Taste magazine 2015 Wine Awards

Sauvignon Blanc

Under $20

Esk Valley 2014, Marlborough $19.99

Light, fresh Sauvignon Blanc with passion fruit, melon, gooseberry, grapefruit and lemon grass flavours. The wine has very appealing fruit sweetness balanced by juicy acidity to give a pleasantly drying finish.

Clos Henri 2014 Petit Clos, Marlborough $19.90

Fine-textured, tight, fresh Sauvignon Blanc with strong chalky mineral flavours plus lime, nutty yeast lees and gooseberry. Very pure with an impeccable acid/alcohol balance that gives a pleasantly drying finish. Great food wine.

Vidal 2014 Reserve, Marlborough $19.99

This Reserve wine is richer and more concentrated than the regular label with a broader range of flavours combining riper passion fruit and nectarine flavours with less ripe gooseberry and green capsicum.

Villa Maria 2014 Private Bin, Marlborough $15.99

Smooth, mellow Sauvignon Blanc with reasonably light grapefruit, gooseberry, guava and subtle passion fruit flavours. Light, fresh wine offering value at this price.

$20 – $30

Dog Point 2014, Marlborough $24.50

Deliciously restrained Sauvignon Blanc with mineral, citrus/pink grapefruit, and nutty lees/brioche characters. It has a great almost ethereal texture and plenty of weight and yet boasts tantalising purity. Very sophisticated Sauvignon Blanc with concentration and power.

Villa Maria 2014 Reserve Wairau Valley, Marlborough $24.99

Concentrated, flavoursome Sauvignon Blanc in riper style with nectarine, passion fruit, red capsicum and subtle lime juice flavours. Weighty wine with appealing fruit sweetness and a very lengthy finish. Very impressive.

Craggy Range 2014 Avery Vineyard, Marlborough $20.95

Aromatic Sauvignon Blanc with grapefruit, lime, passion fruit and red capsicum flavours. The wine has concentrated flavours and an ethereal texture with great purity and length. Silken-textured with a distinctive lanolin-like mouth feel. Very classy Sauvignon.

Astrolabe 2014, Marlborough $20.99

Flavoursome Sauvignon Blanc with gooseberry, red capsicum, nectarine and lime plus a suggestion of passion fruit flavours. Classy wine with an ethereal texture and lingering finish. Delivers everything a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc drinker expects … and more.

Over $30

Giesen 2012 The Fuder Single Vineyard Selection: Matthews Lane, Marlborough $44.99

Deliciously creamy-textured wine with nutty yeast lees characters adding complexity to ripe nectarine, peach and other stone fruit flavours. A complex, satisfying Sauvignon Blanc in a very appealing style.

Astrolabe 2013 Taihoa Vineyard, Marlborough $36.99

Weighty, full-bodied wine with chalky mineral, green capsicum, gooseberry, passion fruit and lime/citrus flavours. Intense and complex wine that gives a nod in the direction of Sancerre.

Cloudy Bay 2013, Marlborough $35

Reasonably concentrated Sauvignon Blanc with real power and a seamless texture. Grapefruit, gooseberry, red capsicum and chalky mineral characters are the most obvious descriptors. I like the uncompromisingly dryness of the wine and its impressive length.

Woollaston 2013 Mahana, Nelson $31

Woollaston’s flagship Sauvignon Blanc is an impressively rich and flavoursome wine with guava, grapefruit and mineral together bran biscuit and roasted nut flavours from maturation in oak for 11 months.

Stoneleigh 2013 Rapaura Series, Marlborough $30.99

Stoneleigh’s flagship Sauvignon Blanc label justifies its marginally extra price by offering more weight and concentration. Flavours include grapefruit, gooseberry, passion fruit and a suggestion of toasted nut characters. Classy wine.


Under $20

Terrace Edge 2012 Liquid Geography, Waipara $19.50

Very pure and ethereal Riesling with delicacy and drive. It has a lot of floral notes – more of a bouquet than a specific flower. There are also aromatic lime/citrus notes and some chalky minerality. Distinctive wine with a seductive lightness.

Terrace Edge 2011 Classic, Waipara $19.50

Medium/dry Riesling with orange zest, mineral and subtle apricot flavours. The wine shows excellent purity and a great sugar/acid balance. It’s taut, tangy and has a lovely lingering finish. Great as an aperitif or with mild Thai curries.

