Air New Zealand's Fine Wines of New Zealand tasting

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This tasting highlighted some of the Air New Zealand Fine Wines of New Zealand Fine Wines of New Zealand. This selection is intended to recognize New Zealand’s benchmark fine wines, and is sponsored by Air New Zealand. The wines are chosen by a group of six: Alastair Maling, Michael Brajkovich, Sam Harrop, Simon Nash, Steve Smith and Cameron Douglas, and in order for a wine to be considered, it must have a track record of seven years or more. Each new vintage of a selected wine is checked for quality in order to be approved.

New wines with a seven-year track record are open to inclusion, through a three-step entry procedure. The intention is that the wines are therefore seen to be the peaks of the industry. This is a selection of the 70 wines currently in this classification.

I enjoyed most of these wines quite a bit, but I came away with the impression that in terms of varietal categories, the Pinot Noirs and Syrahs were a step above, while Chardonnay wasn’t quite at the same level.

No 1 Family Reserve NV Marlborough, New Zealand
Subtle toast and spice here with a nice citrus core. This has good concentration and balance, with complexity but also nice freshness and delicacy. Finishes a bit grippy and spicy. 91/100

Nautilus Cuvée Marlborough NV New Zealand
Bright, crisp and focused with lively lemony fruit. Tight and expressive with a brisk lemony finish. Very pure. 90/100

Quartz Reef 2012 Central Otago, New Zealand
Brisk and fresh with nice lemony fruit. Has a vivid quality to it with some pear and apple richness and some slight toastiness. Fine lemony fruit. A delicate wine. 90/100

new zealand fine wine

Felton Road Dry Riesling 2016 Central Otago, New Zealand
Fine, lemony nose. Really pure. Textured and fresh on the palate with bright citrus fruit and a clean, linear personality. Primary and pristine at the moment. 91/100

Felton Road Block 1 Riesling 2016 Central Otago, New Zealand
Off dry and textural with lovely citrus fruit and some richer pear and melon notes. Good acidity, too. Very fresh and expressive with lots of potential, and a sweet finish. 93/100

TWR Toru SV5182 2016 Marlborough, New Zealand
A fine, textural wine with some sweet citrus, melon and pear fruit. Very clean and pure with just a hint of sweetness. Very expressive. 91/100

Misha’s Vineyard Limelight Riesling 2014 Central Otago, New Zealand
Highly aromatic with a limey nose. Fresh, linear and intense on the palate with bold lime fruit. Very fresh and expressive. Just off-dry. 90/100

Framingham F Series Riesling Kabinett 2017 Marlborough, New Zealand
Pretty, light, fresh and beautifully detailed with lovely lemon and melon notes, and brisk acidity balanced beautifully with some sweetness. Sweet but fresh and vivid. 93/100

Dry River Pinot Gris 2016 Martinborough, New Zealand
This is intriguing: there’s a slightly smoky, peaty edge to the concentrated pear, grape and apple fruit. Has some sweetness and a bit of phenolic character. Spicy finish. Weird but tasty. 92/100

Prophet’s Rock Pinot Gris 2016 Central Otago, New Zealand
Bright and fresh and quite complex. Dry with some fresh spiciness and a linear, mineral, concentrated palate. Has a bit of smoke and spice as well as some pear and apple fruit. Long finish. 92/100

Astrolabe Province Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough, New Zealand
Fresh, bright and focused with a delicate seam of acidity and linear green pepper, tomato leaf and citrus notes. Nice balance and freshness, and quite an elegant expressive example of Sauvignon. 92/100

Vavasour Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough, New Zealand
Fresh, vivid and intense with concentrated citrus and pear fruit with a strong but well integrated green hint. Green pepper, tomato leaf, cut grass and grapefruit, with some elderflower, too. Intense. 91/100

Brancott B Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough, New Zealand
Bright with good concentration. Fresh and linear with nice delicate elderflower and tomato leaf notes, as well as some passionfruit. Has a really nicely balanced, pretty, expressive personality. 92/100

Tohu Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Marlborough, New Zealand
Very bright and fresh, in a lighter style, with lovely crisp passionfruit aromatics and a fine greenness. Pretty and light, and delicious now. 90/100

Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Marlborough, New Zealand
Linear, fresh and intense with lovely focus. Bright and fresh with subtle greenness. Nice lemony detail, too. Great acidity here. 92/100

