressed in an understated fashion that I found very attractive. It’s soft and supple with very fine tannins and lovely flow in the mouth – and really blossomed once the wine had been in the glass for a minute or two. It’s a great anytime option and a very worthy pinot noir alternative. Decant before service. 






Burn Cottage Moonlight Race Pinot Noir 2020Burn Cottage Moonlight Race Pinot Noir 2020 – Central Otago

Available from $49.99

Burn Cottage has established quite the reputation in the hierarchy of Central Otago Pinot Noirs and the excellent 2020 vintage will do nothing but enhance that pedigree. Wonderfully fragrant, it shows an amalgam of red and black fruits with spice, forest floor and wild herbage notes adding further interest. The palate is finely expressed with those fruit characters looking very fresh and pure, and the acid line that begins mid-palate brings a lovely tension within the mouth that pushes through to a long and rewarding finish. This is a gorgeous wine; indeed it’s hard to think when I have seen Moonlight Race looking better. Already attractive and very harmonious, I expect this vintage to develop beautifully over the coming years, reaching peak condition around 2025.





Sticks Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Sticks Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 – Australia

Available from $18.99

Let’s end this column with another bargain. Vinted from Yarra Valley fruit, this is quality Aussie Cabernet all the way. The nose shows textbook dark fruits that are complexed by notes of cigar box, leather and eucalypt leaf. The palate is almost medium-bodied by Australian Cabernet standards, but that touch of elegance does nothing but elevate the enjoyment this wine provides. There is lots going on in the glass here. Those dark fruits are supported by toasty wood spice (the 2019 vintage used 10% new oak) while sturdy tannins that make this wine more suited to food than casual drinking.  The finish is nicely persistent with lingering characters of tobacco leaf and anise. Enjoy now or over the coming decade should you choose to lay some down.

Mac's Picks – 26 August 2023

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Grande Cuvee 1531 de Aimery ROSEGrande Cuvee 1531 de Aimery Brut Rosé NV - France

Available from $24.99

Vinted from a blend of chardonnay, chenin blanc and pinot noir, and bottle-fermented using the trusted Méthode Traditionnelle process, this is a very good example of Crémant de Limoux Rosé from the foothills of the Pyrenees in the south of France. It’s all red summer fruits, peach and citrus on the nose with some yeasty characters adding a further quality note. The palate is very fresh and vibrant with those soft red fruits and fleshy strawberry flavours to the fore, while the finish is clean and long with layers of creamy acidity keeping things tight and in check. Crémant de Limoux comes with a reputation as a well-priced Champagne alternative, and this delightful rosé certainly lives up to that. Obvious value, and the quality presentation adds another layer of luxe appeal.




Durvillea Pinot Gris 2022 - Marlborough

Durvillea Pinot Gris 2022 - Marlborough

Available from $15.99

Durvillea is the popular ‘entry level’ brand of Astrolabe, one of Marlborough’s finest and most critically lauded producers. Interestingly, the quirky Durvillea name comes from a seaweed variety that winemaker Simon Waghorn, a seaweed geek(!), studied at university – but there’s nothing quirky about the value driven Durvillea range. They give you access to the skill and precision of the Astrolabe team at a very reasonable price, and this 2022 release is a classic interpretation of modern Marlborough Pinot Gris. Brimming with off-dry, juicy pear and semi-ripe stonefruit characters, it’s a lightly textural style with plenty of zip and zing on the palate. It’s a whisker off-dry, bringing subtle spice and ginger to the party, and finishes very clean with some wet stone / mineral notes adding extra complexity.



Codici Rosato 2022 - ItalyCodici Rosato 2022 - Italy 

Available from $14.99

Here’s a bargain. Rosé doesn’t come much more crisp and refreshing that Codici, and this lovely wine is a textbook example of the dry Italian Rosés that are taking the world by storm. Vinted from negroamaro, this wine hails from the Puglia region in Italy’s south, and it shines with very attractive, light copper hues in the glass. On the nose you’ll find cherry, pomegranate, and raspberry notes that flow through to a dry, crunchy palate that opens up in the mouth to reveal some underlying juicier flavours. The finish is very long and zesty with plenty of acidity making this delightful wine a perfect partner to seafoods and salads or a charcuterie platter of salty, spicy meats. I urge you to give it a go. With New Zealand’s current obsession with the delicate flavours of southern French Rosé reaching overload, it’s time for Italian Rosato to have its time in the sun.



