Top 50 Wines 2020

Fancy a bot­tle of some­thing in­ter­est­ing? This year, our an­nual guide show­cases wines with a real point of dif­fer­ence.

Metro Magazine NZ - - Contents - TEXT — OLIVER STYLES

Fancy a bot­tle of some­thing in­ter­est­ing? Our an­nual guide show­cases wines with a real point of dif­fer­ence.

If you’re a wine pedant, you should prob­a­bly stop read­ing now, be­cause this is not your run-ofthe-mill list of the top 50 wines in New Zealand. The wines here all have per­son­al­ity and in­di­vid­u­al­ity; they tend to of­fer some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. You’ll still find mass-pro­duced, su­per­mar­ket wines sit­ting hap­pily along­side pres­tige winer­ies, but also a range of niche pro­duc­ers us­ing off-the-wall va­ri­eties and wine­mak­ing prac­tices. They all cost less than $50, and many of them cost a great deal less.

Metro has run a sum­mer wine fea­ture for sev­eral years now, but go­ing into 2020, we de­tected a sea change in what many of us are drink­ing. Yes, we all care about a good drop — but in­creas­ingly, that means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple at dif­fer­ent times. Over the past decade, we’ve seen the emer­gence of new bio­dy­namic and or­ganic wines, of “nat­u­ral” wines made with min­i­mal in­ter­ven­tion, of long-marginalis­ed va­ri­eties and long-for­got­ten wine­mak­ing tech­niques.

So we sent a call-out to ev­ery win­ery we could find a con­tact for, and assem­bled a tast­ing panel that in­cluded som­me­liers, wine crit­ics and Metro staffers to taste all 176 wines re­ceived. We wanted to cham­pion a range of styles, va­ri­eties and tech­niques. We wanted wines that had per­son­al­ity, wines that, though per­haps not tech­ni­cally pol­ished, were su­per-drink­able, in­ter­est­ing and dis­tinc­tive — wines that you’d want to or­der at a restau­rant or take to a din­ner party or a bar­be­cue. They’re the wines that will prob­a­bly get drunk first, be­cause they’re either in­trigu­ing or just great fun.

And we ex­pressly briefed our judg­ing panel not to be too con­cerned with va­ri­etals. It should be a fairly un­con­tro­ver­sial con­cept that an atyp­i­cal glass of pinot noir can still be a great wine. The key was to avoid adopt­ing a no­tion of what, for ex­am­ple, a New Zealand pinot noir should be, which might make some com­mer­cial sense by en­cour­ag­ing re­li­a­bil­ity from the con­sumer’s per­spec­tive, but can suf­fo­cate ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, in­di­vid­u­al­ity and sub-re­gional ex­pres­sion, which is a shame if we want wine in this coun­try to de­velop.

Af­ter tast­ing them, we were grat­i­fied to find that our hunch was right. The 50 wines you will find be­low do all sorts of things, though not nec­es­sar­ily in the way that you might ex­pect. Take­aways? We’re unashamedl­y most in­ter­ested in the wines grown in our own back­yard (only three of the 50 are from else­where). Or­gan­ics and bio­dy­nam­ics are alive and well. What peo­ple are do­ing with sauvi­gnon blanc is get­ting more and more in­ter­est­ing. Mak­ers of pinot gris and rosé, in the main, could learn a bit from this.

Read on, and go seek­ing. Hope­fully, this is the start­ing point for a great deal of dis­cov­ery, dis­cus­sion and, well, plea­sure.

EA­TON WINES FORTISSIMO SAUVI­GNON BLANC 2017 $48

This is not your runof-the-mill Kiwi sauvi­gnon blanc, and if you want to blow peo­ple’s per­cep­tions of what one is, pour them this. Made with ex­tended skin con­tact, aged on lees in large-for­mat bar­rels, it has a beau­ti­ful golden, al­most am­ber colour, aro­mas of dried or­ange peel, spicy oak and a flavour­ful, tex­tured, lengthy palate. Made by the Marl­bor­ough-based Ea­ton fam­ily, this is the po­lar op­po­site to what you’d ex­pect to pick off the shelf when get­ting a Marl­bor­ough sauvi­gnon blanc. This is some­thing spe­cial.

