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 $29.99
Like almost everyone else in the wine trade I am a big riesling fan. And, like almost everyone else in the wine trade, I wish this wonderful varietal would gain a stronger foothold in the minds of the wine buying public. Few white wines are as refreshing and rewarding as a decent glass of riesling and the justifiably famous Art Series label is a textbook example from one of my favourite Australian producers, Leeuwin Estate. When I first started working in the wine industry over 20 years ago, I was obsessed with this wine and to this day I always have a few bottles on hand at home should the mood strike. Dry to taste, this Margaret River classic is all limes, zingy citrus and salivatingly juicy acidity. Look a bit closer to find saline notes and touches of subtle minerality adding depth and further complexity. Enjoy as an aperitif in the afternoon sun and the world should immediately become a better place.
Available from $19.99
Of all the questions I get asked in my day job as a wine merchant, far and away the most common is “What’s your boldest, most buttery chardonnay under $20?” The growth of Californian Chardonnay in our local market has certainly been a boon to anyone asking that question with the Fat Bastard brand designed to make the answer an obvious one. Though perhaps not as over the top as the name suggests, this is nonetheless a bold offering with plenty of creamy peach and sweet, toasty oak flavours sitting over a middleweight to full-bodied palate. Some tropical fruits and vanillin spice enter the conversation, and the finish has enough acidity to refresh the mouth and keep those stone fruit characters keeping on. Good buying.
Available from $19.99
Astrolabe have a well established reputation as one of the great Marlborough producers, with an excellent range that is ably led by their flagship sauvignon blanc label. This 2021 rosé, their current vintage, is another release that deserves such recognition and is constantly on my list of the best rosés from the top of the South Island. Just a whisker off bone-dry, this wine is blended from pinot noir (55%) and pinot gris (45%). It has lovely mid-palate weight with flavours in the red berry / strawberry spectrum while some gentle tannins add some subtle grip and bring a touch of seriousness to this classic summer wine. The finish is fresh and crisp, and the lasting impression is both satisfying and moreish. It’s a perfect wine to enjoy with an alfresco lunch or with a deli-platter as the sun goes down.
Available from $39.99
This has aways been one of the market’s best buys and the 2021 vintage of Akarua Pinot Noir is another very solid offering from this trusted set of hands. Significant vineyard holdings allow Akarua to be very specific about fruit selection for their estate label and the latest release shows classic Bannockburn dark fruits and plenty of palate-weight by modern Central Otago standards. Black cherry and damson plum notes sit over a palate with plenty of savoury game and mushroom flavours, while the finish brings in a nice line of creamy acidity. This is well made wine. It is already looking quite balanced and rounded, but a further few years in the cellar is sure to bring an extra layer of silkiness to the palate and amplify those secondary game / forest floor characters.
Available from $17.99
The less commonly available Vineyard Selection range from Mission has produced some real bangers over the years and this well priced 2019 wine gives you access to good, honest Gimblett Gravels Syrah for well under the $20 mark. On the nose the action here is classic Hawke’s Bay Syrah. Notes of spiced plum and anise meld with dark plum and berry notes. It’s a pretty bouquet on the feminine side of the spectrum with some floral / violet notes reinforcing that assessment. The wonderful 2019 growing season worked its magic and the palate is middleweight and supple in the mouth with more spiced berries, licorice and mocha notes to the fore. Good value.
Available from $16.99
Well-known Australian producer Grant Burge is a fifth generation Barossa vigneron with a reputation for crafting thoughtful, generous wines that tend to outperform their price points. Fifth Generation Shiraz is a case in point and there can be no doubt that this 2020 release offers plenty of good old-fashioned bang for your buck. The nose is very fragrant with layers of spicy red and black fruits. The palate is broad and well-developed with ample fruit weight, spicy complexity and touches of sweet oak. A decent dollop of tannin adds freshness and structure and gives the wine real personality. It’s a style with wide appeal and a perfect option for a BBQ red of you like your shiraz packed with flavour and not too sweet-fruited.