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 $26.99
In a domestic market awash with quality New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc options, it takes something pretty special to command a price point just under the thirty-dollar mark, but Greywacke has struck a chord with premium sauvignon buyers since the brand was conceived by pioneering Marlborough winemaker, Kevin Judd. Like any quality proposition, it’s all about the detail and this 2022 expression tries to seduce you, rather than bombard you with the exuberance that Marlborough Sauvignon is so famous for. Look for delicate aromas of passionfruit, lime and exotic fruits – all underpinned by a distinctive ‘fresh rain’ note. The palate is dry but wonderfully textural, with the aforementioned fruit characters complexed with herbal tinges and a saline touch. It’s a textbook case of ‘less is more’ and comes highly recommended.
Available from $19.99
This is another excellent release from the Two Rivers winemaking team headed by their founder, David Clouston – a man who seems to have a magic touch with aromatic Marlborough wines. Inviting and very fragrant, this 2022 release opens with attractive aromas of pear, quince and white flowers, with some subtle baking spices adding a classical pinot gris calling card. Those characters flow through to a generous palate that brings good weight and slippery mouthfeel to the party. There’s a lot going on in the glass here, and this wine is a veritable showcase of the pear and sweet citrus flavours that define the modern Marlborough Pinot Gris style. The finish is bright and lingering, with hints of spice sitting nicely alongside a vein of fresh acidity. If you want to take your pinot gris game up a notch or two, but don’t want to push the boat out too far, this delightful wine should be right at the top on your shopping list. It’s impressive stuff.
Available from $29.99
Levels is the reserve chardonnay label from Beach House’s Chris Harrison - a man who has a well-won reputation for his fulsome and rewarding Hawke’s Bay wines. This is boldly styled, punchy wine that has been designed to pack plenty of flavour into the bottle. Barrel fermentation and full malolactic treatment in the winery has delivered a raft of grilled stone fruits and tangy grapefruit on the nose, with plenty of French oak spice and baked bread characters adding further interest. The palate is full-bodied with real depth and drive - and those tangy peach / nectarine flavours push through to a long creamy finish that melds lemon brulee characters with plenty of citrus-led acidity. If you like your chardonnay broad and powerful, this will be right up in your alley. Enjoy over the coming 5+ years, but throw a roast chicken in the oven immediately.
Available from $42.99
Craggy Range have enjoyed great success with this label and the new 2021 release continues a fine run of carefully crafted Martinborough Pinot Noirs from this celebrated Hawke’s Bay producer. On the nose this is Martinborough all the way. Dark cherry and spiced red fruits dominate a bouquet that also reveals wild herbs and some rustic, earthy characters. The palate is brightly expressed with crunchy red fruit flavours and supple tannins sitting over a silky base that is complexed with some clove / anise nuances. The finish is long and flowing and the acid / tannin interplay suggests that this wine will develop beautifully over time. Classy.
Available from $22.99
If you haven’t had the chance to taste Esk Valley’s wonderful Artisanal series, it’s time to get with the program. Conceived to allow winemaker Gordon Russell the opportunity to make small-batch, interesting wines, this concept has been a resounding success in my book - and the 2021 syrah is perhaps my favorite of the Artisanal Collection wines that I have tasted to date. This is my kind of syrah. Highly aromatic and loaded with red cherry, plum and violet notes, it flows through to a supple palate that reflects the bouquet and sashays with grace and charm. This is what I call ‘a pleasure wine’- where structure and fruit concentration are eschewed in favour of supple weight and sheer deliciousness. Soft, creamy acidity rounds off the conversation and ensures that this lovely wine will continue to show at its best over the coming 5+ years. I bought a case.
Available from $26.99
This Cru Bourgeois is vinted from cabernet sauvignon (60%), merlot (30%) with petit verdot and cabernet franc rounding out the blend. Château Pontet Barrail has been making wine in the Medoc since 1932 and their understanding of the limestone rich, gravelly soils that make up their estate is in full effect here. Darkly fruited and with some pepper and anise on the nose, the palate shows a glossy amalgam of black plum and blueberry with plenty of structure and definition. Thanks to the very good 2019 vintage, there is plush volume on show here, and the finish is satisfying and broad with fine tannins and a well-managed acid line. Try a bottle with roasted meats or vegetables the next time your friends come for dinner, and wait for the looks of approval to come your way. Decant before service.