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Mac's Picks - 24 February 2024

Welcome back to a new year of my vinous ramblings. As always, I’ll try and keep things informative and as down to earth as possible and give you a few good reasons to seek out the wines I am recommending. It’s always irked me that so much of the New Zealand wine press has traditionally focused on products that sit well outside the comfort zone of the average buyer, so I will continue to predominantly write about wines that fit within an affordable price band. If I can convince readers to step outside their stable of tried and true favourites and chance their arm on something new, I will consider my job here is done.

Perrin La Vielle Ferme Rose 2022 - FrancePerrin La Vielle Ferme Rose 2022 – France

Available from $19.99

Perrin are one of the great Southern Rhone producers, with a worldwide following for both their fine  made Rhone wine, and this 2022 release will be very appealing to fans of dry French Rosé. Vinted from a blend of cinsault, grenache and syrah, it is bright and fresh in the classic southern Rhone tradition but brings more savoury flavours and some tannic structure to the party. The cinsault component kicks in some saline notes and stony minerality, but the lasting impression here are those crunchy red fruits and that lovely, lingering acidity. Like most Rhone Rosés, it’s better with food. Match with a long summer lunch, or with a drinks platter as you watch the sun go down.

 

Ara Resolute Sauvignon Blanc 2021 - Marlborough

Ara Resolute Sauvignon Blanc 2021 – Marlborough

Available from $16.99

Contrary to popular opinion, well-made New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc can age gracefully for up to a decade, and 3 years on from harvest, this 2021 release from Ara is looking in very fine form. This is quality wine, that has enjoyed plenty of attention in the winery. Partial fermentation in large, seasoned German oak Fuder barrels has added weight and texture to the ubiquitous Marlborough Sauvignon model, but those regional passionfruit, citrus, capsicum and green herb flavours shine through from start to finish. I like how the acidity has dialed down over time, and though this wine remains unmistakably vibrant and fresh, those racier notes on the finish show in a softer light in 2024. If you typically find Marlborough Sauvignon too zesty and fresh for your palate, a glass of Ara Resolute might just be a real eye-opener.


Askerne Reserve Chardonnay 2022

Askerne Reserve Chardonnay 2022 – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $31.99

Askerne has been a roll over the last few years and this 2022 release is another excellent wine from a producer who deserves much wider recognition for the calibre of their portfolio. From a challenging vintage, this 2022 Reserve is a study in modern, barrel fermented Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay. The nose shows textbook layers of ripe stonefruit and citrus with a reductive touch of flinty gun smoke adding a modern note. The palate is full-bodied and broad with creamy lemon flavours and some obvious oak spice balancing out those ripe stonefruits. The finish is plush and long with nicely pitched acidity rounding out the conversation. Everything is in its place. Everything is balanced and harmonious. I loved it. If you’re a fan of robust, premium styled, barrel fermented Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay, Askerne Reserve 2022 should definitely be on your list.



dArenberg The Stump Jump Cabernet Merlot 2020


d'Arenberg The Stump Jump Cabernet Merlot Petit Verdot 2020 – Australia 

Available from $13.99

d'Arenberg’s Stump Jump has always been associated with their hugely popular GSM, but more recent additions to the Stump Jump range have also been very well received. Of the red options I have tasted the cabernet merlot is the most ‘serious’ by some margin, with drier mouthfeel and a more savoury palate in the blackcurrant spectrum. Touches of leather and tobacco from the cabernet component kick off proceedings before the merlot and petit verdot aspect of the blend bring softer flavours of plum and cherry into play. It’s friendly and comes with good palate flow - and as such it would make an excellent choice for casual BBQs or summer gatherings. Fun fact: the Stump Jump label is designed as an eye test. According to d'Arenberg winemaker Chester Osborn, if you can hold the bottle at arm’s length and can still read the label, then you're good to have another glass! 




Rebelde Alentejano Tinto 2020 - Portugal

 

Rebelde Alentejano Tinto 2020 – Portugal 

Available from $18.99

Portuguese reds are one of the hottest trends in wine now. I always think of them as having darker and more broody flavours than their Spanish neighbours and more generosity and juicy charm than the wines of Italy – and that’s exactly what you get with this 2020 blend from Rebelde. Vinted from touriga nacional, syrah, petit verdot & alicante bouschet, it offers loads of soft dark fruits set in a juicy framework with enough oak and tannic structure to always keep you engaged. That easy drinking Portuguese charm is certainly there in full effect and this interesting wine would be a perfect option for a casual gathering - as it is equally at home with or without food.


Bodegas Santa Ana Reserve Malbec 2021

 

Bodegas Santa Ana Reserve Malbec 2021 – Argentina

Available from $21.99

Argentinian Malbec has long been one of the best value options available for red wine drinkers looking for palate weight and concentration. It is such a safe category to explore and this 2021 release from Santa Ana personifies the sheer bang for your buck that the wines of South America are synonymous with. This is a big, bold wine with flavours in the blackberry / blueberry zone and some nice, fresh, tannic grip. It has been oak aged, and the wood spice characters from seasoned barrels add to the experience, while some vanillin notes from the American oak component bring in another subtle layer of complexity. It’s a quality red; fulsome, rewarding and very well priced. Match with a quality cut of wood fired beef immediately.

Mac's Picks - 24 February 2024

Welcome back to a new year of my vinous ramblings. As always, I’ll try and keep things informative and as down to earth as possible and give you a few good reasons to seek out the wines I am recommending. It’s always irked me that so much of the New Zealand wine press has traditionally focused on products that sit well outside the comfort zone of the average buyer, so I will continue to predominantly write about wines that fit within an affordable price band. If I can convince readers to step outside their stable of tried and true favourites and chance their arm on something new, I will consider my job here is done.

Perrin La Vielle Ferme Rose 2022 - FrancePerrin La Vielle Ferme Rose 2022 – France

Available from $19.99

Perrin are one of the great Southern Rhone producers, with a worldwide following for both their fine  made Rhone wine, and this 2022 release will be very appealing to fans of dry French Rosé. Vinted from a blend of cinsault, grenache and syrah, it is bright and fresh in the classic southern Rhone tradition but brings more savoury flavours and some tannic structure to the party. The cinsault component kicks in some saline notes and stony minerality, but the lasting impression here are those crunchy red fruits and that lovely, lingering acidity. Like most Rhone Rosés, it’s better with food. Match with a long summer lunch, or with a drinks platter as you watch the sun go down.

 

Ara Resolute Sauvignon Blanc 2021 - Marlborough

Ara Resolute Sauvignon Blanc 2021 – Marlborough

Available from $16.99

Contrary to popular opinion, well-made New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc can age gracefully for up to a decade, and 3 years on from harvest, this 2021 release from Ara is looking in very fine form. This is quality wine, that has enjoyed plenty of attention in the winery. Partial fermentation in large, seasoned German oak Fuder barrels has added weight and texture to the ubiquitous Marlborough Sauvignon model, but those regional passionfruit, citrus, capsicum and green herb flavours shine through from start to finish. I like how the acidity has dialed down over time, and though this wine remains unmistakably vibrant and fresh, those racier notes on the finish show in a softer light in 2024. If you typically find Marlborough Sauvignon too zesty and fresh for your palate, a glass of Ara Resolute might just be a real eye-opener.


Askerne Reserve Chardonnay 2022

Askerne Reserve Chardonnay 2022 – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $31.99

Askerne has been a roll over the last few years and this 2022 release is another excellent wine from a producer who deserves much wider recognition for the calibre of their portfolio. From a challenging vintage, this 2022 Reserve is a study in modern, barrel fermented Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay. The nose shows textbook layers of ripe stonefruit and citrus with a reductive touch of flinty gun smoke adding a modern note. The palate is full-bodied and broad with creamy lemon flavours and some obvious oak spice balancing out those ripe stonefruits. The finish is plush and long with nicely pitched acidity rounding out the conversation. Everything is in its place. Everything is balanced and harmonious. I loved it. If you’re a fan of robust, premium styled, barrel fermented Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay, Askerne Reserve 2022 should definitely be on your list.



dArenberg The Stump Jump Cabernet Merlot 2020


d'Arenberg The Stump Jump Cabernet Merlot Petit Verdot 2020 – Australia 

Available from $13.99

d'Arenberg’s Stump Jump has always been associated with their hugely popular GSM, but more recent additions to the Stump Jump range have also been very well received. Of the red options I have tasted the cabernet merlot is the most ‘serious’ by some margin, with drier mouthfeel and a more savoury palate in the blackcurrant spectrum. Touches of leather and tobacco from the cabernet component kick off proceedings before the merlot and petit verdot aspect of the blend bring softer flavours of plum and cherry into play. It’s friendly and comes with good palate flow - and as such it would make an excellent choice for casual BBQs or summer gatherings. Fun fact: the Stump Jump label is designed as an eye test. According to d'Arenberg winemaker Chester Osborn, if you can hold the bottle at arm’s length and can still read the label, then you're good to have another glass! 