Tavernello Organico Sangiovese 2021


Tavernello Organico Sangiovese 2021 - Italy

Available from $16.99

Though a relative newcomer to our domestic market, Tavernello is the top selling wine brand within Italy and the #1 selling Italian wine brand in global markets. Given their consuming passion for wine, that’s a massive endorsement from the Italian wine buying public, and there have been some very impressive wines amongst the Tavernello range I have looked at to date. This is one of them. Vinted from handpicked, organic fruit, this 2021 sangiovese shows classic red fruits, dried herb and anise on the nose, and a savoury, well-weighted palate that shows real depth and balance for a wine in this price band. There is plenty of soft tannin on the finish with some lingering, savoury fruit notes. Given the tannic stricture, this wine is best served with food and, not surprisingly, is well suited to pizza, pasta and Mediterranean dishes.


Crimson Monster Shiraz 2022

Crimson Monster Shiraz 2022 – Australia

Available from $17.99

Crimson Monster is the latest label from the burgeoning Fourth Wave portfolio - a company who have certainly struck a chord with the New Zealand wine buying public. Snappy brand names and edgy labels may be the Fourth Wave hallmarks, but winemaking duties are overseen by Corey Ryan – a hugely experienced and respected vigneron who has always known how to put flavour and generosity into a glass of South Australian wine. Produced from McLaren Vale fruit, Crimson Monster is made in a fulsome, robust style that focusses on easy drinkability. It’s loaded with the classic flavours of good Aussie Shiraz but has been made to be sloshed into glasses and enjoyed with gusto – not pondered over and analyzed. It’s a charming mid-week option or a great red to open when friends gather for informal drinks. Match with loud conversation or a good Netflix binge session.     




Radburnd Cellars Syrah 2020

Radburnd Cellars Syrah 2020 – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $84.99

Taking things up several notches, is this wonderful Hawke’s Bay Syrah from celebrated winemaker, Kate Radburnd. Her eponymous brand has given Kate an outlet to release the very best wines she can produce, and each vintage sees chardonnay, syrah and merlot cabernet blends of the highest order offered for sale. Volumes are small. The wines are made without compromise, and have enjoyed considerable praise from the media and, perhaps more importantly, from Kate’s winemaking peers. This 2020 is my pick of the Radburnd Syrah’s I have tasted to date. Fragrant and loaded with black fruits, this wine bursts with notes of toasty oak, baking spice, violets, and anise on the nose. The palate is vibrant and alive with flowing layers of plum and cherry sitting over that heady mix of oak and spice, and the finish is deep and rewarding with enough tannin to calm the conversation and keep the palate focused and long. I loved it. If you are looking for a fine example of the modern Hawke’s Bay Syrah style, this excellent release offers world class quality – and is bargain priced by premium French Syrah standards.    

Mac's Picks – 26 August 2023

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Grande Cuvee 1531 de Aimery ROSEGrande Cuvee 1531 de Aimery Brut Rosé NV - France

Available from $24.99

Vinted from a blend of chardonnay, chenin blanc and pinot noir, and bottle-fermented using the trusted Méthode Traditionnelle process, this is a very good example of Crémant de Limoux Rosé from the foothills of the Pyrenees in the south of France. It’s all red summer fruits, peach and citrus on the nose with some yeasty characters adding a further quality note. The palate is very fresh and vibrant with those soft red fruits and fleshy strawberry flavours to the fore, while the finish is clean and long with layers of creamy acidity keeping things tight and in check. Crémant de Limoux comes with a reputation as a well-priced Champagne alternative, and this delightful rosé certainly lives up to that. Obvious value, and the quality presentation adds another layer of luxe appeal.