SU­PER­NAT­U­RAL WINE CO. GREEN GLOW SAUVI­GNON BLANC 2015 $40

Green Glow is Su­per­nat­u­ral Wine Co’s skin-con­tact sauvi­gnon blanc and the 2015 is the first vin­tage with the vines in full or­ganic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Crafted by Hawke’s Bay’s own Hay­den Penny, this, along with the Fortissimo, shows just how in­ter­est­ing sauvi­gnon blanc can be, es­pe­cially when it gets ex­tended time on skins. That of­ten trans­lates to a bit of “tex­ture” on the palate but this de­liv­ers on so many lev­els. An or­angey, mar­malade, zesty nose; a real tex­tu­ral, chewy depth to the palate; and a long, en­er­getic fin­ish. We weren’t ex­pect­ing to en­joy the sauvi­gnon blancs as much as we did, but with wines like this...

GIESEN SAUVI­GNON BLANC 2019 $18 VALUE!

If you’re look­ing for a more clas­sic New Zealand sauvi­gnon blanc, this is prob­a­bly as close as you might get in this list (along­side the Ward Val­ley that fol­lows). Made from grapes sourced pre­dom­i­nantly from the Wairau Val­ley — orig­i­nal Kiwi sauvi­gnon blanc ter­ri­tory — this is a herbal, re­fresh­ing, juicy sav with a lovely, fresh fin­ish. Clas­sic, and well made.

WARD VAL­LEY TRIPLE BLOCK SAUVI­GNON BLANC 2018 $19

The Triple Block refers to a blend­ing of sites across the two main Marl­bor­ough val­leys of Wairau and Awa­tere (the lat­ter is gen­er­ally the cooler, fresher of the two). This wine shows de­li­cious el­e­ments of both, with a zippy, re­fresh­ing acid­ity and herbal, sappy notes from the Awa­tere along­side a plush, rounded, ap­peal­ing, al­most com­fort­ing palate from the warmer Wairau. An­other clas­sic Marl­bor­ough sauvi­gnon blanc, but not one that will re­mind you to check when your next den­tist ap­point­ment is due.

KELLY WASH­ING­TON SAUVI­GNON BLANC 2017 $28

An­other top scorer for Kelly Wash­ing­ton Wines and an­other great wine, this BioGro-cer­ti­fied or­ganic sauvi­gnon blanc from Awa­tere (which sees a lit­tle oak) shows some real in­ter­est on the nose with an in­tense, fruit-for­ward pro­file and a touch of fresh as­para­gus. On the palate, it’s a re­ally fresh, com­plex, tex­tu­ral, zippy wine. Some tasters noted a lit­tle phe­no­lic grip — aim to pair with sum­mery food.

TOHU MUGWI RE­SERVE SAUVI­GNON BLANC 2016 $27

The ma­jor­ity of sauvi­gnons that scored highly seemed to be the non-con­ven­tion­ally made ones — which is good, I think. This wine was no ex­cep­tion, although it clearly shows its va­ri­etal char­ac­ters in the glass. It is made in oak bar­rels with ex­tended time on lees and mal­o­lac­tic fer­men­ta­tion — putting it some dis­tance from “tra­di­tional” Kiwi sauvi­gnon blanc. Yet it’s not so far re­moved from the New Zealand sta­ple to be com­pletely alien to fans of the style. Flinty, stoney, al­most sémil­lon-like, this is lean, fresh, driven, and thor­oughly like­able.

GREYSTONE BAR­REL FER­MENTED SAUVI­GNON BLANC 2018 $28

An­other sauvi­gnon blanc that has ob­vi­ously seen the in­side of a bar­rel. This Waipara wine from top pro­ducer Greystone shows sauvi­gnon’s trade­mark acid­ity but com­bines fruit and grassy notes and leesy char­ac­ters (giv­ing it some im­pres­sion of age and added com­plex­ity) with a soft, com­plex, de­lec­ta­ble palate.

KELLY WASH­ING­TON SEMILLON SAUVI­GNON BLANC 2017 $38

Ev­ery­one ef­fused about this wine. A sémil­lon-dom­i­nant, clas­sic Bordeaux white blend, this wine comes from grapes grown on an or­ganic and bio­dy­nam­i­cally farmed vine­yard in the main Wairau Val­ley re­gion of Marl­bor­ough. The fruit is hand­picked and whole-bunch pressed, then nat­u­rally fer­mented and aged in a con­crete egg for 11 months. El­der­flower, green­gage, cit­rus zest, mar­malade and goose­berry were all de­scrip­tors that came out. This was a com­plex wine with a good body and long, lin­ger­ing fin­ish. You could not ask for a bet­ter sum­mer white wine.

