John Hawkesby is a wine writer for Canvas Magazine.

Wine lists to dine for

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2009 Mount Riley Pinot Noir, $22. Photo / Supplied
2009 Mount Riley Pinot Noir, $22. Photo / Supplied

As a self-confessed foodie, I am always anxious to peruse any menu with great zeal.

However, I am even more interested in the wine list and am happy to scour them with tenacious enthusiasm, looking for the unusual, the different, the unbelievable - ever hopeful that the price will not be a major barrier to selection.

Cocoro, Sunday Painters and Winehot have the "best short wine list", according to Metro's latest best restaurant awards.

Waiheke's Te Whau Vineyard Restaurant must be close as well, if only for its astonishing back vintages of top-end French reds.

What should we be looking for in a wine list? Variety, balance and affordability plus the other factors such as what's available by the glass, half-bottle or even carafe.

Variety relates to wine styles as well as a spread of different countries, a mix of old and new world wines is a bonus.

Balance simply means we don't need a selection of 20 sauvignon blancs with not a chenin blanc or gewurztraminer to be found.

Some bottle age, especially with Bordeaux-style wines, is preferable and New Zealand pinot noir should not all come from one particular region but reflect the distinctive terroir that exists from place to place.

So how good is the wine at the restaurant awards' overall winner, The Grove? In a word, superb. It ticks all the boxes. For discerning internationals there is Chateau Petrus, Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (Richebourg), Chateau Leoville las Cases, Palmer, Margaux, Mouton Rothschild and Chateau d'Yquem. Prices range between $695 and $4000 a bottle.

Fret not, excellent local sauvignon (Ara composite 2009) is $42 and the lovely 2008 Mahi pinot noir a snip at %58.

Grove also has hidden gems, such as the beautiful 2006 Kistler Russian River Valley Chardonnay from America and Italy's 1999 Gaja Costa Russi Barbaresco.

We've never had it so good.


2009 Mount Riley Pinot Noir, $22
A blend of grapes from Marlborough and Nelson. Excellent buying for budget-priced pinot. Big aromatics with red berry and cherry aromas supported by spicy, earthy and soft tannins.

2009 Mills Reef Reserve Merlot, $25
A winery that grows from strength to strength with some outstanding wines at exceptional prices. From Hawkes Bay's Gimblett Gravels, merlot-dominated with some cabernet franc, resulting in a rich, opulent, full-bodies red.

- NZ Herald

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