Taste magazine 2014 Wine Awards

Sauvignon Blanc

Under $20

Mount Riley 2013 Limited Release, Marlborough $19.99

This is serious Sauvignon at a bargain price. As the Scotch whiskey advertisement states, “made by craftsmen, priced by idiots”. It is everything Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc should be … and more.

Tiki 2013, Marlborough $19.95

From Marlborough’s Awatere Valley where Sauvignon is typically grassier but still has a punch of passion fruit. This is a great example of the Awatere style. It’s a Sauvignon lover’s Sauvignon.

Clifford Bay 2013, Marlborough $19

Another fairly “grassy” style (it’s a blend of Awatere and Wairau Valley grapes). Bone-dry Sauvignon that really leaps out of the glass. Brilliant with seafood that’s been garnished with lime or lemon.

The Ned 2013 Marlborough $19.99

Lots of passion fruit, gooseberry and guava flavours – a real crowd pleaser. Still crisp but with moderately soft acidity. If you are not sure whether you like Marlborough Sauvignon, try this!

$20 – $30

Framingham 2013, Marlborough $21

I call this “Sauvignon plus”. The “plus” is a subtle oak influence which adds extra interesting flavours and gives the wine a richer texture. It’s still very fruity with appealing blackcurrant bud, nectarine and melon flavours.

Mount Riley 2013 Seventeen Valley, Marlborough $23.95

Fermented and aged in oak barrels for extra texture and taste. It tastes like Sauvignon Blanc but “feels” like Chardonnay. Good on its own, better with food. Try it with smoked salmon.

Astrolabe 2013 Awatere, Marlborough $23.99

One of my favourite Sauvignon producers. They hit the high notes every year. A concentrated and quite grassy wine from the Awatere Valley. Share it with friends who appreciate serious Sauvignon.

Clos Henri 2013 Bel Echo Broadridge, Marlborough $24

This producer makes some of France’s best Sauvignon in the Sancerre region. He’s so nuts about the variety that he makes it in Marlborough as well. Kiwi Sauvignon with a French accent. Top stuff.

Over $30

Saint Clair 2013 Wairau Reserve, Marlborough $34

Probably the country’s most decorated Sauvignon. It is to Sauvignon what the lion is to the cat family. A powerhouse with masses of different flavours. Produce it at a dinner party when you want to make a strong statement.

Cloudy Bay 2013, Marlborough $35

The country’s most iconic Sauvignon continues to get better every year, in fact this is one of the best ever. Putting this on the table is the vinous equivalent of pulling up in a Ferrari.

Framingham 2010 F-Series, Marlborough $35

If you like Chardonnay better than Sauvignon Blanc this could be the wine for you – it captures the best of both varieties. Rich and slightly quirky. Great food wine, try it with pan-fried snapper.

Stoneleigh 2013 Rapaura Series, Marlborough $30.99

Stoneleigh makes a strong statement with this limited edition premium label. If you like the regular Stoneleigh Sauvignon you will love this wine – it’s got more of everything.


Under $20

Main Divide 2011, Waipara $16.95

This is a truly great buy. Masses of flavour and reasonably dry. If you like Riesling you’ll love this wine. If you don’t, try it anyway it could be a life-changing experience.

Lawson’s Dry Hills 2012, Marlborough $19

There’s just a hint of sweetness in this crisp and refreshing Riesling. Hints of lime, lemon and green apple. I love it with a seafood pasta in a white wine sauce – especially if you use a little of the wine in the sauce.

Wild South 2012, Marlborough $19.99

Appealing medium/dry wine with quite exotic tropical fruit flavours. This is a real crowd-pleaser, a good choice for party when you are not quite sure about everyone’s taste in wine.

Spring Creek 2013 Riesling, Marlborough $12.90

Clean, fresh, crisp Riesling with a hint of sweetness. A good solid Riesling, but look at the price! I wouldn’t be disappointed if I’d paid $20 for this wine.

$20 – $30

Framingham 2011 Classic Riesling, Marlborough $25

This wine seems to top the charts every year. It’s a household name among Riesling enthusiasts. A little bottle age has added extra dimension to an already perfect wine. Great drinking now.

Riverby Estate 2012 Eliza Riesling, Marlborough $27

Moderately sweet Riesling with intense flavours and mountain stream purity. Great as a mouth-watering aperitif without the complication of food.

Martinborough Vineyard 2013 Jackson Block, Martinborough $28

Wonderfully pure Riesling that sends a shiver of pleasure down my spine. If you want a reasonably low alcohol wine with great flavours this is it! Just 10.5% alc. and gold medal quality.

