Welcome to this first column for 2022. I hope you opened some delicious wines with your friends and family over the summer break and are looking forward to widening your wine horizons in this new year. As always, these notes focus on wines I have tried over recent weeks. Most aren’t too expensive, and I encourage you to seek them out and see if you enjoy them as much as I did.
Available from $19.99
Let’s start with something exceptional. Winemaker David Clouston has stated that the 2021 vintage of Convergence is his finest to date - a big call from a label that has been sitting at the top table of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc for the last few years – but I wholeheartedly agree with his assessment. This is tour de force sauvignon; a powerful medley of tropical notes that explode from the glass and flood the palate with the flavours of citrus and exotic summer fruits. Some saline, mineral nuances add subtle complexity before layers of softly creamy acids refresh the mouth and make another glass almost mandatory. As always with great sauvignon blanc, the harmony between those exuberant, tangy fruits and the varietal’s natural acidity is key, and this 2021 release absolutely nails that balance. This is spectacular sauvignon blanc and one of the best wines I have tasted from the 2021 vintage. Bravo.
Available from $16.99
Here’s a bargain from one of the South’s great small producers. Riesling fans should already know the joy that a glass of Liaison can offer, and I remain ever hopeful that this often overlooked label will find the wider audience it so richly deserves. Certainly, riesling in general needs a serious leg up in the New Zealand market. We produce so many fantastic options but public interest is luke warm at best; a crying shame when a glass of lightly chilled riesling is one of the world’s great wine experiences. As is often said in the wine trade “Offer someone a glass of riesling and they may well decline. Give them a glass of riesling and they will almost certainly say ‘That’s delicious!’”. In classic style the 2021 Mountford Liaison has intense notes of honey/lime on the nose. Those characters flow through to a medium dry palate where more citrus, marmalade and honeysuckle flavours come out to play. Those sweeter upfront fruits are countered with lovely fresh acidity and this wine finished refreshingly dry. Track some down immediately.
Available from $24.99
A recent wander around the cafes, bars and restaurants of Martinborough made it obvious that there was something special going on with the 2020 release of Nga Waka Chardonnay. It was on almost every blackboard and wine list I visited and, after buying a glass, it’s so easy to see why. This is such user-friendly wine; a 100% barrel fermented chardonnay with good weight and presence, that nonetheless retains that all important sense of sheer drinkability. The oak component melds beautifully with those creamy malo-fermented fruit characters and the nectarine / citrus flavours have just the right amount of concentration. It’s packed with flavour but not over the top, while some toasty, wood spice elements and mineral inflections add further detail and complexity to the palate. Delicious stuff!
Available from $14.99
If you’ve been wondering how to get into that vast ocean of Spanish red wines that are sold around the globe, a simple glass of decent tempranillo is always a good place to start. Tempranillo is a perfect example of ‘one size fits all’ red wine. Typically medium weight and juicy, it should be both easy drinking and effortlessly rewarding and the beautifully presented 2019 Lobetia clearly fits that bill. With organic fruit sourced from Cuenca in the heart of Spain, you can expect soft fruit flavours in the cherry / plum spectrum and plenty of spice on the palate. It’s a perfect option at your next BBQ or gathering if you want to try something fun and funky, that is sure to have wide appeal.
Available from $14.99
Here’s another proven crowd pleaser from a label that’s been delivering the goods since 1943. Vinted from regional parcels of Barossa fruit, Galway has made its name by offering buyers a good, honest shiraz option that doesn’t cost the earth, but nonetheless brings some obvious quality cues to the party. Approachability and drink young charm are the Galway cornerstones, as are the flavours of mocha, vanilla and spiced plum that flow through the palate. It’s another solid BBQ option if you like plenty of punchy Aussie fruits in your glass and, thankfully, Galway 2019 deftly sidesteps those nasty, overtly sweet fruit flavours that dominate that shiraz category in the fifteen dollar price point. Obvious value.
Available from $19.99
Despite a stellar range of exciting releases, this premium winery (situated on the Kereru side of the Bridge Pa settlement on Maraeakakaho Road) continues to fly under the radar of the wider wine buying public – a crying shame given the quality and value their catalogue offers. 2018 Scarlet is a case in point. The current release from Paritua’s excellent Stone Paddock range, is a blend of merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and malbec. Given such an affordable asking price, it’s such an attractive style – loaded with plummy, blackcurrant richness that’s skilfully complemented by herbal tinges, hints of anise and soft supple tannins. Now entering its ideal drinking window, Scarlet 2018 is looking nicely integrated. It offers real value to those who love good Hawke’s Bay reds but don’t want to push the boat out too far and comes highly recommended.