Rebelde Alentejano Tinto 2020 - Portugal

 

Rebelde Alentejano Tinto 2020 – Portugal 

Available from $18.99

Portuguese reds are one of the hottest trends in wine now. I always think of them as having darker and more broody flavours than their Spanish neighbours and more generosity and juicy charm than the wines of Italy – and that’s exactly what you get with this 2020 blend from Rebelde. Vinted from touriga nacional, syrah, petit verdot & alicante bouschet, it offers loads of soft dark fruits set in a juicy framework with enough oak and tannic structure to always keep you engaged. That easy drinking Portuguese charm is certainly there in full effect and this interesting wine would be a perfect option for a casual gathering - as it is equally at home with or without food.


Bodegas Santa Ana Reserve Malbec 2021

 

Bodegas Santa Ana Reserve Malbec 2021 – Argentina

Available from $21.99

Argentinian Malbec has long been one of the best value options available for red wine drinkers looking for palate weight and concentration. It is such a safe category to explore and this 2021 release from Santa Ana personifies the sheer bang for your buck that the wines of South America are synonymous with. This is a big, bold wine with flavours in the blackberry / blueberry zone and some nice, fresh, tannic grip. It has been oak aged, and the wood spice characters from seasoned barrels add to the experience, while some vanillin notes from the American oak component bring in another subtle layer of complexity. It’s a quality red; fulsome, rewarding and very well priced. Match with a quality cut of wood fired beef immediately.

Recent Posts

Mac's Picks - 6 April 2024

Mac's Picks - 6 April 2024

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Blackenbrook Sauvignon Blanc 2023Blackenbrook Sauvignon Blanc 2023 - Nelson

Available from $19.99

The Schwarzenbach family has been producing wine in Nelson under the Blackenbrook masthead since the early 2000s, and I have always been a fan of their ‘stay small and improve quality’ approach.  Given their geographical position, sauvignon has long been a trump card for the Blackenbrook team, and the house style is a fairly serious one – dry, and tight with pronounced minerality and bright acid structure. Certainly, those characteristics are there in full effect with this very good 2023 release. Throw in some punchy, regional tropical fruits, a touch of salinity and an undercard of green herbage, and there’s plenty to like here. It’s an expression that needs food to be seen at its best – with fresh shellfish an obvious choice. Give that combo a crack on a sunny autumn afternoon and wash the worries of the world away.

 

Spy Valley Pinot Gris 2022

Spy Valley Pinot Gris 2022 - Marlborough

Available from $23.99

Famously named after the Waihopai spy base that’s just down the road from the winery, Spy Valley have carved out an enviable reputation for their energetic wines – with a brace of aromatic whites leading the charge. Just a kiss off-dry, this 2022 release is a fine representation of modern Marlborough Pinot Gris. It shows an amalgam of semi-ripe pear and zingy ginger flavours wrapped up in a plush palate that has rounded weight and mouthfeel. The finish has good length and softly expressed acidity - with those spicy ginger and juicy pear characters present all the way. I’d love to try a bottle with a baked smoked salmon– especially one that has been elevated with a spicy miso glaze. (Note to self: this weekend!)


Whitehaven Pinot Noir Rosé 2023 - Marlborough

Whitehaven Pinot Noir Rosé 2023 - Marlborough

Available from $23.99

Produced from a blend of Southern Valleys and Raupara Pinot Noir fruit, this dry rosé is a typically refined effort from Whitehaven. The colour is wonderful. With so many New Zealand producers going down a Provence lookalike / ‘pale as possible’ rabbit hole, it’s nice to see some inviting colour in the glass – and this 2023 release radiates with inviting salmon hues. It’s equally inviting on the nose with notes of red summer fruits to the fore, while the palate shows crunchy red fruits in the strawberry, cranberry and watermelon spectrum. Some subtle touches of baking spice complex the palate, but this wine remains all about those dry red fruits and the long, fresh finish line they wander towards. It’s delicious.



Doctors Flat Pinot Noir 2020 - Central Otago


Doctors Flat Pinot Noir 2020 - Central Otago

Available from $56.99

This is excellent small batch, organic pinot noir from well-known Central Otago winemaker, Steve Davies. Vinted from a tiny 3ha block in Bannockburn, everything about this wine has been micro-managed to extract the full potential of a special growing site. The 2020 is another excellent effort; a polished, savoury wine that shows classic dark cherry flavours with lovely palate flow and underlying touches of oak and fruit spice. For such a young wine, the finish is wonderfully soft and velvety – but don’t let that fool you. Though already looking very integrated and complete, this wine has been vinted to go the distance. Cellar over the coming decade for added complexity and the chance to see those Central Otago Pinot Noir fruits develop some darker, secondary magic. Great value – and an absolute steal by global pinot noir standards. 

 

Bonpas Dames de Bonpas Cotes du Rhone Villages Plan de Dieu 2021

 

Bonpas Dames de Bonpas Cotes du Rhone Villages Plan de Dieu 2021 - France

Available from $24.99

On the subject of outright bargains, here is another wine that completely outperforms its price point – in fact it’s hard to understand how Cotes du Rhone of this calibre can come halfway around the world and be sold here in New Zealand for under $30. Grenache dominant, with a healthy dose of syrah rounding out the blend, this is deeply savoury Rhone red with lots going on the glass. Those exuberant, glossy grenache flavours have been dialed down to showcase their more serious side, while the syrah component adds structure, length and dryness to the conversation. It’s packed with cherry and spicy plum flavours and the tannins are long and fine. It’s one of those wines that effortlessly straddles the gap between pure pleasure and savoury, structured charm – a real gem that is sure to take your palate to a higher plane. I bought a case.

Some Young Punks Passion by Punks Shiraz Cab 2020

 

Some Young Punks Passion by Punks Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 - Australia

Available from $18.99

The funky name and pulp fiction labels may lead you to think you’ll be walking on the wild side of the street, but Some Young Punks collaborators Col McBryde and Jen Gardner, take the winemaking side of their craft very seriously than their branding suggests. They have carved out a real name for themselves in the South Australian scene, and this delightful, small batch McLaren Vale blend has been given all the love and attention in the vineyard and winery. Dominated by shiraz (85%) this is lush, fulsome red with plenty of swagger and confidence. The cabernet component brings dryness and some nice tobacco herbal hints to the finish, but that driving shiraz percentage is always centre stage. This is smart, well-made Aussie red. Match with hearty roasted meats and vegetables as we head into the cooler months. You’ll be very pleased you did.

Mac's Picks - 6 April 2024

Mac's Picks - 6 April 2024

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Blackenbrook Sauvignon Blanc 2023Blackenbrook Sauvignon Blanc 2023 - Nelson

Available from $19.99

The Schwarzenbach family has been producing wine in Nelson under the Blackenbrook masthead since the early 2000s, and I have always been a fan of their ‘stay small and improve quality’ approach.  Given their geographical position, sauvignon has long been a trump card for the Blackenbrook team, and the house style is a fairly serious one – dry, and tight with pronounced minerality and bright acid structure. Certainly, those characteristics are there in full effect with this very good 2023 release. Throw in some punchy, regional tropical fruits, a touch of salinity and an undercard of green herbage, and there’s plenty to like here. It’s an expression that needs food to be seen at its best – with fresh shellfish an obvious choice. Give that combo a crack on a sunny autumn afternoon and wash the worries of the world away.

 

Spy Valley Pinot Gris 2022

Spy Valley Pinot Gris 2022 - Marlborough

Available from $23.99

Famously named after the Waihopai spy base that’s just down the road from the winery, Spy Valley have carved out an enviable reputation for their energetic wines – with a brace of aromatic whites leading the charge. Just a kiss off-dry, this 2022 release is a fine representation of modern Marlborough Pinot Gris. It shows an amalgam of semi-ripe pear and zingy ginger flavours wrapped up in a plush palate that has rounded weight and mouthfeel. The finish has good length and softly expressed acidity - with those spicy ginger and juicy pear characters present all the way. I’d love to try a bottle with a baked smoked salmon– especially one that has been elevated with a spicy miso glaze. (Note to self: this weekend!)


Whitehaven Pinot Noir Rosé 2023 - Marlborough

Whitehaven Pinot Noir Rosé 2023 - Marlborough

Available from $23.99

Produced from a blend of Southern Valleys and Raupara Pinot Noir fruit, this dry rosé is a typically refined effort from Whitehaven. The colour is wonderful. With so many New Zealand producers going down a Provence lookalike / ‘pale as possible’ rabbit hole, it’s nice to see some inviting colour in the glass – and this 2023 release radiates with inviting salmon hues. It’s equally inviting on the nose with notes of red summer fruits to the fore, while the palate shows crunchy red fruits in the strawberry, cranberry and watermelon spectrum. Some subtle touches of baking spice complex the palate, but this wine remains all about those dry red fruits and the long, fresh finish line they wander towards. It’s delicious.