Over $30

Framingham 2013 Select Riesling, Marlborough $35

Framingham’s flagship Riesling is keenly sought after by Riesling lovers. It’s a moderately sweet German-style wine with citrus, rose petal and honey flavours. Great now but will age well.

Felton Road 2013 Dry Riesling, Central Otago $28

Great Riesling from an iconic producer. Bone-dry with mouth-watering acidity. Try it with Bluff oysters garnished with a squeeze of lemon – the earth will move slightly.

Framingham 2012 F-Series Old Vine, Marlborough $40

This top-of-the-line Riesling has a concentrated mix of citrus and tree fruit flavours, but my favourite feature is its deliciously mouth-filling texture. Share with people who appreciate great Riesling.

Pinot Gris

Under $20

Matahiwi 2012, Wairarapa $18.99

Rich, mouth filling and flavoursome Pinot Gris with pear and ginger varietal characters. An impressive texture and lengthy finish. Great value at this price.

Mount Riley 2013, Marlborough $17.95

Fresh and appealing wine with a core of sweet fruit and a silken texture. Pear, Gala apple, grapefruit and a suggestion of orange blossom. Delicately succulent wine offering good value at this price.

The Ned 2013, Marlborough $18.95

An unusual and distinctive wine thanks mainly to its blush of colour, a reminder that Pinot has a pink skin. Subtle pear, nectarine, anise and ginger flavours with a drying finish.

Giesen 2013, Marlborough $18.95

Very pure Pinot Gris with guava, quince, ripe Gala apple, pear and honeysuckle flavours that build in the mouth. Initial sweetness is nicely balanced by fruity acidity to give a pleasantly drying and lengthy finish.

$20 – $30

Terrace Edge 2012, Waipara $22.50

Creamy textured Pinot Gris with moderately intense pear, honeysuckle, nectarine plus a suggestion of toast and butterscotch from oak and yeast. A winner from Waipara.

Woollaston 2012, Nelson $23

Here’s a tip: if you want a top quality well priced Pinot Gris look for Woollaston. This stylish Nelson producer delivers consistently good Pinot Gris year after year. Dry(ish) wine with mouth-wateringly fruity flavours.

Staete Landt 2011, Marlborough $25.50

Dry Pinot Gris with grapefruit, quince, white peach and subtle nutty/toasty flavours. Sophisticated wine that’s very food-friendly. I love it with roast chicken.

Framingham 2011, Marlborough $25

Creamy textured Pinot Gris with attractive biscuity yeast lees flavours together with ginger, nut, wood smoke, pear, apricot, apple strudel/baked apple and clove. Dry(ish).

Over $30

Man O’War 2013 Exiled, Ponui Island $32.99

Wow! NZ Pinot Gris doesn’t get much better than this! Medium/dry wine with a silken texture and flavours that remind me of perfectly tree-ripened peach, pear guava with a seasoning of ginger.

Brick Bay 2013 Matakana, $32

Luscious Pinot Gris with appealing nectarine, white peach, pear and honeysuckle flavours. Serious wine from a boutique Matakana producer. Serve to impress.

Brancott 2012 Letter Series “F”, Marlborough $37.99

Brancott’s flagship Pinot Gris is head and shoulders above their other Pinot Gris labels. Big, rich and complex wine with a silken smooth texture. Made in an off-dry style.

Stoneleigh 2012 Rapaura Series, Marlborough $30.99

This is Stoneleigh’s top label. Very classy Pinot Gris in an off/dry style. Its choc-full of stone fruit flavours including pear, peach, nectarine and quince. Very classy wine.


Under $20

Mills Reef 2012 Reserve, Hawke’s Bay $18.95

This wine delivered far more than I expected at this price. Subtle citrus/grapefruit flavours with plenty of sizzled butter, nutty yeast lees and subtle oak character. A bit of Mills Reef magic.

Coopers Creek 2010 Gisborne $18

If you like your Chardonnay “big and buttery” this could be the wine for you. It’s a charmer with melon and creamy peach flavours that are spiced up with nutty oak character. From a top vintage.

Thistle Ridge 2012, Waipara $16.99

A little ripper that punches way above its weight. It has a strong fruit focus with citrus/grapefruit and white peach adding charm. Quite a “modern” style of Chardonnay with tangy acidity.

$20 – $30

Margrain 2010, Martinborough $28

I was served a glass of this wine blind and mistook it for a good French burgundy. That’s a good trick if you want to show someone just how good New Zealand Chardonnay really is. Sophisticated wine at an eyebrow-raising price.

