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It's the season to drink and be merry. Photo/Getty

The best wines to drink this summer

Festive fizz and summer sips.

With the holidays fast approaching, it’s the season to be jolly, which means popping the cork on a bottle or two of bubbly. Summer is also the perfect season for fresh, gently chilled whites and rosés – and for barbecues, you’ll need red wine too.  

The wines highlighted here stood out in my recent tastings, for their irresistible value, striking quality, or both.

Sparkling wines

Lindauer Special Reserve Blanc de Blancs NV ★★★★

The non-vintage wine I tasted this year was made from Gisborne chardonnay. Very pale straw, with a yeasty fragrance, it is lively and lemony, with very good intensity and a finely balanced, dryish finish. $15

Cloudy Bay Pelorus Vintage 2010 ★★★★★

This classy Marlborough wine was disgorged after seven years’ maturation on its yeast lees. Highly fragrant and vivacious, with intense, citrusy, peachy, biscuity characters, crisp and complex, it’s a real mouthful of flavour. $50

Daniel Le Brun Méthode Traditionnelle Brut NV ★★★★1/2

This non-vintage blend of chardonnay and pinot noir was grown in Marlborough. The batch I tasted this year is lively, with very good intensity and harmony of citrusy, peachy, appley, slightly nutty flavours. $30

Deutz Marlborough Prestige Cuvée 2015 ★★★★★

This outstanding wine is notably complex and tight-knit, with searching, citrusy, yeasty, slightly peachy flavours that float across the palate to a crisp, lasting finish. $33

Leveret IQ Premium Brut NV ★★★★

Invitingly scented, this Hawke’s Bay bubbly has fresh, lively, grapefruit and peach flavours, biscuity, yeasty characters adding complexity, and a crisp, finely balanced finish. $22

Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvée Rosé NV ★★★★

This non-vintage wine is blended from Hawke’s Bay chardonnay and Marlborough pinot noir.  Pale pink, it is lively, with strong, strawberryish, peachy, spicy flavours, gentle yeasty notes adding complexity, and a dryish finish. $22

Related article: New Zealand's top organic wines for 2019

White wines 

Askerne Hawke’s Bay Gewürztraminer 2018 ★★★★1/2

Perfumed and softly mouthfilling, this is a weighty, medium style with rich stonefruit and spice flavours, slightly gingery notes, gentle acidity and lots of drink-young appeal. $23

Dashwood by Vavasour Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ★★★★

Punchy, with strong, fresh tropical fruit and herbaceous flavours, and a basically dry, crisp finish, this is Marlborough in a glass. $16

Seifried Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ★★★★

Priced right, this is a very fresh, crisp and punchy wine, with ripely herbaceous flavours, showing good vigour and intensity, and a basically dry, appetisingly crisp finish.  $18

Durvillea Marlborough Pinot Gris 2019 ★★★1/2

Bargain-priced, this fragrant, full-bodied wine has good depth of pear and peach flavours, gentle spicy notes, and a dry, smooth finish.  $15

Esk Valley Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2019 ★★★★1/2

Showing strong personality, this invitingly scented, full-bodied wine has strong, vibrant, pear-like flavours, hints of lychees and spices, a touch of barrel-ferment complexity and a dryish, lingering finish. $20

Grove Mill Wairau Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2018 ★★★★

Barrel-aged, with a fragrant, slightly toasty and smoky bouquet, this mouthfilling wine has peachy, toasty flavours, showing good complexity, and excellent depth. $20

Haha Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2019 ★★★★

A good, all-purpose wine, this attractively scented wine is mouthfilling, with generous peach, pear and spice flavours, showing very good vigour and depth, and an off-dry, smooth finish. $18

Related articles: Michael Cooper’s top imported wine picks for 2019

Kumeu Village Hand Harvested Chardonnay 2018 ★★★★

Already enjoyable, this blend of Kumeu (West Auckland) and Hawke’s Bay grapes was mostly barrel-fermented. Full-bodied, it has ripe, citrusy, peachy flavours, showing considerable complexity, and excellent mouthfeel and depth. $18

