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 $27.99
It’s always a pleasure tasting a quality New Zealand sparkling for the first time and this punchy NV release from Bond Block certainly didn’t disappoint. Crafted from a single Gisborne Chardonnay vineyard using the premium methode traditionelle technique (the same labour intensive, double fermentation process used to make Champagne) this is full-bodied, richly weighted wine with lots of action in the glass. The upfront flavours are in the apple and ripe stone fruit spectrum, before yeasty, brioche characters come into play. The finish is crisp and long with mouth-filling creamy acidity the lasting impression. This is smart wine with depth and real vitality, and a relative bargain given the surging price of good Kiwi Methode these days. There are plenty of Champagne-esque qualities on show and Bond Block Blanc de Blanc will hold great appeal for those who like their bubbles soft and rounded with plenty of weight and presence.
Available from $17.99
There is certainly an argument that ‘prosecco is prosecco is prosecco’ and, from a flavour perspective, you can throw a blanket over much of the field in the key $15 - $20 retail category. With tasting profiles so similar, producers use label and unique bottle combinations to drive consumer buying decisions and no one can deny that it’s a strategy that has worked wonders in global markets. The reliability of the prosecco category and visual differentiation of the products on offer has taken the world by storm in the last decade and prosecco sales in our domestic market continue to be very strong. Sartori is one wine that stood out for me from a purely flavour perspective. Fresh, crisp and dry, Sartori Brut takes the classic apple / pear / citrus flavours of high quality D.O.C. Glera fruit and adds in a subtle layer of hazelnut cream complexity that you only see in the better prosecco examples. Try it the next time friends gather and you have a fresh deli-platter on the table. It’s truly delicious.
Available from $15.99
If you’re looking for a middle-weight chardonnay that still packs in plenty of creamy mouthfeel, Tohu Chardonnay should be on your list. As you’d expect with Gisborne fruit driving this release, it’s loaded with ripe stonefruit and tangy citrus fruit characters, but malolactic ferment (the process winemakers use to convert harsh fruit acids into softer, lactic acids) and partial barrel-fermentation in French oak barriques has really ramped up the complexity. Chardonnay fans typically love that creamy peach and wood-spice combination and this is rewarding wine – especially given its humble price point. In my book, it’s a perfect mid-weeker and one of the best middle-weight New Zealand Chardonnays that I have tasted in the $15 bracket for some time.
Available from $16.99
This lovely wine is always on high rotation in the Macpherson household over summer, and the 2020 is another refreshing release from Perrin – one of the great names in French winemaking. Blended from relatively cool Luberon vineyards (slap bang in the middle of Vix-En-Provence and Avignon), this is crisp, dry aromatic wine that brings flavours of strawberry and exotic red fruits alive in the mouth. Some mineral notes and underlying savoury complexity add further interest, but this is wine to enjoy, not contemplate. Open a bottle whenever the sun comes out and enjoy those bright red fruits and fresh acidity. It’s perfect for al fresco dining or match with summer salads or lightly spiced cuisine.
Available from $26.99
I often write about the sheer value available from Bordeaux these days. When I first started in the wine trade, Bordeaux reds that retailed in New Zealand under $40 were typically thin and uncomplicated – but my how things have changed. The adoption of New World winemaking techniques has helped create a sea change in quality and there are bargains galore for local fans of Bordeaux reds, if you are prepared to seek them out. This charming wine from Chateau Bourdieu is a case in point. Vinted from estate vineyards on the right bank of the Gironde, this merlot dominant blend (89%) shows rounded flavours in the black plum and dark cherry spectrum with the cabernet and malbec components adding structure and supple tannins. A refreshing lick of creamy acidity rounds out the conversation and the overall impression here is truly rewarding. Given the interest and drive on the palate, this dinner party worthy red is quite the bargain. Enjoy over the next decade.
Available from $21.99
After languishing in the shadow of European wines for much of the last decade, bold Aussie reds are on the comeback and New Zealand buyers are once again gobbling up these fulsome offerings with great gusto. Vinted from ripe Heathcote fruits, this is a typically weighty and bold release that shows layers of berry fruits, vanillin oak, black olive, pepper spice and soft, supple tannins. Some savoury flavours steer the 2019 away from the jammy side of the street, but those sweet fruit characters remain an undeniable driving force. As you would expect from good shiraz in this price bracket, it’s an immediately attractive option with a juicy grilled steak - but hold some back over the coming 5 years to see further complexity unfold.