Doctors Flat Pinot Noir 2020 - Central Otago


Doctors Flat Pinot Noir 2020 - Central Otago

Available from $56.99

This is excellent small batch, organic pinot noir from well-known Central Otago winemaker, Steve Davies. Vinted from a tiny 3ha block in Bannockburn, everything about this wine has been micro-managed to extract the full potential of a special growing site. The 2020 is another excellent effort; a polished, savoury wine that shows classic dark cherry flavours with lovely palate flow and underlying touches of oak and fruit spice. For such a young wine, the finish is wonderfully soft and velvety – but don’t let that fool you. Though already looking very integrated and complete, this wine has been vinted to go the distance. Cellar over the coming decade for added complexity and the chance to see those Central Otago Pinot Noir fruits develop some darker, secondary magic. Great value – and an absolute steal by global pinot noir standards. 

 

Bonpas Dames de Bonpas Cotes du Rhone Villages Plan de Dieu 2021

 

Bonpas Dames de Bonpas Cotes du Rhone Villages Plan de Dieu 2021 - France

Available from $24.99

On the subject of outright bargains, here is another wine that completely outperforms its price point – in fact it’s hard to understand how Cotes du Rhone of this calibre can come halfway around the world and be sold here in New Zealand for under $30. Grenache dominant, with a healthy dose of syrah rounding out the blend, this is deeply savoury Rhone red with lots going on the glass. Those exuberant, glossy grenache flavours have been dialed down to showcase their more serious side, while the syrah component adds structure, length and dryness to the conversation. It’s packed with cherry and spicy plum flavours and the tannins are long and fine. It’s one of those wines that effortlessly straddles the gap between pure pleasure and savoury, structured charm – a real gem that is sure to take your palate to a higher plane. I bought a case.

Some Young Punks Passion by Punks Shiraz Cab 2020

 

Some Young Punks Passion by Punks Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 - Australia

Available from $18.99

The funky name and pulp fiction labels may lead you to think you’ll be walking on the wild side of the street, but Some Young Punks collaborators Col McBryde and Jen Gardner, take the winemaking side of their craft very seriously than their branding suggests. They have carved out a real name for themselves in the South Australian scene, and this delightful, small batch McLaren Vale blend has been given all the love and attention in the vineyard and winery. Dominated by shiraz (85%) this is lush, fulsome red with plenty of swagger and confidence. The cabernet component brings dryness and some nice tobacco herbal hints to the finish, but that driving shiraz percentage is always centre stage. This is smart, well-made Aussie red. Match with hearty roasted meats and vegetables as we head into the cooler months. You’ll be very pleased you did.

Mac's Picks - 23 March 2024

Mac's Picks - 23 March 2024

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Vilaura Blanc de Blanc Methode Traditionelle 2019 – Hawke’s BayVilaura Blanc de Blanc Methode Traditionelle 2019 - Hawke's Bay

Available from $59.99

It takes a lot of pluck to enter the rarified world of elite, New Zealand sparkling wine at any stage of your winemaking career, but launching a new brand with a $60 price tag for your first offering simply has to be applauded. Founded by Jascha Oldham-Selak and Sanne Witteveen, Vilaura has positioned itself as a methode traditionelle specialist and their inaugural 2019 release has set the bar very high indeed. Produced from 100% Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay, this is a richly weighted, bone-dry style that marries stonefruit, apple and citrus characters with underlying brioche / yeast flavours. It’s a complex, vibrant wine with layers of fine acidity and a finish that goes the distance. Given the price point, comparisons with Champagne are always going to happen, but Vilaura have front-footed this discussion with luxe packaging and a clear desire to maximise every detail of their production process. I take my hat off to them, and wish them every success. It’s a hard game they’re playing, and ambition of this level deserves strong support. Bravo.

 

Bijou Terre de Providence Rose 2023 - France

Bijou Terre de Providence Rose 2023 - France

Available from $16.99

OIn a sea of pale Mediterranean Rosés, it takes a little bit of magic to stand out from the crowd and this 2023 Pays d’Oc release from Bijou brings both value for money and sheer deliciousness to the table. Vinted from grenache, this is a finely structured, dry wine with layers of tangy red summer fruits and a palate that is tinged with moreish mineral / saline notes. As you’d expect from rosé at this price point, it’s relatively uncomplicated and quite straightforward - but that light, easy drinking nature and crisp, crunchy palate is exactly what you’re looking for. It’s a perfect aperitif to kick off a long autumn lunch, but doesn’t need food to be seen at its best. Great buying.


Awakohu Sauvignon Blanc 2022 - Marlborough

Awakohu Sauvignon Blanc 2022 - Marlborough

Available from $12.99

Here’s a complete bargain. The calibre of sauvignon blanc emanating from Marlborough constantly climbs new heights, as growers and winemakers refine their processes and fine tune their craft. If you are prepared to avoid the usual ‘price fighter’ suspects and do your homework, there are some wonderful, very affordable labels on the market that defy their retail asking prices - and this is one of them. Vinted from fruit harvested from the central Wairau Plain and in the Waihopai sub-regions, this classic sauvignon opens with an exuberant nose of white stonefruits and sweet citrus. The palate is succulent and awash with the flavours that dominate the bouquet. It shows real weight and presence in the mouth before those zesty acids round out the finish – leaving the mouth salivatingly fresh. Truly satisfying wine – and cheap as chips.  What’s not to like about that ?!



Shelter Bay Pinot Noir 2022


Shelter Bay Pinot Noir 2022 - Marlborough

Available from $13.99

Carrying on with the bargain theme, here is another out and out winner that fights well above its weight. Vinted primarily for the export market, Shelter Bay has clearly been given the love and attention that would normally be reserved for wines that retail in the $25-$30 bracket. Aromatic and very enticing on the nose, this plush release shows layers of dark cherry that are complexed with earthy mushroom notes, fine tannins and nicely integrated spices. That rounded, fulsome palate came as quite a shock give the humble price point this wine sits at – making it a perfect option when you are looking for a glass of truly satisfying pinot noir, but don’t want to push the boat out too far. What a little gem this is. It’s one of the best ‘quaffer’ level pinot noirs I have tasted and, accordingly, it is highly recommended. 



Peregrine Pinot Noir 2021

 

Peregrine Pinot Noir 2021 – Central Otago 

Available from $49.99

A recent tasting of the Peregrine portfolio reiterated in my mind what a solid producer they are, and this excellent 2021 pinot noir was a terrific way to complete a review of their wines.  The nose was redolent with the aromas of Central Pinot – black cherry, plum, and stewed dark fruits mingled with notes of thyme / green herbage and the slightest hint of oak spice. The palate was supple and quite sumptuously weighted with touches of game, olive and baking spice entering the conversation – but the lasting impression here is harmonious and very balanced. I loved the way the finish had such softly expressed acidity - adding another layer of sumptuousness to this very complete expression of modern, Central Otago Pinot Noir.

Vieille Mule Rouge 2020

 

Vieille Mule Rouge 2020 – France

Available from $21.99

From an area once known for insipid, bulk wines, the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France has become a hotbed of vinous value – and home to some of most user-friendly wines on the palate. Vinted from 100% old vine grenache by well-known negociant Jeff Carrel, this is a broody, darky fruited example of full-bodied grenache with plenty of grunty, serious character. Grenache at its simplest can be a glossy amalgam of juicy black and red fruits, but here we find heightened layers of savoury palate weight and loads of tannic structure. That sense of drive and purpose elevates this wine to a much higher plane, and anyone looking for a well-made, interesting red wine to enjoy with a hearty dinner should be drawn to this 2020 release.  I loved it - and can say with some authority it’s a banging match with rosemary spiked roasted lamb. It’s well worth a punt. Trust me.

Mac's Picks - 23 March 2024

Mac's Picks - 23 March 2024

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Vilaura Blanc de Blanc Methode Traditionelle 2019 – Hawke’s BayVilaura Blanc de Blanc Methode Traditionelle 2019 - Hawke's Bay

Available from $59.99

It takes a lot of pluck to enter the rarified world of elite, New Zealand sparkling wine at any stage of your winemaking career, but launching a new brand with a $60 price tag for your first offering simply has to be applauded. Founded by Jascha Oldham-Selak and Sanne Witteveen, Vilaura has positioned itself as a methode traditionelle specialist and their inaugural 2019 release has set the bar very high indeed. Produced from 100% Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay, this is a richly weighted, bone-dry style that marries stonefruit, apple and citrus characters with underlying brioche / yeast flavours. It’s a complex, vibrant wine with layers of fine acidity and a finish that goes the distance. Given the price point, comparisons with Champagne are always going to happen, but Vilaura have front-footed this discussion with luxe packaging and a clear desire to maximise every detail of their production process. I take my hat off to them, and wish them every success. It’s a hard game they’re playing, and ambition of this level deserves strong support. Bravo.

