Published NZME Regional Newspapers Sat 31 Oct 2015

When you turn your trolley around the end of the chippie and cracker aisle in the supermarket and launch yourself into the wine department, it’s almost an automatic response, to slow down, re-group and try to focus on finding something that’s going to taste good.  The sheer volume to navigate through these days is daunting.  If you’re wanting to branch out and try something half new and interesting, without any other knowledge or cues we tend to gravitate towards wines with an ‘on special’ ticket, wines with a stylish label, or a bottle with shiny medals slapped all over it.

The problem is (or rather, was) the wines that used to clean up at awards shows around the country tended toward the pricey side.  There were rumours of ‘insider trading’ in the bad old days where those involved in the awards shows would let their mates know who’d won all the big medals and trophies before they were announced to the public – so there’d be precious little available even if you could afford them.

Thankfully the New World Wine Awards came to the rescue, a competition specialising in wines retailing at a supermarket where all entries had to clock in at under $25, AND there had to be a decent amount produced in order to give everyone a realistic chance of securing an award-winner.

This year the competition attracted a massive 1,309 wine combined entries from New Zealand and overseas, three hundred more than in 2010.  805 of those entries won medals – which is a big deal.  I judge at many competitions and it’s darn difficult to earn a bronze medal, let alone a silver, gold or the top gong – a trophy.

Marlborough, New Zealand’s largest wine region, won the most awards, 240 in fact and claimed the Champion Sauvignon Blanc, Champion Aromatic, Champion Pinot Gris, Champion Sparkling and Champion Pinot Noir trophies, while Hawke’s Bay, Australia and France scooped the rest.


Californian Syrah, Nelson Chardonnay and a sneaky, cheapy sauvignon from Marlborough – these will add sip-factor to your week.

Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve Syrah 2012 $35 ★★★★KENDALLJACKSON

This is basically the Sade of red wine, a smooth operator if ever there was one.  Soft, sweet boysenberry, cherry, chocolate and liquorice aromas and flavours lead to velvety, elastic tannins and a long, silky finish.  If you’ve never tried a Californian syrah and want to get amongst a good on – here’s your chance.  For stockists in your area email


spinyback chardonnaySpinyback Nelson Chardonnay 2014 $17 ★★★½

Made by the team at Waimea Estates, this is a tangy, tropical, fruit salad style of chardonnay that I know loads of people will love because it doesn’t have that toasty, oaky flavour.  Lighter peachiness, with a splash of pineapple and mango, means it’s an easy, fresh and lively chardonnay that’ll definitely please the crowds at those spring weddings.  Good stuff.


Mudhouse Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015 $14.99 ★★★★NV Mud House Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Named after the mud-block house that original owners John and Jennifer Joslin built on their Marlborough vineyard, this wine has, over the passing decades and through multiple ownership changes, gone on to do great things.  Now firmly in the hands of a winemaking team headed by Ben Glover, this sauvignon carries classic crushed basil, snowpea, passionfruit and tropical fruit flavours which combine in a succulent, juicy sip-experience.  Very nice and available everywhere.



Pinot gris has proved an unstoppable force in this country, particularly over the last decade.  Kiwis have grabbed the grape with gusto and our wine producers are now crushing a whopping 24000 tonnes of the stuff.  That’s almost one and a half thousand times what they were processing in 2005.  Clearly we love it – and here are three that tickled my tastebuds this week…

 Ceres Composition Central Otago Pinot Gris 2014 $29 ★★★★Ceres Pinot Gris2014

Ceres (seh-rez) is a Bannockburn-based company run by Central Otago royalty, the Dicey family.  They know that pinot gris comes in a vast array of styles, so they’ve helped pinpoint the flavour of this by including a helpful ‘fuel gauge’ on the label telling us that this wine sits ever-so-slightly in the ‘medium-dry’ spectrum.  It’s a nicely crafted wine with aromas of nashi, peach-fuzz and soft mineral notes, while on the palate it’s ultra-clean, focussed and deliciously dry.


NV 2015 Mud House Marlborough Pinot GrisMudhouse Marlborough Pinot Gris 2015 $14.99 ★★★★

Scented with apple strudel, poached pear and all sorts of enticing spices, this pinot gris has serious ‘drink me’ factor.  Layered with white fruits and showing a tangy, layered flavour profile – this definitely ticks all the boxes for fruit, style and sippability.  Widely available.


Mills Reef Reserve Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2015 $24 ★★★★½Mills Reef / Preston Group

I love the heady quince, spiced apple and peach custard aromas, while in the mouth the wine has a sexy, creamy dryness.  There’s a lovely rich, yet chalky texture to this wine and it’s all wrapped up in a long, full, finish.  Clean, satisfying and a darn good example of Hawke’s Bay gris.