New Zealand assortment

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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.


WHITE

Greywacke, Wild Sauvignon 2011 Marlborough

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)

14%
Drink
2014
2017
Liberty Wines
17.5

Dry River, Craighall Riesling 2009 Martinborough

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%
Drink
2013
2023
17.5

Mission Estate, Reserve Chardonnay 2013 Hawke's Bay

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)

13%
Drink
2014
2016
17

Neudorf Chardonnay 2013 Nelson

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).

14%
Drink
2014
2017
AU$32 RRP
17

Gem Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Marlborough

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)

13%
Drink
2010
2016
Top Selection
17

Greywacke, Wild Sauvignon 2012 Marlborough

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%
Drink
2014
2017
£23 The Wine Society
17

Kumeu River, Estate Chardonnay 2011 Kumeu

Pale gold. Crunchy, mealy nose with masses of refreshing pure green fruit on the palate. Racy and still very youthful. 

14%
Drink
2013
2019
£17.50 The Wine Society, £23.50 Berry Bros & Rudd
17

McNaught & Walker, Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Marlborough

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%
Drink
2013
2015
£14.80 Private Cellar
16.5

Neudorf, Twenty Five Rows Chardonnay 2013 Nelson

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.

14%
Drink
2015
2019
16.5

Trinity Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Hawke's Bay

Pungent, peashoot and gooseberry character. Fully loaded with flavour, and a nice leesy texture. A little bit confected. Crisp like shaved ice. (RH)

12%
Drink
2014
2016
£9.95 The Wine Society
16.5

Neudorf, Moutere Chardonnay 2013 Nelson

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.

14%
Drink
2014
2019
£36 RRP
16

Greywacke Chardonnay 2011 Marlborough

Lively green fruit flavours. Crystalline. Quite tart greenness. Sweet and sour. Not that sophisticated but should hit the spot for many.

Drink
2014
2017
£27 The Wine Society
16

Kusuda Riesling 2013 Martinborough

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%
Drink
2014
2016
Hallowed Ground
16

Palliser Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Martinborough

Winemaker and managing director Richard Riddiford has run it for 25 years.
Green and jewelly. Slightly sweet. Asparagus.

Drink
2013
2014
£12.46 Justerini & Brooks
16

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Marlborough

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%
Drink
2014
0
£21 Ocado
15.5

RED

Trinity Hill, Gimblett Gravels Homage Syrah 2009 Hawke's Bay

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)

Drink
2013
2018
18.5

Mountford, The Gradient Pinot Noir 2010 Waipara

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%
Drink
2016
2022
Hallowed Ground
18

Ata Rangi Pinot Noir 2012 Martinborough

Complex and interesting nose with lots of hidden depths. One of the most youthful Pinots at this Liberty tasting. Not nearly ready. But convincing.

Drink
2016
2024
£44 RRP Liberty Wines
17.5

Trinity Hill, Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2013 Hawke's Bay

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)

12.7%
Drink
2015
2022
17 +

Gem Pinot Noir 2009 Martinborough

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)

14%
Drink
2014
2019
Top Selection
17

Trinity Hill Tempranillo 2012 Hawke's Bay

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)

Drink
2012
2018
17

Mountford, Liaison Pinot Noir 2010 Waipara

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%
Drink
2013
2017
Hallowed Ground
17

Dry River Pinot Noir 2009 Martinborough

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.

Drink
2012
2020
£49.96 Justerini & Brooks
17

Wingspan Pinot Noir 2011 Nelson

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)

Drink
2014
2020
17

Kusuda Syrah 2011 Martinborough

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%
Drink
2014
2019
Hallowed Ground
17

Kusuda Pinot Noir 2012 Martinborough

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.

13.5%
Drink
2015
2020
Hallowed Ground
17

Trinity Hill, Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2009 Hawke's Bay

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)

13.6%
Drink
2012
2019
17

Trinity Hill, Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2010 Hawke's Bay

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)

14.5%
Drink
2013
2018
17

Trinity Hill, Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2005 Hawke's Bay

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)

13.5%
Drink
2008
2014
16.5

Mountford, Estate Pinot Noir 2010 Waipara

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%
Drink
2014
2019
Hallowed Ground
16.5

Mountford, The Rise Pinot Noir 2009 Waipara

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%
Drink
2016
2020
Hallowed Ground
16.5

Ata Rangi, Crimson Pinot Noir 2013 Martinborough

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.

13.5%
Drink
2014
2018
£22 RRP Liberty Wines
16.5

Trinity Hill, Gimblett Gravels, The Gimblett 2012 Hawke's Bay

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)

Drink
2014
2016
16.5

Trinity Hill, Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2012 Hawke's Bay

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%
Drink
2014
2018
16.5

Trinity Hill, Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2008 Hawke's Bay

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)

13.5%
Drink
2010
2015
16

Gem Merlot 2007 Hawke's Bay

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)

13.5%
Drink
2013
2016
Top Selection
16

Greywacke Pinot Noir 2012 Marlborough

Floral scents, relatively light and fresh. Marked acidity and something to chew on but a tad oaky.

14%
Drink
2015
2018
£28 The Wine Society
15.5

Villa Maria, Private Bin Pinot Noir 2013 Marlborough

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%
Drink
2014
2015
£12.99 Asda, Budgens, Co-op, Morrisons, Taurus Wines
15.5

Churton, Tummil Flat Pinot Noir 2011 Marlborough

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%
Drink
2013
2015
£12.95 Tanners
15

Bilancia Syrah 2011 Hawke's Bay

A little obvious and jagged. Difficult to see much Syrah purity. Heavy hand with the oak.

14%
Drink
2015
2017
Wine Treasury
15

Villa Maria, Private Bin Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2013 Hawke's Bay

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%
Drink
2014
2015
£12.99 Majestic, Morrison, Globe Wines
15