Nautilus Marlborough Chardonnay 2018 ★★★★★

This highly attractive, barrel-fermented wine has a fragrant, complex bouquet. Very elegant and youthful, it has deep, vibrant, citrusy, peachy, slightly biscuity flavours, creamy notes, excellent complexity and a long finish. $40

Old Coach Road Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ★★★1/2

Seifried Estate’s lowest-tier sauvignon is priced sharply. Fresh and punchy, with a basically dry, tangy finish, it offers great value. $14

Vidal Reserve Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2018 ★★★★1/2

Already delicious, this barrel-fermented wine has a slightly smoky fragrance. Fresh and generous, it has citrusy, peachy, slightly toasty flavours, showing excellent richness, delicacy and complexity. $20

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ★★★★1/2

Ripely scented and weighty, with concentrated, vibrant passionfruit/lime flavours and a crisp, dry, long finish, this is a great buy (especially on promotion at around $15). $18

Related article: Michael Cooper's top sauvignon blanc picks for 2019

Rosé wines

Astrolabe Comelybank Vineyard Marlborough Pinot Rosé 2019 ★★★★★

This classy wine is a blend of pinot noir (mostly) and pinot gris. Bright, light pink, it is a very fragrant and fleshy wine, with strong peach, strawberry and spice flavours, and a smooth, fully dry finish. $25

Forrest Marlborough Rosé 2019 ★★★★1/2

Already delicious, this bright pink, vibrantly fruity wine has strong watermelon and strawberry flavours, a hint of spice, fresh acidity, a sliver of sweetness and a lively, long finish. $22

Lawson’s Dry Hills Pink Pinot 2019 ★★★★1/2

This characterful Marlborough rosé is brimful of flavour. Bright pink, it has generous strawberry and watermelon flavours, slightly spicy notes, excellent vigour and a dry, lingering finish. $25

Rapaura Springs Reserve Marlborough Pinot Rosé 2019 ★★★★

Enjoyable from the start, this pale pink wine is fresh and mouthfilling, with very good depth of peachy, spicy flavours, a hint of apricot, and an off-dry finish. $19

Tohu Nelson Pinot Rosé 2019 ★★★★

Estate-grown at Upper Moutere, this bright pink/pale red wine has fresh, berryish scents and flavours, in a very lively, buoyantly fruity, dry style. $18

Vavasour Awatere Valley Marlborough Rosé 2019 ★★★★★

This classy rosé is pink/pale red, with loads of youthful vigour and charm. It has fresh, strong strawberry, watermelon and spice flavours, with a dry, lasting finish. $23

Red wines

Alexander Dusty Road Martinborough Pinot Noir 2018 ★★★★1/2

Designed for early drinking, this single-vineyard, barrel-aged red is fragrant and mouthfilling, with concentrated, ripe, plummy, spicy flavours, showing good complexity. A “steal” at $27.

Brookfields Back Block Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2018 ★★★★1/2

Grown on a “north-facing, very hot site”, this barrel-matured red is highly approachable, with strong, plummy, spicy flavours, oak complexity and impressive harmony. $20

Domaine-Thomson Explorer Central Otago Pinot Noir 2018 ★★★★1/2

Offering top value, this fragrant, full-bodied red has excellent depth, complexity and harmony.  It’s as good as many Central Otago pinot noirs priced far higher. $29

Read more: New Zealand's best pinot noirs for under $30

Jacob’s Creek Barossa Signature Shiraz 2017 ★★★★1/2

Matured in American and French oak casks, this dark, sturdy red has bold flavours of plums, spices, black pepper and licorice, rich and smooth. $20

Jim Barry The McRae Wood Clare Valley Shiraz 2015 ★★★★★

A lovely young wine, this powerful South Australian red is boldly coloured and highly fragrant, with dense flavours of dark berries, licorice and nuts, smooth and lush. $50-$60  

Mission Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ★★★1/2

This sharply priced red is full-coloured, with a fragrant, slightly herbal bouquet. Mouthfilling, it has berryish, mildly spicy and herbal flavours, and is smooth and generous. $16

This article was first published in the December 2019 issue of North & South. Follow North & South on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and sign up to the fortnightly email for more great stories.