Not being someone who scores all wines tasted and keeps a database of results, I have gone for wines that have left a lasting impression for various reasons.
So in no particular order, other than north to south, these are six wines that left an impression during 2013:
Man of War Ironclad 2010 $40: Man of War is probably the most consistently successful Waiheke winery across a wide range of varieties. All of its wines are very drinkable and fairly priced. The Ironclad, a Bordeaux blend, is a dark and complex wine with cassis and ripe, dark fruit characters. It is already appealing and promises to develop gracefully for many years.
Church Road Grand Reserve Viognier 2010 $47: Viognier is one of those varieties that when done well is absolutely stunning but is sadly under-rated in New Zealand. This is an example of Viognier done very well. It has the classic apricot and orange blossom characters associated with this variety with a spicy, rich, complex palate. A very satisfying wine.
Johanneshof Gewurztraminer 2012 $35: Like Viognier, a classy Gewurztraminer is a very impressive wine indeed. Johanneshof are clearly one of the best exponents of this variety in the country and the 2012 is possibly one of the best yet. It has all of the gorgeous Turkish delight and stone-fruit aromas associated with great “Gewurzt” – a richly textured, spicy palate and a long lingering finish.
Lawson's Dry Hills Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 $32: Across the board, Lawsons produces an exceptional array of wines at very good prices, this Pinot Noir being no exception. With its lovely floral aromatics and rich, complex, spicy palate it provides a fine example of where Marlborough Pinot Noir is heading. 2012 was a very successful vintage in Marlborough with 2013 promising to be even better.
Fromm Spatlese Riesling 2013 $32; Fromm was the first to produce this style of Riesling in New Zealand and is still one of the best exponents. Produced in the traditional German fashion with only 7.5% alcohol, 90g of sugar and no botrytis, this water clear, pristine wine with delicate aromas and flavours of apples and stone-fruit is the perfect refreshing summer wine.
Peregrine Chardonnay 2012 $34: While Central Otago is best known for Pinot Noir and Riesling, the great improver, varietally wise, over recent years has been Chardonnay. To some extent this can be directly attributed to settling on more suitable clones. This example from Peregrine is one of the best with its stone-fruit and subtle oak characters. It is a very moreish and elegant wine that will satisfy any Chardonnay fan over Christmas.
Kevin Courtney is charge of marketing at Marlborough’s Riverby Estate, which has had a great year winning the trophy for Champion Riesling at the NZ International Wine Show with Eliza Riesling 2012, the trophy for Champion NZ sweet wine at the Decanter World Wine Awards with Noble Riesling 2011 and the trophy for champion dessert wine at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards with Noble Riesling 2012.