The best wines for summer sipping

by Michael Cooper / 03 January, 2019
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Add some distinctive flavours to your holiday relaxation regime with Michael Cooper's top wine picks for summer.

It’s time to relax with a good book and a gently chilled glass of wine. A rosé feature is coming up next month, so let’s focus here on several white wines, and even a light red, that are perfectly suited to summer sipping.

Lawson’s Dry Hills Marlborough Chardonnay 2017 ••••

This is a fine example of a refreshing, very lightly oaked chardonnay style. Mostly tank fermented, it is vibrantly fruity, with mouthfilling body (13% alc/vol), a slightly creamy note and excellent freshness, depth and harmony. Well worth trying. $20

Left Field Gisborne Albariño 2018 ••••

From a variety that is hugely popular in the coastal cafes of Spain and Portugal, this Gisborne-grown version was mostly handled in stainless-steel tanks and barrels and 5% was fermented in seasoned French oak casks. Light lemon/green, it is full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol), with good intensity of fresh, citrusy, slightly spicy flavours, minerally notes and a racy, dry, appetisingly crisp finish. Top summer drinking from Te Awa. $19

Maude Mt Maude Vineyard East Block Wanaka Riesling 2018 •••••

From vines planted in 1994 on a steep, north-facing slope at Wanaka, this Mosel-like wine is a light (9.5% alc/vol) and lively, medium-sweet style, already highly drinkable, but well worth cellaring. It has intense, peachy, appley flavours woven with mouth-watering acidity and lovely vibrancy, depth and harmony. $32

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 21 Bell Block Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018 •••••

This highly aromatic wine was grown at Dillons Point, in the lower Wairau Valley. Mouthfilling (13.5% alc/vol), it has pure, searching grapefruit and lime flavours, some tropical fruit notes and a long, dry finish. Already delicious, it should break into full stride from mid-2019. $27

Te Mata Estate Vineyards Hawke’s Bay Gamay Noir 2018 ••••

Single-handedly responsible for the seductively scented and soft reds of Beaujolais, in France, gamay noir is still rare in New Zealand. Delicious young, it’s a sort of red wine for white-wine lovers. Bright, light ruby, with fresh, berryish aromas, it is medium-bodied (12.5% alc/vol), vibrantly fruity and smooth, with strong, plummy, slightly spicy flavours, gentle tannins and lots of youthful impact. $20

Wine of the week

Dashwood Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ••••

Sharply priced, this aromatic, punchy wine is full of youthful vigour. A clearly herbaceous style, with some riper, tropical-fruit notes, it is full-bodied (13% alc/vol), with fresh acidity and a finely balanced, lingering finish. $16

This article was first published in the December 22, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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