 

Bijou Terre de Providence Rose 2023 - France

Bijou Terre de Providence Rose 2023 - France

Available from $16.99

OIn a sea of pale Mediterranean Rosés, it takes a little bit of magic to stand out from the crowd and this 2023 Pays d’Oc release from Bijou brings both value for money and sheer deliciousness to the table. Vinted from grenache, this is a finely structured, dry wine with layers of tangy red summer fruits and a palate that is tinged with moreish mineral / saline notes. As you’d expect from rosé at this price point, it’s relatively uncomplicated and quite straightforward - but that light, easy drinking nature and crisp, crunchy palate is exactly what you’re looking for. It’s a perfect aperitif to kick off a long autumn lunch, but doesn’t need food to be seen at its best. Great buying.


Awakohu Sauvignon Blanc 2022 - Marlborough

Awakohu Sauvignon Blanc 2022 - Marlborough

Available from $12.99

Here’s a complete bargain. The calibre of sauvignon blanc emanating from Marlborough constantly climbs new heights, as growers and winemakers refine their processes and fine tune their craft. If you are prepared to avoid the usual ‘price fighter’ suspects and do your homework, there are some wonderful, very affordable labels on the market that defy their retail asking prices - and this is one of them. Vinted from fruit harvested from the central Wairau Plain and in the Waihopai sub-regions, this classic sauvignon opens with an exuberant nose of white stonefruits and sweet citrus. The palate is succulent and awash with the flavours that dominate the bouquet. It shows real weight and presence in the mouth before those zesty acids round out the finish – leaving the mouth salivatingly fresh. Truly satisfying wine – and cheap as chips.  What’s not to like about that ?!



Shelter Bay Pinot Noir 2022


Shelter Bay Pinot Noir 2022 - Marlborough

Available from $13.99

Carrying on with the bargain theme, here is another out and out winner that fights well above its weight. Vinted primarily for the export market, Shelter Bay has clearly been given the love and attention that would normally be reserved for wines that retail in the $25-$30 bracket. Aromatic and very enticing on the nose, this plush release shows layers of dark cherry that are complexed with earthy mushroom notes, fine tannins and nicely integrated spices. That rounded, fulsome palate came as quite a shock give the humble price point this wine sits at – making it a perfect option when you are looking for a glass of truly satisfying pinot noir, but don’t want to push the boat out too far. What a little gem this is. It’s one of the best ‘quaffer’ level pinot noirs I have tasted and, accordingly, it is highly recommended. 



Peregrine Pinot Noir 2021

 

Peregrine Pinot Noir 2021 – Central Otago 

Available from $49.99

A recent tasting of the Peregrine portfolio reiterated in my mind what a solid producer they are, and this excellent 2021 pinot noir was a terrific way to complete a review of their wines.  The nose was redolent with the aromas of Central Pinot – black cherry, plum, and stewed dark fruits mingled with notes of thyme / green herbage and the slightest hint of oak spice. The palate was supple and quite sumptuously weighted with touches of game, olive and baking spice entering the conversation – but the lasting impression here is harmonious and very balanced. I loved the way the finish had such softly expressed acidity - adding another layer of sumptuousness to this very complete expression of modern, Central Otago Pinot Noir.

Vieille Mule Rouge 2020

 

Vieille Mule Rouge 2020 – France

Available from $21.99

From an area once known for insipid, bulk wines, the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France has become a hotbed of vinous value – and home to some of most user-friendly wines on the palate. Vinted from 100% old vine grenache by well-known negociant Jeff Carrel, this is a broody, darky fruited example of full-bodied grenache with plenty of grunty, serious character. Grenache at its simplest can be a glossy amalgam of juicy black and red fruits, but here we find heightened layers of savoury palate weight and loads of tannic structure. That sense of drive and purpose elevates this wine to a much higher plane, and anyone looking for a well-made, interesting red wine to enjoy with a hearty dinner should be drawn to this 2020 release.  I loved it - and can say with some authority it’s a banging match with rosemary spiked roasted lamb. It’s well worth a punt. Trust me.

Mac's Picks - 9 March 2024

Mac's Picks - 9 March 2024

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Elephant Hill Sparkling Rosé NV – Hawke’s Bay  Elephant Hill Sparkling Rosé NV – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $24.99

It’s always good when a serious producer like Elephant Hill decides to let their hair down a bit, and this fun and frivolous sparkling rosé is a very welcome addition to their quality driven portfolio. Vinted from 99% syrah (with a splash of viognier adding a floral note and glycerol mouthfeel), this is bright and zingy bubbles with tangy strawberry and juicy melon flavours. Softly expressed acidity rounds out the palate, bringing a cleansing finish to a wine that’s all about easy enjoyment and casual fun. I love the upbeat label and crown seal presentation, and can see why this deliciously simple wine is garnering such a following as the summer months fade into autumn. Nice work.

 

Opawa Pinot Gris 2023

Opawa Pinot Gris 2023 – Marlborough

Available from $17.99

Opawa is a sister label produced by the highly regarded team at Nautilus Estate, and this is a lovely glass of wine – an enticing example of well-made, juicy, medium-dry Pinot Gris. The classic flavours of Marlborough Gris are on show here; crushed pear, stonefruits and lemon zest flood the nose and palate, while a touch of residual sugar adds a luxe element to the conversation. The finish is long and clean, bringing hints of baking spice into play, and the lasting impression is both moreish and satisfying. If you’re a fan of good New Zealand Pinot gris, Opawa 2023 has to be on your list of new wines to try. A bargain.


Wooing Tree Blondie Pinot Noir 2023

Wooing Tree Blondie Blanc de Noir 2023 – Central Otago

Available from $28.99

This wonderful, much loved Central Otago wine is produced from whole-bunch pressed, ‘free run’ pinot noir juice that is given minimal skin contact in the winery. That simple, hands-off approach results in a soft and flowing expression of pinot noir that shines with a light golden colour and plush, almost seductive fruit weight. Flavours you don’t usually associate with Central Otago Pinot are centre stage here. Wild strawberry, citrus and juicy stonefruits flow on the palate with ethereal texture, while a fine line of acidity makes a second glass almost mandatory. Describing Blondie simply as ‘rosé’ doesn’t do it justice. It’s better than that. Seek it out.



Yalumba Samuels Bush Vine Grenache 2021 - Australia


Yalumba Samuels Collection Bush Vine Grenache 2021 – Australia 

Available from $19.99

Visit my house more than a few times and there is every chance that a glass of Bush Vine Grenache will be put in front of you. Everyone has their favourite ‘comfort wines’ and this longstanding Yalumba release is certainly one of mine. Grenache is more commonly associated with labels from the Rhone Valley or Spain, but this Barossa rendition brings a more savoury direction to this important varietal. Grenache’s glossy, easy-going charms are there for all to see, but some meaty / smoky complexity and silky layers of spice add a new dimension to the ubiquitous European model. Think of it as a BBQ red for grownups and you’re on the right track. I love it. 



Te Mata Estate Coleraine 2022

 

Te Mata Estate Coleraine 2022 – Hawke’s Bay 

Available from $144.99

The launch of Te Mata Estate Coleraine is always one of the important days on the New Zealand wine marketing calendar, so it was a pleasure to taste a new iteration of the wine that many commentators regard as New Zealand’s preeminent blended red. 2022 was a challenging, wetter growing season in Hawkes Bay, so I was intrigued to taste the latest Coleraine after the ‘three-peat’ of excellent 2019, 2020 and 2021 vintages. Te Mata’s response to the cards they were dealt in 2022 was to greatly reduce the volume of Coleraine available to the market and to significantly increase the cabernet sauvignon content of their flagship label. The final blend of 2022 Coleraine is 84% cabernet sauvignon, 13% merlot & 3% cabernet franc – making it the highest cabernet component since the inaugural Coleraine came on the market in 1982. Given the cabernet percentage and lesser vintage, stylistically it’s a sea change from recent releases; a much tighter and reserved, medium-bodied blend with heightened acidity and plenty of tannic structure. Vintage conditions simply did not allow the plusher mouthfeel and levels of generosity that Coleraine has shown since the label adopted a more fulsome direction in 2013, but none of this will matter to the purists and collectors who follow this storied wine. Coleraine 2022 has been built for the long haul and I won’t be thinking about opening my six pack for at least a decade. By that point I expect those classic cabernet characters will have integrated, the tannins will have dialed back, and everything will be as it should.