Kumeu River 2011 Estate, Kumeu $30

Elegant, poised Chardonnay with a perfect balance and a great texture. Citrus/grapefruit and apple with hints of bran biscuit and lightly toasted bread. Kumeu River does it yet again.

Terra Sancta 2012 Riverblock, Central Otago $29.95

Tangy Central Otago Chardonnay with a nice balance between guava and green apple fruit characters and nutty, butterscotch influences from barrel maturation and contact with the yeast lees.

Riverby Estate 2011, Marlborough $27

Bright, fresh and tangy Chardonnay with citrus and white peach flavours plus a seasoning of hazelnut. Attractive, accessible wine with a perfect balance between alcohol sweetness and juicy acidity.

Over $30

Neudorf 2012 Moutere, Nelson $65

If you really want to impress a wine lover, open a bottle of this wine. Neudorf have been making legendary Chardonnay for a long time, and the wine seems to get better with every vintage. This could be their very best yet.

Matua 2011 Single Vineyard, Marlborough $50

Seamless, sophisticated Chardonnay with beautifully integrated citrus, mineral, toasted cashew and bran biscuit flavours. A restrained and classy wine – thoroughly seductive.

Kumeu River 2011 Mate’s Vineyard $70

Kumeu River makes world famous Chardonnay. This is their top label. This is the sort of wine I open on my wedding anniversary (my wife loves Chardonnay) or for visiting wine critics and judges.

Greywacke 2010, Marlborough $41.95

Classy, complex and elegant Chardonnay with peach, nectarine and mineral flavours plus a smoky, nutty and a struck match/funky character. Exciting Chardonnay for adventurous drinkers.

Sparkling wine

Under $20

Soljans NV Sparkling Muscat, Gisborne $15

Styled after Italian Asti Spumante with similar luscious muscat. An appealing wine in a moderately sweet style. Serve well chilled for a refreshing drink.

Villa Maria S-Series Sparkling, $19.99

An unusual blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Gris and Riesling. A full-bodied sparkling wine in a moderately sweet style.

$20 – $30

Allan Scott NV Cecilia Brut Methode, Marlborough $29

A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay combining the best features of each. Silken textured wine with a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity promoting a crisp dry finish.

Georges Michel NV Method Traditionnelle Blanc de Blancs, Marlborough $25

Elegant sparkler made from 100% Chardonnay. A truly dry wine that is good on its own but even better with smoked trout or eel.

No 1 Family Estate NV Cuvee Number 8, Marlborough $30

Rich, mellow wine with some attractive toasty development. Silken-textured sparkler that relies on bready yeast autolysis rather than fruitiness. Very sophisticated.

Stoneleigh NV Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough $25.99

Sparkling Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is so quintessentially Kiwi that it’s up there with the Buzzy Bee. Punchy Marlborough fruitiness that we all know and love with crisp, mouth-tingling acidity.

Over $30

No 1 Family Estate 2009 Adele Cuvee, Marlborough $125

This looks and tastes as good as the price suggests. A diamond-encrusted bottle (they look like diamonds to me) and a wine that is as good, if not better than most champagne. A great gift, but make sure you chill it first.

Nautilus 2008 Brut “late disgorged after three years”, Marlborough $39

The judges got it right – this was top wine at the latest Air New Zealand Wine Awards. Super-seductive sparkler that achieves a perfect blend of freshness with maturity. I love it!

Deutz 2010 Prestige Cuvee, Marlborough $44.99

Slightly finer and drier than the regular Deutz Marlborough Cuvee label and with an even more ethereal texture. Quite champagne-like. Good now, even better in a couple of years.

Deutz 2008 Marlborough Cuvee Rose, Marlborough $44.99

I love Rose sparkling wine and this is my current favourite. Soft-textured, charming wine with pretty strawberry flavours together with subtle, biscuit-like characters. I love it with smoked salmon.

Sweet wine

$20 – $30

Mondillo 2012 Nina Late Harvest Riesling, Central Otago (375ml) $29.99

Late harvest Riesling with delicious and concentrated varietal flavours including lime/citrus, mineral, mandarin zest, apricot and a suggestion of honey. Very pure and appealing wine with a great backbone of taut acidity.

Waimea 2008 Late Harvest Riesling, Nelson (750ml) $20

You don’t often find sweet wine bargains. This is one. Honey and citrus/lime flavours with lots of toasty bottle development. Buy it from the winery.

