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 $23.99
Black Barn winemaker Dave McKee has a big reputation for his robust, barrel-fermented chardonnays but he’s taken a more refined approach with this very good 2022 ‘estate’ release. It’s a showcase of the regional stonefruit and citrus flavours that Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay is so well known for – all presented in a vibrant, middleweight style with plenty of refreshing acidity on the finish. Though some older barrels were used to add another layer of texture, this chardonnay presents as an unwooded wine. Good winemaking has brought some creamy mouthfeel into the mix and the palate flows nicely with some underlying mineral notes to balance out those punchy peach and ripe lemon flavours. It’s a stylish, understated effort that is sure to impress those looking for a lighter chardonnay expression.
Available from $18.99
I have always wondered why Nautilus hasn’t joined the ranks of Marlborough’s elite sauvignons, in the public’s eye. Certainly, from a quality perspective, it deserves to be held in the same regard as, say, Astrolabe, Cloudy Bay or Dog Point – and the wine trade has nothing but praise for the Nautilus wines made under the careful eye of winemaker, Clive Jones. From a tougher vintage, Jones has a cracker on his hands here and the 2022 Nautilus Sauvignon brims with swagger and charm. Passionfruit and lemon/grapefruit flavours burst onto the palate and are further amplified on the finish with loads of tangy acidity in support. The palate weight is spot on and presents that ethereal texture that only the best sauvignons deploy. It’s undoubtedly one of the best 2022 examples I have tried and deserves the attention of any fan of New Zealand’s signature varietal.
Available from $28.99
Bone-dry and delicately framed, this is a textbook example of the top-end crisp, zingy rosés that emanate from southern France. Blended from grenache gris, grenache noir and mourvèdre, it’s a lovely amalgam of red fruits, watermelon and citrus notes on the nose – and those characters flow through to a dry palate with some wet stone, mineral influence. The initial dryness makes way for a slight juiciness on the mid-palate, and those crunchy red fruit characters stop this 2021 release from becoming too austere. It’s a class act that is best suited to be enjoyed with food - and the cool frosted, glass-stoppered bottles are sure to attract plenty of attention if you put one on your dinner table. Open a bottle with a plate of fresh ham sandwiches and let your friends enjoy one of the great food matches.
Available from $14.99
Here is an absolute bargain. If you read this column regularly you will know I am a huge advocate of Spanish Tempranillo. In my book it’s about as user-friendly as European red wine gets and can work in almost any situation – from casual after-work drinks through to a ‘one size fits all’ red wine for the dinner table. Best of all, it is typically very well-priced, and the Paloma 2020 is a shining example of the sheer value for money that tempranillo can offer discerning buyers who are watching their budget. Loaded with supple layers of red and black fruits, it’s plush and very attractive on the palate. The finish shows some generous, savoury characters and the easy tannin structure makes for a comforting and very pleasant glass of wine. Presented in premium, heavyweight glass, this delicious wine is well worth seeking out. I will definitely be grabbing a case.
Available from $14.99
Prior to being so cruelly ravaged by Cyclone Gabrielle, Linden Estate had embarked on a rebranding program with this 2020 blend one of the old label wines that has been heavily discounted to sell through existing stocks. Now well under $20, it gives canny shoppers the chance to stock up on a sturdy Hawke’s Bay blend at what can only be described as a compelling price point. Make no mistake, this is serious wine for your money. Structured and powerfully fruited, this is a dense and savoury style with masses of plum / black fruit flavours complexed with some herbal and licorice notes. The finish has plenty of tannic grip and suggests that decanting would be a worthwhile option in its youth. It’s a blend that really should be enjoyed with food to see it at its best and has considerable cellar potential should you chose to lay some down
Available from $21.99
There has long been some magic happening in Australia’s cool climate Margaret River vineyards, and this lauded cabernet merlot blend is the wine that put the region’s most famous producer on the map. Many pundits feel that Margaret River is home to the best Bordeaux blends outside of France, and with wines of this calibre available in New Zealand for just over $20, it’s time to take more notice of that supposition. Elegant and refined by Australian red wine standards, this classic Vasse Felix wine opens with a bouquet awash with dark fruits, spice and game. The palate is approachable with good drive and plenty of warmth and the finish has admirable structure and depth. It’s very good. Enjoy over the coming 5 years – although it is already looking very harmonious and balanced.