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 $23.99
Jules Taylor has been called the ‘Queen of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc’ and has long sat at the very top table of New Zealand Sauvignon production. Fruit / acid balance and textural palate weight have always been the Jules Taylor hallmarks and her team have pulled out another great result from a challenging 2022 vintage. On the nose this is classic premium Marlborough Sauvignon. A punchy bouquet melds passionfruit and tropical fruits with lemongrass and lime notes, while the palate brings those weighty flavours home, adding some mineral / wet stone complexity into the mix. The finish is long and fresh with plenty of soft acidity, but those lime and tangy citrus characters remain centre stage. With so many negative comments surrounding vintage 2022, it’s reassuring to see this great brand in such strong form. It’s already salivatingly delicious but expect this lovely wine to become further integrated and even more complete over the coming 18 months.
Available from $19.99
Esk Valley’s Artisanal range has been a smash success. Established to allow winemaker Gordon Russell to make interesting small-batch wines within the Esk Valley framework, there have been some notable releases since Artisanal was launched last year. This excellent blended red is certainly another one to seek out. Produced from Gimblett Gravels fruit, this malbec dominant wine (55%) is a very classy release given that it is widely available around the twenty dollar mark and has the cellar potential to age well over the coming decade. The nose is redolent with brambly dark fruits, and cedar / tobacco notes while the malbec driven palate is medium to full-bodied with fine texture and supple tannins. It’s worth pointing out that this delightful release is one of twelve wines named in the prestigious 2020 Gimblett Gravels Annual Vintage Selection by Andrew Caillard MW – a brilliant achievement for a wine in this price bracket. If you love a bargain and enjoy elegant Hawke’s Bay reds, this will go down as one of the buys of the year.
Available from $14.99
Stratum Riesling has always been one of the great aromatic buys in our local market and the 2022 release from Sherwood Estate is another great value proposition from this excellent producer. Waipara is a brilliant region for riesling. It typically produces examples that are fuller and plusher than anywhere else in the country, with a ‘juicy-fruit’ chewing gum note as a flavour hallmark. As you would expect, Stratum is all about showcasing those plush juicy fruits and the 2022 shows a floral nose with honeysuckle / citrus notes and a medium-dry palate which is laden with lemon / lime characters and plenty of soft acidity. This friendly, appealing wine is a well-priced option for anyone looking to reacquaint themselves with the joy that a good glass of riesling can provide. Enjoy as an aperitif or match with spicy Asian dishes.
Available from $21.99
Domaine de la Baume are a long-established estate in the south of France and have been producing wines from their Languedoc-Roussillon vineyards for over 200 years. Their chardonnay is a great example of the value that is available from France these days and fans of middle to full-bodied New Zealand Chardonnay will find much to enjoy here. Presented for sale in very heavy, premium glass bottles, this 2021 release has a classic chardonnay nose that brims with peach, citrus and spicy mandarin notes. Those characters flow seamlessly through to a soft, creamy palate where some vanillin hints get in on the action. The finish is soft and smooth with mellow acid structure and the lasting impression is very enjoyable indeed. As a chardonnay drinker who typically opts for a barrel-fermented versions of my favourite white grape, I have to say that I found it to be very attractive – and a case has already made it home with me. Match with a good Netflix session in front of the fire.
Available from $31.99
Te Awanga Estate’s wonderful One Off series allows Rod McDonald and his winemaking team to express themselves with interesting, small batch releases that would otherwise be blended away into the winery’s larger, more commercial offerings. There have been some memorable One Offs over the years and that family of quirky wines is joined by this very tasty Beginning to End Cabernet Franc from an excellent vintage in Hawke’s Bay. Straight cabernet franc is seldom seen from New Zealand producers. By all accounts it’s a hard variety to get right, so I was intrigued to try this 2019 release – a year when Hawke’s Bay reds really shone. On the palate it is quite finely expressed with more generosity showing as the wine catches the air. Flavours are in both the red and black fruit spectrum, and I noted some cocoa / mocha characters intertwined with some leafy complexity and a kiss of wood spice. Vinted from organic fruit it is already showing well but tuck a few bottles away and enjoy them over the coming 5+ years to really see this new One Off shine.
Available from $28.99
Te Kahu has always been a great value label, showcasing the skills and precision of Craggy Range’s winemaking team, at a price point that brings a wider section of the wine buying public into play. 2020 was an exceptionally glorious growing season in the Bay. Fruit was harvested from Craggy’s site in the heart of the Gimblett Gravels with merlot, cabernet sauvignon, malbec, cabernet franc and petit verdot all playing a part in bringing this multi-faceted wine together. Blackcurrant and plum flavours are centre stage with some tobacco and anise notes adding further palate complexity and interest. The cabernet component contributes structure and some attractive herbal nuances, and there is a lovely Bordeaux-esque ‘pencil-lead’ character rounding out the conversation. Paying under $30 for wine of this calibre is a boon for any disciple of classically made Hawke’s Bay red wine. Tremendous value.