John Hawkesby

John Hawkesby is a wine writer for Canvas Magazine.

Wine: The price of top quality

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2007 Destiny Bay Magna Praemia, $275. Photo / Supplied
2007 Destiny Bay Magna Praemia, $275. Photo / Supplied

New Zealand wines costing more than $100 per bottle are relatively rare but despite the tough economic times they're growing in number.

Inflation may take its toll and there's no doubt producers have increasing costs and surcharges to absorb. But our top-end wines are not only superb, they're still extremely well-priced compared with their European equivalents.

So who are the bold local producers with so much self-belief that they're confident that $100-plus is quite acceptable? Most importantly, are their wines worth it?

As expected, most of these wines are red, although an occasional white makes the cut. With the odd exception, the New Zealand reds aren't necessarily made in every vintage but only in exquisite years, as opposed to the French who, even if the vintage is average, manage to make it sound "magnifique".

The best-known local with a proven track record would be Gordon Russell's Esk Valley The Terraces.

A Hawkes Bay beauty with bold spicy flavours thanks to its malbec dominance (40 per cent), cabernet franc (33 per cent) and merlot (27 per cent). None were made in 2007-08 but the 2009 exhibits all the qualities that have created a cult following for this sublime Rhone-style red. The current release retails for $135.

Seresin Estates' Sun and Moon Marlborough pinot noir is made from the best grapes in the best vintages, with ageing in mind, so is held back a few years before release. It has a tiny production of just 732 bottles.

Widely acknowledged as New Zealand's best syrah, Homage from Hawkes Bay's Trinity Hill has oodles of swagger and a ton of attitude. It is rich in colour and exudes heavily concentrated flavours of plum, spice, liquorice, cinnamon and a dash of menthol. 2009 is the latest vintage and, at $120, is value for money. It's so dense and moreish you don't need to buy food. This wine can be found on some exclusive wine lists around the world.

Also attracting impressive reviews is the Bordeaux blend Magna Praemia from boutique Waiheke producer Destiny Bay.

Are the wines worth their hefty price? I wouldn't have mentioned them if I didn't think so.

Recommended

2008 Seresin Sun and Moon Pinot Noir, $125
Organically and biodynamically grown with hand-picked grapes to create a splendid savoury complex wine. Gentle, supple tannins provide a rich, succulent fruit weight and superb balance between power and elegance. This is a keeper, for up to 15 years.

2007 Destiny Bay Magna Praemia, $275
A very precise Bordeaux-style that is sassy, smooth and divine. This voluptuous red was first on the market in August 2010 and a 2008 is to be released soon.

- NZ Herald

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