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Warming wines for the winter months in 2019

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Vibrant, appetisingly crisp whites, fruity rosés and fresh, light reds hit the spot in summer. But in winter, more robust, richer wines can help to fortify you against the seasonal chill. Mouthfilling, deep-flavoured whites, particularly fine-quality chardonnay, are perfect at this time of year. Weighty, full-bodied, complex reds – served at a comfortable room temperature – are also in peak demand.

Whites

Akarua Rua Central Otago Pinot Gris 2018 ••••

Hand-picked at Bannockburn, this is a dry style of pinot gris. It is sturdy (14.5% alc/vol), fragrant and fresh, with very good depth of stonefruit and pear flavours, full of youthful vigour. $24

Askerne Hawke’s Bay Viognier 2018 ••••½

Offering great value, this barrel-fermented wine is fragrant and full-bodied (14% alc/vol), with generous, ripe stonefruit flavours, a hint of toasty oak adding complexity and a dryish, well-rounded finish. $23

Hunter’s Marlborough Pinot Gris 2018 ••••

Already drinking well, this is a buoyantly fruity wine. A dry style, it is invitingly scented, with mouthfilling body (14% alc/vol), strong, peachy, citrusy, slightly spicy and gingery flavours, a touch of complexity and a finely balanced, long finish. $20

Church Road Grand Reserve Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2017 •••••

This powerful, yet elegant wine was hand-harvested and aged in French oak. It has a fragrant, slightly smoky bouquet leading into a weighty wine (13% alc/vol), with concentrated, peachy, toasty flavours showing impressive complexity and a lasting finish. $34

Greystone Waipara Valley North Canterbury Gewürztraminer 2018 •••••

Certified organic, this highly perfumed wine is delicious in its youth. Hand-picked and partly barrel fermented, it is softly mouthfilling (14% alc/vol), with fresh, rich, peachy, gently spicy flavours, moderate acidity, a hint of sweetness and loads of drink-young appeal. $33

Pegasus Bay Chardonnay 2017 •••••

Estate-grown in North Canterbury, this is a highly impressive, youthful wine. Powerful and weighty (14% alc/vol), it is invitingly fragrant, with intense, grapefruit-like flavours gently seasoned with biscuity French oak, notable complexity and obvious ageing potential. $43

Hãhã Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2018 ••••

Priced sharply, this is an easy-drinking, smooth, dry wine. Fragrant, fleshy (13.5% alc/vol) and vibrantly fruity, it has ripe stonefruit and spice flavours, fresh acidity and very good delicacy and depth. $18

Jackson Estate Somerset Block 2 Single Vineyard Waihopai Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 •••••

Full of personality, this is an aromatic, intensely varietal wine. It is full-bodied (13% alc/vol), with strong, ripe, tropical fruit flavours, bottle-aged notes adding a toasty complexity and a crisp, dry, lasting finish. $29

The Last Shepherd Gisborne Chardonnay 2017 ••••

A typical example of the regional style, this is a rich, ripe, well-rounded dry white. Full-bodied (13% alc/vol), it has strong, peachy, slightly buttery flavours that show considerable complexity and a fresh, smooth finish. $25

Spade Oak The Prospect Gisborne Chardonnay 2017 ••••½

Gisborne in a glass, this seductively smooth wine was barrel-fermented. It has substantial body (13.5% alc/vol), deep, ripe, citrusy, peachy, slightly nutty flavours that show good complexity and a well-rounded finish. $28

Te Awanga Estate Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ••••½

Here’s proof of just how crisp, lively and refreshing sauvignon blanc from Hawke’s Bay can be. A punchy, medium-bodied wine (12% alc/vol), it has good intensity of green capsicum and lime-evoking flavours, which are tangy, dry and persistent. $22

Whitehaven Marlborough Chardonnay 2018 ••••½

Slightly creamy in texture, this youthful wine is delicious from the start. Fragrant and full-bodied (13% alc/vol), it has rich stonefruit flavours, gently seasoned with biscuity oak, good complexity, balanced acidity and a smooth, lengthy finish. $28

