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 $24.99
This excellent Gisborne wine comes with quite the back story. It’s produced by Steve Voysey - the winemaker who made the seminal Montana ‘O’ Chardonnay back in the day - and fruit is sourced from the same Ormond vineyard that once supplied the fruit for that iconic ‘90s release. All the power and texture that made ‘O’ such a wine list favourite remain in full effect, but The Coordinates brings freshness and vibrancy to the table, and those modern elements have taken a great recipe and made it even better. This is very impressive wine from Spade Oak. Some subtle flinty notes on the nose merge seamlessly with the ripe peach aromas of Gisborne Chardonnay. Spicy, toasty, barrel-fermentation characters add volume to the bouquet and flow through to a textural palate that brims with citrus and cashew flavours. The finish is long and very concentrated with those weighty citrus characters shining on and on. It comes very highly recommended.
Available from $15.99
Vinted in the punchy, exuberant style that put Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc on the word map, this generously framed 2021 release is drinking in peak form a year on from harvest. Very fragrant, with a fruit salad of tropical notes and lime zest on the nose, it promises so much - and the palate certainly doesn’t let the side down. It shows great drive and energy, and those juicy, tropical fruits are showcased in a silky, lightly textural framework with some saline and herbal complexity adding a further dimension. Finding the balance between those bold tropical fruits and the natural acidity of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is always the key to New Zealand’s most important varietal and it’s clear that OTU have got that interplay right. This is a wine that flows silkily in the mouth. The finish is zingy and bright with lingering soft acids bringing things home.
Available from $16.99
Not so long ago writing about rosé in the middle of a New Zealand winter simply would not have happened, but rosé is a year-round proposition these days, with winter sales stronger than summer sales once were. Like a lot of my peers in the wine trade, I thought that the 2020 release of Les Petite Jamelles was one of the best rosé buys of last summer - so I was very interested to see how this new 2021 release stacked up. I am pleased to report that it’s another winner; a classic interpretation of Mediterranean Rosé from the Pay d’Oc appellation in the south of France. Crisp and dry with red fruits in the watermelon and tangy strawberry spectrum, this well priced-release is blessed with a gorgeous mid-palate that brings a slightly creamy, luxe texture into play. That touch of ethereal palate weight makes all the difference and elevates Les Petite Jamelles above the vast majority of the Provence-esque Rosés that operate in this price brand. Lovely wine to enjoy with a mid-winter lunch, or as an aperitif with a deli-platter when friends drop by.
Available from $19.99
With the price of good Hawke’s Bay reds on the rise, it’s great seeing wine of this calibre still available for $19.99. 2016 was the first vintage of Le Phant Rouge to slip under the key $20 barrier, but I think that this 2020 release is the best I have tasted from Elephant Hill. Plusher and more fulsome that previous vintages, the 2020 is merlot dominant (41%) with syrah, tempranillo, malbec cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc rounding out the blend. With such a wide varietal base, it’s little wonder that this wine tastes so generous and complete, with a mélange of black, blue and red fruit flavours cramming all corners of the mouth. A distinct choco-berry character adds a very appealing aspect to the palate, while some toasty oak spice underpins all that fruity goodness. The tannins are polished and quite fine, and the overall result is very pleasing indeed. It’s an excellent example of ‘drink young’ Hawke’s Bay red wine - immediately appealing and so easy to enjoy.
Available from $14.99
Here’s this week’s bargain. Produced from organic, dry-farmed, old-vine grapes, this succulent tempranillo syrah blend hails from Castile, in the Spanish highlands. Slightly cooler growing conditions have delivered a soft and nicely rounded red with plenty of juicy characters from the tempranillo component, while the syrah percentage brings some floral lift and savoury depth into play. As I have said many times in this column, it’s hard to overstate just how attractive these Spanish Tempranillo blends are, and what great value they provide the New Zealand wine buying public. I call this style of red a ‘pleasure wine’. It is uncomplicated (and in this case unoaked) and the Maravedi winemaking team have simply tried to produce a rewarding, delicious regional blend that goes equally well with, or without, food. That have done that job admirably. Supple tannins sit nicely alongside those savoury, spicy syrah fruits on the finish, and the overall result is really pleasing and warm. Enjoy this wine whenever the mood strikes but a match with a chorizo spiked paella would be hard to ignore.
Available from $19.99
d’Arenberg are one of the great McLaren Vale producers. The slightly cooler growing conditions and maritime breezes of this special growing place has always given their wines an elegance and refinement that can be missing in wines from other South Australian regions. For many wine buyers, The High Trellis is the benchmark expression of McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon in this price band, and I agree that it’s a label that has long fought above its weight. The 2018 is textbook High Trellis. On the nose this wine could only be Australian Cabernet: leafy, with cigar box and herbal tinges, it introduces the wine with a flourish, before those dark, dry cabernet fruits take centre stage. This is dry wine, as cabernet should be. Four years on from harvest, those heady plum and blackberry flavours are nicely integrated, and a hit of mocha is now entering proceedings. The finish shows layers of fairly robust tannin, but they are there to (a) remind you that this is cabernet, the King of Red Wines in your glass, and (b) to promise a long cellar life should you choose to lay some down. And maybe you should. I recently tried a 12 year High Trellis and it was superb – a great result from a wine that retailed for $16.99 when I purchased it.