Wines of the year (6) some top New Zealand wines

new zealand

Wines of the year (6) some top New Zealand wines

millton riverpoint viognier

Another post rounding up some of the star wines that I tasted and drank in 2016. And I drank and tasted a lot last year. Many of these bottles were consumed in New Zealand in January and February. I’m excited to be heading out again in 10 days. Can’t wait. As with the other round-ups, there are many excellent wines that just missed out on this list.

Millton Riverpoint Vineyard Viognier 2014 Gisborne, New Zealand
This is all about the phenolics, says James Millton. It’s made in 300 litre barrels and the high-ish pH gives a sort of salty character, with phenolics giving freshness. ‘The word umami creeps into it,’ he says. ‘One thing I like is the saliva reaction.’ Most of the wine is made by taking bunches, crushing them and letting them sit for 6 h before pressing, but 8% gets 86 days’ skin contact. Powerful, salty and savoury with some spiciness and rich pear fruit. There’s some spicy, peppery character under the rich fruit and lovely orange peel notes leading to a juicy finish. Amazing texture and depth here: this is a beautiful, energetic wine. 95/100

Rippon Emma’s Block Pinot Noir 2013 Central Otago, New Zealand
This is an east facing block closer to the lake. It’s the softest environment at Rippon, with some clays in the soil. ‘Because of the clays you get a sleekness in the phenolics at the back of the palate,’ says Nick Mills. Fine, fresh red cherry fruit nose is very lively with a sappy, green edge and nice floral notes. The palate is fresh and elegant with nice acidity and a hint of green. It’s lovely. 96/100

Prophet's Rock: Paul Pujol (right) with his collaborator Francois Millet (De Vogue)
Prophet’s Rock: Paul Pujol (right) with his collaborator Francois Millet (De Vogue)

Prophet’s Rock Pinot Noir 2013 Central Otago, New Zealand
Savoury and textural with spice and minerals, as well as nice red cherry fruit. Good acidity with some raspberry freshness. Nice concentration and grip: this is superb. 95/100


Ostler Caroline’s Pinot Noir 2011 Waitaki, New Zealand
Linear, with very fresh, vivid red cherry fruit plus notes of iron, iodine and herbs. Linear palate shows lovely freshness. Very fine and expressive with lovely non-fruit complexity. Good acidity. 95/100

Black Estate Damsteep Pinot Noir 2014 North Canterbury, New Zealand
All destemmed. Fresh and linear with red cherries, ripe raspberries and a lovely texture. Fine grained with some spice and nice silkiness. Really fresh with but this lovely silky texture and good acidity bringing finesse. 95/100

pyramid valley

Pyramid Valley Vineyards Earth Smoke Pinot Noir 2013 North Canterbury, New Zealand
From a limestone-rich plot, this is warm, smooth and yet fresh with stony red fruits. Lively, bright and pure with fresh raspberry and red cherry fruit on the palate. Detailed with good structure and acidity. I love the freshness and purity of this wine, which has massive potential for development. 97/100

neudorf moutere chardonnay

Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay 2010 Nelson, New Zealand
12 months French oak, wild ferment, 550 cases. Very tight and bright with a slightly creamy edge to the grapefruit, lemon and pineapple fruit. Subtle toast and some crystalline fruits with amazing acidity. Very lively and focused with great potential. 96/100

Dog Point Chardonnay 2011 Marlborough, New Zealand
18 months in barrel with no sulfur dioxide and full solids. Warm, toasty, spicy nose of fig, vanilla, matchstick and peach, with some melon too. The palate is bready and spicy with nuts and lemons sitting on a broad-textured warmly fruity base. Complex with nice reduction. 95/100

Pyramid Valley Vineyards Lion’s Tooth Chardonnay 2013 North Canterbury, New Zealand
Very bright and lively with lovely lemon, tangerine and citrus pith notes. There’s a tangerine and marmalade edge to the bright palate. This has up-front richness but also a lovely treble finish, with some nuttiness. Very interesting. 95/100

bell hill chardonnay

Bell Hill Chardonnay 2012 North Canterbury, New Zealand
Intense, youthful, vivid nose of citrus, pear, smoke and toast. The palate is concentrated with a touch of fig, some pear, quince and a lovely core of citrus fruit. Very high acidity, with amazing focus on the finish. Needs time. 96/100

Framingham Noble Riesling 2015 Marlborough, New Zealand
Super complex nose of apricot and marmalade. Really intense, viscous, creamy palate showing ripe apples, spice and real detail and focus. Quite brilliant. 95/100

Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2008 North Canterbury, New Zealand
Supple and nicely savoury with some minerals and expressive red cherries, as well as a bit of meatiness. The palate has lively, bright structure and also good depth. Nice freshness to the structure of this wine, with a silky elegance. 96/100

Sato Pinot Noir ‘L’insolite’ 2014 Central Otago, New Zealand
From the Pisa Terrace vineyard, this is 100% whole bunch, picked on 25 March at yields of 29 hl/ha. This spends 17 months in seasoned French oak. 13% alcohol. Lovely sweet, elegant ripe red and black cherry fruit nose with some subtle green sappy notes. Lovely precision on the palate: ripe black cherry fruit with plums and spice. Real complexity and focus. 95/100

Sacred Hill Riflemans Chardonnay 2014 Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
90% new oak. Old vines, own rooted. This is a tight, focused style of Chardonnay with ageing in mind. Refined, fresh and taut with pure, ripe pear and citrus fruit. Some toastiness here with lovely precision and a linear personality. 95/100

seresin chardonnay reserve

Seresin Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2014 Marlborough, New Zealand
Taut and complex with pear and citrus fruit. Nicely pithy with bright, tight lemon and white peach fruit. Amazing acid core with apples, pears and lemons to the fore. So lovely, vital and precise with nice depth. Wonderful. 95/100

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