Allan Scott 2013, Marlborough $16.99

Attractive medium/dry Riesling with lime, tree fruit and honeysuckle flavours. The wine has a very appealing texture with good weight and mouth feel. Seamless and ethereal. Great value at this price.

Waimea 2013 Spinyback, Nelson $17.99

Bright, fresh wine with green apple, citrus and a hint of white rose petal. Slightly gutsy Riesling with reasonably concentrated flavours and a lengthy finish. Represents excellent value at this price.

$20 – $30

Auburn 2013 Lowburn, Central Otago $28

This is a stunning Riesling in a ripe style with restrained, luscious pineapple, peach and nectarine flavours together with underlying citrus/lime, mineral and star anise. Mouth-filling and quite sweet but with no suggestion of cloying thanks to a fine backbone of fruity acidity.

Auburn 2013 Bendigo, Central Otago $28

Quite an intense Riesling with lime/citrus, a hint of exotic pineapple, stone fruit/apricot /nectarine and a thread of wet stone mineral character. Moderately sweet wine that’s nicely balanced with juicy acidity.

Te Kairanga 2013, Martinborough $23

Pure Riesling with lime, mineral, green apple and a hint of white flowers. Very textural wine with richness and mouth feel. It has a great balance with fine, fruity acidity promoting a drying finish. Very impressive.

Over $30

Felton Road 2013 Block 1 Riesling, Central Otago $41

Sweetness is restrained by fine, fruity acidity in a reaction that produces delicious tension in the wine. I noted chalky mineral flavours with lime/citrus, apricot /stone fruit and a floral/orange blossom character. Will age magnificently.

Valli 2013 Old Vine, Central Otago $30

Made from a vineyard that was planted in the early eighties. Lime, grapefruit, orange blossom, green apple and mineral flavours are among the more obvious descriptors. Dry but not too austere. Should age very well.

Framingham 2013 F-Series Old Vine, Marlborough $40

Bone dry Riesling with surprising weight and texture from lees and late harvest fruit. Lime, mineral, green apple with a seasoning of subtle nutty lees. Great cellaring potential. Interesting and quite individual style.

Pinot Gris

Under $20

Mud House 2014, Marlborough $18.99

Moderately luscious wine with white peach, nectarine and pear juice flavours together with a subtle spicy note. Fresh, pure and fruity Pinot Gris in an off/dry style. Well made wine with an attractively silken texture.

Tussock 2013, Nelson $19

Attractive Pinot Gris with ripe pear and quince flavours together with a seasoning of nutty, toasty yeast lees character. The wine is effectively dry. Sophisticated Pinot Gris, especially for a second label. Great value.

Waipara Springs 2013, Waipara $19

Bright, fresh and pleasingly pure Pinot Gris with pear, quince, pineapple and guava flavours. Flavoursome wine with an ethereal texture and a lingering finish.

Mahi 2013, Marlborough $19

Quite a weighty Pinot Gris with savoury/yeasty\/nutty flavours supporting tree fruit/pear/nectarine characters. Flavoursome wine that’s richly textured without sacrificing fruit and flavour. Quite complex. Good food wine.

$20 – $30

Greystone 2013 Sand Dollar, Waipara $26.90

Dry Pinot Gris with very pure pear, mineral and subtle white flower flavours (white rose?). The wine has a deliciously ethereal texture and an enchantingly lengthy finish. Absolutely delicious!

Brightwater 2013, Nelson $20

Lush, fruity wine with exotic mango, guava, pineapple, honeysuckle and star anise/mixed spice flavours. The wine has a suggestion of sweetness but is perfectly balanced with lingering finish. Smooth-textured. Very impressive.

Main Divide 2013 Pokiri Late Picked, Waipara $24.95

Luscious Pinot Gris with bush honey, mango, peach and toasty/yeasty flavours. The wine clearly has a botrytis influence and is medium/sweet. Delicious with blue cheese. An opulent treat.

Greystone 2013, Waipara $26.90

Ripe pear, white peach and a subtle honey and nut influence. Very pure and beautifully balanced wine with a silken texture. A small percentage of the wine was barrel fermented to add extra richness and complexity.

