Wednesday Wines – Episode 139 – New Zealand New Releases
The 2022 New Zealand New Release Tasting took place a couple of weeks ago, and 99 wines were on show. Some were indeed new and others not so, as you will see below, but it was a fascinating tasting, and I found 18 tremendous wines. These wines mentioned below gained scores of 18/20 and higher in my notes. I have noted the recommended retail prices and a few retailers (apologies that there are not more) provided by the generic body New Zealand Wine (www.nzwine.com). I have included the retailers of the wines that I have previously written up, too. I am assured that the others are all available to purchase in the UK.
2020 Pegasus Bay, Bel Canto Dry Riesling, Waipara 14.5% £21.00
With a thrilling apple pie nose, a superbly sleek and refreshing mid-palate and brilliant length, this is a sensational wine and one that stood head and shoulders above the other Rieslings.
2022 Felton Road, Riesling, Bannockburn, Central Otago 9% £26.00
Stylish, honed, ripe and pure, this is an off-dry Riesling with plenty of swagger, and it would make a desperately chic aperitif option prior to an indulgent feast.
2022 Yealands Estate, Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Awatere Valley, Marlborough 12.5% £15.00
This was the finest Sauvignon from the larger brands, and it impressed on account of its direction and dryness. Most others were soapy and lacking in crisp, dynamic flavours. Yealands Single Estate has these characteristics in spades!
2021 Spoke, Resolute, Marlborough 13.5% £20.00, www.red-white.co.uk
This was incredible. My note from my MoneyWeek column 30th September 2022 – ‘a spectacular, mineral-driven, laser-sighted wine that will make even the most revered Loire Valley specialist sit up and take note.’ In short, it was my highest-scoring SB of the 41 examples on tasting.
2021 Smith & Sheth, CRU Wairau Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 13.5% £20.00
Bold and forceful with an intense attack and superb drive across the palate, this could be a little too powerful, but it is perfectly balanced with super-refined acidity, making this a serious gastronomic creation.
2021 Spoke, Brink, Marlborough 13.5% £22.00, www.red-white.co.uk
There was only one Sauvignon Blanc /Semillon in the line-up, and, once again, I have already featured it in my work. Here is my note from my MoneyWeek column on 30th September 2022 – ‘Brink takes a well-known model from places like the Graves and Margaret River and turns it into a graceful, beautifully upholstered, organically-grown Grand Vin with stellar presence and unrivalled finesse.’
2021 Spoke, Amped, Marlborough 13.5% £23.00, www.red-white.co.uk
This is the only Chardonnay, outside of the Felton Road trio, to gain a gold medal score in my notes. As you have seen above, I have already written it up. Here is my note from my MoneyWeek column on 30th September 2022 – ‘Amped is a grand, swaggering, Pouilly-Fuissé-bashing beauty, and it is another glorious organic wine and a bargain to boot. If I were you, I would buy all these SPOKE creations.’
2021 Felton Road, Chardonnay, Bannockburn, Central Otago 14% £34.00
Complex, clean, youthful and ever so classy, this is the pick of the Felton Road Chardonnays unless you have the patience of a saint and can keep your hands off 2001 Block 6 Chardonnay (£41.00) with its regal austerity and admirable tension and 2021 Block 2 Chardonnay (£41.00), which showed more amplitude and depth and looked as handsome and impactful as ever. Given the prices of these four Chardonnays, I trust that they will sell well, given the issues that Burgundy has experienced in the 2021 vintage.
2020 Escarpment, Te Rehua Single Vineyard Pinot Noir, Martinborough 13.5% £35.00
While this is a stemmy wine with a strident character, it is, at the same time, a stunningly lifted and perfumed experience, unlike others in this article. If you like laser-sighted, herbal-infused, cherry-stone-soaked Pinots, this is a lip-smacking discovery.
2021 Felton Road, Pinot Noir, Bannockburn, Central Otago 14% £43.00
It will come as no surprise that the Felton Road collection of Pinots was superb. While all of them looked complete and enticing, this estate wine led the charge with its calm, long, sonorous fruit, and I would stick to 2021 Block 3 Pinot Noir (£68.00) and 2021 Block 5 Pinot Noir (£68.00). While Block 3 is a superb step up from the Estate wine with its haunting fragrance and silky texture, Block 5 shows even more intensity and a grander feel throughout. This trio is a standout 2021 threesome, and they should be part of every serious cellar.
2020 Akitu, A1 Pinot Noir, Central Otago 13.7% £42.00
I loved the Akitu 2019s (see my MoneyWeek article on 27th May 2022), and the new vintage of A1 is another cracker from this meticulous estate. I even wrote the word ‘posh’ about the luxurious texture of this wine, and while it is a baby and needs a year or two to assimilate its tannins, this is another tremendous release.
2019 Smith & Sheth, CRU Heretaunga Syrah, Hawke’s Bay 13.5% £31.00, www.nzhouseofwine.co.uk
This is another wine I have already written up, this time back in MoneyWeek on 13th May this year. Here is a quote, ‘It spent 18 months in new and older oak, and I fell for its bloody core of spicy and yet remarkably refined Syrah fruit instantly. Smith & Sheth set out to demonstrate Tūrangawaewae in their wines. The French call it ‘terroir’, but this Māori concept has a much more informative and lyrical explanation – ‘our place to stand in the world’. There is no doubt this wine is unique, and this is its first outing in the UK, so have this wine join you as you find your place to stand and admire it.’
2020 Te Mata, Bullnose Syrah, Hawke’s Bay 13.5% £47.00
While this Syrah currently lacks the aromatic high notes of the Smith & Sheth above, it makes up for it in bass note flavours that bring meatiness, muscularity and heft to proceedings. With a couple of years more cellar time, 2020 Bullnose will be a worthy adversary for your favourite Cornas and Saint-Joseph Domaines.
2020 Te Mata, Coleraine, Hawke’s Bay 14% £80.00
While 2020 Awatea looked distinguished and tightly wound (and admittedly half the price of Coleraine), there is no denying that Coleraine has been NZ’s ‘Latour’ for a while, and this 2020 vintage is another that maintains Te Mata’s hierarchy at the top of the Bordeaux Blend class.