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 $59.99
Vinted from a blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier, and with 35% reserve wine in the blend, Lanson has long been one of the top-selling Grand Marque Champagnes and brings a significant reputation for freshness and elegance to the table. This latest disgorgement is looking very good with a red apple and citrus nose sitting over a core of toasted brioche characters. The bubbles are fine and very persistent in the glass and the palate is broad and quite generous, with good drive and nicely poised tension between the fruit and mineral aspects. Having not tasted Lanson for a couple of years, I was impressed with the quality it offered – and with the price of Grand Marque Champagne steadily on the rise, it’s obviously good value in the current market.
Available from $19.99
This was impressive 2022 wine from vigneron brothers, Ben and Luc Cowley. In classic Marlborough style, this expressive wine shows a complex array of punchy notes on the nose with citrus, green herbage, tropical fruits and tomato stalk all playing their part. It promises much, and the palate delivers a textbook assemblage of regional sauvignon flavours with some chalky minerality, and a gentle saline note adding a further touch of individuality. Far from being one-dimensional, this is sauvignon that unfolds with each taste. The lasting impression is balanced and fresh with salivating acidity and that mineral line shining on through. Classy wine that deserves to be served lightly chilled with fresh shellfish or a tangy garden salad.
Available from $34.99
Babich Irongate has always been an important label in the context of premium Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay and the 2022 is another fine effort from a challenging growing season. Vinted from Gimblett Gravels fruit, this release was shy on initial inspection before opening up in the glass as more air worked its way into the wine. Notes of grilled stonefruits, almond and sweet oak spice dominated a nose that also showed some subtle ginger and lemon spice. The palate flowed beautifully, bringing those characters together and adding a distinct ginger-cream flavour into the equation. The finish was long, with good acidity and understated hints of toasty French oak. In my book, this wine should be decanted before service if you plan to open a bottle over the coming 18 months, but its real beauty will be discovered if you can put some aside over the coming five years. I loved it.
Available from $17.99
Given its humble price point, this was another very impressive Babich wine. From the excellent 2019 vintage, this release shows plenty of blackberry and plum characters on the bouquet, with some leather / tobacco / eucalyptus notes from the cabernet aspect of the blend. There is also a very appealing Bordeaux-esque pencil lead aroma that carries through to a middleweight palate, showing layers of spicy blackcurrant underpinned by some creamy mocha flavours. There is good balance between the sweet fruit characters and the rounded acidity this wine displays, while the tannins are supple and very friendly. If you prefer to shop in the sub$20 bracket and you’re looking for a good example of blended Hawke’s Bay red, there is an awful lot to like here. Great buying.
Available from $16.99
Here’s a wine to try if you’re looking for a softly rewarding red to keep you company on these colder winter nights. Budget conscious Kiwis have taken to Argentinian reds with great gusto, and the 2022 Tilia release is a showcase of the plush, dark fruits and juicy palate weight that South American Malbec is so well-known for. Medium-bodied and lightly oaked by Argentinian standards, this is a very approachable red that’s been made in an uncomplicated, drink-now style. Hints of vanilla and oak spice add some complexity to the primary plum and blackberry flavours, but this is wine to slosh into glasses on casual nights, while a hearty roast is ticking over in the oven. No need to cellar. It’s ripe and rearing to go.
Available from $18.99
Here’s this week’s obvious bargain. Produced from low yielding garnacha vines in the North-Easterly Spanish region of Calatayud, La Multa 2019 is a bit of showstopper. Packed with glossy, dark, mouthfilling fruits, it brings the generosity and ripeness of Spanish Grenache to the party, but some deeper, more savoury characters ensure that this lovely wine maintains a premium stance from start to finish. For the uninitiated, grenache tastes a bit like turbo-charged pinot noir, with amplified dark cherry fruits and supple palate flow. It’s a very reliable category for Kiwi wine buyers who have become disillusioned with entry level New Zealand Pinot Noir – and there some incredible buys if you shop around. This is one of them. Get some pizzas on the go as soon as possible and crack a bottle of this little beauty. You won’t regret it. I bought a case.