Arriba Tempranillo 2022

 

Arriba Tempranillo 2022 – Spain

Available from $15.99

You’ve heard it here before. Tempranillo is ‘the blue jeans of wine’ - a varietal that is so comfortable and accommodating that everyone needs some in their lives. Indeed, Spanish Tempranillo is such a strong category that it’s hard to go wrong with any of the options available in New Zealand, and Arriba (imported by Steve Bennett MW) is one of the top selling tempranillo labels in our domestic market. Fleshy, ripe and supple, it’s the quintessential easy drinker – but comes with enough firmness and palate structure to make you know you have something worthwhile in your glass. Expect to taste layers of plump cherry and spicy red fruits – especially plum. Expect to see rounded tannins and plenty of cleansing acidity. And expect to wonder how wine as good as this can come halfway around the globe and be sold here for under $20.

Mac's Picks - 9 March 2024

Mac's Picks - 9 March 2024

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Elephant Hill Sparkling Rosé NV – Hawke’s Bay  Elephant Hill Sparkling Rosé NV – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $24.99

It’s always good when a serious producer like Elephant Hill decides to let their hair down a bit, and this fun and frivolous sparkling rosé is a very welcome addition to their quality driven portfolio. Vinted from 99% syrah (with a splash of viognier adding a floral note and glycerol mouthfeel), this is bright and zingy bubbles with tangy strawberry and juicy melon flavours. Softly expressed acidity rounds out the palate, bringing a cleansing finish to a wine that’s all about easy enjoyment and casual fun. I love the upbeat label and crown seal presentation, and can see why this deliciously simple wine is garnering such a following as the summer months fade into autumn. Nice work.

 

Opawa Pinot Gris 2023

Opawa Pinot Gris 2023 – Marlborough

Available from $17.99

Opawa is a sister label produced by the highly regarded team at Nautilus Estate, and this is a lovely glass of wine – an enticing example of well-made, juicy, medium-dry Pinot Gris. The classic flavours of Marlborough Gris are on show here; crushed pear, stonefruits and lemon zest flood the nose and palate, while a touch of residual sugar adds a luxe element to the conversation. The finish is long and clean, bringing hints of baking spice into play, and the lasting impression is both moreish and satisfying. If you’re a fan of good New Zealand Pinot gris, Opawa 2023 has to be on your list of new wines to try. A bargain.


Wooing Tree Blondie Pinot Noir 2023

Wooing Tree Blondie Blanc de Noir 2023 – Central Otago

Available from $28.99

This wonderful, much loved Central Otago wine is produced from whole-bunch pressed, ‘free run’ pinot noir juice that is given minimal skin contact in the winery. That simple, hands-off approach results in a soft and flowing expression of pinot noir that shines with a light golden colour and plush, almost seductive fruit weight. Flavours you don’t usually associate with Central Otago Pinot are centre stage here. Wild strawberry, citrus and juicy stonefruits flow on the palate with ethereal texture, while a fine line of acidity makes a second glass almost mandatory. Describing Blondie simply as ‘rosé’ doesn’t do it justice. It’s better than that. Seek it out.



Yalumba Samuels Bush Vine Grenache 2021 - Australia


Yalumba Samuels Collection Bush Vine Grenache 2021 – Australia 

Available from $19.99

Visit my house more than a few times and there is every chance that a glass of Bush Vine Grenache will be put in front of you. Everyone has their favourite ‘comfort wines’ and this longstanding Yalumba release is certainly one of mine. Grenache is more commonly associated with labels from the Rhone Valley or Spain, but this Barossa rendition brings a more savoury direction to this important varietal. Grenache’s glossy, easy-going charms are there for all to see, but some meaty / smoky complexity and silky layers of spice add a new dimension to the ubiquitous European model. Think of it as a BBQ red for grownups and you’re on the right track. I love it. 



Te Mata Estate Coleraine 2022

 

Te Mata Estate Coleraine 2022 – Hawke’s Bay 

Available from $144.99

The launch of Te Mata Estate Coleraine is always one of the important days on the New Zealand wine marketing calendar, so it was a pleasure to taste a new iteration of the wine that many commentators regard as New Zealand’s preeminent blended red. 2022 was a challenging, wetter growing season in Hawkes Bay, so I was intrigued to taste the latest Coleraine after the ‘three-peat’ of excellent 2019, 2020 and 2021 vintages. Te Mata’s response to the cards they were dealt in 2022 was to greatly reduce the volume of Coleraine available to the market and to significantly increase the cabernet sauvignon content of their flagship label. The final blend of 2022 Coleraine is 84% cabernet sauvignon, 13% merlot & 3% cabernet franc – making it the highest cabernet component since the inaugural Coleraine came on the market in 1982. Given the cabernet percentage and lesser vintage, stylistically it’s a sea change from recent releases; a much tighter and reserved, medium-bodied blend with heightened acidity and plenty of tannic structure. Vintage conditions simply did not allow the plusher mouthfeel and levels of generosity that Coleraine has shown since the label adopted a more fulsome direction in 2013, but none of this will matter to the purists and collectors who follow this storied wine. Coleraine 2022 has been built for the long haul and I won’t be thinking about opening my six pack for at least a decade. By that point I expect those classic cabernet characters will have integrated, the tannins will have dialed back, and everything will be as it should.

Arriba Tempranillo 2022

 

Arriba Tempranillo 2022 – Spain

Available from $15.99

You’ve heard it here before. Tempranillo is ‘the blue jeans of wine’ - a varietal that is so comfortable and accommodating that everyone needs some in their lives. Indeed, Spanish Tempranillo is such a strong category that it’s hard to go wrong with any of the options available in New Zealand, and Arriba (imported by Steve Bennett MW) is one of the top selling tempranillo labels in our domestic market. Fleshy, ripe and supple, it’s the quintessential easy drinker – but comes with enough firmness and palate structure to make you know you have something worthwhile in your glass. Expect to taste layers of plump cherry and spicy red fruits – especially plum. Expect to see rounded tannins and plenty of cleansing acidity. And expect to wonder how wine as good as this can come halfway around the globe and be sold here for under $20.

Mac's Picks - 18 November 2023

Mac's Picks - 18 November 2023

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

https://www.advintage.co.nz/freixenet-cordon-negro-brutFreixenet Cordon Negro Cava Brut NV - Spain

Available from $16.99

Approximately 100 million bottles of Cordon Negro are opened every year. That’s around 3 every second – an astounding number that makes Freixenet (pron. Fresh- annette) the number one selling Spanish Cava and one of the world’s most loved sparkling wines. Cava is simply Spanish sparkling wine that is made in the same way that Champagne is produced, but with different grapes – in Freixenet’s case macabeo, parellada and xarel·lo. It comes to you with zingy flavours of apple, pear and citrus and is famously bone dry. Skillful work in the winery manages that dryness by softening out the acidity, while 10-14 months bottle-aging during the second fermentation brings roundness and body to the palate.  Having not tasted it for many years I was immediately impressed by the quality on offer for such a well-priced wine. With the festive social season now in full effect, it’s a perfect option for parties and functions, and the matt black bottles remain eternally cool.

 

Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV

Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV - France

Available from $96.99

Roederer will always be included in any conversation of the most admired Champagne houses and their latest disgorgement of Brut Premier is looking especially sharp. Established in 1776, Louis Roederer remains one of the very few remaining family-owned Grand Marques with 7th generation Frederic Rouzaud at the helm. Pinot noir dominant, this is powerfully built, textural Champagne with lots going on in the glass. Fresh, fleshy white fruits kick off the palate before bready, yeasty notes take centre stage. The finish is long and vibrant with softly expressed acidity supporting layers of creamy citrus. I love it. It’s long been a personal favourite and anyone who puts a bottle of Roederer on the table will always have my attention.


Chateau Garage Orca Corca Rosato

Chateau Garage Orca Corca Rosato 2023 - Hawke’s Bay

Available from $34.99

The quirkily named Orca Corca is the latest Chateau Garage release from Ollie Powrie - former head viticulturist for the Villa Maria group. It’s been vinted from whole bunch pressed organic sangiovese from the Osawa vineyard in Maraekakaho, that has been wild-fermented in seasoned French oak. Four months ageing on its yeast lees has brought a fine texture to this delightful rosé, which bursts with bright flavours of stone fruit, red berries and almond. In the style of the classic Italian Sangiovese Rosés, it has some underlying savoury / tannic structure, and that added dimension makes it an obvious partner for alfresco foods. It's a lovely glass of wine that is calling out for an antipasto platter, a sunny afternoon and some great company.



Wine Gringo


Wine Gringo Grenache Nouveau 2023 - Australia 

Available from $14.99

Though Kiwis have been a bit slow on the uptake, lighter-bodied chilled red wines are becoming mainstream in global markets, as buyers discover the simple joys of this deliciously satisfying wine style. Wine Gringo is produced from South Australian Grenache that, in many ways, has been treated like a white wine in the winery. The soft plum and cherry flavours synonymous with grenache remain front and centre, but the tannin and grippy mouthfeel associated with red wine is nowhere to be seen. What you get is a crunchy, full-bodied rosé style that comes alive after half an hour in the fridge, but still carries the distinct flavours of those glossy grenache fruits. If you want to be the first in your book club to bust out a chilled red this summer, Wine Gringo Grenache Nouveau would be a very friendly place to start. Go on. You know you want to. 




