New Zealand 2019
50 WINES FOR INDEPENDENTS CHOSEN BY A PANEL OF EXPERT RETAILERS A WINE MERCHANT MAGAZINE SUPPLEMENT
New Zealand 2019
THE WINE MERCHANT.
Te Motu, Auckland
There were Sauvignons “ in all kinds of styles, and a
similarly delicious diversity of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and sparkling wine, and superb examples of Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Viognier ... and Lagrein
NEW ZEALAND 2019 A SUPPLEMENT PUBLISHED WITH THE WINE MERCHANT MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2019 IN ASSOCIATION WITH NEW ZEALAND WINEGROWERS WWW.WINEMERCHANTMAG.COM WWW.NZWINE.COM © GRAHAM HOLTER LTD 2019 REGISTERED IN ENGLAND: NO 6441762
OUR FABULOUS FIFTY N
ew Zealand is now firmly entrenched as one of the UK’s favourite wine producers, with one style in particular a strong contender for being the most widely recognised wine around.
Of course, we all know there’s much more to New Zealand than Sauvignon Blanc – just as there’s much more to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc than the clichéd image of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. But it’s nice to have your beliefs confirmed sometimes, and that was just one happy consequence of the tasting from which our panel of top independent retailers selected the wines you’ll find in the pages of this supplement. Among the 190 wines submitted by UK importers – and the 50 chosen – there were Sauvignons in all kinds of styles, from the oakaged to the classically aromatic and pin sharp to a (gorgeous) wine fermented with oysters. There was a similarly delicious diversity of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and sparkling wine. Throw in some superb examples of Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Viognier and – a first from outside Alpine Italy for our judges – Lagrein, and you have a snapshot of a wine category that is as vibrant and exciting as it has ever been.
OUR JUDGES Charlotte Dean, Wined Up Here, London Kenrick Bush, The Urban Cellar, London Dawn Mannis, The Sampler, London Alice Archer, Cambridge Wine Merchants David Williams, wine writer
CELEBRATING 200 YEAR I
n many ways, New Zealand feels like a young nation in wine terms. Its most famous style, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, first burst onto the international scene in the 1980s. Yet this year marks the 200th anniversary of the planting of New Zealandâ€™s first grape vines. Reverend Samuel Marsden, chaplain to New South Wales (1765-1838), records September 25, 1819 as the day he planted a vine in the rich grounds of the Stone Store, Kerikeri, in the Bay of Islands. Throughout the 19th and early 20th century, a wave of European immigrants came to New Zealand and set up vineyards across the country. Today, the New Zealand wine industry consists of over 700 wineries and more than 600 grape growers. Sauvignon Blanc is now the most widely planted variety, accounting for 76% of total production, followed by Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Pinot Gris, in fourth place, has seen a modest increase in plantings. The next most important varieties, in terms of scale, are Riesling, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Gewurztraminer.
The Landing, Northland
OF NEW ZEALAND’S VINEYARD AREA IS CERTIFIED AS SUSTAINABLY MANAGED
WINERIES ARE BASED IN MARLBOROUGH. THERE ARE 135 IN CENTRAL OTAGO AND 102 IN AUCKLAND
OF NEW ZEALAND WINE WAS SOLD TO THE UK IN 2019, MAKING BRITAIN THE SECOND MOST IMPORTANT EXPORT MARKET BY VALUE AFTER THE USA
Crab Farm Winery, Napier
Hunter’s Offshoot Sauvignon Blanc Pet Nat 2019 Marlborough Laytons RRP £14.95
Something a bit different from the creative Hunter’s team: a Marlborough pétillant naturel, where the Sauvignon Blanc is bottled before it has finished fermenting, leaving a naturally cloudy sparkling wine. “Definitely Sauvignon, with notes of lychee, mango and gooseberry, this is bright, clean and refreshing – and lots of fun,” the judges said.
Hunter’s MiruMiru Black Label Brut NV, Marlborough Laytons RRP £19.95
A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from the Wairau Valley, this traditional-method nonvintage sparkling wine is aged for 12 to 18 months on the lees and has been a standout in the Hunter’s range for 20 years now. It charmed the judges with its “rich, opulent style. There’s brioche, lemon meringue, super depth of flavour – and it’s great value for money.”