PE­GA­SUS BAY BEL CANTO DRY RIES­LING 2017 $37

Pe­ga­sus Bay should need no in­tro­duc­tion — the Waipara es­tate has been pro­duc­ing top-notch wines since ages ago, with wine­maker Matt Don­ald­son head­ing up the ef­forts in the cel­lar for nearly 30 years. It’s prob­a­bly best known for its ries­lings, and this wine shows why. The 2017 Bel Canto is a steely num­ber, show­cas­ing the North Can­ter­bury re­gion’s text­book acid­ity. This has com­plex notes of spice and pas­sion­fruit that’ll keep you putting your nose back in to have an­other sniff. There’s not much sweet­ness on the palate — it’s cer­tainly on the dry side — but that acid­ity drives it on and on and on. Zippy and lin­ger­ing.

JACK­SON ES­TATE HOMESTEAD DRY RIES­LING 2016 $22 VALUE!

Stone fruits and al­monds with petrol hints, ev­ery­thing you want from the nose of a New World ries­ling. This is a wine with great bal­ance and a racy acid­ity. Fin­ishes dry. Fan­tas­tic value for money, re­ally over-de­liv­er­ing for the price.

HUIA DRY RIES­LING 2016 $32

Life isn’t al­ways fair. If it was, Huia would get greater recog­ni­tion for some of the stel­lar wines pro­duced by the or­ganic, bio­dy­namic viti­cul­ture and wine­mak­ing it prac­tises in Marl­bor­ough. This dry ries­ling is a case in point. It doesn’t seem com­pletely dry but it sure as hell fin­ishes that way. It’s zippy, min­eral, fresh and long on the palate, with aro­mas that range from flo­ral to petrol to le­mony cit­rus. Or, as one taster noted sim­ply, “ex­cit­ing”.

MOUNT ED­WARD CHENIN BLANC 2018 $27

The Loire is one of the dar­lings of the wine world at the mo­ment and chenin blanc — one of its sig­na­ture grapes — is feel­ing the love. South Africa, too, is ce­ment­ing it­self as a pro­ducer of top-end chenin. Our own home-grown ef­forts are not to be sniffed at, either — and well worth seek­ing out. This wine has dis­tinct lay­ers of sweet­ness, sour­ness and savouri­ness; it has great tex­ture, with aro­mas of yel­low ap­ple, flow­ers and pineap­ple. With chenin’s clas­sic acid line, this is a wine to savour with food or with­out.

BLACK ES­TATE HOME CHENIN BLANC 2018 $45

Af­ter a bit of foot stomp­ing and then whole-bunch press­ing over four hours, this was drained to large for­mat oak and fer­mented with a starter from the vine­yard. It had nine months in oak with full mal­o­lac­tic fer­men­ta­tion, and is un­fined and un­fil­tered, with no added sul­phites. Aro­matic, zesty, with great min­er­al­ity and pithi­ness, this is a won­der­ful food wine and tes­ta­ment to the fact that New Zealand pro­duces some pretty world-class nat­u­ral wine.

TRIN­ITY HILLS MARSANNE/ VIOG­NIER 2018 $40

It’s hard to find peo­ple bang­ing the drum for viog­nier at the mo­ment, and its Rhône Val­ley sta­ble­mate marsanne is sim­i­larly un­der-ap­pre­ci­ated. Which is a shame, be­cause as this wine shows, they both have some­thing to say. The viog­nier brings the fruit, the weight and the pun­gent, flo­ral aro­mat­ics, with the marsanne bring­ing more back­bone and min­er­al­ity to the of­ten cloy­ing lack of acid­ity in the viog­nier. This is a pretty, aro­matic wine.

MÉLANGE BLANC 2019 $30

While Ea­ton’s Fortissimo is a fam­ily ef­fort, son Har­ri­son Ea­ton is quick to point out that the Mélange project is en­tirely sep­a­rate and en­tirely his own. This is 100% sauvi­gnon blanc from the cooler Awa­tere

Val­ley, and spent 4-6 hours on skins be­fore be­ing whole-bunch pressed in a bas­ket press. Wild fer­ment with 25% in-bar­rel, the wine goes through mal­o­lac­tic fer­men­ta­tion. Un­fined, un­fil­tered and with a small amount of sul­phur added prior to bot­tling, this is a mealy, bis­cu­ity, beeswaxy sort of sav that al­most tastes like a flat cham­pagne. A wicked line of acid­ity with a long fin­ish, this has a bit of tex­ture too.