Wrights Reserve Organic Gisborne Chardonnay 2018 ••••½

Certified organic, this barrel-aged wine is already drinking well. Full-bodied (14% alc/vol), it has concentrated, ripe stonefruit flavours, savoury notes adding complexity and a creamy-smooth finish. $30

Rosé

Alchemy Hawke’s Bay Rosé 2018 ••••

This yummy wine was made from hand-picked merlot grapes. Pale pink, it is mouthfilling (13% alc/vol) and lively, with peach, strawberry and spice flavours showing very good delicacy and freshness and a finely balanced, smooth finish. Priced right. $20

Reds

Auntsfield Single Vineyard Southern Valleys Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017 •••••

Estate grown on north-facing slopes, this classy, powerful wine has bold, purple-flushed colour. Mouthfilling (14% alc/vol) and sweet fruited, it is overflowing with ripe, plummy, spicy flavours showing good tannin backbone and obvious cellaring potential. $45 

Babich Winemakers’ Reserve Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2015 •••••

Likely to be long-lived, this Gimblett Gravels red was grown in the Irongate vineyard. Fragrant, with a warm, ripe, savoury bouquet, it is mouthfilling (13.5% alc/vol), with deep, plummy, spicy, nutty flavours and shows excellent structure and complexity. $35

Coopers Creek Select Vineyards Gimblett Gravels Cabernet/Merlot 2016 ••••½

Unfolding well, this blended red is full coloured, mouthfilling (13.5% alc/vol) and vibrantly fruity, with fresh blackcurrant, plum and spice flavours that show excellent ripeness and depth. $28

Coal Pit Tiwha Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017 •••••

This graceful red was estate grown at Gibbston. Floral and deeply coloured, it is full-bodied (13% alc/vol) and sweet-fruited, with bold, vibrant red-berry, plum, spice, dried herb and nut flavours that are concentrated and very harmonious. $57

Fromm Cuvée H Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017 •••••

Certified organic, this lovely, multi-site red is labelled in honour of Hätsch Kalberer, Fromm’s winemaker. Full coloured and mouthfilling (13.5% alc/vol), it has generous, vibrant, youthful cherry, plum and spice flavours that are finely structured, supple and persistent. $65

Mt Beautiful North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2017 ••••½

This classy young red was estate grown in Cheviot. Bright ruby, it is fragrant and full-bodied (13% alc/vol), with concentrated, ripe cherry and plum flavours, hints of herbs and spices, savoury notes adding complexity and the structure to age well. $32

Terrace Edge Waipara Valley Pinot Noir 2016 ••••½

Certified organic, this youthful red was hand-picked and barrel aged. Bright ruby, it is fragrant, full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol), sweet-fruited and savoury, with generous cherry, plum and spice flavours and shows good complexity and harmony. $30

Mt Difficulty Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016 •••••

This red is deservedly popular. Bright ruby, fresh and sturdy (14.5% alc/vol), it has generous ripe cherry, plum and spice flavours and shows excellent complexity and fine-grained tannins. Elegant, rather than supercharged. $47

Neudorf Tom’s Block Nelson Pinot Noir 2016 ••••½

A great introduction to the winery style, this is a savoury, supple Upper Moutere red. Fragrant and full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol), it has cherryish, spicy, nutty flavours and shows excellent complexity and plenty of current-drinking appeal. $33

Vidal Reserve Gimblett Gravels Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 ••••

This top-value Hawke’s Bay red was barrel aged for 18 months. Fragrant, full coloured and fruit packed, it has very good body (13% alc/vol) and depth of vibrant, plummy, spicy flavours. $20

Two Rivers Tributary Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017 ••••½

This is an elegant, youthful red, grown in the Southern Valleys. Deep, bright ruby, it is fragrant, with good body (13% alc/vol), strong, berryish, slightly spicy and nutty flavours and shows excellent freshness and complexity and has a savoury, smooth finish. $36

This article was first published in the June 1, 2019 issue of the New Zealand Listener.