Hãhã Brut Cuvée NV Marlborough
Hãhã Wine Company (SEEking uk representation) RRP £13.99 “A very serious tasting fizz for the price,” according to the judges, Hãhã Brut Cuvée is a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from riverbed soils in Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough. The base wines are aged for up to five years on lees before second fermentation.
“It’s dry and quite lean; a bit leesy,” the judges added, with “lots of pithy citrus and herbal aromas” that make for a “highly refreshing yet savoury style”.
Hunter’s MiruMiru Rosé Brut NV Marlborough Laytons RRP £21.95
Jane Hunter’s much-admired sparkling project gets its name from the Maori word for bubbles – MiruMiru. The traditional-method rosé cuvée gets its “delicious wild strawberry and raspberry fruit” from a blend of Pinot Noir (55%), Chardonnay (42%) and Pinot Meunier (3%), with the blend given 36 months ageing on lees. The judges enjoyed the “big rich style with all that lovely fruit and creamy mouthfeel – raspberry and strawberry soufflé!”
Rockburn Pinot Gris 2016 Central Otago
Hallgarten & Novum Wines RRP £20.99
A wine that wowed the judges with its “super depth”, Rockburn’s small-production Pinot Gris is sourced from the producer’s Dustbowl and Gibbston Valley Road Back Road vineyards in Central Otago. The judges were drawn to the “complex flavours and weight” which are “beautifully balanced with freshness and spice” and “superb length”.
Esk Valley Pinot Gris 2018 Hawke’s Bay Hatch Mansfield RRP £13.95
A barrel-fermented blend of Pinot Gris from two Hawke’s Bay vineyards: The Barber Vineyard in Esk Valley provides early-picked fruit for freshness, while the Keltern vineyard at Maraekakaho is harvested later for fuller flavour and texture. It’s a recipe for a stylish wine that is “easy to drink with a lot of crowd-pleasing appeal”, the judges said, praising its balance of “ripe peachy fruit, broad palate and lively acidity … very good value”.
Hunter’s Pinot Gris 2017 Marlborough Laytons RRP £13.95
In a typically strong line-up of one of New Zealand’s varietal strengths, Hunter’s got the nod from the judges as their best-value Pinot Gris. A blend of fruit from two vineyards in the Rapaura district of Marlborough, the wine is fermented in a mix of old barrels and stainless steel and offers “freshness and richness of fruit, with notes of quince, pear and baking spices and a nice mouthcoating feel”, the judges said. “It’s drinking well now, but it would age well too.”
Greystone Pinot Gris Sand Dollar 2018, North Canterbury Seckford Agencies RRP £18.95
A dry-style Pinot Gris (with residual sugar of 3.6g/l) made from fruit that was picked early to “retain tension and clarity of flavour”, Greystone’s Sand Dollar is fermented in a mix of stainless steel and old French oak barriques. It results in a style that balances richness with elegance, in the judges’ opinion, with a touch of mineral freshness and “a great combination of opulence and delicacy. It’s really complex and classic.”
Escarpment Pinot Gris 2017 Martinborough Seckford Agencies RRP £14.25
Made by star winemaker Larry McKenna in what the judges called “a serious, foodie style”, Escarpment Pinot Gris impressed with its “bone-dry, complex, layered” palate which comes with an “attractive 12% abv” and with flavours of “ripe apples and pears rather than heavy tropical fruit”. The grapes come from vines grown on the alluvial gravel soils of the Martinborough Terrace, and the “Burgundian” winemaking regime includes barrel fermentation, lees stirring and partial malolactic fermentation.
Urlar Organic Pinot Gris 2017 Wairarapa Enotria & Coe RRP £17.95
From a certified biodynamic and organic producer based in Gladstone in the northern Wairarapa, the fruit for this Pinot Gris is picked in the early morning. Only the free-run juice and lightest of pressings goes into used French oak barrels for fermentation and 12 months’ ageing. The result is an “impressive wine”, the judges said, with “lots of complexity and intensity, but all so well balanced by superb acidity and freshness. A highlight of the Pinot Gris on show.”
