Fourty is the new 20?  Hardly.  Spend an extra twenty bucks and your tastebuds will be born again…

Akitu Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014 $40

Some wines literally grip you around the shoulders and shake you into the realisation that yes; this is what utterly excellent pinot noir tastes like.  This bottle does exactly that.  I was wowed from the second I poured into the glass by its seductive sandalwood and spice aromas, musky wild cherry, berry and rosehip notes.  It’s luxurious, comforting, and yet stimulates with every sip.

Sip with: Wild Venison, Black Pudding, Parsnip &Cherry Relish.  Or chips.  It’ll make anything taste amazing.

Goldie Reserve Waiheke Viognier 2015 $42

If you’ve never tasted viognier before, or whether you’re a seasoned pro, here’s a wine that you’ve got to try.  The tricky thing about growing viognier is the acidity can drop and become soapy – but that’s where Waiheke Island has an edge.  Constantly fanned by the seabreezes, the grapes don’t get a chance to ‘cook’ on the vine, so they’re fresh, zesty and retain exotic tangelo and orange oil sauciness. It’s lipsmackingly lovely.

Sip with: roast pork and salty crackling

Aurum Central Otago Blanc de Blancs 2008 $45

Joan and Tony Lawrence planted their first Pisa Flats vineyard in 1997, and over the coming couple of years, son Brook and daughter-in-law Lucie took over the winemaking side of the story and things have rocketed ahead ever since.  This ‘solely chardonnay’ sparkling wine has those classic, clean, lean, almond meal and lemon shortbread flavours that I love in this style.  Precise, delicate and taut – with a creamy, brioche and biscuit finish.

Sip with: Crayfish?  Be rude not to…