Sacred Hill Rifleman’s Chardonnay 2015 Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Intense, toasty nose with nice pear and fig fruit. The palate is bold and concentrated with a hint of cabbage and bold peach and pear fruit. Rich, toasty and spicy, showing good concentration, but a little funky. 89/100

Felton Road Block 2 Chardonnay 2015 Central Otago, New Zealand
Fresh, bright and quite pure with a lemony core and some pretty pear richness. Overall, it’s crisp, bright and linear with a lighter personality but also some spicy complexity. 92/100

Villa Maria Keltern Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Intense and concentrated with a nice balance of toasty, nutty richness, bold pear and peach fruit, and some fine spiciness. Very expressive with a concentrated, unfurled personality and some reductive depth. Very nice. 93/100

Clearview Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2015 Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Bold and rich with fresh citrus notes and richer peach and fig characters, as well as a slight hint of coffee. Bright lemony acidity, too. Has real depth. 91/100

Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay 2016 Nelson, New Zealand
Quite nutty and creamy with nice texture to the sweet pear and citrus fruit. Quite bready, but also with lovely linear fruit. Has nice focus and a fine spiciness. 92/100

new zealand pinot noir

Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir 2014 Central Otago, New Zealand
Focused, finely spiced nose with some brisk cherry and raspberry fruit. The palate has a hint of mint and some brightness, and also a lovely textured core of red cherry fruit. Primary and linear with good structure: quite an elegant style. 94/100

Burn Cottage Pinot Noir 2015 Central Otago, New Zealand
Good concentration here with rich but balanced red cherry and raspberry fruit, and fine-grained spicy structure. This has depth but also finesse, with a silky texture under the fine tannin and acid structure. Very fine. 95/100

Kusuda Pinot Noir 2014 Martinborough, New Zealand
Has some warm spiciness on the nose, and on the palate lovely supple concentrated cherry and berry fruit, with a hint of stewed plum and very fine spicy structure. There’s a bit of meatiness and some attractive savoury depth. Drinking beautifully now, with just a twist of wildness to it, and a little sour cherry on the finish. Compelling stuff. 95/100

Craggy Range Aroha Te Muna Pinot Noir 2015 Martinborough, New Zealand
Concentrated and quite dense with sweet cherry and plum fruit. Rich and bold with some oak and also some firm structure. A bit closed and unyielding at the moment, but with potential. An ambitious wine. 92/100

Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir 2014 Martinborough, New Zealand
Powerfully and vivid with a hint of blackcurrant, some fresh cherries and some nice spiciness. It’s concentrated and linear and the oak is showing a bit at the moment, but this has a lot of future potential. Currently a bit angular and primary. 93/100

Auntsfield Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 Marlborough, New Zealand
Ripe and sweetly fruited with fresh cherries and berries, and some nice fine grained tannic structure. Really pretty and bright with some raspberry freshness. Good concentration. Very much in a richer style with lots of stuffing. 93/100

Lowburn Ferry Home Block Pinot Noir 2014 Central Otago, New Zealand
This has a damson, sour cherry edge to the bright fruit with good acidity and fine spiciness. Really bright with nice savoury detail. Very fresh and compelling. 94/100

Mount Edward Morrison Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 Central Otago, New Zealand
This is ripe and supple with lovely sweet fruit. Cherries, plums and even some blackcurrant, sitting over fresh acidity and some spicy structure. Quite primary and unfurled at the moment. 93/100

Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2014 North Canterbury, New Zealand
This has a lovely freshness to it. Well integrated oak and lots of bright cherry and plum fruit, with elegance and nice brightness of acid, which integrates well too. This has a lot of energy, and really succeeds in marrying concentration and elegance. More red fruit than black. Lovely stuff. 95/100

Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah 2015 Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Concentrated and sweetly fruited with a fine peppery edge to the bright black cherry and blackberry fruit. Quite dense and primary at the moment with lots of potential. Grippy and intense. 94/100

Trinity Hill Homage Syrah 2015 Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Vivid and intense with lovely grip. Peppery edge to the black cherry and blackcurrant fruit with nice intensity and freshness. Grippy structure. Has a lovely savoury core and beautiful concentration. 95/100

Bilancia La Collina Syrah 2014 Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Really vivid and expressive with beautiful bright raspberry and red cherry fruit. Juicy and structured with some peppery detail. Lean and linear with nice savouriness and brilliant focus: a lovely wine. 94/100

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