Red delights from New Zealand

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I promised you more on New Zealand wines, so here are some red wines that really impressed and pleased me at the tasting the other day.

I have long been keen on red wines from New Zealand and have often wondered why so many consumers are hesitant to try them and persist in regarding New Zealand as solely a white wine producing country and look to Australia for their reds. I do my best to win them round, but even at the Annual New Zealand tasting I spoke to two men who did not even want to try a Kiwi red – despite my best efforts.

Well it is their loss as New Zealand is capable of producing some sensational red wines from quite a few different grape varieties and blends.

I have a particular affection for the Merlot-Cabernet blends from the Gimblett Gravels area of Hawkes Bay, but Syrah is fast becoming a speciality grape and some other regions are making some super wines too, so experiment – there are many lovely red wines for you to try.

First up are a pair of wines from Waiheke Island which is a beautiful spot in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, on the sheltered Eastern side of the country. This is a dry and sunny place that has great results from Merlot and Cabernet, helped by the cool sea breezes giving a long ripening season.


Kennedy Point Syrah 2008
Waiheke Island

The nose was reassuringly savoury with leather notes and black pepper as well as ripe blackberry fruit, there were also nuances of deep espresso aromas.

All this, spice, black fruit and concentrated coffee followed through to the palate together with leather notes, while the texture was fresh, juicy and supple. This all gave lovely balance of richness and freshness with smooth tannins giving just the right amount of structure.

A very assured and elegant Syrah – 90 points.

Kennedy Point Merlot 2005
Waiheke Island

A big wine with a deep colour and a rich brambley nose. In the mouth it is full-flavoured and medium-bodied with rich, ripe plum fruit, leather, cedar-wood, coffee, toast, a touch of balancing fresh acidity and a delicate dusting of spice. The wine is very supple with just a little edge of fine grain tannins giving structure to the long finish.

A very fine Merlot indeed – 92 points.

The Kennedy Point wines are around £20 a bottle and are available in the UK through MWH Wine Merchants: 0118 984 4654.

Kennedy Point Vineyard can be visited here.

Lastly here is another wine from Villa Maria, I do some work for them, but they produce such wonderful wines, it would be a shame for me to leave them out – as always this is my honest and unsolicited opinion.
This red hails from Hawke’s Bay in North Island and is a Merlot dominated blend with some 10% Cabernet Sauvignon as well as dashes of Cabernet Franc and Malbec. A goodly proportion of the fruit comes from the great Gimblett Gravels sub-region, which can stake a claim as NZ’s finest red wine region right now.

Villa Maria Private Bin Merlot-Cabernet 2007
Hawkes Bay

I have tasted every vintage of this wine ever shipped to the UK and it just gets better and better, I chose to mention this wine deliberately as Private Bin is Villa Maria’s lowest rung on the quality ladder, yet it is still a lovely wine offering great quality and terrific value for money.

Very soft wine with rich red fruit, mingling with a deeper black fruit note, supple tannins and a little dash of fresh acidity giving structure and balance making this a very elegant and classy wine for £9.99 – 88 points.

Their Villa Maria Private Bin Merlot is also a terrific wine and is available from Waitrose.

Stockist information is available from Hatch Mansfield Agencies and Villa Maria can be visited here.

4 thoughts on “Red delights from New Zealand

  1. Hiya I was browsing the web and came across your website by accident. I was searching in Yahoo for blogs mentioning New Zealand. I really like your website. I dont have the time at the moment to fully read your entire site but I bookmarked it and will be back around in a day or two. Thanks.

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