Over $30

Te Muna Valley 2013 Autumn Harvest, Martinborough $50

Absolutely delicious Pinot Gris with intense pineapple, peach, nectarine and honey flavours that show restrained lusciousness. Although quite sweet the wine is beautifully balanced with tangy acidity that prevents any suggestion of cloying.

Lawson’s Dry Hills 2012 The Pioneer, Marlborough $34.99

Full-flavoured Pinot Gris with a creamy texture and a mix of ripe stone fruit/peach/pear/nectarine and savoury nutty/brioche flavours. Bold wine with fruit and alcohol sweetness nicely balanced by gentle acidity.

Hans Herzog 2013, Marlborough $39

Quite a deep orange colour suggests skin contact. Rich, full-flavoured Pinot Gris with quince, cherry, spice and floral flavours. The wine has a suggestion of sweetness nicely balanced by fine tannins. Big, complex and very distinctive wine.

Martinborough Vineyard 2013, Martinborough $40

Rich, Alsace-style Pinot Gris with intense, ripe stone fruit flavours, great mouth feel and a creamy texture. The wine clearly has a lot of yeast lees influence adding weight and a slightly nutty character. Complex, satisfying wine with a hint of spice.


Under $20

Vidal 2013 Reserve, Hawke’s Bay $19.99

Soft, fruity Chardonnay with peach and melon flavours – it tastes like Spring and Summer rolled into one. Mellow wine from a top vintage.

Hunter’s 2013, Marlborough $18.90

Short-listed for my best value wine of the year, this bright, fresh and very tasty Chardonnay is a great buy at this price.

Church Road 2013, Hawke’s Bay $19.95

Bright, fruity Chardonnay with apricot, nectarine, guava, grapefruit and subtle hazelnut flavours. An excellent vintage has given succulent and moderately concentrated fruit flavours that are enhanced by the careful use of oak and yeast lees flavours.

Villa Maria 2013 Cellar Selection, Hawke’s Bay $19.99

Silky smooth Chardonnay with white peach, pear, grapefruit and subtle hazelnut flavours. Seductively textured wine – elegant and with good length.

$20 – $30

Sacred Hill 2013 Halo, Hawke’s Bay $24.99

Very impressive Chardonnay both in its layers of grapefruit, white peach, hazelnut and brioche flavours and its almost ethereal, creamy texture. The wine delivers power with great subtlety.

Neudorf 2013, Nelson $29

Vibrant and slightly edgy Chardonnay with white peach, wild flower and savoury toasted nut/bran biscuit character. Bone-dry wine with a grippy, suede-like texture. Serious Chardonnay with an impressive pedigree and showing good development potential.

Villa Maria 2013 Reserve, Hawke’s Bay $28

Villa Maria dominates the gold medal and trophy awards in the Chardonnay section of wine shows. This is one of their top Chardonnay labels – it doesn’t get much better than this! Sophisticated wine in a very polished style.

Te Kairanga 2013, Martinborough $25

Creamy-textured Chardonnay with subtle green apple, grapefruit, nutty and bread crust flavours. More about texture than taste with reasonably silken and appealing texture. The flavours are subtle and pleasingly complex.

Over $30

Ata Rangi 2013 Craighall, Martinborough $45

Classy Chardonnay with roasted chestnut, brioche, mineral, white peach and nectarine flavours that are beautifully integrated. Elegant, powerful and deliciously textural Chardonnay that makes it hard to resist a second glass … and a third.

Neudorf 2013 Moutere, Nelson $65

This is one of the most impressive examples of the country’s leading Chardonnay labels that I have yet tasted. It’s a complex medley of flavours including fresh hay, wild flowers, stone fruit, fresh baked bread and bran biscuit. It’s a power-packed wine with a seductively smooth texture.

Greystone 2013, Waipara $40

Bright, rich and layered Chardonnay with plenty of wholemeal, bran biscuit and yeasty Brioche-like flavours supported by white peach and nectarine. Very attractive wine that’s deliciously drinkable now but promises to age well.

Vidal 2013 Legacy, Hawke’s Bay $55

Intensely flavoured wine with strong peach/nectarine fruit flavours and an appropriate seasoning of winemaker artefact. Great texture, lengthy finish and impeccable balance.

