See Sorting through the assortments for a guide to the collections of tasting notes already published and those yet to come.
There are more than 60 seriously interesting whites and reds here from some of the more interesting producers on the North and South Islands. And the spread of grape varieties continues to widen, presenting us with a more varied diet than the old Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Tasting notes are presented by colour and then in descending score order.
Two-thirds went through malo. Spontaneous ferment in barrel, not finished for 6 months. Five months on lees after being taken out of the barrels. pH 3.25, TA 6.7 g/l.
Pale gold. Wonderfully intense aroma of orange peel, very ripe lemon, a slight hint of struck match and just a little bit creamy but it is the fruit that stands out. Deep and intense on the palate, zingy citrus freshness and a delicate touch of honey on toast. There's not much to tell you it is Sauvignon Blanc apart from some ripe green fruit. Rich, strident but not aggressive. A top-notch white rather than a New Zealand Sauvignon – a cross between a smart white bordeaux and a ripe but refined white burgundy. Very persistent and classy. (JH)
Fantastic fennel and lime curd flavour – really aristocratic Riesling, showing compelling maturity. There is a little oiliness on the palate, and plenty of gorgeous floral scent. Absolutely tremendous Riesling character, and very much in the classic Germanic mould. (RH)11.5%
Creamy, smooth, a little flinty character and good core fruit concentration. Has the sort of power that might reward a bit of bottle age, to develop a bit more complexity. (RH)13.5%
Barrel fermented in 16% new oak, 30% malolactic fermentation.
Creamy, vanilla and banana flavours with an attractive dairy character. The oak is noticeable but not overwhelming. It won't appeal to ABCers – adheres to the classic New World Chardonnay stereotype. (RH)
86% grown on Moutere clay gravels; 14% on Waimea alluvial gravels. 100% whole bunch press. All ambient yeast. 16% new French oak. 100% malolactic conversion.
Pale straw. Cut-crystal structure. Lime fruit and very fine acidity. A very fine glass of Chablis-like Chardonnay. No excess of leesiness (monthly stirring until completion of the malo).
Grown in the Rapaura district of the Wairau Valley. Pressed and fermented completely dry. Approximately 12 months on lees. The wine was then bottled and left to condition until its release is April 2011. pH 3.35, TA 6.7 g/l, RS 2.7 g/l.
Still very pale despite its surprising age (surprising for NZ Sauvignon Blanc). Amazingly youthful nose without a trace of the tired character so common with older Sauvignon Blanc. This is vibrant and yet subtle. Citrus, ripe green fruits like greengages and a hint of blossom. Really does taste dry but has a firm, almost chewy texture. Incredibly fresh, citrus, a touch earthy and orange pith too. Long and crisp, with lovely texture, depth and length. Remarkable after more than 5 years in bottle. (JH)
Bonfire smoke and flint on the nose – really reductive and leesy and modern, with all the funkiness associated with new wave Australasian Chardonnay. Marvellous. (RH)13%
More green fruited than the 2011, with capsicum and herbs as well as tangy greengage. It does have a slight mealy note, like white burgundy, but less marked than on the 2011. On the palate, much more complex, with a creamy texture and a slightly mealy aroma and more of a hint of white Bordeaux about it. Very dry, very taut and needs another year in bottle to show its real depth, although it is already long and rich without any sense of heaviness. (JH)13.5%
Pale gold. Crunchy, mealy nose with masses of refreshing pure green fruit on the palate. Racy and still very youthful.14%
Unusually old for a Marlborough Sauvignon that is, according to its UK importer, 'found in many a three star restaurant in Europe'. Only 1,500 cases made from a vineyard at the far west of the Awatere Valley. Really unusually intense with a whiff of cordite and more than a hint of the richness you find in a Cotat Sancerre. If you're a fan of that verging-on-oily style, you'll find this a great bargain. Most unusual. Minerally rather than fruitily pungent. Long.13.5%
Creamy, leesy nose with a lovely fresh tropical fruit character. Really gentle oak integration. Solid, typical Chardonnay. (RH)13%
Just 99 cases of this were produced from very low-pH grapes. 50% malolactic conversion. Fermented in stainless steel then seven months in used puncheons with minimal lees stirring.
Neutral, wet stony, even more Chablis-like than the regular 2013 Chardonnay. I am trying desperately hard not to use the M-word about this wine. But it certainly tastes as though it had been grown on gravels. Lots to chew on here. Not quite ready.
Pungent, peashoot and gooseberry character. Fully loaded with flavour, and a nice leesy texture. A little bit confected. Crisp like shaved ice. (RH)12%
Pear, apricot and sweet spice with full body and soft texture. Plump, typical and flavoursome – a really good, bold version of the variety. (RH)13.5%
92% Sauvignon Blanc, 8% Semillon. Grassy and tart, with a drier snap than their regular Sauvignon Blanc. Plenty of flavour concentration and a good amount of blackcurrant leaf complexity. (RH)
Two Moutere blocks made only 661 cases. Mendoza clone. 100% whole bunch press. 100% barrel fermentation (25% new), 100% malolactic conversion.