Seresin Memento Riesling 2014 Marlborough Louis Latour Agencies (From Feb 1, 2020, Enotria & Coe) RRP £19.99
A big hit with the judges, who found “gingery, spicy aromatics … lovely development. On the palate, there’s manuka honey, ripe limes and pink grapefruit. This is scrumptious and long – lovely!” From organic and biodynamic vineyards, the fruit is handpicked and fermented with natural yeast in stainless steel. Clocking in at a mere 9% abv, it’s a style reminiscent of the great Rieslings of the Mosel, the judges said.
Saint Clair Origin Viognier 2018 Hawke’s Bay Hallgarten & Novum Wines RRP £14.99
With the Gimblett Gravels district of Hawke’s Bay now established as a home for fine Syrah, it makes sense that it might suit another northern Rhône variety, Viognier. Saint Clair’s version, fermented in stainless steel, certainly impressed the judges. “Very classic nose: typical, opulent Viognier,” the panel said. “It’s floral, peachy, rounded and full of flavour.”
Hunter’s Kaho Roa Sauvignon Blanc Winemakers Selection 2017, Marlborough Laytons RRP £17.95
Kaho Roa is a Maori translation of oak-aged, a clue to the winemaking in this Marlborough Sauvignon which is fermented in older French barrels to bring weight and texture to the variety’s classic green notes. “The oak is well integrated and balanced,” the judges said. “There is a savoury character marrying with the vegetal notes, while it’s intense and creamy but fresh.”
Framingham Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Marlborough Liberty Wines RRP £14.99
A unanimous Sauvignon standout for the judges thanks to its “ripe, passion fruit aromas”, “concentrated juiciness”, “balance” and “amazing fruit”, not to mention its “attractive herbal aromas” and a “long precise finish”. It’s made from fruit sourced in the Wairau Valley, which is given a “touch” of skin-contact during fermentation and short periods in oak and acacia barrels to bring extra “layers of flavour and texture”.
Seresin Mãrama Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Marlborough Louis Latour Agencies (From Feb 1, 2020, Enotria & Coe) RRP £22.99
The judges admired the “very sensitive” winemaking for this barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc, praising the “delicious balance between oak and fruit”, the “creamy, rounded texture”, and the “appealing developed notes”. The wine is fermented and aged in a mixture of new and old French oak barriques, with the fruit sourced from some of Seresin’s oldest biodynamic and organic Sauvignon vines.
Two Rivers Altitude Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Marlborough The Antipodean Sommelier RRP £20
Classic New Zealand Sauvignon notes of tropical fruit were “in abundance” in this “very pleasing” effort from a Marlborough producer that takes its name from the region’s Wairau and Awatere Rivers. “Creamy, spicy ripe, fresh and round,” the judges added of a wine made using natural yeasts in concrete eggs with a touch of oak ageing and extended lees contact to bring extra texture and flavour.
Vandal Gonzo Resistance Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Marlborough
The Antipodean Sommelier RRP £20
We’ve all recommended wines to go with oysters. But a wine made from oysters? Well, yes, in this case: a dozen of the bivalves were added to the tank by the three experimental winemakers at Vandal Wines. According to the judges, it’s a wacky idea that works, bringing “not seafoody flavours, but definitely some salinity” alongside “pithy citrus fruit” and “an attractive rounded, very drinkable texture”.
Supernatural Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Hawke’s Bay Vintage Roots RRP £18
A “delightful candied nose” with hints of “elderflower and spice” opens out into “lemon meringue flavours” on the palate, which is “creamy and well balanced” and finishes “long and fresh”. It all adds up to a “very impressive showing” for Supernatural, according to the judges. That’s only to be expected from a producer that has earned a high reputation for its minimal-intervention winemaking and organic viticulture on hillside vineyards in Hawke’s Bay.
Sherwood Estate Stoney Range Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Waipara Alliance Wine RRP £11.99
Sherwood Estate’s Stoney Range was developed to provide wines that are “fun and full of fruit flavour with exceptional value for money” from the family-owned winery’s base in the Waipara Valley. Those were ambitions the judges felt were fully achieved with the Stoney Range Sauvignon, which has “classic soft gooseberry and melon flavours and delightful fresh acidity”, and all at “a really tasty price”.