Sparkling wine

Under $20

Peter Yealands NV Sparkling Pinot Gris Blush, Marlborough $15.99

Bronze coloured wine with strong juicy Pinot Gris flavours of peach, pear and hints of spice. Attractive, fresh and tangy wine with a suggestion of sweetness balanced by crisp acidity.

Toi Toi NV Sparkling Rose, $17.55

Fresh, tangy wine with bright fresh berry/cherry flavours. Subtle sweetness amplifies fruit flavours and helps give a smoother texture. Quite a full-bodied style with appeal.

Sileni NV Sparkling Rose. Hawke’s Bay $16.50

Quite a full-bodied Rose fizz with appealing, fresh berry fruit flavours. A hint of sweetness promotes a reasonably smooth texture while fresh acidity stops any suggestion of cloying.

$20 – $30

Hunter’s NV Miru Miru, Marlborough $26.99

A blend of the three “champagne” varieties Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The wine shows a delightful freshness with an ethereal texture and flavours suggesting citrus/grapefruit, brioche and hazelnut.

Daniel le Brun NV Method Traditionnelle, Marlborough $30

Creamy Methode with a mellow and appealing texture. The wine is showing good bottle development with attractive toast, wholemeal and roasted nut flavours that are beautifully integrated.

Georges Michel 2010 Blanc de Blanc Methode Traitionnelle, Marlborough $25

An unusual blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes were allowed a second fermentation in bottle with subsequent maturation on the yeast lees to develop extra savoury complexity. The wine has weight and a rich texture with restrained fruit character.

Over $30

Quartz Reef 2009 Methode Traditionnelle, Central Otago $45

A blend of Chardonnay (87%) and Pinot Noir that has been bottle fermented and aged on the yeast lees for four years. The wine has an appealing lightness and an ethereal texture but certainly does not lack concentration or power.

Deutz 2010 Blanc de Blancs Methode, Marlborough $32.99

This is a favourite label of mine and the 2010 vintage certainly doesn’t disappoint. It’s a flavoursome wine with strong toasty yeast autolysis adding complexity to citrus/grapefruit flavours. Richly textured wine with a very lengthy finish.

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

Deliciously integrated fizz with good bottle development while retaining appealing freshness. The wine is perfectly balanced with crisp acidity helping to promote a pleasantly drying finish. Subtle wine with considerable power.

Huia 2009 Traditionelle Methode Brut, Marlborough $38

Fermented in old oak barrels and allowed to mature on the yeast lees before being bottle fermented and aged for three years. A big, rich and quite creamy wine with strong toasty Chardonnay character contrasting with less obvious chocolate-like Pinot Noir characters.

Sweet wine

Under $20

Eradus 2013 Late Harvest “Sticky Mickey” Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough (375ml) $17.99

Moderately luscious Sauvignon Blanc with identifiable tropical fruit/tree fruit varietal characters plus a honeyed botrytis influence. Quite clean with nice purity and gentle acidity.

Ngatarawa 2013 Stables Late Harvest, Hawke’s Bay (375ml) $15

There is no indication of grape variety(ies) on back label or website but a distinct white rose petal character suggests that Gewurztraminer might be at least a component. There is also a suggestion of honey from botrytis.

$20 – $30

Tohu 2013 Raiha Reserve Noble Riesling, Marlborough (375ml) $27.95

Luscious, concentrated dessert wine with masses of honeyed botrytis character that still allows the citrus/stone fruit varietal flavours of Riesling to emerge. Very appealing wine with a perfect balance of sweetness with fruity acidity.

Rock Ferry 2013 Botrytised Riesling, Marlborough (375ml) $29

Luscious botrytised Riesling with honey, créme brulee, peach, ginger and orange blossom flavours. Very appealing dessert wine that retains good varietal character while offering an array of exotic flavours. It has a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity plus a lingering finish.

Giesen 2013 The Brothers Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough (375ml) $29.99

Tasted alongside the excellent 2012 vintage this is a very similar style with perhaps just a touch more freshness and varietal character. Perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. Concentrated wine with energy.

Hawke’s Ridge 2011 Noble Viognier, Hawke’s Bay (375ml) $24

Very sweet wine that shows moderate honeyed botrytis influence and strong varietal character. Dried apricot, honeysuckle, musk and mango are some of the more obvious flavours.