Maude Riesling

 

Maude Reserve East Block Riesling 2023 – Central Otago 

Available from $28.99

This was one of the wines of the vintage for me; a spectacular expression of Central Otago Riesling that was wonderful to taste. Opulent fruit weight and a good dollop of residual sugar frame a palate that’s redolent with green apple, sweet citrus, lemon and lime. Those lush, juicy fruits are perfectly countered by layers of creamy acidity and the interplay between those two key components could not be more harmonious. Everything is in balance and the overall impression far exceeds the sum of its parts. The finish goes on forever. Do yourself a favour and get your hands on a bottle of this special release. Ideally serve lightly chilled as an aperitif so you can see it in its entirety – or match with lightly spicy Asian dishes.


Bodegas Beronia Rioja Crianza 2018 - Spain

 

Bodegas Beronia Rioja Crianza 2018 – Spain

Available from $24.99

This is a very satisfying example of Crianza level Rioja that has been vinted from tempranillo with splashes of garnacha and mazuelo adding further interest to the blend. Barrel-aging in a mix of French and American oak has brought depth and complexity to the core tempranillo fruits but those ripe, spicy raspberry / cherry flavours carry the conversation through to a long finish that’s complexed with some tobacco herbal and anise notes. It’s textbook mid-tier Rioja; ripe, accessible and loaded with flavour but not too extracted or over-developed. Enjoy with a charcuterie platter or a slow cooked, rosemary spiked lamb shoulder.

Mac's Picks - 18 November 2023

Mac's Picks - 18 November 2023

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

https://www.advintage.co.nz/freixenet-cordon-negro-brutFreixenet Cordon Negro Cava Brut NV - Spain

Available from $16.99

Approximately 100 million bottles of Cordon Negro are opened every year. That’s around 3 every second – an astounding number that makes Freixenet (pron. Fresh- annette) the number one selling Spanish Cava and one of the world’s most loved sparkling wines. Cava is simply Spanish sparkling wine that is made in the same way that Champagne is produced, but with different grapes – in Freixenet’s case macabeo, parellada and xarel·lo. It comes to you with zingy flavours of apple, pear and citrus and is famously bone dry. Skillful work in the winery manages that dryness by softening out the acidity, while 10-14 months bottle-aging during the second fermentation brings roundness and body to the palate.  Having not tasted it for many years I was immediately impressed by the quality on offer for such a well-priced wine. With the festive social season now in full effect, it’s a perfect option for parties and functions, and the matt black bottles remain eternally cool.

 

Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV

Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV - France

Available from $96.99

Roederer will always be included in any conversation of the most admired Champagne houses and their latest disgorgement of Brut Premier is looking especially sharp. Established in 1776, Louis Roederer remains one of the very few remaining family-owned Grand Marques with 7th generation Frederic Rouzaud at the helm. Pinot noir dominant, this is powerfully built, textural Champagne with lots going on in the glass. Fresh, fleshy white fruits kick off the palate before bready, yeasty notes take centre stage. The finish is long and vibrant with softly expressed acidity supporting layers of creamy citrus. I love it. It’s long been a personal favourite and anyone who puts a bottle of Roederer on the table will always have my attention.


Chateau Garage Orca Corca Rosato

Chateau Garage Orca Corca Rosato 2023 - Hawke’s Bay

Available from $34.99

The quirkily named Orca Corca is the latest Chateau Garage release from Ollie Powrie - former head viticulturist for the Villa Maria group. It’s been vinted from whole bunch pressed organic sangiovese from the Osawa vineyard in Maraekakaho, that has been wild-fermented in seasoned French oak. Four months ageing on its yeast lees has brought a fine texture to this delightful rosé, which bursts with bright flavours of stone fruit, red berries and almond. In the style of the classic Italian Sangiovese Rosés, it has some underlying savoury / tannic structure, and that added dimension makes it an obvious partner for alfresco foods. It's a lovely glass of wine that is calling out for an antipasto platter, a sunny afternoon and some great company.



Wine Gringo


Wine Gringo Grenache Nouveau 2023 - Australia 

Available from $14.99

Though Kiwis have been a bit slow on the uptake, lighter-bodied chilled red wines are becoming mainstream in global markets, as buyers discover the simple joys of this deliciously satisfying wine style. Wine Gringo is produced from South Australian Grenache that, in many ways, has been treated like a white wine in the winery. The soft plum and cherry flavours synonymous with grenache remain front and centre, but the tannin and grippy mouthfeel associated with red wine is nowhere to be seen. What you get is a crunchy, full-bodied rosé style that comes alive after half an hour in the fridge, but still carries the distinct flavours of those glossy grenache fruits. If you want to be the first in your book club to bust out a chilled red this summer, Wine Gringo Grenache Nouveau would be a very friendly place to start. Go on. You know you want to. 




Maude Riesling

 

Maude Reserve East Block Riesling 2023 – Central Otago 

Available from $28.99

This was one of the wines of the vintage for me; a spectacular expression of Central Otago Riesling that was wonderful to taste. Opulent fruit weight and a good dollop of residual sugar frame a palate that’s redolent with green apple, sweet citrus, lemon and lime. Those lush, juicy fruits are perfectly countered by layers of creamy acidity and the interplay between those two key components could not be more harmonious. Everything is in balance and the overall impression far exceeds the sum of its parts. The finish goes on forever. Do yourself a favour and get your hands on a bottle of this special release. Ideally serve lightly chilled as an aperitif so you can see it in its entirety – or match with lightly spicy Asian dishes.


Bodegas Beronia Rioja Crianza 2018 - Spain

 

Bodegas Beronia Rioja Crianza 2018 – Spain

Available from $24.99

This is a very satisfying example of Crianza level Rioja that has been vinted from tempranillo with splashes of garnacha and mazuelo adding further interest to the blend. Barrel-aging in a mix of French and American oak has brought depth and complexity to the core tempranillo fruits but those ripe, spicy raspberry / cherry flavours carry the conversation through to a long finish that’s complexed with some tobacco herbal and anise notes. It’s textbook mid-tier Rioja; ripe, accessible and loaded with flavour but not too extracted or over-developed. Enjoy with a charcuterie platter or a slow cooked, rosemary spiked lamb shoulder.

Mac's Picks - 4 November 2023

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Awatere River Methode Traditionelle NVAwatere River Méthode Traditionelle NV - Marlborough

Available from $26.99

It’s aways a pleasure tasting good New Zealand Méthode and this new release from Awatere River was a very impressive effort from a producer who has a well-won following for their excellent still wines. Produced using the time-honoured bottle fermentation process from the classic Champagne varietals of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, it is a bright and vibrant style with plenty of complexity in the glass. Citrus, white flowers, brioche and yeast characters dominate the bouquet, while a dry, elegant palate is enhanced with some toasty back notes and nicely rounded mouthfeel. The finish is long and very refreshing with good acid drive, and plenty of tangy citrus flavours. In my book, this wine is very good value for small batch Marlborough Méthode. It comes highly recommended. 



Rapaura Springs RESERVE Pinot Gris 2022

Rapaura Springs Reserve Pinot Gris 2022 - Marlborough

Available from $16.99

Here is another outright winner from a Marlborough company with a big reputation for sharply priced, high-quality wines. In typical Rapaura Springs fashion, there is a lot going on in the glass for pinot gris in this price band. You are sure to find a lovely medley of spicy pear and sweet citrus on the nose, and a nicely textural palate that picks up those flavours and adds some tropical fruits into the mix. The finish is long and fresh with good acidity - and the lasting impression is very clean, with those spicy pear notes rounding out the conversation. The fruit weight / acid interplay is nicely harmonious and it’s that balance that sets this wine part from so many of its peer group. This is lovely wine. If you’re a fan of Marlborough Pinot Gris and don’t give it a crack, you’re missing a trick.



Fortant de France Terroir dAltitude Chardonnay 2022Fortant de France Terroir d’Altitude Chardonnay 2022 – France 

Available from $23.99

Thankfully, the days of bulk, uninspiring wines from the engine room of Southern France are now largely behind us - and the rise in quality from appellations such as Pays d’Oc continue to impress. Chardonnay has certainly come on in leaps and bounds, and the 2022 vintage of Fortant de France Terroir d’Altitude is a definite case in point. Fragrant and inviting with aromas of sweet nectarine, cashew and lemon, this is creamy, fulsome wine with punchy flavours of peach, melon and lemon butter. It’s robust and rounded but carries enough acidity to keep the palate focused and bright, and the finish is long and rewarding with tangy citrus brûlée characters to the fore. Fans of bold New Zealand Chardonnay will find lots to like here, and I far prefer this chardonnay style to the flabbier Californian wines that currently dominate our imported chardonnay sales.