Durvillea Pinot Gris 2022 - Marlborough

Durvillea Pinot Gris 2022 - Marlborough

Available from $15.99

Durvillea is the popular ‘entry level’ brand of Astrolabe, one of Marlborough’s finest and most critically lauded producers. Interestingly, the quirky Durvillea name comes from a seaweed variety that winemaker Simon Waghorn, a seaweed geek(!), studied at university – but there’s nothing quirky about the value driven Durvillea range. They give you access to the skill and precision of the Astrolabe team at a very reasonable price, and this 2022 release is a classic interpretation of modern Marlborough Pinot Gris. Brimming with off-dry, juicy pear and semi-ripe stonefruit characters, it’s a lightly textural style with plenty of zip and zing on the palate. It’s a whisker off-dry, bringing subtle spice and ginger to the party, and finishes very clean with some wet stone / mineral notes adding extra complexity.



Codici Rosato 2022 - ItalyCodici Rosato 2022 - Italy 

Available from $14.99

Here’s a bargain. Rosé doesn’t come much more crisp and refreshing that Codici, and this lovely wine is a textbook example of the dry Italian Rosés that are taking the world by storm. Vinted from negroamaro, this wine hails from the Puglia region in Italy’s south, and it shines with very attractive, light copper hues in the glass. On the nose you’ll find cherry, pomegranate, and raspberry notes that flow through to a dry, crunchy palate that opens up in the mouth to reveal some underlying juicier flavours. The finish is very long and zesty with plenty of acidity making this delightful wine a perfect partner to seafoods and salads or a charcuterie platter of salty, spicy meats. I urge you to give it a go. With New Zealand’s current obsession with the delicate flavours of southern French Rosé reaching overload, it’s time for Italian Rosato to have its time in the sun.



Tavernello Organico Sangiovese 2021


Tavernello Organico Sangiovese 2021 - Italy

Available from $16.99

Though a relative newcomer to our domestic market, Tavernello is the top selling wine brand within Italy and the #1 selling Italian wine brand in global markets. Given their consuming passion for wine, that’s a massive endorsement from the Italian wine buying public, and there have been some very impressive wines amongst the Tavernello range I have looked at to date. This is one of them. Vinted from handpicked, organic fruit, this 2021 sangiovese shows classic red fruits, dried herb and anise on the nose, and a savoury, well-weighted palate that shows real depth and balance for a wine in this price band. There is plenty of soft tannin on the finish with some lingering, savoury fruit notes. Given the tannic stricture, this wine is best served with food and, not surprisingly, is well suited to pizza, pasta and Mediterranean dishes.


Crimson Monster Shiraz 2022

Crimson Monster Shiraz 2022 – Australia

Available from $17.99

Crimson Monster is the latest label from the burgeoning Fourth Wave portfolio - a company who have certainly struck a chord with the New Zealand wine buying public. Snappy brand names and edgy labels may be the Fourth Wave hallmarks, but winemaking duties are overseen by Corey Ryan – a hugely experienced and respected vigneron who has always known how to put flavour and generosity into a glass of South Australian wine. Produced from McLaren Vale fruit, Crimson Monster is made in a fulsome, robust style that focusses on easy drinkability. It’s loaded with the classic flavours of good Aussie Shiraz but has been made to be sloshed into glasses and enjoyed with gusto – not pondered over and analyzed. It’s a charming mid-week option or a great red to open when friends gather for informal drinks. Match with loud conversation or a good Netflix binge session.     




Radburnd Cellars Syrah 2020

Radburnd Cellars Syrah 2020 – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $84.99

Taking things up several notches, is this wonderful Hawke’s Bay Syrah from celebrated winemaker, Kate Radburnd. Her eponymous brand has given Kate an outlet to release the very best wines she can produce, and each vintage sees chardonnay, syrah and merlot cabernet blends of the highest order offered for sale. Volumes are small. The wines are made without compromise, and have enjoyed considerable praise from the media and, perhaps more importantly, from Kate’s winemaking peers. This 2020 is my pick of the Radburnd Syrah’s I have tasted to date. Fragrant and loaded with black fruits, this wine bursts with notes of toasty oak, baking spice, violets, and anise on the nose. The palate is vibrant and alive with flowing layers of plum and cherry sitting over that heady mix of oak and spice, and the finish is deep and rewarding with enough tannin to calm the conversation and keep the palate focused and long. I loved it. If you are looking for a fine example of the modern Hawke’s Bay Syrah style, this excellent release offers world class quality – and is bargain priced by premium French Syrah standards.