While big NZ producers are pumping out millions of litres of wine a year, there are small wineries doing things a bit differently and on a much smaller scale.
There is a huge amount of fairly predictable large volume wine on the market, particularly in supermarkets and large liquor retailers. Nothing wrong with that, but you pretty well get what you pay for at the $15 and under price bracket. As I often tell my overseas guests, you will almost never get a bad NZ wine – but you won’t always get a great one in that price range.
And I’m hearing a bit of backlash from some USA consumers who are tired of formulaic NZ export sauvignon blanc which they view as too acidic and grapefruity. NZ should be trying to capture the discerning wine fans with wines that are a bit out of the ordinary. And maybe – just maybe, it’s time to push some of the other fantastic wines that we produce other than sauvignon blanc – such as pinot gris, Riesling and chardonnay.
Meantime, here are some great individualistic wines that I sampled recently.
Theory & Practice Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris 2018 $NZ 25 (Fine Wine Delivery Co.)
For many years pinot gris was a bit of a gamble as winemakers got to grips with this variety. But this is a great example of a complex and full bodied aromatic wine. Aromas of quince and clover honey. A lovely rich palate of pink guava, quinine, and pear juice with a hint of spice and a dry yeasty finish. Produced by Ant McKenzie Wines.
Loveblock Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018 $NZ 22 (Glengarry)
From Kim Crawford’s organic label, a very appealing and atypical Marlborough sauvignon. Aromas of fresh black currant and gooseberry with a hint of funky yeast. A portion of the wine was fermented in old French barrels. And at least a quarter of the wine went through malolactic ferment. Soft acids plus lengthy flavours of pineapple, guava, peach and ripe grapefruit
Saint Clair James Sinclair Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018 $NZ 24.50 (Countdown)
Passionfruit pulp and gooseberry on the nose and palate. A very approachable softer style of sav with mandarin citrus and a hint of fresh pineapple. Named after pioneering Marlborough settler (1852) James Sinclair on whose former property Neal and Judy Ibbotson established the Saint Clair brand.
Rockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017 $NZ 50 (Glengarry)
Rockin’ the South – Rockburn does it again. Nose of spice dark plums and ripe cherry. Full bodied and seamless palate of blueberry, boysenberry, crème de cassis and spiced plum cake, with soft sensual earthy tannins.
Pegasus Bay North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2016 $NZ 37 (Vinofino online)
Smells like spice drawer, poached plum and vanilla with a tad of pot pourri. Flavours of dark chocolate, cherry, poached plums and a hint of Glühwein. Smooth and velvety.
Phil Parker hosts wine tours in Auckland and Waiheke Island