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 $33.99
The popular One Off series gives Te Awanga Estate the opportunity to produce interesting offerings that allow their winemaking team to indulge their stylistic whims without commercial considerations driving the business case to offer these small batch wines for sale. It’s been a resounding success and there have been some excellent One Off wines released over the years. This is one of them. Sourced from organic fruit, this unoaked chardonnay sets out to capture the specific fruit characters of their Mangatahi site. It’s all fresh, white stone fruits on the nose and those notes flow through to a dry palate that comes alive with a delicious line of fresh acidity and underlying stony minerality. Though tightly constructed, the fruit weight shines throughout. Full malolactic ferment brings balanced mouthfeel and texture and the finish is very long, with more tangy stone fruits carried by that zingy acid line. With barrel fermented / oak influenced styles omnipresent in the premium chardonnay category, it’s so refreshing to see an unoaked chardonnay given the attention it deserves and this 2020 release is already showing very well. Cellar over the coming 3-4 years for added complexity.
Available from $26.99
Well-made chenin blanc is an absolute delight and I often wonder why this enticing varietal hasn’t garnered a wider audience in our local market. Chenin’s spiritual home is in France’s Loire Valley where it has a reputation for high acid, usually bone-dry wines that age especially well. Matawhero have taken a different approach and this 2021 release carries some residual sugar to counter the fresh acidity that this variety is known for. On the nose it’s a lovely blend of apple, sweet citrus and nutty / hazelnut characters. The palate is quite plump and juicy with a savoury component that sits nicely alongside the overriding citrus characters. The finish is loaded with zesty, refreshing acidity, and this is a wine that will go well with a wide range of dishes. Rich seafoods are always a great match for chenin blanc but I would pair this wine with soft white cheeses or a late summer drinks platter.
Available from $21.99
Cotes du Rhone is traditionally a blend of grenache and syrah and I always say that it is the French wine style that is tailor made for the Kiwi palate. In rudimentary terms, Grenache tastes like a richer, more fulsome version of Pinot Noir, while New Zealand Syrah shares many of the characteristics of its French forebears. Add in the palate weight of mid-tier Australian Shiraz (another red wine loved by New Zealanders) and you end up with the flavours of Cotes du Rhone. Sound delicious? It certainly can be, and Les Courtilles is a thoroughly enjoyable example of modern, very accessible Cotes du Rhone. The 2020 is grenache dominant (50%) and shows an array of dark, juicy fruits on a very soft palate that is undeniably smooth and attractive. Match with grilled lamb or roasted vegetables. It’s very hard not to like.
Available from $39.99
If you haven’t tried an Australian Muscat, you’re missing out on one the greatest sweet wine experiences that the world has to offer. Fortified or ‘liqueur’ Muscats are a uniquely Australian wine style from a country that has been producing them for nearly 150 years. Buller are a shining star in muscat production and their Fine Old Muscat is a decadent, unctuous wine that smells of caramel and raisin. Those notes carry through to the palate where they are joined by richer toffee notes and layer after layer of spirit / toasty caramel complexity. It is divine; wonderful by itself after a special meal with a chocolate based dessert, or delicious poured over ice-cream. I know from experience that the Aussies like biting both ends off a Tim Tam and sucking Buller Muscat through it – using the Tim Tam like a straw – but I prefer it straight up and lightly chilled. Available under $40 for a 750ml bottle, I would go as far as to suggest that it is Australia’s best value wine. Give it a go. I’ll be very surprised if you don’t agree with me.