Over $30

Framingham 2013 F-Series Trockenbeerenauslese Riesling, Marlborough (375ml) $70

Trockenbeerenauslese means a wine made from individually hand-picked, dry shrivelled grapes. That method produces the world’s most intense sweet wines. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Framingham 2013 Noble Riesling, Marlborough (375ml) $40

Made from selectively hand-picked bunches that have been concentrated by botrytis mould to produce a sticky, luscious nectar of the Gods. Not cheap but worth every cent. Serve on ceremonial occasions.

Framingham 2013 F-Series VT Gewurztraminer, Marlborough (375ml) $40

This wine achieved concentration through dehydration rather than botrytis mould. It’s Gewurztraminer on steroids with massively concentrated Turkish delight flavours.


Under $20

Martinborough Vineyards 2013 Rose, Martinborough (500ml) $18

Made from Pinot Noir and packaged in a handy 500ml bottle making it easier to smuggle into cricket matches. Very classy Rose with pure cherry and ripe strawberry flavours.

Woollaston 2013 Tussock Pinot Rose, Nelson $19

Creamy textured wine in a totally dry style with raspberry, cherry and very subtle mint flavours. Seamless Rose with a lingering finish. Great for summer picnics.

Kim Crawford 2013 Pansy Rose, Hawke’s Bay $18.99

A Merlot/Malbec blend with appealing plum, raspberry, fruit jube and subtle spice flavours. Delicately textured wine with a hint of ripe fruit sweetness. Rosé with more taste and texture than most.

Hunter’s 2013 Rose, Marlborough $17.90

Pretty Rose with a pale pink colour and subtle strawberry/fresh herb flavours. Made in an off/dry style with a silken texture. Great summer drinking.

$20 – $30

Four Hawk Day 2013 Rose, Marlborough $22

Pale pink Rose with very seductive scents of wild strawberries and violets. An ethereal texture leads to a lingering finish. Seamless wine made with a very light touch. Perfect for summer drinking.

Craggy Range 2013 Gimblett Gravels Vineyard, Hawke’s Bay $29.95

The first release under this label. Pale pink wine with a creamy texture that leads to a drying and slightly peppery finish. Delicate and seductive wine with subtle berry and spice flavours. A blend of Merlot and Syrah.

Neudorf 2013 Pinot Rose, Nelson $23

Deliciously fruity wine with red berry, plum and subtle floral flavours. Creamy-textured Rose in a dry-ish style with a backbone of gentle acidity. Brilliant with light to moderately spicy Thai curry.

Allan Scott 2013 Pinot Noir Rose, Marlborough $21.50

Bright pink with moderate depth. Gentle, soft-textured Rose in a medium/dry style. Delicately fruity with strawberry, ripe cherry and subtle floral flavours. Charming wine.

Over $30

Cable Bay 2013 Rose, Waiheke Island $35

Made from hand-picked Merlot and Malbec grapes grown on hillside vineyards. Quite a deep and flavoursome wine – almost a light red. Good weight and the merest hint of sweetness.

Pinot Noir

Under $20

Thistle Ridge 2011, Waipara $19.95

Entry level Pinot Noir made by the clever people at Greystone who have very high standards. This wine won a gold medal at the Air NZ Wine Awards. Fantastic value.

Omihi Hills 2011 Limestone Ridge, Waipara $19.90

Deliciously drinkable and very charming Pinot Noir at a great value price. It shines like a beacon in the world of often dreary sub-$20 Pinot Noirs.

Brightside 2012, Nelson $19

Light, bright and very pretty Pinot with plum and dark cherry flavours. A very food-friendly wine that’s as happy with smoked salmon as it is with lamb shanks.

Supper Club 2012, Central Otago $19.99

Reasonably light, silken Pinot Noir with glazed cherry and subtle spicy flavours. Seamless wine in a very approachable style. Price-friendly Pinot that everyone will love.

$20 – $30

Omihi Hills 2011 Waipara Selection, Waipara $28.90

This relatively new producer is making seriously good wine – definitely one to watch. Affordable excellence that captures the taut, elegant Waipara style. It will impress wine-wise friends.

Wairau River 2012, Marlborough $25

Attractively scented Pinot Noir with plum, violet and dark cherry flavours. Elegant, fruity wine with a soft, ethereal texture. Deliciously drinkable now.

The Ned 2012, Marlborough $28

Fleshy, almost succulent Pinot Noir with dark cherry, plum and spicy oak characters. Silken-textured red in a crowd-pleasing style. Generously flavoured and accessible wine for current drinking.

