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
With so many good New Zealand Rosés in the market these days, it takes something special to stand out from the crowd but The Bonnie from long-established Marlborough producer Mount Riley, does just that. Mount Riley has a strong reputation as a value seller and this 2022 rosé clearly fits into that category. It’s deliciously fragrant with a potpourri of white flowers and red summer fruits - and bright berry / watermelon characters flow through to a lightly creamy palate that shows a gentle kiss of sweetness. The finish is zingy and crisp, and the interplay between the acid and fruit structures in this wine is absolutely bang on. It is truly delicious. If you’re getting a bit tired of the bone-dry ‘Provence-esque’ Rose’s and want to return to a more classic interpretation of pink Kiwi wine, The Bonnie would be an excellent choice – and is highly recommended for Autumn enjoyment.
Available from $24.99
After concentrating on global export markets for much of the last decade, Whitehaven has refocused their marketing efforts on wider domestic distribution over the last couple of years. It’s good to see their portfolio regaining a stronger foothold here in New Zealand. Whitehaven have always been a quality producer with chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot gris their strongest suits. This 2022 pinot gris is dry to taste and shows lifted notes of pear and honeysuckle on the nose and palate. It’s quite a serious style with good structure and some tannic grip - and some subtle spice characters emerge as the wine unfolds in your mouth. It’s a wine that has been made for the dinner table and really needs food to be seen at its best. Try it with a tangy rocket, pear and fennel salad for a match made in heaven.
Available from $19.99
Affordable wines from southern France continue to impress me. Gone are the days when Pays d’Oc and the Languedoc-Roussillon were hotbeds of mediocrity, and there are now plenty of good, sharply-priced wines from these southern regions that are worth seeking out. La Baume have been making wine in the heart of Languedoc-Roussillon for well over a century and this respected winery boasts an enviable track record for their graceful chardonnays and robust syrahs. Le Grande Olivette takes fruit from Pays d’Oc and it’s a very good example of modern French Chardonnay. Vibrant and fresh on the nose, it shows stonefruit, cashew and sweet citrus notes that flow through to a creamy palate with good texture and weight. It very comfortably operates in the medium to full-bodied chardonnay lane and a nice line of acidity keeps you focused and keen for more. If you’re shopping for a mid-tier chardonnay and want to start looking at some European options, Le Grande Olivette would be a nice place to start your journey to the fascinating world of French white wines.
Available from $19.99
This is great buying for Pinot Noir fans. Plush and fulsome by Marlborough standards, it shows an amalgam of red and black berry fruits on a nose that is complexed by subtle anise and green herbage characters. The palate is rounded and ripe with lovely flow in the mouth. The finish is long and graceful with refined tannins and soft acidity – and the lasting impression is about as good as you could ever hope for, from New Zealand Pinot Noir at this price point. It’s one of those wines where everything comes together beautifully, and the result far exceeds the sum of its parts. Enjoy now but tuck a few extra bottles away to open over the next 3-5 years.
Available from $19.99
I take my hat off to Trinity Hill. Though deservedly best known for their flagship releases, their entry level / white label wines continue to impress, with the red wines from the 2020 and 2021 vintages particularly strong. Perhaps my favourite from their current offerings is the excellent 2021 The Trinity – a merlot blend that uses cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and a splash of petit verdot to add depth and tannic structure to the dominant merlot component. 2021 was a topnotch vintage for Hawke’s Bay reds and this wine is redolent with spicy plum and blackberry on the nose, while some subtle tobacco leaf notes add further interest. The palate is fleshy and ripe upfront but takes a more serious stance as the wine moves through the mouth. This finish is long and soft with friendly tannins and rounded acidity. Regardless of price, this is a very pleasant example of blended red and being able to buy Hawke’s Bay wine of this calibre under $20 is a gift for any wine enthusiast.
Available from $23.99
If you’re a fan of middleweight European red wines, it’s hard not to fall for the glossy, dark charms of a nice bottle of Cotes du Rhone. Grenache and syrah blends seem to strike a special chord with New Zealand wine buyers and Cotes du Rhone is a wine style that feels almost tailormade for Kiwis looking to expand into French reds. The grenache component brings amplified flavours reminiscent of dark Central Otago Pinot Noir- while syrah from the Rhone shares much in common with its younger Hawke’s Bay cousin. From the very good 2019 vintage, this low intervention release is fragrant and spicy with layers of black / red fruits and an underlying mocha character on the palate. It’s a typically supple style, in the medium-bodied spectrum, and the spice on the palate builds in the mouth as the wine moves across the palate. Enjoy by itself or partner it with a wide range of hearty foods. I had a couple of glasses last weekend with a replay of the Hurricanes – Chiefs game and found that combination to be an excellent match (apart from the fact that the Chiefs won).