SILENI ALBA 2016 $35

Quite the blend, this. Chardon­nay, muscat, pinot gris, sauvi­gnon blanc and viog­nier from a range of sites in Hawke’s Bay: Man­gatahi is an in­land spot on a ter­race over­look­ing the Ngaruroro River and Te Awanga is coastal; there’s also a touch of fruit from the warm Bridge Pā re­gion. The wine it­self has a com­plex nose of rose petals and wa­ter­melon. There’s a touch of sweet­ness on the palate but it fin­ishes dry and fresh. A great sum­mer quaf­fer.

TOHU WHENUA MATUA ALBARIÑO 2018 $30

With fruit from the Up­per Moutere in Nel­son, hand­picked and fer­mented with an aro­matic yeast strain from Spain (albariño’s home­land), this ac­tu­ally shows some aro­mas pretty rem

inis­cent of north­west­ern Spain — maybe it’s the yeast, maybe it’s the fruit. A real sum­mer wine with notes of apri­cot and lemon iced tea, it has de­cent, rounded palate weight and good length, helped along by albariño’s un­shake­able acid­ity.

WAIMEA ES­TATES GRÜNER VELTLINER 2017 $19 VALUE!

Aus­tria’s flag­ship grape, grüner be­came quite fash­ion­able 10 years ago, and it’s not hard to see why. Pep­pery, with good aro­mat­ics and a lovely acid line, there’s no rea­son it shouldn’t do well in New Zealand. This is a lovely aro­matic, with cit­rus, hon­ey­suckle, or­ange and some al­most-smoky notes. The wine is su­per dry and crisp, with racy acid­ity and an al­most pow­dery tex­ture. The Aus­tri­ans drink grüner with pork and this will fit the bill from aper­i­tif to sausage to a rolled loin.

RICH WHITES KELLY WASH­ING­TON PINOT BLANC 2018 $38

Tamra Kelly-Wash­ing­ton has a huge pro­file in New Zealand wine­mak­ing cir­cles. While she’s best known for over­see­ing the wine­mak­ing at Seresin, her ex­pe­ri­ence has been global. Now, Kelly Wash­ing­ton is a joint project with hus­band Si­mon Kelly, and their wines shone at the Metro tast­ing; all three they sub­mit­ted com­fort­ably made the cut. This was the top scorer of the fam­ily — com­plex, petrolly, oaky, with good palate weight, a touch of sweet­ness and a long fin­ish.

HANS HER­ZOG ARNEIS 2017 $39

Hans and Therese Her­zog have been in Marl­bor­ough for nearly 30 years and now pro­duce a huge range of wines — 26 dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties — on an 11.5ha vine­yard. Arneis is a va­ri­ety rarely seen in New Zealand — its ori­gins are north­ern Ital­ian and Villa Maria’s ef­forts would prob­a­bly be the best known on our shores. This isn’t en­tirely typ­i­cal of the va­ri­ety, but cap­ti­vated the judges’ hearts with its spicy and fruity notes of dried or­ange peel and a hint of clove, and aro­mas of curry pow­der. Judge An­drea Mar­tin­isi waxed lyri­cal about this wine, not­ing hints of quince and a long fin­ish.

COLERE SOLERA PINOT BLANC/ PINOT GRIS NV $40

Colere is the cre­ation of North Can­ter­bury-based wine­mak­erJu­lianRichar­ds,who makes a range of wines from a range of sites. The Solera is a com­bi­na­tion of one bar­rel of 2012 pinot gris and pinot blanc, two bar­rels of 2016 pinot gris and three bar­rels of 2017 pinot blanc, with a dash of ries­ling — all from the Kerner Vine­yard in Marl­bor­ough. This wine is all about tex­ture and com­plex­ity, with a bit of zip on the fin­ish (prob­a­bly from the ries­ling). It’s a wine to get peo­ple talk­ing.

HANS HER­ZOG PINOT GRIS 2017 $49

Most of the pinot gris wines we tasted served only to jus­tify the prej­u­dice this grape faces from wine buffs: aro­mat­i­cally un­in­ter­est­ing; broad, cloy­ing, and lack­ing fresh­ness. But pinot gris can be fan­tas­tic, as this shows. A nose of brown-pear skin, in­tense, with a con­cen­trated palate, this is an­other tex­tu­ral white wine that flirts with a phe­no­lic edge, so it might not be ev­ery­one’s cup of tea (give them some dumplings or a bit of cray­fish to have with it). But it’s such an in­ter­est­ing wine you can for­give it. Warn­ing: Do not give this to peo­ple who drink only mass-pro­duced pinot gris.