Wooing Tree Beetle Juice Pinot Noir 2020


Wooing Tree Beetle Juice Pinot Noir 2020 – Central Otago 

Available from $28.99

Produced by Cromwell winery Wooing Tree as an entry point to their portfolio of pinot noirs, Beetlejuice has become a well-known option for buyers looking for Central Otago Pinot in the hotly contested sub $30 bracket. Vinted as an immediately accessible style to be opened without the need for further aging, the 2020 is a satisfying wine that brings a bouquet of plum and savoury cherry to the table - with some undernotes of game and mushroom if you look a bit more closely. Those characters carry through to a palate that flows nicely in the mouth with good length and supple mouthfeel, while the finish is softly rounded with nicely integrated tannins.  It’s uncomplicated but nonetheless highly enjoyable; exactly what Central Otago Pinot in this price band should be.




Wild Grace Syrah 2021

 

Wild Grace Syrah 2021 – Hawke’s Bay 

Available from $16.99

Here’s this week’s outright bargain. Wild Grace may come from the catalogue of international drink giant Constellation Brands, but there is nothing ‘commercial’ about this well-made syrah. 2021 was an excellent vintage in Hawke’s Bay and this very affordable wine shines with glossy fruits in the plum and blackberry spectrum. Silken texture is the main calling card here and those lovely layers of dark fruits effortlessly fill the mouth with hints of oak and fruit spice adding another level of complexity. With the price of good Hawke’s Bay Syrah continually on the rise, it’s clearly good buying - but seeing wine of this quality well under the $20 mark is a golden opportunity for any syrah buyer looking to increase the calibre of their mid-week drinking.


Altemura Apulo Primitivo 2021

 

Altemura Apulo Primitivo 2021 – Italy

Available from $16.99

Produced in Salento – a Puglia sub-region within the southern ‘heel of the boot’ of Italy - this is another wine that fights well above its weight. Vinted from unoaked primitivo, it’s a fleshy and ripe style with plenty of red plum and black cherry flavours with some vanilla and spice notes providing the detail that elevates this wine to a higher plane. It’s rounded and quite velvety – but those dark red fruits always remain the star of the show. Anise and black pepper nuances close out proceedings and leave you looking for that second glass. Match with a spicy pizza or a hearty ragout when the gang calls around, and your ‘wine cred’ is sure to go up.

Mac's Picks - 4 November 2023

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Awatere River Methode Traditionelle NVAwatere River Méthode Traditionelle NV - Marlborough

Available from $26.99

It’s aways a pleasure tasting good New Zealand Méthode and this new release from Awatere River was a very impressive effort from a producer who has a well-won following for their excellent still wines. Produced using the time-honoured bottle fermentation process from the classic Champagne varietals of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, it is a bright and vibrant style with plenty of complexity in the glass. Citrus, white flowers, brioche and yeast characters dominate the bouquet, while a dry, elegant palate is enhanced with some toasty back notes and nicely rounded mouthfeel. The finish is long and very refreshing with good acid drive, and plenty of tangy citrus flavours. In my book, this wine is very good value for small batch Marlborough Méthode. It comes highly recommended. 



Rapaura Springs RESERVE Pinot Gris 2022

Rapaura Springs Reserve Pinot Gris 2022 - Marlborough

Available from $16.99

Here is another outright winner from a Marlborough company with a big reputation for sharply priced, high-quality wines. In typical Rapaura Springs fashion, there is a lot going on in the glass for pinot gris in this price band. You are sure to find a lovely medley of spicy pear and sweet citrus on the nose, and a nicely textural palate that picks up those flavours and adds some tropical fruits into the mix. The finish is long and fresh with good acidity - and the lasting impression is very clean, with those spicy pear notes rounding out the conversation. The fruit weight / acid interplay is nicely harmonious and it’s that balance that sets this wine part from so many of its peer group. This is lovely wine. If you’re a fan of Marlborough Pinot Gris and don’t give it a crack, you’re missing a trick.



Fortant de France Terroir dAltitude Chardonnay 2022Fortant de France Terroir d’Altitude Chardonnay 2022 – France 

Available from $23.99

Thankfully, the days of bulk, uninspiring wines from the engine room of Southern France are now largely behind us - and the rise in quality from appellations such as Pays d’Oc continue to impress. Chardonnay has certainly come on in leaps and bounds, and the 2022 vintage of Fortant de France Terroir d’Altitude is a definite case in point. Fragrant and inviting with aromas of sweet nectarine, cashew and lemon, this is creamy, fulsome wine with punchy flavours of peach, melon and lemon butter. It’s robust and rounded but carries enough acidity to keep the palate focused and bright, and the finish is long and rewarding with tangy citrus brûlée characters to the fore. Fans of bold New Zealand Chardonnay will find lots to like here, and I far prefer this chardonnay style to the flabbier Californian wines that currently dominate our imported chardonnay sales.



Wooing Tree Beetle Juice Pinot Noir 2020


Wooing Tree Beetle Juice Pinot Noir 2020 – Central Otago 

Available from $28.99

Produced by Cromwell winery Wooing Tree as an entry point to their portfolio of pinot noirs, Beetlejuice has become a well-known option for buyers looking for Central Otago Pinot in the hotly contested sub $30 bracket. Vinted as an immediately accessible style to be opened without the need for further aging, the 2020 is a satisfying wine that brings a bouquet of plum and savoury cherry to the table - with some undernotes of game and mushroom if you look a bit more closely. Those characters carry through to a palate that flows nicely in the mouth with good length and supple mouthfeel, while the finish is softly rounded with nicely integrated tannins.  It’s uncomplicated but nonetheless highly enjoyable; exactly what Central Otago Pinot in this price band should be.




Wild Grace Syrah 2021

 

Wild Grace Syrah 2021 – Hawke’s Bay 

Available from $16.99

Here’s this week’s outright bargain. Wild Grace may come from the catalogue of international drink giant Constellation Brands, but there is nothing ‘commercial’ about this well-made syrah. 2021 was an excellent vintage in Hawke’s Bay and this very affordable wine shines with glossy fruits in the plum and blackberry spectrum. Silken texture is the main calling card here and those lovely layers of dark fruits effortlessly fill the mouth with hints of oak and fruit spice adding another level of complexity. With the price of good Hawke’s Bay Syrah continually on the rise, it’s clearly good buying - but seeing wine of this quality well under the $20 mark is a golden opportunity for any syrah buyer looking to increase the calibre of their mid-week drinking.


Altemura Apulo Primitivo 2021

 

Altemura Apulo Primitivo 2021 – Italy

Available from $16.99

Produced in Salento – a Puglia sub-region within the southern ‘heel of the boot’ of Italy - this is another wine that fights well above its weight. Vinted from unoaked primitivo, it’s a fleshy and ripe style with plenty of red plum and black cherry flavours with some vanilla and spice notes providing the detail that elevates this wine to a higher plane. It’s rounded and quite velvety – but those dark red fruits always remain the star of the show. Anise and black pepper nuances close out proceedings and leave you looking for that second glass. Match with a spicy pizza or a hearty ragout when the gang calls around, and your ‘wine cred’ is sure to go up.

Mac's Picks - 7 October 2023

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Au Fil de la Loire Rose dAnjou 2021Fistonich Family Forest Flower Collection Rosé 2022 – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $19.99

This is one of the first of a series of new wines that have been released by Sir George Fistonich, the founder of the Villa Maria vinous juggernaut. Clearly not ready to retire after Villa Maria was dismantled and sold off in a bitterly fought receivership, Sir George has re-entered the market with a new family of brands including the Forest Flower Collection. The 2022 Forest Flower Rosé is vinted from a blend of Hawke’s Bay Malbec (55%) and Syrah. It’s a very balanced release with a bouquet that blossoms with red berry fruits, watermelon, and red apple aromas. The palate is just off-dry with juicy characters that reflect the nose, with some ripe peach / apricot flavours adding extra texture and weight. The finish is fresh and tangy and carries the acidity needed to keep things crisp and refreshing. Match with a ham sandwich on a summer’s day and life will be good. 



Rockburn Stolen Kiss ROSE 2023

Rockburn Stolen Kiss Rosé 2023 – Central Otago

Available from $26.99

It’s always a pleasure tasting a new vintage of Stolen Kiss, and this important wine continues to be one of the most sought-after rosés released in New Zealand each season. After a few years where the winery was experimenting with residual sugar levels, the team now seem to be working in the 9-12g/l zone – and in my mind, that’s the sweetness level that works best for this ‘luxe’ wine style. Vinted from pinot noir, this is plush and decadent rosé that brims with candy apple and strawberry flavours. It’s exuberant, creamy and those glossy pinot noir fruits fill every corner of the mouth with flavour – before layers of soft acidity kick in to balance out those sweeter notes. With the proliferation of just off-dry roses in our domestic market, it’s so refreshing to see Rockburn refine the unapologetically frivolous style that has put Stolen Kiss on the New Zealand Rosé map – and the 2023 will go down as one of the best vintages to date.



