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 $28.99
From the Cotes du Roussillon comes this fine example of dry Mediterranean Rosé. Pale and silky pink in the glass, it fits the crisp and light rosé model that is so popular right now and has the classic lightly creamy raspberry / strawberry / watermelon flavours you would expect from good southern French Rosé. What sets this wine apart from the pack is a crunchy, bone-dry palate with layers of salivating mineral, slightly saline characters. Those mineral notes bring a refreshing seriousness to the conversation and make this 2021 release best suited to be enjoyed with food. It will be a wonderful partner to a tangy salad or fresh seafood dishes, or better still, match with a ham sandwich for a sunny afternoon snack.
Available from $23.99
I have a huge soft spot for this classic South Australian Riesling and many, many glasses of Pewsey Vale have been savoured in the Macpherson household over the years. Produced under the umbrella ownership of Yalumba’s Hill-Smith family, this is a traditionally dry Eden Valley style with juicy lime and zesty citrus flavours dominating a palate that is brimming with vibrancy and acidity. It’s a perfect aperitif – lively, stimulating wine that will set the scene for a casual night with friends and get everyone wondering why they don’t drink riesling more often. Five years on from harvest this lovely wine is looking pristine and sharp with a hint of bottle-aged lanolin flavour starting to show. It comes very highly recommended.
Available from $17.99
In my book, Pencarrow Sauvignon Blanc has long set the value bar for Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc and the winery has done another great job with this 2022 release. Passionfruit and crisp lime notes are the calling cards for Martinborough Sauvignon and Pencarrow has both in full effect. The palate is nicely textural with good weight and those punchy passionfruit characters are underpinned with some tomato leaf / herbal complexity. Plenty of soft acidity rounds out the finish but those clean citrus and juicy tropical fruits remain the star of the show. If acid / fruit balance is the key to good sauvignon blanc, Palliser Estate have walked that tightrope with aplomb. This is lovely, well-priced wine from one of the great North Island producers, and I am sure that many of Palliser’s peers would be happy to call this ‘entry level’ wine their flagship sauvignon release.
Available from $19.99
If you are shopping in the $20 bracket for a bottle of good Hawke’s Bay Merlot, you’ll go a long way before finding a better option than this. This is a gorgeous example of uncomplicated, fruit forward merlot that has been designed for pleasure and easy enjoyment. On the nose it’s loaded with textbook plum and spice with some oak influence adding an extra element of depth. The palate is softly flowing but has enough drive and energy to always keep you engaged. The finish is warm and friendly with supple tannins and refreshing soft acidity. I often think the Hawke’s Bay winemakers try and cram too much structure into red wines in this price band - when what the public is really looking for is a rounder and more gluggable glass of wine. Trinity Hill have nailed that style with this excellent 2020 release and it fully deserves to be on your radar the next time you go wine shopping.
Available from $39.99
The new owners of Sacred Hill have discounted some of their Special Selection portfolio to move older stocks that have not been overseen by their new winemaker, Nick Picone – a man who has won more New Zealand Winemaker of the Year titles than anyone I can think of. This has thrown some uncanny bargains into the retail market and collectors of fine New Zealand reds should be on the lookout for these exciting opportunities. Now available under $40, Helmsman is a case study in topflight Hawke’s Bay Cabernet dominant wine (the 2016 is a blend of 56% cabernet sauvignon, 22% merlot & 22% cabernet franc.) Powerfully perfumed with blackcurrant, plum, dried tobacco, and green herbage notes, this wine explodes on the palate with a tour de force display of red and black fruits, and nicely grippy tannins. The merlot and cabernet franc components bring plushness and some warmer chocolate notes into the mid-palate, but the lasting impression here is one of power and grace. This compelling wine is drinking superbly now and will hold in that optimum window for the coming 7-8 years. I bought a dozen.
Available from $18.99
No one could argue that d’Arenberg are one of the most loved of all the McLaren Vale producers. Much of their substantial reputation has been built around their skillful interplay with shiraz / grenache blends; two varietals that work especially well together in the cooler climate of the maritime McLaren Vale region. It’s such an attractive wine style for anytime drinking, and if you haven’t tried a glass of Australian Grenache / Shiraz before, this well-priced example would be an excellent place to start. The glossy dark fruits of the grenache component (64%) drive the 2019 on the nose and palate before the shiraz part of the blend picks up the ball and pushes it forward bringing more weight and tannic structure into play. It’s an unashamedly joyful wine that’s been made for easy enjoyment – a perfect option to enjoy on the couch with your favourite TV show.