Mahi Boundary Farm Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Marlborough
Berkmann Wine Cellars RRP £19.99
A wine that hit the judges’ collective sweet spot with its mix of “deliciously pristine fruit”, “lovely weight” and “great complexity and freshness”. It “really delivers and is just so drinkable”, the judges added. The fruit, which comes from a small parcel of vines on a hillside on the south east side of Blenheim, is wholebunch pressed into French oak barriques, fermented with wild yeasts, and aged for 11 months on the lees.
Tiki Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2019 Marlborough Castelnau RRP £16.99
Winemaker Evan Ward, a man with 40 years of experience in his chosen trade, is looking for “purity and freshness” in the Tiki Estate range of wines, which includes what the judges called a “varietally typical” Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. “Nice nose – fruity, floral and open,” the panel said. “On the palate it’s very smooth and soft in feel with lovely fruit and not too much alcohol.”
I’m a big fan of North “ Island reds: Syrah from
Hawke’s Bay or Waiheke Island and some of their Cabernets as well. There is some interesting stuff going on with ageing – people are holding back library stock. I’ve tried some interesting things like Kumeu River Chardonnay or Hawke’s Bay Syrahs that are 10 years old.
Alice archer cambridge wine merchants
I really like what they’re “ doing in Hawke’s Bay with
Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and even Malbec, where they’re going more for a French than an Argentinian style. It’s very difficult to give a judgement of Marlborough Sauvignon because everybody has got their own style. There are so many variations.
kenrick bush urban cellar 22
For such a small country “ New Zealand is doing really well. Different grapes are being planted and the new generation will want to shake things up a bit. It’s an exciting country. There are enough different varieties and enough different styles and people are starting to experiment a bit more.
dawn mannis the sampler
The Sauvignon style has “ become much more subtle.
It’s not all upfront fruit; the wines are more rounded and elegant. They’re the wines that people come back for again and again. The Pinot Noir vines are a little bit older now and there’s more depth to the wines. The New Zealanders are getting much cleverer in their winemaking.
charlotte dean wined up here 23
Clos Marguerite Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Marlborough Clark Foyster Wines RRP £20
Belgian winemaking couple Jean-Charles Van Hove and Marguerite Dubois bring a sensitive winemaking touch to their single-vineyard project in the Awatere Valley. The judges were thrilled by the “elegance” on show in their Sauvignon, which has “delicate fresh fruit and delightful racy acidity”. “It’s a serious wine for food; zesty, complex and full of energy.”
Giesen The Brothers Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Marlborough
H2Vin RRP £16
Sub-regional identities are really starting to shine through in Marlborough, with Giesen’s The Brothers Sauvignon Blanc expressing the characteristics of the relatively cool, dry, breezy Wairau Valley. Aged on lees for three months, and with 5%-10% of the blend spending a short time in oak, “it’s the kind of wine that customers would definitely come back in for”, the judges said. “Fresh lemon, nice weight, good length … it’s a really likeable wine with lots of character and great depth of flavour.”
Nga Waka Chardonnay 2017 Martinborough Laytons RRP £19.95
Martinborough’s Nga Waka is now in its fourth decade of wine production, with the winery having been founded in 1988. The Parkinson family now has 17ha of vineyard in the region, making acclaimed wines from Pinot, Riesling, Sauvignon and, in this case, Chardonnay. “Tropical fruit characters on the nose and palate, nice roundness but fresh and balanced,” the judges said. “A convincingly juicy and well-made style of Chardonnay with plenty of appeal.”
Hunter’s Offshoot Chardonnay 2017, Marlborough Laytons RRP £19.95
A Marlborough Chardonnay of “great typicity” that the judges thought stood out from the crowd, thanks to its “creamy but fresh and vibrant palate”, its “wellintegrated spicy savoury oak” and its “lingering finish”. Made using 100% barrel fermentation, with 40% new and 60% two-year-old French oak barrels, it spends 12 months ageing in wood, and is part of Hunter’s Offshoot range, which gives the family business’s younger generation the chance to experiment.
Seresin Reserve Chardonnay 2015, Marlborough
Louis Latour Agencies (From Feb 1, 2020, Enotria & Coe) RRP £28.99
A wine with a funky appeal – it was described by one judge as “unusual, not varietal but with really interesting fermentation flavours, plus fresh lemony tones. Something out of the ordinary that will appeal to the more adventurous customer.” It’s the result of a process which sees barrels for the Reserve selected a year after vintage, before spending another six months in old oak puncheons.