Kim Crawford Small Parcels Chardonnay 2021Kim Crawford Small Parcels Chardonnay 2021 – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $24.99

The Small Parcels range allows the Kim Crawford winemaking team to stretch their legs and produce wines with more interest and depth than their well-known, commercial range. There have been some lovely wines released under the Small Parcels banner, and fans of premium barrel-fermented chardonnay will certainly find a lot to like here. Robustly framed and loaded with stonefruits, lemon brulee, cashew and oak spice, this 2021 release reflects the riches provided by an excellent Hawke’s Bay growing season. A subtle reductive / struck note on the nose adds a modern touch before those powerhouse chardonnay flavours kick in - and the finish is a very satisfying amalgam of toasty oak and rounded, creamy acidity. This wine is already looking very well balanced. Cellar over the coming 5+ years to further develop those delicious lemon brulee flavours.



Little X Hawkes Bay Syrah 2020


Little X Syrah 2020 – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $18.99

With the price of Hawke’s Bay Syrah seemingly always on the rise, this is a very good value offering from Marlborough vintner, Tim Adams. Using fruit sourced from the wonderful Ohiti Road sub-region, Little X is relatively complex for syrah in this price band, and the excellent 2020 vintage has brought plenty of depth and texture to the table. Look for those spicy plum and black fruit characters that Hawke’s Bay Syrah is known for, wrapped in a medium-bodied palate that shows hints of anise, pepper and barrel toast. A generous, juicy mid-palate adds a very friendly aspect, and the finish is long and clean with soft acidity and further spicy notes. It would be a great match with smoky meats and summer BBQs. Enjoy over the coming 4 years.




Yalumba Samuels Collection Barossa Shiraz 2021

 

Yalumba Samuel’s Garden Collection Shiraz 2021 – Australia

Available from $19.99

My admiration for the Yalumba wine group is well known, and I continue to be dazzled by the quality of wine that this family-owned empire produces under its various brand tiers. From the excellent Samuel’s Garden Collection, this 2021 shiraz is a shining example of the value that the bigger South Australian producers can offer when the stars align, and this delicious shiraz should be on the radar of any Aussie red fan. Fragrant and ripe on the nose, this is classic Barossa all the way. Notes of black and blue fruits mingle with anise, vanilla and mocha, while the palate is full-bodied and generous - with spicy plum and blackcurrant flavours taking centre stage. In my book, this wine could be twice this price and still be considered obvious value. It’s already drinking well but cellar over the coming decade to further to soften down the acid / tannin components and see those lush Barossa fruits command the stage.


Boccantino Nero dAvola Nerello 2019

 

Boccantino Nero d’Avola Nerello 2019 - Sicily

Available from $21.99

This is a lovely example of modern Sicilian winemaking using nero d’avola and the lesser known nerello mascalese to form the blend. Fulsome and plush on the palate, the powerful flavours from the darkly fruited nero d’avola component are ably supported by the softer, juicier nerello mascalese fruits – and it’s a special combination when those two varietal worlds collide. Look for lots of succulent blackberry flavours with tobacco / herbal nuances and spicy highlights of liquorice, lavender and cola. It’s a perfect wine to match with a gutsy ragu or perhaps a pepperoni pizza, but it’s generosity and soft tannin structure make it a great option to settle into with a good Netflix session. It comes highly recommended.

Mac's Picks - 7 October 2023

Welcome to this week’s column – a down to earth look at some interesting local and international releases that I have come across over the last few weeks.

Au Fil de la Loire Rose dAnjou 2021Fistonich Family Forest Flower Collection Rosé 2022 – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $19.99

This is one of the first of a series of new wines that have been released by Sir George Fistonich, the founder of the Villa Maria vinous juggernaut. Clearly not ready to retire after Villa Maria was dismantled and sold off in a bitterly fought receivership, Sir George has re-entered the market with a new family of brands including the Forest Flower Collection. The 2022 Forest Flower Rosé is vinted from a blend of Hawke’s Bay Malbec (55%) and Syrah. It’s a very balanced release with a bouquet that blossoms with red berry fruits, watermelon, and red apple aromas. The palate is just off-dry with juicy characters that reflect the nose, with some ripe peach / apricot flavours adding extra texture and weight. The finish is fresh and tangy and carries the acidity needed to keep things crisp and refreshing. Match with a ham sandwich on a summer’s day and life will be good. 



Rockburn Stolen Kiss ROSE 2023

Rockburn Stolen Kiss Rosé 2023 – Central Otago

Available from $26.99

It’s always a pleasure tasting a new vintage of Stolen Kiss, and this important wine continues to be one of the most sought-after rosés released in New Zealand each season. After a few years where the winery was experimenting with residual sugar levels, the team now seem to be working in the 9-12g/l zone – and in my mind, that’s the sweetness level that works best for this ‘luxe’ wine style. Vinted from pinot noir, this is plush and decadent rosé that brims with candy apple and strawberry flavours. It’s exuberant, creamy and those glossy pinot noir fruits fill every corner of the mouth with flavour – before layers of soft acidity kick in to balance out those sweeter notes. With the proliferation of just off-dry roses in our domestic market, it’s so refreshing to see Rockburn refine the unapologetically frivolous style that has put Stolen Kiss on the New Zealand Rosé map – and the 2023 will go down as one of the best vintages to date.



Kim Crawford Small Parcels Chardonnay 2021Kim Crawford Small Parcels Chardonnay 2021 – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $24.99

The Small Parcels range allows the Kim Crawford winemaking team to stretch their legs and produce wines with more interest and depth than their well-known, commercial range. There have been some lovely wines released under the Small Parcels banner, and fans of premium barrel-fermented chardonnay will certainly find a lot to like here. Robustly framed and loaded with stonefruits, lemon brulee, cashew and oak spice, this 2021 release reflects the riches provided by an excellent Hawke’s Bay growing season. A subtle reductive / struck note on the nose adds a modern touch before those powerhouse chardonnay flavours kick in - and the finish is a very satisfying amalgam of toasty oak and rounded, creamy acidity. This wine is already looking very well balanced. Cellar over the coming 5+ years to further develop those delicious lemon brulee flavours.



Little X Hawkes Bay Syrah 2020


Little X Syrah 2020 – Hawke’s Bay

Available from $18.99

With the price of Hawke’s Bay Syrah seemingly always on the rise, this is a very good value offering from Marlborough vintner, Tim Adams. Using fruit sourced from the wonderful Ohiti Road sub-region, Little X is relatively complex for syrah in this price band, and the excellent 2020 vintage has brought plenty of depth and texture to the table. Look for those spicy plum and black fruit characters that Hawke’s Bay Syrah is known for, wrapped in a medium-bodied palate that shows hints of anise, pepper and barrel toast. A generous, juicy mid-palate adds a very friendly aspect, and the finish is long and clean with soft acidity and further spicy notes. It would be a great match with smoky meats and summer BBQs. Enjoy over the coming 4 years.




Yalumba Samuels Collection Barossa Shiraz 2021

 

Yalumba Samuel’s Garden Collection Shiraz 2021 – Australia

Available from $19.99

My admiration for the Yalumba wine group is well known, and I continue to be dazzled by the quality of wine that this family-owned empire produces under its various brand tiers. From the excellent Samuel’s Garden Collection, this 2021 shiraz is a shining example of the value that the bigger South Australian producers can offer when the stars align, and this delicious shiraz should be on the radar of any Aussie red fan. Fragrant and ripe on the nose, this is classic Barossa all the way. Notes of black and blue fruits mingle with anise, vanilla and mocha, while the palate is full-bodied and generous - with spicy plum and blackcurrant flavours taking centre stage. In my book, this wine could be twice this price and still be considered obvious value. It’s already drinking well but cellar over the coming decade to further to soften down the acid / tannin components and see those lush Barossa fruits command the stage.


Boccantino Nero dAvola Nerello 2019

 

Boccantino Nero d’Avola Nerello 2019 - Sicily

Available from $21.99

This is a lovely example of modern Sicilian winemaking using nero d’avola and the lesser known nerello mascalese to form the blend. Fulsome and plush on the palate, the powerful flavours from the darkly fruited nero d’avola component are ably supported by the softer, juicier nerello mascalese fruits – and it’s a special combination when those two varietal worlds collide. Look for lots of succulent blackberry flavours with tobacco / herbal nuances and spicy highlights of liquorice, lavender and cola. It’s a perfect wine to match with a gutsy ragu or perhaps a pepperoni pizza, but it’s generosity and soft tannin structure make it a great option to settle into with a good Netflix session. It comes highly recommended.