PE­GA­SUS BAY VERGENCE WHITE 2016 $28

This wine is cen­tred on sémil­lion, with chardon­nay, muscat and gewürz­traminer added to the mix. It’s aged in oak and it shows, with some real toasty, nutty notes in ev­i­dence. There’s also a def­i­nite lees com­po­nent and a touch of re­duc­tion, likely due to the “full solids” nature of the fer­ment (i.e. the wine was pressed straight to bar­rel). A big-vol­ume, di­alled-up, gen­er­ous, tex­tu­ral, skinsy palate. Im­pres­sively mor­eish.

UN­TI­TLED WHITE BLEND NV $25

This is Hen­der­son-based wine­maker Lee Win­ston’s mul­ti­v­in­tage, multi-va­ri­ety, mul­ti­re­gional white blend. The only way to find out what’s in your bot­tle is to check the lot num­ber and en­ter it into his web­site. The cur­rent re­lease (lot “L.18.06.04”) has an in­trigu­ing, com­plex nose of pear and flo­ral notes that re­minded one taster of chardon­nay. It was, in fact, a pinot gris/sauvi­gnon blanc/ albariño/chardon­nay/gewürz/ viog­nier blend, pre­dom­i­nantly from Marl­bor­ough and Auck­land — well made, with a round, tex­tu­ral palate with some good weight. Very nice.

CERES BLACK RAB­BIT RIES­LING 2017 $32

James and Matt Dicey are syn­ony­mous with Cen­tral Otago in­sti­tu­tion Mt Dif­fi­culty. Ceres,

though, is their “legacy” brand, and this 2017 ries­ling shows just what the site and their skills can de­liver. Ev­ery­one loved this wine with its cit­rusy, fresh, lemon juice, white peach and petrol aro­mas along­side a slightly sweet palate but a lin­ger­ingly fresh and dry fin­ish. If you want an all-round, not su­per dry, not too sweet, top-qual­ity ries­ling, this is it.

THE BONELINE SHARKSTONE CHARDON­NAY 2018 $45

An­other one from North Can­ter­bury, this time made from some of the old­est (Men­doza clone) chardon­nay vines in the re­gion. This has ev­ery­thing you want in a chardon­nay: a big, flo­ral, al­most aro­matic nose with but­tery, toasty oak hints; it’s zesty on the palate, with great length and fresh­ness. Mod­ern New Zealand chardon­nays fol­low global fash­ions and in­ter­ests in the more min­eral, zippy styles of the va­ri­ety, as ev­i­denced by Ch­ablis’ cur­rent pop­u­lar­ity. All too of­ten, though, this comes at the ex­pense of ap­proach­a­bil­ity. No such wor­ries here.

AL­PHA DO­MUS THE BAT­TEN CHARDON­NAY 2016 $39

Crafted by long-stand­ing Hawke’s Bay wine­maker Barry Ri­wai, the Al­pha Do­mus chardon­nay is proudly from the Bridge Pā re­gion, which, gen­er­ally speak­ing, pro­duces plusher wines than its bonier, bet­ter-known neigh­bour, the Gim­blett Grav­els. Both sub­re­gions are well known for their red wines but the whites are equally great. And this is no ex­cep­tion. A well-made, well-crafted, re­fined chardon­nay with a lovely oak pro­file, nutty aro­mat­ics and a soft tex­ture.

PASK WILD YEAST CHARDON­NAY 2016 $25

It’s not of­ten you get to see chardon­nay from the Gim­blett Grav­els — the sought-af­ter land tends to be put aside for red wines — which means we of­ten for­get how good some whites made on this bony but warm site can be. This wine be­lies its warm re­gional cli­mate by show­ing some lovely fresh­ness with some clas­sic chardon­nay notes of toast and lemon curd, but there are quince hints, too. Very fresh and lin­ger­ing, and the acid helps to drive the wine along.

JACK­SON ES­TATE SHEL­TER BELT CHARDON­NAY 2016 $24

“A chardon­nay’s chardon­nay,” wrote one taster. This is clas­sic stuff. Old-school, clone 95, whole-bunch pressed with 75% bar­rel, of which 25% is new oak, and aged for nine months in oak. A touch of sweet­ness helps the lus­cious body of this wine take on some lovely palate weight. This doesn’t have the min­eral edge of many mod­ern-trend chards, but what it lacks in moder­nity, it makes up for in se­duc­tive­ness. This may be a touch broad for some palates but for lovers of lux­u­ri­ant chardon­nay, it is hard to go past.

