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 $16.99
This is the first of the 2022 Marlborough Sauvignons I have tried. After a string of excellent vintages, 2022 was a challenging year for our nation’s most important varietal and no doubt there will be some lesser wines from those growers who cropped too high or were caught by the heavy rains that fell soon after harvest began. On the flip side, those that managed their crop levels well and picked before the rain are sure to offer the market some excellent wines and this 2022 sauvignon from Black Cottage is one of them. Produced by the very talented Dave Clouston, it is as clean as a whistle and bursting with all those vibrant tropical flavours that sauvignon fans worldwide adore. I noted some tangy blackcurrant notes and a touch of salinity on the palate. Most buyers will enjoy it in its youth to maximise those fresh Marlborough acids, but I’ll be keen to revisit in a year or two when the wine softens and becomes even more harmonious.
Available from $19.99
I have long thought that the white label series from Trinity Hill offers the wine buying public tremendous value. They are typically very well made, smart wines that are easy to enjoy but serious enough to impress, should you be interested in looking more closely at them. Of the current range, I am a big fan of the 2020 Syrah and no one could argue that this excellent 2021 Pinot Gris outperforms its price point. Look for a gentle nose of spicy pear and honeysuckle and a creamy, lightly textural, dry palate that shows more pear and citrus characters with soft acid structure keeping the conversation fresh and alive. There’s real value to be had here, and there are plenty of far more expensive pinot gris options in the market that could take a leaf out of Trinity Hill’s play book. Seek it out.
Available from $23.99
I’d heard from my wine trade friends around New Zealand that this was something to look out for, and I knew as soon as I smelt this wine that Patria Chica was going to deliver the goods. It’s a very fragrant wine with layer after layer of red and black fruits with spicy oak, Bovril, and some sweet floral notes in support. On the palate it’s all about those dark red tempranillo fruits (60%) with the glossy grenache component (26%) bringing plush texture and slippery mouthfeel into play. It’s a big, generous style that crams every inch of your palate with the trademark flavours of Spain. The finish is nicely rounded with soft, integrated tannins and there is enough fresh acidity to counter those exuberant grenache fruits. If you have your friends around and want to bust something out that is sure to impress, match Patria Chica with a chunky drinks platter or your favourite paella. It comes very highly recommended.
Available from $24.99
I really enjoyed this one. Vinted in the hills of Monferrato, situated in Italy's northwestern Piedmont region, this is a lovely example of modern barbera with the supple dark fruits that make this important Italian varietal so popular around the world. Barbera can be highly acidic, but winemakers have developed new techniques to soften those acids and Villa Sparina is a very well made, softly rounded wine that is ripe for immediate enjoyment. Flavours are in the raspberry spectrum with some earthy and subtle balsamic undertones. If you’re a fan of fuller bodied pinot noir and like the idea of experimenting with a new wine style, this 2019 DOC offering will be a very good place to start. Enjoy with roasted poultry – especially duck.
Available from $23.99
Australia’s Clare Valley may be best known for its finely structured, limey rieslings, but you would be foolish to overlook the other guns in their arsenal – including this excellent 2020 Knappstein Shiraz. Dark and plummy with licorice / anise and some lavender notes on the nose, it shows a palate chock-full of black fruits with hints of tapenade and white-pepper bringing up the rear. It’s a style that sits well with me. The hot days and cool nights of the Clare Valley growing season brings a deep savoury character to their red wines that I really like. I find the hotter Barossa style can be a bit too overblown for my tastes, and while this ‘dialled-back’ Clare Valley approach is nonetheless fulsome by red wine standards, its slightly more understated persona lets you discover the beauty of the wine as you work your way into the bottle. Enjoy over the coming decade with hearty dishes or hard cheese.