Over $30

Framingham 2014 F-Series Trockenbeerenauslese Riesling, Marlborough (375ml) $70

100% botrytis, bunch selection. Very intense, luscious, syrupy but not cloying dessert wine. Honey, peach, root ginger, dried tree fruits with Xmas cake like concentration. So concentrated you can find just about any flavour that springs to mind.

Framingham 2014 Noble Riesling, Marlborough (375ml) $40

Very intense and luscious wine with masses of honeyed botrytis character plus dried apricot/nectarine and a suggestion of spice. Long, powerful dessert wine with a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity preventing any sense of cloying and building terrific tension.

Framingham 2014 F-Series Auslese Riesling, Marlborough (375ml) $40

Very pure bush honey flavours supported by fine acidity. SS fermented. Strong aspirin minerality. Very concentrated and quite complex wine with some stone fruit/apricot/nectarine hints.


Under $20

Esk Valley 2014 Rosé, Hawke’s Bay $19.99

This flavoursome Rose is made mostly from Merlot and shows the richness of that variety from a top vintage. It’s bone dry with a hint of crushed strawberries and a touch of spice. Terrific wine.

$20 – $30

Terra Sancta 2014 Pinot Noir Rosé, Central Otago $26.95

Delicate, pure Rosé with an ethereal quality that is rare to find in a wine with impressive underlying power. Mouth-wateringly fresh – it’s hard to imagine a better choice for summertime drinking.

Soho 2014 Westwood Rosé, Waiheke $26

A big, juicy Rose made from Merlot (92%), Malbec (7%) and Syrah (1%) with strong ripe red cherry, strawberry conserve and spice/pepper flavours. Full-flavoured wine with a delicious texture.

Pinot Noir

Under $20

Matahiwi Estate 2013 Mt Hector, Wairarapa $17.99

Bright, fresh and reasonably concentrated Pinot Noir with strongly varietal plum and cherry flavours. Nice purity and a fine-grained texture. The wine has an honesty and vinosity (as opposed to “fruitiness”) that I like.

HaHa 2013, Marlborough $19.99

Bright, fruity Pinot Noir with black cherry, plum, spice and subtle wood smoke flavours. Supple varietal red in a deliciously “drink-me-now” style.

Brancott Estate 2013 Living Land Series Organic, Marlborough $19.95

Light, pure Pinot Noir with red cherry, raspberry, black pepper and coffee flavours. The wine has more power than the colour suggests together with a moderately lengthy finish. Simple and appealing wine offering value at this price.

Wild South 2013, Marlborough $19.99

Bright, ripe black cherry, blackberry flavours with a subtle influence of dried herb and spice characters. Fine-grained tannins give the wine a pleasantly drying finish. Accessible Pinot Noir in a reasonably light, easy-drinking style.

$20 – $30

Charcoal Gully 2012 Sally’s Pinch, Central Otago $29.95

Dense and flavoursome Pinot Noir with a fragrant aroma and flavours suggesting plum, dark cherry, wood smoke and floral/violets. Weighty, structured wine that can be appreciated now but promises to develop well.

ARA 2012 Selected Blocks, Marlborough $29.95

Quite a classy Pinot Noir with raspberry, cranberry, red cherry and spice/anise flavours. The wine shows good purity, moderate power and good length. I like its silken texture and the way it “opened up” in the glass.

Greylands Ridge 2013, Central Otago $30

Dense, rich Pinot Noir with succulent dark berry/cherry and plum flavours. The wine has an appealing silken texture. This is the best example that I can recall tasting from this Alexandra vineyard. Great value at this price.

Terrace Edge 2011, Waipara $27.50

Fruity, flavoursome Pinot Noir with Black Doris plum, dark cherry, spice/anise and slightly toasty oak characters. Fleshy, appealing wine with a rich, smooth texture. Very appealing now but should get even better.

Over $30

Giesen 2012 Ridge Block, Marlborough $59.99

Lovely dense, rich Pinot Noir with impressive depth of dark-fleshed plum, black berry, licorice and spice/anise. The wine has a sumptuous texture with a backbone of fine, ripe tannins preventing any suggestion of cloying. Serious Pinot Noir that will cellar very well indeed.