Notably richer than the higher-volume regular Chardonnay. But arguably less distinctive and a little more galumphing. It may develop more finesse eventually. But at the moment seems a little coarse and hot on the finish.
Lively green fruit flavours. Crystalline. Quite tart greenness. Sweet and sour. Not that sophisticated but should hit the spot for many.
Really vibrant green citrus and herbs. Crisp palate with perhaps not an entirely bone dry finish. Juicy and satisfying in a very recognisable style. (RH)13%
TA 8.4 g/l, RS 4 g/l. Very pure and crystalline. Grapefruit nose. Well chiselled but a tad phenolic. Bone dry with stony substance but not as ethereal as the Pinot Noir.12.5%
Winemaker and managing director Richard Riddiford has run it for 25 years.
Green and jewelly. Slightly sweet. Asparagus.
Floral and scented. Clean and no canned asparagus.14%
Strong asparagus, citrus and passion fruit on the nose. Archetypal Marlborough SB and still flying the flag with bullish enthusiasm. There is, however, a bit of a hole in the middle and it comes to a bit of an abrupt finish – as though it had suddenly run out of juice. I wouldn't pay that price. (TC)13.5%
Off dry and very like Aussie Rieslings at the turn of the century. Just a little phenolic. Bit too sweet?
Very typical. Too sweet!
Smells a little old and asparagus soup-like. Just a bit sludgy. Rather astringent finish.
Co-fermented with around 4% Viognier.
Wonderfully evocative nose – meat, spice, milk chocolate, mint. Reams of multi dimensional flavour – broad, long and round. A fabulous, faithful and hugely satisfactory Syrah. (RH)
TA 4.7 g/l. Pale red. Nervy and refined – quite a thoroughbred. At the moment just a hint of oak influence but this would make a great bottle eventually.13.6%
Complex and interesting nose with lots of hidden depths. One of the most youthful Pinots at this Liberty tasting. Not nearly ready. But convincing.
Up to 30% stems. Co-fermented with 2% Viognier.
Succulent and peppery – beautifully accurate, yet not a mere ‘technical’ wine – loads of vivacious refreshment on the palate, great length, a touch of oak. Very pliant tannins (this soft texture is perhaps the main distinction from Northern Rhône Syrah), loads of length. (RH)
From a single vineyard. Crushed and destemmed. 4 days' cold soak, indigenous ferment, hand plunged twice daily and one pump-over at height of ferment. Pressed to French oak (20% new), malo and 12 months' maturation. pH 3.6, TA 6 g/l, RS 2.2 g/l.
Relatively pale, translucent cherry red. Very fine red-fruit aroma with an attractive hint of earthiness to balance the fruit sweetness. Light spice note. Super-intense fruit on the palate but still without excess sweetness. Tastes much younger than 5 years old. Tannins seem to add depth and are fully resolved but still combine with fresh acidity to give shape to the wine.(JH)
Includes approximately 10% Touriga Nacional, and a small amount of Viognier.
Lovely chocolate and dried spice character – distinctive and very varietally honest. Not really comparable to Rioja – but totally valid in its own right. (RH)
TA 4.7 g/l. Slightly occluded but very interesting nose. Lovely green top note. Very complete. Thoroughly satiny texture and very layered and absolutely gorgeous already. Maybe not super serious for a very long future but…15%
Very fresh and fruity nose. Very direct with the oak in retreat. Neat and bone-dry finish. Perfumed. Great not to have a trace of sweetness.
Mushy red fruit, overripe and generous. Classic New World fruit character, but with a soy and dried herb character on the finish that is really attractive. Serious, savoury and structural with a persistently perfumed finish. Very good, and at less than RRP £15, GV. (RH)
TA 5.6 g/l. Bright crimson. Lots of black pepper on the nose. Fresh acidity and very refined. This wine strokes the palate and finishes very dry. Lovely food wine?13.5%
Just over 4k bottles produced. 18 months in French barriques, of which 25% new.
Pale ruby. Earthy nose. Sweet and gentle on the palate. With just a little fine tannin on the finish. A tad sweeter than most burgundy but hugely attractive.Serve cool! Transparent and fresh.
Co-fermented with 3% Viognier.
Rather sweet oak, in a more apparent way than the younger vintages. Dry and quite firm palate – a solid and substantial, broad shouldered Syrah. Powerful and potent. (RH)
Nicely developing damp earth and sweet cherry fruit on the nose. Soft, drying tannins on the palate and plenty of vanilla oak. Creamy and luxurious but with fairly conservative complexity. (RH)
Co-fermented with 0.5% Viognier.
