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 $19.99
Thanks to a vanguard of younger, skilled importers, the New Zealand wine buying public is now enjoying some wonderful bargains from France, and French Chardonnay is a fast-growing category in good wine stores nationwide. Most of the sharper priced offerings emanate from the South of France and this 2021 Pays d’Oc is a shining example of the sheer value available from a region once known for bulk production, and often insipid white wines. 2021 was a good vintage in Pays d’Oc and Les Peyrautins is a soft, flowing chardonnay with ripe creamy peach flavours underpinning a silky palate that brims with lemon brulee characters. Some subtle wood spice brings added interest, but the lasting impression is a lovely balance between those lush, ripe chardonnay fruits and a fine line of lingering acidity. It’s already drinking very well in its youth, but cellar over the coming 3-4 years to ramp those brulee flavours up several notches.
Available from $15.99
Here’s a real classic from one of the great names in French wine. Normally associated with the Rhone Valley, Chapoutier chose to source fruit from the Pays d’Oc region to lower production costs and this traditionally dry rosé is vinted from a blend of grenache and cinsault. Look for an array of crunchy red summer fruits in the raspberry and redcurrant spectrum with a tangy, oyster shell character (the calling card of the cinsault component) adding some extra magic on the palate. Importantly, while remaining light and crisp, this rosé has more structure and savoury character than the ubiquitous Provence model that dominates sales in the French Rosé category. I can say that Chapoutier Rosé has been on high rotation in our household for the last few years. Give it a crack with summer salads or watch it make all the difference to your next baked ham.
Available from $19.99
The First Flight label has proven to be a real winner for Squawking Magpie owner, Gavin Yortt. These well-priced, varietally correct Hawke’s Bay wines clearly offer good value and the 2019 syrah is perhaps my favourite from the First Flight range. This is ‘pretty’ wine that is immediately appealing and fragrant on the nose. On the palate it is soft and supple, with an amalgam of middleweight dark blue fruits that aim for easy drinking rather than structure and complexity. The tannins are silky and fine and there is enough oak influence to underpin those plush, juicy blue fruits without dominating the conversation. It’s a softer, more ‘feminine’ syrah model that I wish more producers would adopt in the key under $25 retail bracket. Recommended.
Available from $23.99
Carmenere is the bold, spicy red wine that made its name in the vineyards of Chile, where it has become that nation’s signature varietal. Halfway around the world, Gisborne vintners Paul Tietjen and Geordie Witters have developed their own following for carmenere, and the current 2018 vintage is the best I have tried from these famous East Coast growers. This is interesting, flavour packed wine. The nose is alive with dark red and black fruits with some telltale herbal / leather complexity. The palate shows layer after layer of spicy flavours in the blackberry and redcurrant zone, with some mocha and tobacco notes adding carmenere’s signature flavours into the mix. The finish is long with plenty of good acidity and that acidity will ensure that the 2018 release has at least another 5 years in it should you choose to lay some down. Match with roasted vegetable or woodfired meats. You’ll be very pleased that you did.