Giesen 2012 Waihopai, Marlborough $59.99

Scented, perfumed Pinot Noir with floral/violet/wild flower, red cherry, plum and a hint of spice and wood smoke. An intriguing and alluring wine that offers a complex array of flavours with the potential to deliver even more.

Ata Rangi 2012, Martinborough $65

Silken textured Pinot Noir with cherry, plum, mineral and a trademark savoury/herb character. Elegant wine with subtle power evidenced in its very lengthy finish. A very good example from one of the country’s very best producers.

Fromm 2012 Clayvin Vineyard, Marlborough $80.63

Very dense fruit suggesting vine age with plum, black cherry, spice and a hint of chocolate. Rich and silky. Impressive wine with a history of ageing very well indeed.

Red wine other than Pinot Noir

Under $20

Villa Maria 2013 Cellar Selection Organic Merlot, Hawke’s Bay $18.49

Bright, intense and powerful Merlot with black currant, plum, violet and black cherry flavours. Juicy fruit sweetness is balanced by firm, ripe tannins that will undoubtedly allow the wine to age well.

Oyster Bay 2013 Merlot, Hawke’s Bay $16.99

Deliciously plump, ripe and almost juicy Merlot with black currant, plum, black cherry and mocha/coffee flavours. Quite concentrated. Very tasty wine offering great value at this price.

Peter Yealands 2013 Merlot, Hawke’s Bay $15.95

Bright, flavoursome red with vibrant plum and berry characters. Juicy wine in a “drink me now” style with a hint of appealing chocolate-like oak. Very good value at this price.

$20 – $30

Villa Maria 2013 Cellar Selection Syrah, Hawke’s Bay $28.99

Bright, fruity and flavoursome Syrah with ripe plum, raspberry and spicy oak flavours together with a seasoning of cracked black pepper.

Esk Valley 2013 Gimblett Gravels Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec, Hawke’s Bay $23

Very appealing elegant red with quite dense, ripe berry and plum flavours together with a seasoning of fresh herbs and subtle floral notes. Supple rather than weighty.

Trinity Hill 2013 Syrah, Hawke’s Bay $20

Attractive fruity Syrah with pure, simple bright plum and berry flavours supported by subtle toasty oak. Great value at this price.

Church Road 2013 Merlot Cabernet Malbec, Hawke’s Bay $20

This is the best vintage ever of this reliably good label. It has intensity, weight and bright berry and plum flavours with a hint of nutty oak.

Over $30

Destiny Bay 2010 Magna Praemia, Waiheke Island $330

The country’s most expensive red wine justifies its price with extraordinary power, complexity and a texture to die for. It’s a blend of five grape varieties.

Te Whau 2010 The Point, Waiheke Island $70

The wine is surprisingly approachable and yet it appears to have excellent cellaring potential. Is this the best vintage yet? Hard to say without re-tasting them all, although it is certainly a contender for the title.

Mills Reef 2007 Elspeth One, Hawke’s Bay $75

Incredibly rich, luxurious, texture with masses of ripe berry fruit and dried fruit/Christmas cake flavours plus a decadent spice and dark chocolate opulence.

Puriri Hills 2010 The Pope, Clevedon $150

Accessible blended red with sweet fruit flavours suggesting spice, red and dark berries and cedar with a subtle floral influence. More vinous than fruity with some serious complexity.

New Varieties

Under $20

Seifried 2014 Gruner Veltliner, Nelson $17

Light, fresh wine with delicate green tea and subtle spice flavours. A fairly restrained Gruner Veltliner with typical varietal purity and minerality as well as delicate citrus notes. A hint of sweetness softens the finish.

Seifried 2013 Zweigelt, Nelson $17

Interesting red made from the Austrian variety, Zweigelt. A mix of plum, fresh herb and savoury/earthy characters. Unusual and moderately appealing wine in a gutsy though understated style.

$20 – $30

Lime Rock 2013 Gruner Veltliner, Central Hawke’s Bay $26

Delicate wine with impressive purity and minerality. Subtle floral and spice/white pepper flavours are supported by gentle acidity. An ethereal texture and lengthy finish add appeal.

