Elegant and affordable Hawke’s Bay

Ant Mackenzie has been the chief winemaker at Dry River, group chief winemaker at Mud House, chief winemaker at Spy Valley and winemaker at Framingham. (Photo: Glengarry Wines website)

Ant Mackenzie is a nice guy and a very experienced winemaker. Before he became a wine consultant and launched his own labels in 2013, he’d been the chief winemaker at Dry River, group chief winemaker at Mud House, chief winemaker at Spy Valley and winemaker at Framingham, as well as worked a number of vintages in Australia and the US.

Ant describes this elegant rather than blockbuster wine as “pinotesque” but I think “edgy syrah” might be a better descriptor.

Ant’s three Hawke’s Bay labels are:

Craft Farm – Single vineyard chardonnay, gewürztraminer and syrah from Ant’s own vineyard in Havelock North or a leased vineyard in Bridge Pa

Theory & Practice – Blends of vineyards from the wider Hawke’s Bay area

Alluviale – Wines made from one or more of the red Bordeaux varieties

Ant sent me his range of Theory & Practice wines to review.

The 2017 Ant Mackenzie Wines Theory & Practice Chardonnay was made from grapes grown in Ant’s own vineyard and on his leased vineyard called Salvare. It’s a soft and approachable wine, with a strong fruit focus and appealing purity. (NZD $24.95)

I marginally preferred the 2017 Ant Mackenzie Wines Theory & Practice Pinot Gris, a rich, almost oily-textured wine, with pronounced tropical fruit flavours. It’s perfectly balanced with just a hint of sweetness. Pinot gris responds well to tough vintages, according to Ant. (NZD $24.95)

The 2016 Ant Mackenzie Wines Theory & Practice Merlot is only the second merlot vintage. Made from three Bridge Pa vineyards, the wine has a touch of cabernet sauvignon which was blended in by accident but does it no harm. (NZD $24.95)

Finally, the 2016 Ant Mackenzie Wines Theory & Practice Syrah is made from grapes grown on a Bridge Pa vineyard. Ant describes this elegant rather than blockbuster wine as “pinotesque” but I think “edgy syrah” might be a better descriptor. (NZD $24.95)

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