Greystone Chardonnay 2017 North Canterbury Seckford Agencies RRP £27.50
“Classy”, “Burgundian” and “elegant”, Greystone’s “Kiwi Grand Cru” was a big hit with the judges, who praised its “balance, restraint and delicious stone fruit”. Named Vineyard of the Year in the New Zealand Organic Wine Awards 2016, Greystone is a terroirfocused producer that has been working to express the potential of its limestone and clay soils on the slopes of the Omihi hills in Waipara since 2000.
Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Chardonnay 2017, Marlborough Hallgarten & Novum Wines RRP £20.49
“Classy, citrus-dominant, fresh, balanced and bright, with excellent oak integration and plenty of lift and life.” It’s a ringing endorsement from the judges for a “wine that has been made with lots of skill”. The fruit comes primarily from Saint Clair’s vineyards in Marlborough’s Omaka Valley, and was whole-bunch pressed before being fermented in a 50/50 split of new and used American oak barrels, and then aged for 10 months on the lees.
Greywacke Chardonnay 2015 Marlborough Liberty Wines RRP £32.99
New Zealand wine pioneer Kevin Judd’s Marlborough project continues to go from strength to strength. Arguably best known for his Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, the Chardonnay, which is fermented in French oak barriques (20% new) with indigenous yeasts, is a hugely impressive wine in its own right, as the judges discovered. “Nice and aromatic for a Chardonnay with stone fruits and lemon meringue,” the panel said. “It is tight, layered and savoury and will certainly age well.”
Two Rivers Clos des Pierres Chardonnay 2017, Marlborough The Antipodean Sommelier RRP £20
The hand-picked fruit for Two Rivers’ “impressive” Chardonnay is sourced from 25-year-old vines. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts, and aged for 11 months in a mix of new and seasoned French oak barrels of various sizes and a concrete egg. “This is a big but at the same time elegant style of Chardonnay,” the judges said. “It has beautiful fruit which harmonises perfectly with the oak. Top class.”
Vandal Gonzo Militia Field Blend 2018, Marlborough The Antipodean Sommelier RRP £20
Another “interesting, fun and different” wine from Vandal’s trio of experimental winemakers, this is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Riesling and Tempranillo from a single vineyard in the Southern Valleys of Marlborough. Barrel-fermented and aged, and with some extended skin contact, it’s “rich, wild, long and full of character with a touch of residual sugar, but finishing dry”, said the judges.
Akarua RUA Pinot Noir 2018 Central Otago Liberty Wines RRP £19.99
A Pinot that won over the judges thanks to its “classic New Zealand style” with “lots of succulent fruit. It’s so bright and with good structure, but what is even more impressive is the price, which is very good for a wine of this quality from Central Otago.” The fruit-driven style is a deliberate decision from Akarua winemaker Andrew Keenleyside, who gives the Pinot fruit just seven months in mostly used French oak after fermentation with a mix of indigenous and innoculated yeasts.
Kim Crawford South Island Pinot Noir 2017, Marlborough Liberty Wines RRP £19.99
“This is very good value for a wine that delivers just what many customers want and expect from a New Zealand Pinot,” said the judges. “It’s soft and fruity, just the right side of jammy, with enough structure for food. Very enjoyable!” The grapes are sourced from vineyards across the South Island in Marlborough and Central Otago. Fermented in open-top fermenters, part of the blend is aged in a mix of new and old oak barrels for nine months.
Akitu A2 Pinot Noir 2017 Wanaka, Central Otago Mentzendorff RRP £30
A Pinot Noir of real elegance that charmed the panel with its “dark and red berries and currants and raciness”, its “lively freshness and silky texture” and its “complex notes of classic Pinot woodland savouriness and Central Otago herbiness”. “This is distinctive and very much of its place,” the judges added. It’s the work of Pinot specialist Akitu, which includes 24% whole bunches in the fermentation (with the balance being whole berry) and ages the wine in French oak barrels of which 12% are new.
Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2016 North Canterbury New Generation RRP £28.99
Described by the judges as a “real crowd pleaser”, this North Canterbury Pinot comes with a “soft and easy feel” and “abundant red fruit – think red fruit Polos” but with a “juicy drinkability”. Pegasus Bay has bags of experience with Pinot Noir, with vineyards up to 30 years old containing around a dozen different Pinot clones. Winemaking is “Burgundian” with whole-berry fermentation and ageing in 30% new Burgundy oak barriques.