PYRA­MID VAL­LEY NORTH CAN­TER­BURY CHARDON­NAY 2018 $40

Fresh from a re­cent takeover by Kiwi wine pi­o­neer and in­dus­try stal­wart Steve Smith MW and US busi­ness part­ner Brian Sheth, this is the start of a new era for Pyra­mid Val­ley. Only time will tell how much the change in di­rec­tion will ben­e­fit (or oth­er­wise) the back cat­a­logue of this iconic pro­ducer. This chardon­nay has North Can­ter­bury’s sig­na­ture acid line with a good, well-bal­anced level of oak. Taught, fresh, lightly poised but su­per-in­ter­est­ing, this is lovely stuff.

SNAP­PER ROCK CHARDON­NAY 2018 $17 VALUE!

An­other Top 50 show­ing for Hawke’s Bay wine­maker Hay­den Penny. This was 60% bar­rel fer­mented and 40% tank fer­mented, then aged for eight months be­fore be­ing bot­tled in Fe­bru­ary 2019. This is an­other more-clas­sic chardon­nay — big and but­tery, with sweet, trop­i­cal fruit notes, but soft and sup­ple on the palate. Part of me wants to say that this lux­u­ri­ant, bear-hug of a wine isn’t for ev­ery­one, but it is well enough made to make most peo­ple fall for it.

IN­BE­TWEEN­ERS (AND A SPARKLING) TED BY MOUNT ED­WARD ROSÉ NV $25

One of the few rosés to make the fi­nal cut, this is an easy-drink­ing, per­fect sum­mer-day wine. The colour alone sets it up nicely, with a lovely salmon-pink hue. Well made, bal­anced, fruity, with de­cent body and fresh­ness, this also has a touch of savoury com­plex­ity on the fin­ish.

ALPINE WINES HEAD OVER HEELS 2019 $28

Alpine Wines is a small pro­ducer based in Wanaka, mak­ing spe­cially sourced, min­i­mal-in­ter­ven­tion wines. A co-fer­ment in which pinot blanc and pinot noir were fer­mented to­gether, this is a de­li­cious, in­ter­est­ing and un­usual rosé. Cere­bral, it ain’t, but bloody lovely it is, with some de­light­ful straw­berry notes and a pretty, slightly tex­tured, long fin­ish.

LINDAUER VIN­TAGE SE­RIES BRUT CUVÉE 2017 $18 VALUE!

What sea­sonal list would be com­plete with­out a sparkling wine? This is a blend of chardon­nay and pinot noir and a lim­ited edi­tion from Lindauer, ap­par­ently. Hope­fully, they’ll move it into a reg­u­lar slot in the range as this wine showed some lovely au­tol­y­sis (yeasty, bis­cu­ity, brioche) notes on the nose. It was also supremely fresh, driv­ing the palate with a racy line of mouth­wa­ter­ing acid­ity.

LIGHTER REDS MOUNT ED­WARD GAMAY 2019 $34

Peren­nial Cen­tral Otago over-de­liv­er­ers Mount Ed­ward make their gamay to be drunk early. From an or­ganic vine­yard in Ban­nock­burn, it gets no fil­tra­tion and no fin­ing, go­ing straight from bar­rel to bot­tle. It’s ex­actly what you want gamay to be — fruity, with a herbal edge and grippy tex­ture. This is the ul­ti­mate bar­be­cue red, with a bunch of com­plex­ity to boot. Cool it down in the fridge for 30 min­utes be­fore you open it or en­joy it as it is.

MATHIEU PAQUET COTEAUX BOURGUIGNO­NS 2018 $25

Coteaux Bourguigno­ns is a re­cently en­shrined, catchall ap­pel­la­tion that cov­ers any­thing grown in the wider Bur­gundy area, from Ch­ablis in the north­west to Beau­jo­lais in the south. This wine is pre­dom­i­nantly made of gamay,

the grape syn­ony­mous with Beau­jo­lais, with a fleck (5%) of pinot noir. If you’re look­ing for a go-to, no-non­sense, “glou­glou” num­ber, look no fur­ther. This ac­tu­ally has a bit of heft to it on the nose, with some quite broody, con­cen­trated, dark-fruit notes. The palate, though, is rea­son­ably light, re­fresh­ing, and smooth.

