Accessible reds from Puriri Hills

Puriri Hills vineyards (Photo: Puriri Hills)

Puriri Hills is the winery and vineyard of Judy Fowler and husband Phil Nunweek in the rolling hills of Clevedon, south-east of Auckland. It’s a beautiful site that takes its name from the many Puriri trees growing on the 37-hectare property. Their wine is made on site with the help of consulting winemaker, Evert Nijzink.

Puriri Hills is a red wine specialist growing Bordeaux varieties, including carménère. Their wines are styled after the wines of Pomerol and Saint-Emilion. They are serious, high quality and age-worthy reds. Their flagship label, only made in the best vintages, is Pope. Second tier wine is Harmonie du Soir (previously known as “Reserve”) then Estate and finally Mokoroa.

The 2011 Puriri Hills Estate was bottled as a Reserve wine but declassified before release to Estate status. It has the highest percentage of carménère in recent years (29%) and is merlot dominant (50%) with cabernet franc (14%) and malbec. It’s a savoury, spicy wine with energy and cellaring potential. (NZD $45)

2014 Puriri Hills Mokoroa is now sold out, at least from the winery. It is a serious merlot, malbec and cabernet sauvignon blend that is moderately austere now but promises to age well. Puriri Hills released a Pope label in the excellent 2014 vintage. (NZD $30)

The 2016 Puriri Hills Mokoroa has just been released. A lighter-bodied wine than the 2014, Judy recommends this merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, carménère and malbec makes a good luncheon wine and can be served slightly chilled. It’s certainly more accessible than the 2014 vintage. (NZD $30)

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