Ake Ake Preservative Free Northland Merlot 2016 $30

“We basically just guide the wine from grape to bottle with as little interference as possible” says Ake Ake’s winemaker, John Clarke.  Totally inexperienced when he bought the property in 2004, he went to the library and borrowed some books on how to grow grapes and make wine.  Many medals later, he owns Northland’s only […]

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 17 Plateau Gimblett Gravels Merlot 2014 $32.90 (5 stars)

Incredibly bright on the nose, bursting with ripe boysenberry, plum cherry and sweetly spiced, smoky notes.  Here’s a deeply flavoured, rich  and satisfyingly fruity, with layers of leather and cocoa carrying through to the finish.  I love the refreshing, vibrant acidity and its gripping, yet supple tannins.  It’s a very precise yet plush and generous […]

Unison Gimblett Gravels Reserve Merlot 2012 $30 (4stars)

I used to work on a raspberry farm when I was in high school (loved it btw) and every time I sniff this wine it takes me back to those days of repeatedly sticking my face inside a leafy, fruit-scented canopy to harvest those plump, juicy berries. Fresh, spicy, with layers of plum-rubbed leather and […]

Stanley Estates Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2013 $19.99 ★★★½

This canny Awatere Valley producer has beefed up their portfolio by buying up a bunch of quality Hawke’s Bay fruit from a bumper vintage, to create a bold, berry-driven bottle of niceness and spiceness.  There’s a soft, powdery ‘chew’ to the texture of this wine, which ticks pretty much every box for good, flavoursome, all-purpose […]

Giesen The Brothers Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2014 $35 ★★★★½

I had no idea that Giesen even did merlot until just recently when I came across this plump, character-packed example.  Fresh and plummy, and boasting layers of concentrated cherry, lifted spices, pepper and cocoa – it’s a smooth, yet statuesque sip indeed. www.giesen.co.nz

Matawhero Gisborne Merlot 2016 $22 ★★★★

For a red that’s only just been bottled and released, this is drinking darn gorgeously. Ripe, round, plush plum and milk chocolate notes on the nose and palate, it’s dangerously smooth and velvety in the mouth and boasts a long, warming finish. Subtle fruitcake spices, pepper and hints of red berry add to the fruit […]

Karikari Esate Calypso Northland Merlot 2014 $27 (3.5stars)

If you were looking for New Zealand’s northernmost vineyard then you’ve come to the right place.  The heat bakes those vines and the breezes which gust in from the coast directly below the peninsula keep the bunches dry and clean.  Winemaker Alan Collinson uses wild, natural yeasts to ferment the juice, which adds to the […]

Main Divide Waipara Merlot Cabernet 2014

Main Divide Waipara Merlot Cabernet 2014 $20 ★★★½ If you thought only the North Island could create good Bordeaux-style reds then best you wrap your gums around this southern sip pronto.  Highly fruity on the nose and all manner of raspberry, boysenberry and spicy, cocoa-like characters crash across the palate.  Yet the mouthfeel and finish […]

Nikau Point Select Hawke’s Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Nikau Point Select Hawke’s Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 $13.99 ★★½ The Nikau Point brand has recently been given a spruce up, meaning it looks a tad more stylish on the table, which is always a good thing with a sub-$15 bottle.  This is a lightweight red that has layers of dried herb, berry and spice […]

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 17 Plateau Merlot 2014

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 17 Plateau Merlot 2014 $33 ★★★★½ Cleverly crafted by winemakers Matt Thomson and Hamish Clark (who has a background in microbiology, zoology and forensic science interestingly enough) from fruit grown in the Gimblett Gravels, this is a wine with deeply earthy aromas of chocolate, liquorice and cured meats.  Those same characters […]

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