Not many New Zealand retailers have sold more wine than Mac and his personal recommendations come from one of the industry's safest sets of hands. Regardless of the price point you like to shop in, Mac's Picks will always be great buying and totally delicious. You have his word on it.
Available from $15.99
When brothers James and Matt Dicey sold their interest in the high-flying Central Otago winery Mt Difficulty, Ceres was the label they chose to front their next vinous adventure. While the wines were consistently excellent, the brand never really fired up the public’s imagination, and the decision was made last year to the retire the Ceres label. Now heavily discounted from its original release price, this 2019 Riesling from the Dicey’s Black Rabbit Vineyard is a beautiful example of medium-dry Central Otago Riesling. Highly aromatic, and proudly rocking obvious fruit sweetness, this 2019 release is laden with plush and juicy citrus / honey / marmalade notes. In the mouth those succulent flavours are matched with bright, crunchy acidity that cleanse the palate – leaving you refreshed and looking for more. It’s undoubtedly brilliant value now - a truly delicious Bannockburn wine that should be an automatic case buy for any New Zealand Riesling fan. Highly recommended.
Available from $14.99
Here’s another bargain. From the organic winery owned by lauded New Zealand cinematographer Michael Seresin, the MOMO brand has been conceived to give buyers access to the attention to detail inherent in the Seresin brand at a more affordable price point. Crisp and dry with some nice juicy watermelon and stonefruit flavours operating in the mid-palate, this is a crunchy and thoroughly modern look at Marlborough Rosé. The 2021 was vinted from a blend of pinot gris, riesling and pinot noir and those constituent parts bring an array of floral and exotic fruits into play. Some tighter mineral notes add a slightly more serious touch to the conversation, while a nice line of crisp acidity rounds things out beautifully. Classy wine, especially given this humble price.
Available from $14.99
Continuing on the bargain theme, this nicely presented American Chardonnay was quite a pleasant surprise. As the Californian Chardonnay category continues to grow in our local market, Crafters Union gives buyers a rare chance to get amongst the action for less than $20. This is very friendly wine. On the nose, notes of ripe peaches and crème brulee make way for a palate that’s creamy, broad and a lot more satisfying than a retail price point of $14.99 suggests. Some freshness and spice add a welcome layer of zip and zing on the finish, and I have every confidence that this attractive wine will end up on high rotation with creamy chardonnay fans looking for a rewarding, fulsome mid-week option.
Available from $19.99
Vinted from handpicked fruit from a picturesque vineyard in the Tuki Tuki Valley, Burnfoot Merlot has always been a solid proposition – but the 2019 may well be the best vintage of this underrated label that I have tasted to date. Classic notes of plum and dark red fruits on the nose flow through to a palate that is medium to full-bodied and loaded with spice. Finely expressed tannins and hints of smoky oak emerge at the end and the lasting impression is both elegant and very satisfying. Already looking very balanced and integrated, this lovely wine will continue to develop beautifully, before reaching peak condition in the coming 3 to 4 years.
Available from $24.99
Montepulciano is the omnipresent wine of central and north-eastern Italy. Typically it’s a simple but nonetheless highly gluggable red that is a staple in the cafés and pizzerias that are on every corner of every Italian town. Treated with respect, Montepulciano has the ability to really perform, and the winemaking team at Feudi Bizantini have made it their live’s work to give this varietal every possible attention in the vineyard and winery. Softly powerful, this lovely wine shows aromas in the red and black fruits spectrum before a palate laden with mocha, dark fruits and choco-berry flavours kicks in. Though probably more complex and fulsome than the last bottle of ‘monte’ you enjoyed over a bowl of pasta, Passofino retains the supple drinkability that has made Montepulciano such a hit worldwide. I really rate it, and we have often had a bottle on our table for casual weekend dinners. Match with your very best ragù and wait for the angels to chime in.
Available from $18.99
I have long admired the dark reds of Thorn-Clarke – especially their terrific, blended wines. While so many of their Barossa peers have adopted slightly sweeter, ‘jammier’ flavour profiles over the last decade, Thorn-Clarke has steadfastly kept on the savoury and more serious side of the street – even in the entry level wines in their portfolio. Initially released to sell in the $30 bracket, this excellent Winemakers Selection Cabernet Shiraz from the 2016 vintage is a case in point. Now perfectly bottle-aged and looking very balanced and integrated, this densely packed wine is in great form. The dry, savoury drive and lightly herbal edge provided by the cabernet component is matched by the fleshier shiraz notes - and like all good cabernet shiraz blends, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Rounded tannins and a nice line of creamy acidity completes the finish and promises another 4-5 years in the cellar should you choose to lay some down. If you’re looking for an Aussie red to guide you through the autumn months, you’ll go a very long way to find better value.