COLERE PINOT NOIR 2015 $40

This is a Nel­son (Moutere) pinot noir from the once-em­bat­tled Ma­hana vine­yard (one of New Zealand’s few grav­ity-fed winer­ies), now owned by Ki­wiSaver provider Booster (whose port­fo­lio in­cludes Hawke’s Bay’s Sileni Es­tates). The wine was made with no ad­di­tions bar some sul­phur at bot­tling and is 100% whole-bunch pinot noir, so the berries are not re­moved from the stems prior to fer­men­ta­tion. This tech­nique tends to give pinot noir quite a beau­ti­ful aro­matic in­ten­sity, but this is over­all an in­tense wine with dark, smoky, plummy notes and a big, bold palate.

AWA­TERE RIVER PINOT NOIR 2018 $25 VALUE!

An­other great-value-for-money drop, a pinot noir from Marl­bor­ough show­ing beau­ti­ful dam­son plum and cherry aro­mas with a lovely, svelte, pretty, savoury, tex­tured palate and fine length. This is a del­i­cate pinot, although the oak at times seems quite prom­i­nent. None­the­less, this ticks more than its fair share of boxes.

MATAHIWI ES­TATE HOLLY PINOT NOIR 2018 $29

Matahiwi is one of those es­tates in the wider Wairarapa that tends to fly in the shadow cast by the more high-pro­file winer­ies in and around Mart­in­bor­ough. But this bot­tle is a third of the price of a Mart­in­bor­ough pinot noir and still de­liv­ers the goods. Holly is Matahiwi Es­tate’s flag­ship range and the pinot noir is made from a se­lec­tion of parcels and clones in the es­tate’s vine­yard. A re­ally in­trigu­ing con­coc­tion of flavours, with some stemmy notes, a bit of toasty oak and some ba­con fat. Dry, bal­anced, and well made.

BLACK ES­TATE DAMSTEEP PINOT NOIR 2017 $45

This was a con­tentious wine with not ev­ery­one on the panel “get­ting it”. For some, the wine seemed jammy, dry and ex­tracted. For oth­ers, well, the notes were pretty ef­fu­sive: “Sappy and aro­matic with tart berries and in­cense,” said one; “big, bold, with struc­tural tan­nins and sec­ondary notes,” said an­other. Black Es­tate should need lit­tle in­tro­duc­tion to winos — the Waipara win­ery pro­duces some pretty spe­cial, min­i­mal-in­ter­ven­tion wines from some amaz­ing sites and this is no ex­cep­tion. This won’t be ev­ery­one’s cup of tea but be­lieve me, it’s worth find­ing out which side of the fence you’re on.

THE BONELINE WAIMANU PINOT NOIR 2016 $40

Again, how much you en­joy this pinot is go­ing to de­pend on what style of pinot noir you like. For some, the nose is a lit­tle con­fected and, while the al­co­hol is stated at 14.5%, it also seems a touch hot, but — and this is a big but — there is a depth to the palate that re­ally is quite cap­ti­vat­ing. And it’s long and flavour­ful — “vel­vety”, said one taster — with a de­cent grip. The team at The Boneline ad­mit the vini­fi­ca­tion is still evolv­ing, but wines like this show the po­ten­tial of the site. Well worth seek­ing out.

PIRINOA ROAD PINOT NOIR 2015 $30

A clas­sic Mart­in­bor­ough pinot noir for a great price. This is one of those wines where you read the tast­ing notes and won­der why it wasn’t rated even higher. It dis­plays the clas­sic, savoury, earthy, leafy notes associated with Mart­in­bor­ough — a re­ally fra­grant and pretty nose — along­side a svelte, nicely con­cen­trated palate. “Per­fectly bal­anced,” as one taster noted. This re­ally is a gem — and hard to go past for the price alone.

TRIN­ITY HILL TEM­PRANILLO 2018 $40

One of very few places pro­duc­ing a tem­pranillo. Those in deep will know that Dry River has a small run of this Span­ish clas­sic, and there are plant­ings on the hot, bony Gim­blett Grav­els in Hawke’s Bay. This is from the lat­ter, of course. The clas­sic pair­ing of tem­pranillo in the win­ery is to age the wine in Amer­i­can oak (as is tra­di­tional in Rioja), and there are def­i­nite vanilla hints associated with the type of oak in this wine. It also has a nice, pretty berry-fruit/dark­fruit nose with smoky notes. The palate is soft, rounded and plush. A lovely wine from a rare va­ri­ety in New Zealand. A must if you’re plan­ning a Span­ish-style din­ner, but also well worth try­ing out for its own mer­its as a medium-bod­ied red wine.

PINOT 3 THE RED EDI­TION NV $ 20 VALUE!

