1. Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir 2013
Winemaker Helen Masters has squeezed every drop of deliciousness from 2013's
stunning vintage to create this intensely perfumed wine. Cherry, red rose, smoke and sandalwood aromas lead to juicy raspberry, dried herb and anise notes in the mouth. Finely tuned tannins top it all off - and while it's a salubrious sip now, it'll only improve with time. Buy now or forever kick yourself.
2. Cloudy Bay Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013
The clay-based, alluvial gravels of Marlborough's southern valleys provide the fuel for the vines charged with producing this powerhouse pinot. It bursts with black cherry, plum, black tea and smoky spices on the nose, followed by a saucy, fruit-soaked palate and a long, lingering finish. It's youthful, vibrant and very precise, with a muscular spine designed to age gracefully. Sexy stuff.
3. Elk Cove Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2012
If you're after an excellent introduction to pinot from the western US, this is it. Subtle, baked strawberry, hedgerow fruit, cocoa and soft spices greet the nose, while the mouthfeel is slippery and succulent, with hints of savoury, meaty notes held together by buoyant acidity, fine, emery-like tannins and a long, spicy finish.
4. Pask Declaration Hawke's Bay Cabernet Merlot Malbec 2010
While everyone's going gaga over the big, buxom reds coming from the 2013 vintage, this elegant, silky little beauty just quietly sneaks onto our shop shelves. Smooth and velvety after extended maturation in bottle before release, you're met with sweet cocoa, prune and leatherbound loveliness on the nose followed by seductively ripe berryfruit, soft, smoky, savoury layers of flavour, fresh acidity and finishing with deliciously dusty tannins. Woof.
5. Spy Valley 'Johnson Vineyard' Marlborough Dry Riesling 2013
This wine is so dry you could probably use it to dehumidify your walk-in wardrobe. But I mean that in a good way. If you say you're dry, be it, don't faff around. This wine is intensely limey on the nose, with a twang of chalk dust and apple skin in there for good measure. Razor-sharp, bony acidity and concentrated, citrus complexity on the mid-palate and finish make this a lengthy, lip-puckering riesling for those who like to dance on the dry side.
6. Vidal Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2014
Very pretty, bright and buoyant in the mouth, this is a crowd pleasing pinot that's packed with classic red berry, cherry, hedgerow fruits and sweet black tea and baking spices. It's still just a puppy, with clean, fresh acidity and a slippery, tangy finish. If you can keep a bottle or two away from your persuasive friends for another year or three then you'll definitely be rewarded. Discipline, grasshopper!
7. Ara Single Estate Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013
Sometimes you just want a pinot noir that actually smells and tastes like fresh fruit and spice and not like the inside of an ancient, decomposing kauri stump in the middle of the Uruweras during a rain storm. This ultra-fresh, red cherry, berry, plum and pomegranate-packed pinot grows on terraces of glacial outwash located in the confluence of the Wairau and Waihopai rivers - and it's produced a wine that's gentle, saucy and silky to drink. In fact I can't think of anything nicer to sip with a couple of sneaky, paper-thin slices of salty charcuterie and maybe a pickled walnut or seven...
8. Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah 2013
Perfumed with red rose, black guava, peppercorns and dusty potpourri, this glossy glass of maroon-black magic boasts incredibly fresh fruit, smoky cedar notes and a medicinal lift on the finish. Each sip has a flick of dried, bouquet-garni herbs and as a drink; it's elegant, velvety and dangerously delicious. I'll cut straight to it and say this could go down as one of the greatest Syrah's New Zealand has ever produced.
9. Hunters Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2014
Hunter's are experts at producing snappy, succulently spicy gewürztraminer year after year. The 2014 has delicate pear drop, ginger and lychee-laden loveliness on the nose, followed by a tangy, musky mouthfeel and soft, tongue-tingling texture on the finish. I'm a big fan of the 'sweetness meter' on the back label that indicates this wine has a splash of natural sweetness, so I'm gunning it'll be sensational with my next Thai green chicken curry.
10. CJ Pask Watercourse Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
If you're yet to taste a truly gorgeous example of kiwi cabernet sauvignon, then this is a superb place to start. Crafted by the super-skilled Kate Radburnd and her team, you can expect a mouthful of beautifully ripe berries, Christmas cake spices and a waft of cocoa with every sip. It finishes with layers of liquorice and pepper, and the tannins are firm, dusty and boast just the right amount of 'chew'.