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 $18.99
Main Divide is the highly successful entry-level label of celebrated North Canterbury producer, Pegasus Bay. There have been some notable wines released under the Main Divide banner over the years - with riesling, chardonnay and pinot noir the best-known performers – but over recent vintages Main Divide Pinot Gris has also been getting plenty of attention. The 2021 is a typically lush and opulent style with layer after layer of juicy Waipara fruits bringing spicy pear, ginger and honeysuckle flavours into play. While still operating in the off-dry spectrum, this vintage is drier than previous years and, in my book, that reduction in fruit sweetness was the right move. The finish is very clean with plenty of soft acidity keeping things fresh and bright - but those wonderfully rich Waipara fruits hang in there to the very end. Match with chilli-spiked Asian dishes or spicy baked salmon and enjoy over the coming 3 years.
Available from $22.99
This was a lovely example of middleweight barrel-fermented chardonnay from one of the stalwarts of the Marlborough wine industry. The nose was complex and full of interest for a wine in this price point, with stonefruit, grilled citrus and flinty / gun smoke notes supported by some subtle hints of oak spice. The palate took those characters and laid them over a bed of lightly creamy, sweet vanilla flavours, before a vein of fresh acidity kicked in, leading the way to a long and very satisfying finish. The oak component has been skillfully handed here - adding just enough weight to the conversation, without ever dominating the peach and citrus interplay of those ripe Marlborough fruits. This is the best rendition of this popular chardonnay that I can recall tasting – and an obvious bargain if you see it for under $25. Enjoy now over the coming 5+ years.
Available from $24.99
As the style of mid-tier Hawke’s Bay Syrah is reinterpreted and redefined, I find myself drawn more and more to the supple and juicy examples, where concentration and structure are eschewed in favour of flowing mouthfeel and an almost ‘pinot noir like’ sense of palate weight. Squawking Magpie seems to agree with that thought and the 2021 Chatterer Syrah is a textbook example of this understated but utterly delicious syrah style. Sourced from Gimblett Gravels fruit, it is very fragrant, with notes of dark cherry and plums complexed with violet, lavender and anise. The palate effortlessly carries those characters through to a savoury finish with pillow soft tannins and gentle acidity, leaving the mouth refreshed and looking for more. This lovely wine is highly recommended. Seek it out.
Available from $17.99
This is another well-known, well-priced wine that is in excellent form. Now entering its perfect drinking window, the 2019 Sandpiper Shiraz from Thorn-Clarke is loaded with black fruits and baking spices on the nose and a medium to full-bodied palate that shows the dark plum and savoury cherry flavours that the Barossa delivers in good vintages. A dose of choco-berry / mocha and some vanillin oak on the mid-palate adds a luxe element but the fruits always remain on the savoury side of the street - and those classic South Australian flavours go on and on. Already enjoyable, this wine will continue to develop and become further integrated over the coming 4-5 years.
Available from $39.99
Here’s this week’s showstopper. Imported by the inimitable Stephen Bennett MW, this 2017 release from Bodegas Piqueras is produced from a 50/50 split of old vine Monastrell and Grenache Tintorera. This is a big, extroverted wine that fills the senses with the rounded fruit characters that are synonymous with premium Spanish reds. The nose offers layers of concentrated blackberry and damson plum, with violet and spice notes adding further complexity. The palate is very broad and concentrated with sturdy weight and an endless array of dark fruit characters. Spice and smoky oak provide the detail on a wine that shines with glossy exuberance, and the finish is very rich with savoury dried fruit characters sitting over gentle tannins and well-integrated acidity. This is powerhouse winemaking from one of my favourite Spanish producers and a guaranteed talking point whenever a bottle is opened. Match with a hearty casserole or wood-fired meats when you want to knock the socks off your guests.
Available from $58.99
While Port seemingly doesn’t enjoy the popularity it once had in the New Zealand market, it remains a key fortified wine style that, thankfully, maintains a strong international following. Six Grapes has long been one of my favourite non-vintage expressions; this a wine that I have been enjoying for almost 40 years when a soothing nightcap is the order of the day. The bottle I opened last week showed plenty of charm with decadent dark fruits complexed with hints of just-burnt caramel and lots of sweet raisin. The rancio (a sort of nutty /raisin character) note that you look for in Port was there in full effect, and the lasting impression was mellow and very graceful. Match with an open fire and robust post-dinner conversation as soon as possible.