Pinot cubed ex­plains the wine: three dif­fer­ent pinots — noir, gris and blanc — blended by cross-vin­tage and cross-va­ri­etal blend­ing fan Lee Win­ston of Un­ti­tled Wines in Hen­der­son, Auck­land. This is the red ver­sion with a pre­dom­i­nance, ob­vi­ously, of pinot noir. This wine was berry­tas­tic — straw­ber­ries, rasp­ber­ries, all the berries you could ask for — with a savoury fin­ish. To­tally glug­gable, this is a light, su­peren­joy­able red wine.

UN­TI­TLED RED BLEND NV $30

We tasted lot num­ber L.17.13.05. (If you find your­self with a dif­fer­ent batch, en­ter it in the Un­ti­tled Wines web­site and you’ll get a full run-down of the makeup of the wine.) In this case, the blend is pre­dom­i­nantly from 2017 and 30% pinot noir, 30% syrah, with the rest be­ing made up of a vast list of grape va­ri­eties, red and white. Nearly half from Wai­heke, 24% came from Cen­tral Otago, 20% from Auck­land, 6% from Marl­bor­ough and 1% from North­land. Medium bod­ied, with a leafy, com­plex nose, this was a de­li­cious, juicy wine. What’s not to like?

MART­IN­BOR­OUGH VINE­YARD SYRAH VIOG­NIER 2017 $45

Mart­in­bor­ough Vine­yard’s syrah is usu­ally the last pick of the sea­son. The win­ery has a few rows of syrah on the edge of the Mart­in­bor­ough Ter­race, on a north-fac­ing slope that drops down to the Huan­garua Stream. It isn’t al­ways easy to get syrah ripe in the Wairarapa — it can be a fickle grape even in Hawke’s Bay — but when it works, it re­ally works. Crafted by the unas­sum­ing yet wickedly tal­ented Paul Ma­son, this was one of the stand­out wines of the tast­ing — el­e­gant,bal­anced,re­fined.It­showed beau­ti­ful, vi­o­let aro­mas with fresh, pretty, juicy fruit. It re­ally doesn’t get much bet­ter than this. BIG­GER REDS

SILENI RUBER 2018 $35

An un­usual red blend from this Hawke’s Bay pro­ducer, the Ruber is a mix of caber­net franc, mer­lot and syrah, all from the Bridge Pā re­gion. An im­pres­sive wine from a some­times chal­leng­ing vin­tage, this shows some nice, sweet fruit in­ten­sity and pep­pery notes, with an in­te­grated, solidly struc­tured palate. This ticks the boxes, from a stand­alone glass of red to a solid bar­be­cue ac­com­pa­ni­ment.

PASK TRILLIANT 2016 $35

Trilliant is born of a tast­ing ses­sion gone right. The team at Pask were so im­pressed by the com­bi­na­tion of sam­ples they had be­fore them that an im­promptu de­ci­sion was made to blend the three sam­ples to make a wine. Trilliant was the re­sult. This wine is al­ready start­ing to show some de­vel­oped notes, with quite a Bordeaux-es­que pro­file over­all. Nice oak notes, juicy fruit with hints of black pep­per and blue­ber­ries, it also rounds off on a re­fined fin­ish. One to im­press the in-laws.

LU­NAR APOGÉ CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2018 $25

Or­ganic and bio­dy­namic, this Côtes du Rhône is a blend of 50% grenache, 25% syrah, 15% mourvè­dre, and 10% cin­sault. It is made in Ro­que­maure, where the Leper­chois fam­ily has been mak­ing wine for cen­turies. This is a juicy wine, with red and black fruits and a touch of pep­per. Its drink­a­bil­ity be­lies some de­cent tan­nins, which means this will go just as well with a range of sum­mer fare as it will with a nice view from the deck.

ANGOVE OR­GANIC SHI­RAZ CABER­NET 2018 $14 VALUE!

This is made by one of Aus­tralia’s lead­ing or­ganic pro­duc­ers, Angove Fam­ily Wine­mak­ers, with fruit sourced from their own Nanya vine­yard and other or­ganic grow­ers in McLaren Vale and har­vested at night to keep fruit tem­per­a­ture low and to en­able a cou­ple of days’ mac­er­a­tion be­fore fer­ment. Stored in sea­soned oak bar­rels un­til as­sem­blage, the wine has then had min­i­mal han­dling prior to fil­tra­tion and bot­tling. A real pep­pery, fruit-for­ward num­ber with a de­cent struc­ture but with soft tan­nins and a lovely, lin­ger­ing juicy fin­ish.

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