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 $19.99
If you haven’t enjoyed a glass of good prosecco in a while, it’s time for you to reacquaint yourself with the simple pleasures that the famous Italian sparkling wine can offer – and Itinera Brut would be a very safe place to start. Vinted from 100% glera from the Veneto region, this DOC release is the colour of bright straw and has plenty of lively bubbles in the glass. Peach-led stone fruit characters with some ripe citrus notes dominate the nose, with a hint of sweet honeysuckle adding an extra touch of complexity. These characters flow through to a nicely balanced palate that’s fresh and bright, while the finish is clean and satisfying with good length and an appealing soft acid structure. This would be a nice option to serve with a drinks platter or soft cheeses, but prosecco can also go well with spicy dishes such as Asian or Indian curries.
Available from $14.99
This is a bargain. Produced by Louis Vavasour (a surname that carries a lot of cachet in Marlborough winemaking circles), Awatere River ticks all the premium pinot gris style cues and undoubtedly operates on a higher plane than this everyday pricing suggests. Fragrant and enticing, the 2020 shows notes of peach and spicy pear on the nose with some baking spice and ginger in the mix. The palate is expressive with lush pear flavours to the fore. It has excellent weight and texture and those ripe white fruits flow through to a soft finish that is elevated with creamy, rounded acidity. This is textbook stuff. It is a very appealing wine that will partner a wide range of foods but is also a great option when you just feel like a rewarding glass of pinot gris to take the edge off the day. It comes highly recommended.
Available from $19.99
At a recent tasting of Coopers Creek Chardonnays, the 2020 Plainsman was an instant highlight from their excellent Select Vineyards series. Laden with classic Hawke’s Bay stone fruit and toasty oak notes on the nose, the palate brims with creamy peach and cashew flavours with spicy barrel ferment layers providing further interest. This is lovely wine. 2020 was a very good chardonnay vintage in Hawke’s Bay and the weight and generosity it provided is in full effect here. Look for a full, velvety palate that’s spiked with lemon brûlée notes and match with roasted poultry or creamy pasta dishes over the coming 3+ years.
Available from $14.99
Here is another absolute bargain. Ventoux is a large wine region in the far southeast of the southern Rhône, on the border with Provence. It is best known for grenache / syrah blends and Delas (a company who have been making wine since 1835) have used that magical combination admirably in this release. The glossy grenache component drives those round, juicy characters, while the syrah percentage gives the wine some palate ‘tension’ and deeper savoury flavours. Red wines from Ventoux tend to have a very appealing softer structure that make them ideal to drink young, and this 2019 release is about as user-friendly as French wine gets. It’s ideal for a wide range of occasions - from casual after-work drinks through to a ‘one size fits all’ red wine for the dinner table - and even comes in premium, heavyweight glass with the Delas logo embossed on the bottle. If you like the idea of trying some inexpensive French red wine, and you’re looking for a ‘safe as houses’ option, you simply can’t go wrong here.
Available from $44.99
Matt Connell made his name as winemaker for Akarua and has been attracting a lot of attention under his eponymous label in recent vintages. With wines of the calibre of Rendition 2021, it’s easy to see why. Vinted in an elegant style from a blend of Bendigo and Lowburn fruit, this wine shows an amalgam of red and dark fruits on the nose with black cherry notes holding centre stage. Regional green herbage / thyme characters also enter the conversation, while some game and spicy oak characters emerge as the wine opens in the glass. The palate is quite broad and silky, and while it shows some swagger and opulence, the overall impression here is one of refinement and finesse. Tannins are very supple and the finish is long and sweet-fruited. Match with a rich duck cassoulet or a mushroom risotto and wait for the angels to chime in.
Available from $26.99
This has always been a big, bold wine in the context of New Zealand reds and the wonderful 2021 Hawke’s Bay vintage has taken this much-loved wine to even greater heights. Blended from sun-dried Tuki Tuki and Ohiti Estate fruit, it shows masses of black plum, leather and green herbs on the nose and a full-bodied palate that fills every corner of the mouth with flavour and spice. The sun drying process (where fruit is dried in open air shade houses to concentrate sugars and amplify flavours) brings in a whole new dimension with caramel fruits, anise and black pepper all raising their hands. It’s sturdy and fulsome but never falls into the trap of being ‘over the top’, and this vintage is the best I can remember trying from this top-tier producer. Match with hearty red meat dishes or a bold, vegetable lasagna over the coming 8+ years.