Some may be content to continue sipping sauvignon blanc through-out the colder months, but as the mercury drops many of us are drawn to the rich warming reds and weightier whites that work best with the weather and heartier winter fare. Here are a delicious dozen I've selected to suit the cuisine of the season.
Pyramid Valley Growers Collection Howell Family Vineyard Hawkes Bay Cabernet Franc 2011 $52
Cabernet franc may often be one small voice in the chorus of the classic Bordeaux blend in this country, but this harmonious example made by Pyramid Valley illustrates that the best have what it takes to go solo. It's a complex wine that really sings with its high floral notes and hint of menthol; plush blackberry and blackcurrant fruit and meaty savoury undertone supported by bright acid and fine food-friendly tannins. In tune with herb-crusted lamb racks. From Great Little Vineyards, pyramidvalley.co.nz.
Tony Bish Fat n Sassy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 $19.95-$23.95
There's no need to forgo whites over winter, just switch to ones with more weight, such as this great value release from the label just launched by Hawkes Bay chardonnay supremo, Tony Bish. As its name suggests, it's made in a bigger bolder style with plenty of flesh to its succulent peach and citrus fruit that's joined by a hint of honeysuckle and finished with a well-managed lick of toasty oak. Great with roast chicken. From Caro's, Liquor King Stores, Point Wines.
Corofin Settlement Vineyard East Slope Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012 $45
Pinot noir may make lighter bodied wines, but the earthy savoury note that many possess works well with the flavours of the season.
This elegant example is an auspicious first release from the new organic/biodynamic label started by ex-Jackson Estate winemaker, Mike Paterson and partner Anna. Dark berry fruit is wrapped in a satin-like texture that unfurls to reveal layers of dried herb, mineral and peppery spice notes over a savoury gamey element. Lovely with lamb shanks. From Great Little Vineyards, The Village Winery.
Pares Balta Calcari Penedes, Spain 2012 $29.95
Reds are not the only wines that possess a savoury element, as illustrated by this intriguing wine from Spain's indigenous xarel lo variety that seems made for umami-rich dishes, such as Asian hotpots and miso-based broths. With subtle notes of white fruit, its profile is nevertheless more savoury than fruity, with notes of soy, star anise and mineral underpinned by fresh citrus acidity. From Fine Wine Delivery Company, Village Winery, Caro's.
Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay Syrah 2011 $26.59
Syrah is a great match for game, and this is an attractively aromatic example. Supple and satin-textured it boasts bright and juicy black plum fruit, notes of roselike florals and a sprinkling of sweet cinnamon and nutmeg spice. Bring out the venison! From leading liquor retailers.
Alpha Domus The Wingwalker Hawkes Bay Viognier 2012 $25.90
Look to the more opulently textured aromatic whites in the winter, such as viognier and gewurztraminer. This voluptuous viognier from Hawkes Bay delivers ripe apricot fruit threaded with notes of lemongrass and exotic spice. Great with rich dishes containing some spice, such as a warming bowl of laksa. From Point Wines, Liquor King, Liquorland.
Millton Riverpoint Vineyard Gisborne Gewurztraminer 2013 $26
Another richly textured aromatic white, with some real intensity to its flavours of stonefuit, grapefruit zest, spice and hint of preserved lemon. Enjoy with onion tart. From Village Wines, Caro's, Glengarry, Point Wines.
Cillar de Silos El Quintanal Ribera Del Duero Tempranillo, Spain 2012 $19.95
Warmer countries, such as Spain, are a good source of ripe reds with real interest at highly affordable prices, such as this smooth rich tempranillo. Its juicy blackberry and plum fruit is laced with spicy savoury notes and supported by tannins which will see it working well with roast red meats and casseroles. From Fine Wine Delivery Company, Village Winery, Caro's.
Elephant Hill Le Phant Rouge Hawkes Bay 2012 $24
A fragrant red blend of merlot, malbec and cabernet franc in which notes of fresh dark berry fruits are fused with those of lifted violet and peppery spice. Perfect for peppered roast beef. From elephanthill.co.nz.
Camshorn Waipara Pinot Gris 2012 $26.99
Styles of pinot gris with greater depth are also appropriate for the colder season. This is a creamy textured example from Waipara in which ripe fleshy stonefruit notes combine with hints of citrus zest, honey, fragrant side and subtle savoury undertones. Try this with pork and be convinced that you can drink white wines with meat. From leading liquor retailers.
Ferraton Pere & Fils Plan de Dieu Cotes du Rhone Villages, Rhone Valley, France, 2010 $31
Southern France has the warm temperatures to make the robust reds that are so well suited to winter drinking. This one from the Southern Rhone from the strong 2010 vintage possesses a soft and rounded palate of berry and plum fruit, plus a whiff of smoke and appetising savoury undercurrent reminiscent of dried meats. Try with a meat pie. From Wine & More, Greenlane Liquor Centre, Liquor Spot Birkenhead, Liquor Plaza, Vetro Mediterranean Foods Hamilton, Liquorland Dinsdale.
Gonzalez Byass Apostoles Palo Cortado Rare Old Solera Sherry 375ml $62
This medium-style palo cortado sherry makes for a sweet and warming treat. Blended from wines that are as much as 30 years old, it's rich, concentrated and savoury, oozing notes of walnut, dried fruit, caramel and spice. Savour with pates, cold meats or cheese. From Liquorland Newmarket, The Fine Wine Delivery Company, Glengarry Victoria Park.