Aronui 2012, Nelson $27.95

Moderately intense and reasonably robust Pinot Noir with plum, cherry and subtle spice flavours together with a seasoning of classy oak. Hard to find but worth the effort.

Over $30

Greystone 2012 Brother’s Reserve, Waipara $70

Limited edition wine that will appeal to collectors and investors. Would make a great gift to a (very special) wine enthusiast. Big, intense Pinot Noir that’s choc-full of flavour.

Fromm 2011 Clayvin Vineyard, Marlborough $80.63

Marlborough’s first hillside vineyard has produced a string of top wines for more than 20 years. A proven winner with real cellaring potential. Will bring tears of joy to any Pinot Noir lover.

Felton Road 2012 Block 5, Central Otago $91

One of this country’s most iconic Pinot Noir labels from a top vintage. World famous wine that thoroughly deserves its very serious price tag.

Martinborough Vineyard 2010 Marie Zelie, Martinborough $225

New Zealand’s most expensive Pinot Noir and one of the country’s most expensive wines. Only 1800 bottles made. Superb wine that makes a very strong statement.

Reds other than Pinot Noir

Under $20

Spy Valley 2011 Merlot Malbec, Marlborough $19.90

Rich, fruity red with plum, red currant and a hint of chocolate. Flavoursome and appealing red with sweet fruit balanced by crisp acidity and fine, ripe tannins.

Main Divide 2010 Merlot Cabernet, Waipara $19.95

Cabernet gives the wine class while Merlot makes it mellow. A great partnership from the budget label of Pegasus Bay. Moderately gutsy red that’s perfect for barbecued snags or steaks.

Rongopai 2012 Merlot Cabernet, Hawkes Bay $15

Reasonably light, spicy red with cherry, herb and pepper flavours. The sort of crisp, vibrant wine that is a perfect match with pasta in a red meat sauce.

$20 – $30

Pegasus Bay 2010 Merlot Cabernet, Waipara $28.95

Chewy, fleshy red with plum, dark berry, chocolate/mocha and nutty oak flavours. Deliciously accessible red. Big brother to the Main Divide Merlot Cabernet (above).

Alpha Domus 2010 The Navigator, Hawke’s Bay $28.95

A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec from a top vintage. Appealing and moderately complex red that offers real value at this price.

Trinity Hill 2011 The Trinity, Hawke’s Bay $22

A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Moderately rich, full-flavoured red with plum, berry, floral, liquorice and mocha characters. Smooth-textured wine in an appealing style.

Coopers Creek 2012 Syrah, Hawke’s Bay $20

A slightly edgy Syrah in a medium-bodied style with violet, white pepper, black pepper, raspberry and leafy flavours. Reasonably soft and supple wine with a core of fruit sweetness.

Over $30

Obsidian 2010, Waiheke Island $56

A blend of the five Bordeaux grape varieties. Very impressive red that’s hardly surprising when you consider it is from a consistently top producer and one of Waiheke’s best ever vintages.

Destiny Bay 2008 Magna Praemia, Waiheke Island $330

New Zealand’s most expensive wine is thankfully very, very good indeed. Powerful and complex red that will interest collectors and investors. A good birth year wine that should be great in 2029.

Craggy Range 2011 Le Sol Syrah, Hawke’s Bay $99.95

A strong contender for my “New Zealand’s best Syrah label” award. After more than a decade Le Sol has achieved true celebrity status. A great gift. Even better to enjoy it with roast duck.

Crossroads 2010 Talisman, Hawke’s Bay $49.95

Consistently great red made from an undisclosed blend of grape varieties which adds a little mystery. Bright, high energy and powerful red with strong red berry, spice and subtle savoury flavours.

New Varieties

$20 – $30

Waimea 2012 Gruner Veltliner, Nelson $25

Austria’s signature grape variety puts on a pretty good performance in this Nelson vineyard. Aromatic wine with floral and stone fruit characters. Just a hint of sweetness. Delicious.

Coopers Creek 2013 Allison Marsanne, Gisborne $25

Marsanne is a southern French grape. Rich, weighty wine with quince, cinnamon, mineral and butterscotch flavours. Unusual and distinctive wine with an appealing texture.

Framingham 2013 F-Series Rosata Montepulciano, Marlborough $25

A pretty Rose made from a popular Italian grape variety. Quite deep in colour with plenty of flavour and in a bone-dry style. Serious Rose. Definitely worth trying.