Valli Gibbston Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017, Central Otago New Generation RRP £51.49 - £53
A “hugely impressive” Pinot with a “hint of farmyardy aroma and Burgundy-like texture and complexity” and “very good depth, length and intensity” said the judges of Valli’s Gibbston Vineyard. It comes from a plot that was planted in 2000 and represents but one part of winemaker Grant Taylor’s attempts to express the sub-regional differences of Central Otago.
Te Awanga Wildsong Organic Pinot Noir 2018, Hawke’s Bay North South Wine RRP £14.99
The judges thought this was “great value for an organic New Zealand Pinot Noir”. They liked the “concentration of fruit – very ripe blackberry”, the “subtle peppery fresh note” and the “super smooth” feel which makes for “very easy drinking”. They liked the label, too, which would be “a standout on the shelf”. It’s produced by an estate that takes its name from the coastal Te Awanga district of Hawke’s Bay, although the fruit here comes from the cooler, inland Maraekakaho.
Churton Pinot Noir 2016 Marlborough Tanners RRP £24
“A wine of great depth and complexity that offers much more than many would expect from a Marlborough Pinot Noir,” was the judges’ verdict on Churton’s offering – a wine with “delightful pure fruit, succulence and peppery-spice notes, and a long fresh finish”. Using gently handled fruit from a hillside vineyard above the Waihopai Valley planted by Sam and Mandy Weaver in 2000, the wine is aged for 18 months in seasoned oak barrels after being destemmed and fermented with natural yeasts.
Pirinoa Road Pinot Noir 2015 Martinborough The Antipodean Sommelier RRP £26
A collaboration between the team at The Antipodean Sommelier and the Croft family in Martinborough, Pirinoa Road takes its name from a 25-acre vineyard in Martinborough. It earned the affection of the judges for its “soft fruitiness – it has a very pleasant mouthfeel, silky and plush, but the fruit is deep and concentrated yet fresh. Very stylish but accessible for a wide variety of independent customers and at a decent price.”
Mount Edward Ted Pinot Noir 2017, Central Otago Alliance Wine RRP £22.99
Described by the judges as a “very good example of Central Otago Pinot at a good price”, Mount Edward Ted Pinot Noir has “a pleasing herbal edge to the dark berry fruit, lots of dark chocolate complexity and a fresh but savoury finish”. Made using natural yeast in open-top fermenters with the addition of 25% whole bunches, and “several tanks” of 100% whole bunch, the wine spends 11 months in French oak (15% new). The winery, which was founded in the Gibbston grape-growing region in 1997, is a Pinot Noir specialist and works with organicallyfarmed fruit.
Hunter’s Pinot Noir 2017 Marlborough Laytons RRP £15.95
Another successful entry for the consistently excellent Hunter’s, this time a Pinot Noir made from grapes principally sourced in Marlborough’s Southern Valleys sub-region. With 30% whole clusters used in the ferment, the wine was aged in French oak (25% new) for 10 months. “Pale colour with plenty of juicy raspberry and plum, this is not massively complex but it is very easy to drink,” the judges said. “It’s also bright, fresh and really good value.”
Framingham Pinot Noir 2017 Marlborough Liberty Wines RRP £19.99
Another wine of “very fair price to quality ratio” to earn the respect of the judges, Framingham’s Pinot is “simply very good. Lush, soft, bright and a bit savoury, it has a peppery streak that is really attractive,” the judges said. Produced from grapes grown in various sites around the Wairau Valley – including Framingham’s estate vineyard – the wine includes a portion of whole-bunch and spends 10 months ageing in a mixture of new and seasoned French oak barriques.
Ata Rangi Pinot Noir 2017 Martinborough Liberty Wines RRP £59.99
One of the big names of New Zealand wine has a price tag to match these days. But for the judges the quality of the wine justifies the expense. “Powerful, plush with lovely spice flavours and fruit in balance, this is extremely classy and while open now will most definitely age for some time,” the panel said. From organic Martinborough vineyards, 30% of the fruit is whole-bunch pressed, with the wine ageing for 11 months in French oak, of which 35% is new.