Matawhero 2013 Arneis, Gisborne $27.90

Quite a flavoursome Arneis with apricot, peach, ginger and anise plus a hint of cinnamon. Attractive wine with a pleasing, fleshy texture and lengthy finish.

Bush Hawk 2013 Bell’s Block Fiano, Hawke’s Bay $25

A moderately weighty, aromatic wine with honey, anise, apple, guava and honeysuckle flavours. The wine is dry with reasonably low acidity. Distinctive and attractive wine. I’d like to see more of it.

Church Road 2012 McDonald Series Marzemino, Hawke’s Bay $26.59

Ripe, soft and fleshy red with a mix of berry and chocolate-like flavours with a suggestion of fresh herbs. Interesting and unusual red in an appealingly mellow style.

Over $30

Trinity Hill 2013 Tempranillo, Hawke’s Bay $31

Dense, deep dark berry, violet and subtle savoury characters supported by firm, ripe tannins. The wine is very youthful and needs time to mellow and develop even greater complexity.

Hans Herzog 2011 Montepulciano, Marlborough $64

Dense, ripe and savoury red with dark berry, floral, spice/anise and nutty oak flavours. Rich, warming and complex red that’s very (serious) Italian in style.

Obsidian 2013 Montepulciano, Waiheke $35.20

Deep, dense red. Big, chewy wine with bright, fresh berry and floral flavours. Intensely flavoured red with an almost chewy texture. This is the best non-Italian Montepulciano I can recall tasting.

Mudbrick Vineyard 2013 Tempranillo, Waiheke $55

Ripe and concentrated Tempranillo with typical floral and berry flavours. Ripe, almost succulent and very accessible red with an appealingly silken texture. The wine should age well although it is dangerously drinkable now.

Trophy Awards

Ultimate winner

Giesen 2012 Ridge Block Pinot Noir, Marlborough $59.99

Giesen’s wines have always represented excellent value but with the launch of this, and other top wines under a new premium label, they are now successfully shooting for the moon in terms of quality.

Best Value

Valli 2013 Old Vine Riesling, Central Otago $30

When you combine a great vineyard site, vine age and expert winemaking this concentrated, long-lived Riesling is the result. Superb wine that is destined to become a classic.

Best Red

Giesen 2012 Ridge Block Pinot Noir, Marlborough $59.99

Super-serious Pinot Noir from a region that normally ranks behind Martinborough and Central Otago. Great now but promises to get even better with bottle age.

Best White

Ata Rangi 2013 Craighall Chardonnay, Martinborough $45

The fact that Ata Rangi makes one of the country’s finest examples of Pinot Noir can sometimes shift the spotlight from their world class Chardonnay. Sophisticated wine that can equal the best anywhere.

Best Rosé

Terra Sancta 2014 Pinot Noir Rosé, Central Otago $26.95

If you like purity, precision and seductive fruit flavours this is the Rosé for you. Great wine at a very affordable price.

Best New Variety

Trinity Hill 2013 Tempranillo, Hawke’s Bay $31

Trinity Hill were the first to make Tempranillo in this country and they continue to make the best example of this highly regarded Spanish grape variety.

Best for a dinner party

Villa Maria 2013 Cellar Selection Syrah, Hawke’s Bay $28.99

Everyone will love this delicious, full-flavoured red – an absolute bargain at this price. The perfect accompaniment to all red meat dishes.

Best to cellar

Destiny Bay 2010 Magna Praemia, Waiheke Island $330

New Zealand’s answer to Penfolds Grange (tastings). A great buy for collectors and investors.

Best to drink now

Quartz Reef 2009 Methode Traditionnelle, Central Otago $45

Forget champagne when you can buy a super-sophisticated local sparkling wine that’s this good.

Best gift

Framingham 2014 F-Series Riesling trockenbeerenauslese, Marlborough (375ml) $70

The miracle of botrytised grapes picked berry by berry. A truly outstanding dessert wine from the country’s leading producer of quality stickies.

Best adventurous

Bush Hawk 2013 Bell’s Block Fiano, Hawke’s Bay $25

A small production wine and the only example of this great Italian grape variety made in New Zealand. You might have to settle for the 2014 vintage which promises to be at least as good.

First published in Taste Magazine NZ – Mar-Apr 2015.

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