Spade Oak 2013 Albarino, Gisborne $23

Albarino is my favourite Spanish white grape variety. This is the best New Zealand example I’ve yet tasted. Dry with subtle fruit flavours and an appealing texture. Made in tiny quantities.

Over $30

Trinity Hill 2010 Tempranillo, Hawke’s Bay $35

Spain’s finest red grape variety was pioneered in this country by Trinity Hill. Dense, smooth-textured red with appealing dark berry and violet flavours. Stylish red with cellaring potential.

Church Road 2010 McDonald Series Marzemino, Hawke’s Bay $33.99

This obscure French grape produces a lovely dense wine with dark berry, spice liquorice and sweet earth flavours. Mellow, chewy wine in a distinctive and appealing style. Delicious red.

Brancott Estate 2012 Letter Series “R” Sauvignon Gris, Marlborough $36

If you think Sauvignon Blanc is too aggressively acidic, this could be the wine for you. It’s like Sauvignon Blanc on valium. Calmer, smoother and very good natured.

Black Barn 2010 Tempranillo, Hawke’s Bay $38.90

Tangy, vibrant red with red berry/cranberry, herb and spice/white pepper flavours. Enjoy with pasta and a rich red meat sauce.

Trophy Awards

Ultimate winner

Neudorf 2012 Moutere Chardonnay, Nelson $65

It’s a tough call trying to pick a winner out of so many truly excellent but very different wines. Wine drinkers need to be reminded that Chardonnay is a truly great grape variety that makes some of the world’s finest white wines and that New Zealand can foot it with the best.

Best Value

Mount Riley 2013 Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough $19.99

This is like a Mercedes with a Mazda price tag. It’s a state-of-the-art Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc complete with all the zesty, punchy flavours that the world is going nuts about. Buy it in quantity before they realise they’ve made a mistake and hike the price.

Best Red

Felton Road 2012 Block 5, Central Otago $91

If I was allowed only one bottle of wine before going to the guillotine it would be Felton Road Block 5 Pinot Noir – in a double magnum. I would probably choose an earlier vintage because the wine ages superbly. Truly great Pinot Noir.

Best White

Neudorf 2012 Moutere Chardonnay $65

This wine is a legend. Offer it to any Chardonnay enthusiast and you will also be a legend. It certainly wins my vote for top Chardonnay of the vintage. Delicious now but worth keeping for 3-4 years when it will be even better.

Best Rosé

Four Hawk Day 2013 Rose, Marlborough $22

This Rosé tastes as good as it looks. It was my winning wine in a line-up of over 100 wines from every New Zealand wine region. I can’t think of another wine type where the best example costs as little as $22. A true bargain!

Best New Variety

Trinity Hill 2010 Tempranillo, Hawke’s Bay $35

Trinity Hill pioneered Tempranillo in this country around a decade ago. They have consistently made top wine from this Spanish variety, attracting a host of top awards and trophies. If you are keen on tasting wines made from new and interesting grape varieties this is a good place to start.

Best for a dinner party

Kumeu River 2011 Estate Chardonnay, Kumeu $30

Kumeu River has been making Chardonnay so well and for so long that this super-smooth wine now has the celebrity status of George Clooney. It’s a sure-fire way to impress guests or anyone lucky enough to be on the receiving end of this very special wine.

Best to cellar

Greystone 2012 Brother’s Reserve Pinot Noir, Waipara $70

Deliciously drinkable now, but wait, there’s more! This Pinot powerhouse will get significantly better if you have the willpower to resist opening it for at least four or five years. With careful storage it will continue to improve for at least a decade.

Best to drink now

Framingham 2011 Classic Riesling, Marlborough $25

I believe that most Riesling needs a few years in bottle become mellower and more complex. After nearly three years in bottle Framingham’s Classic Riesling is simply too good to resist any longer. Open without guilt and savour with pleasure.

Best gift

Nautilus 2008 Brut “Late disgorged after three years” $39

Everyone loves sparkling wine, which is why it is often served as an aperitif to arriving guests. This deliciously ready-to-drink, suavely sophisticated sparkling wine will put a smile on the face of anyone lucky enough to receive it as a gift.

Best adventurous

Church Road 2010 McDonald Series Marzemino, Hawke’s Bay $33.99

No, Marzemino is not a high-performance Italian sports car. It’s a high performance red grape variety from the north of Italy. In the Mozart opera Don Giovanni they sing “Versa il vino! Eccellente Marzemino!” Take it for a spin, you’ll love it.

First published in Taste Magazine NZ – Mar 2014.

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