Coopers Creek Chalk Ridge Syrah 2015, Hawke’s Bay Berkmann Wine Cellars RRP £20.99
It was the quality of the fruit that won over the judges to Coopers Creek’s single-vineyard Syrah. “Very attractive sweet fruit, very pure and polished and ripe,” the panel said. “There’s complexity here, but it’s all about the dark blackberry-ness.” The wine is sourced entirely from a single block – the titular Chalk Ridge – which is located south of the town of Havelock North: a “steep, north-facing amphitheatre that is strewn with fossilised limestone”.
Vidal Reserve Syrah 2017 Gimblett Gravels Hatch Mansfield RRP £17.55
“A textbook New Zealand Syrah at a more than attractive price,” was the judges’ verdict on a wine that is “fragrant, savoury, spicy, peppery and very typical, with sinewy juiciness and freshness on the finish … It’s very Syrah, and very Gimblett Gravels”. Part of the never-less-than-reliable Villa Maria family of brands, Vidal is a star of Hawke’s Bay and Gimblett Gravels. For this Syrah, the fruit is aged for 15 months in French oak, of which 20% is new.
Trinity Hill Homage Syrah 2016 Gimblett Gravels Liberty Wines RRP £94.99
One of the world’s great Syrahs is much in demand these days, hence the collector’s-item price. But for the judges, there was no denying its quality: “It’s one for the cellar – it needs time to open up – but there’s a lot of wine here,” the panel said. “Fragrant, floral on the nose initially, the palate is deep, dark, plump and expansive.” Openly inspired by the wines of Côte-Rôtie, Homage uses fruit from Trinity Hill’s impeccable Gimblett Gravels vineyards, with the final blend aged for 15 months in French oak barriques.
Brookfields Burnfoot Merlot 2015, Hawke’s Bay Ellis Wines RRP £15.95
“A really well-made wine with a distinctly ‘claret-y’ character,” this Hawke’s Bay Merlot appealed to the judges with its “polished tannins, good depth of fruit and good value for money”. A product of the Burnfoot Vineyard in the Tuki Tuki Valley on the northern side of the Tuki Tuki River right opposite the famous Te Mata Peak, the wine is aged in a mixture of American and French oak.
Vandal Gonzo Combat Red 2018 Marlborough The Antipodean Sommelier RRP £20
“Naturally-styled, with lots of cherry fruit, this is expressive, supple, engaging and really easy to drink,” said the judges of what they called a “Kiwi vin de soif”. A blend of Pinot Noir, Syrah and Viognier, the wine is made by a trio of winemakers looking to challenge the norms of Marlborough with lo-fi, low intervention wines.
Obsidian Vitreous 2015 Waiheke Island
The Antipodean Sommelier RRP £25 A Bordeaux blend (29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 18% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec) from a winery that has specialised in the style since its establishment a half-hour’s ferry journey from Auckland on Waiheke Island in 1993. Aged in French oak barriques, it has an “attractively polished tannin structure”, “good deep fruit” and “a touch of spice”, the judges said of a wine that “shows the potential of New Zealand’s Bordeaux-style reds”.
Stanley Lagrein 2016 Awatere Valley, Marlborough Seckford Agencies RRP £17.35
“It’s always exciting to see New Zealand expand its varietal palette, and this was a really convincing version of a rare northern Italian grape,” the judges said. “It has good deep colour and flavours of dark damson, plum and bright Italianate acidity. Great with food, it’s one to recommend to customers looking for something different from the usual Kiwi Pinot.” Made by a company with a track record in experimenting with alternative varieties – Stanley Estates was the first to plant Albariño in New Zealand – the Lagrein for this bottling is sourced from the Awatere Valley and is aged for 10 months in oak barrels, 10% of which are new.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT NEW ZEALAND WINES Visit www.nzwine.com or call Chris Stroud, marketing manager – Europe at New Zealand Winegrowers on 020 7973 8079 or 07917 417388 New Zealand House, 80 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4TE
PICTURE CREDITS Front cover: Paritua Vineyards, Hawke’s Bay New Zealand map: © New Zealand Winegrowers Photos of judges: Joshua Tucker
The Wine Merchant New Zealand Wine Supplement 2019