Tasting Report: Wines of New Zealand 2016

nz wine

It’s been four years since we’ve checked in on the wines of New Zealand in earnest. At this year’s San Francisco installment of the New Zealand Wine Fair, I made it a point to focus particularly on white wines. Were they still tropical blowouts in the classic “New Zealand style” to which we’ve become accustomed? I’m happy to report that restraint is on the rise in NZ, with both whites and reds showcasing better balance, more floral notes, and a general pullback (for the most part) from that pineapple juice legacy.

A special mention for a winery that was new to me — Prophet’s Rock, from Central Otago, which had both the best Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris wines of the event. Its sub-labels, Rocky Point and Box o’ Birds, were’t too shabby, either.

Notes on everything tasted follow.

Tasting Report: 2016 New Zealand Wine Fair

2015 Astrolabe Province Pinot Gris Marlborough / $22 / A- / fruit and floral in balance, slightly tropical
2014 Astrolabe Wrekin Vineyard Chenin Blanc Southern Valleys / $24 / B+ / drier, with heavy minerality
2015 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough / $21 / A- / heavy pineapple and big tropical notes up front
2012 Craggy Range Te Muna Pinot Noir Martinborough / $45 / B+ / lively with cherry and black pepper notes, light body
2013 Craggy Range “Sophia” Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Merlot Blend / $70 / B / 62% merlot blend; lots of sweet cherry, heavy chicory, coffee
2014 Folium Pinot Noir Marlborough / $25 / B / restrained, rustic, a touch herbal; tight right now
2013 Folium Reserve Pinot Noir Marlborough / $35 / B+ / a bit brighter; slightly bolder fruit structure
2014 Folium Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / $20 / A- / dry, with ample acid and zippiness
2014 Folium Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / $25 / A- / a bit bigger mouthfeel, longer finish; still seems tight
2015 Gibbston Valley Collection Pinot Gris Central Otago / $25 / B / more floral, chewy with some caramel
2014 Gibbston Valley China Terrace Chardonnay Central Otago / $35 / B+ / herbal with grassy notes; buttery on the finish, not overblown
2014 Gibbston Valley Le Maitre Pinot Noir Central Otago / $55 / A- / very dense for NZ wines, cherry cola notes
2014 Gibbston Valley Glenlee Pinot Noir Central Otago / $55 / A- / Burgundy-like; earthy with barnyard notes, bold and unique for this area
2014 Gibbston Valley School House Pinot Noir Central Otago / $55 / B / rhubarb up front; less punchy with gentle fruit
2014 Gibbston Valley Reserve Pinot Noir Central Otago / $80 / A- / quite bold with notes of tea, some leather
2015 Greystone Pinot Gris Waipara Valley / $25 / B- / herbal, quite astringent
2015 Huia Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / $20 / B+ / fresh, with modest tropical notes; bright and brisk
2015 Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / $22 / B / pineapple and peaches, heavy on the palate, dessert-like
2014 Mt. Beautiful Chardonnay Canterbury / $22 / B- / herbal and grassy, some meaty notes
2014 Mt. Difficulty Bannockburn Pinot Gris Central Otago / $25 / B / some butter and butterscotch notes; herbal
2013 Nautilus Estate Pinot Noir Marlborough / $33 / B+ / earthy on the nose, licorice and black cherry
2013 Prophet’s Rock Pinot Noir Central Otago / $55 / A / big tea notes; some raspberry, cherry, and pepper – a real highlight
2014 Prophet’s Rock Pinot Gris Central Otago / $39 / A / lively, with tons of aromatics, beautifully fresh body; touches of coconut
2014 Rocky Point Pinot Noir Central Otago / $34 / A- / lightly bitter, sold fruit beneath; one to lay down
2014 Box o’ Birds Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / $17 / B+ / very grassy, high acidity; bright and peppy
2014 Saint Clair Family Estate Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / $18 / B+ / simple, modestly structured
2014 Saint Clair Family Estate Pioneer Block 20 Cash Block Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / $28 / A- / some salt spray, perfect for oysters; nice structure, balanced with a touch of bitterness on the finish
2012 Wooing Tree Pinot Noir Cromwell / $45 / A- / bolder fruit, some herbs and spice; racy finish
2011 Wooing Tree Sandstorm Reserve Pinot Noir Cromwell / $80 / A / some smoke with dark fruit; heavy body, long and bittersweet finish
2014 Wooing Tree Beetle Juice Pinot Noir Cromwell / $25 / B+ / some licorice, tobacco; restrained
2015 Wooing Tree Blondie Central Otago / $25 / B+ / a light pinot noir rose; loaded with tropical pineapple and mango notes; bold
2013 Greywacke Wild Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough / $29 / B- / indeed a bit wild; some meaty notes, roasted pork

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