Immediate and complex on the nose – ripe black cherry fruit, very sweet, then there’s earth and mushroom and a certain meatiness. Much funkier than the 2011, 12 and 13 – is that just vintage variation and bottle maturity, or is there something else at play here? Regardless, it’s a charming, classic and characterful wine. (RH)
Lovely black pepper and redcurrant character with a toasty finish. Super-classic Syrah with loads of typical Hawke’s Bay freshness. (RH)12.5%
Co-fermented with 6% Viognier.
Quite closed. Rounded but fibrous tannins. This may be a little shut down. It has lovely sheen and balance, but the flavour seems suppressed. (RH)
Pure raspberry fruit, a bit of milk chocolate. Pretty high acid and a light brush of tannin. Structural and heavyweight, in the typical Central Otago way. (RH)13%
Co-fermented with 1% Viognier.
Subtle yet well defined – the pepper, black fruit and singed meat character is all there, but in a really understated way. Doesn’t seem to have the gutsiness to merit much more maturation – ready to enjoy now. (RH)
TA 4.6 g/l. Bright mid red. A bit nervier than the Liaison with some cough-sweet notes. Some tannins and a little bit of heat. Maybe just a tad too sweet and alcoholic for perfection.15.5%
TA 4.6 g/l. Bright red. Tense and nervy on the nose. Lots of sweetness on the front palate. Grainy tannins. A bit burly with some dried grass. Sweet finish.14.6%
Yes indeed, a good healthy crimson colour. Very fine, echt sort of nose. Masses of fruit on the front palate with a hint of herbs and just enough sweetness but fine tannins. This is a lovely drink even if it is not a very serious cellar candidate.
39% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc, 9% Petit Verdot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec.
Quite leafy on the nose – this was a cool vintage, and it shows. There is more than a hint of Chinon here. Quite foursquare tannins and reasonably light finish. Nevertheless, there is ripe fruit, and it has the right structure to drink now, with food. (RH)
Less pronounced and expressive than the 2013 on the nose. Peppery, but more restrained and savoury, with even a little sour touch on the palate. A somewhat more austere version of Gimblett Gravels than the norm. (RH)12%
Jammier fruit than the basic Syrah, in a way that slightly obscures the origin. Peppery finish with a leafy tinge. A bit clumsy. (RH)13%
Three months oak ageing. Dark fruit, some violet and leather character with juicy acidity and very soft tannins. Quite dense and savoury – not a ‘pretty’ Pinot, but a serious one. (RH)13%
Co-fermented with 8% Viognier.
Shy nose. Rather dry and a little bit mean on the palate. Savoury and balanced, just lacking the varietal showiness of the 2010 or 2013, for example. (RH)
From a vineyard at the western point of the Red Metals in Hawke's Bay. Destemmed and transferred to small fermenters, some juice bled off to concentrate fruit and tannin before beginning ferment. It was hand plunged several times a day then pressed to French oak (40% new) for 14 months. pH 3.4, TA 6 g/l, RS 2.5 g/l.
Mid to deep ruby, very little sign of ageing at the rim. Unusual nose combining very sweet fruit – almost like boiled sweets/hard candy – with some tomato leaf. I am slightly put off by the very sweet notes on the nose. Better on the palate – fresh, fine tannins but there's still that extreme sweetness on the back palate. Tannins help provide a nice dry finish but I can't really make this wine out. (JH)
Confected black fruit and subtle oak spice. Verging on overripe, though there is some piquant spice on the finish. Juicy plum fruit throughout. (RH)13.5%
Herbal, lifted nose with lots of sweetness and a gentle texture. Seems quite evolved and very true to its provenance.
Pale, crunchy cranberry and redcurrant fruit. Sappy character lending a slight bitter flash to the finish. Classic Kiwi Pinot. (RH)13.5%
Floral scents, relatively light and fresh. Marked acidity and something to chew on but a tad oaky.
Pale ruby. Cherry and parma violets on the nose, slightly dusty. Juicy cherry fruit on the palate, but quite a dry slightly chewy finish. A streak of green. Quite short, but very serviceable.13.5%
Pale crimson. Sweet and beetrooty nose. Racy and gamey. Austere finish – a bit metallic. Not the finest NZ Pinot. Correct but a bit green on the end.13%
A little obvious and jagged. Difficult to see much Syrah purity. Heavy hand with the oak.14%
Black bramble fruit, with a rather overt clove oak flavour resting on top, slightly precariously. Dry, savoury finish. (RH)13%
Closed fruit, pretty nondescript on the palate. Quite firm tannins, but lacking fruit generosity. (RH)14%
Like the Pinot, pretty light translucent ruby. Slightly odd ripe-banana-skin aroma. Cedary. Very resiny on the palate, a bit of blackcurrant. Light and dry. Without the charm of the Pinot, perhaps serviceable is a more apt description here. (TC)12.5%