Tasting Report: Wines of New Zealand 2019

Tasting Report: Wines of New Zealand 2019

New Zealand’s winemakers were back in San Francisco recently, bringing their most recent vintages to show to trade and press. No big surprises here, though as always the trend of overblown tropicality in NZ sauvignon blanc is being tempered, in no small part thanks to winemaking expanding beyond the Marlborough region to other terroirs and climates. Let’s dig in to a smattering of wines; brief tasting notes and spot ratings follow.

Tasting Report: 2019 New Zealand Wine Fair

2018 Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc Awatere Valley Marlborough – Restrained tropical notes. A- / $25
2017 Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc Kekeregnu Coast Marlborough – Bolder body, floral, minteral notes. A / $25
2018 Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
– The heaviest tropical kick of the trilogy; pineapple and light mineral notes. A- / $22
2016 Astrolabe Chenin Blanc Wrekin Vineyard Marlborough
– Melon and linen notes, with cotton ball character. B / $25
2016 Astrolabe Pinot Noir Marlborough – Fresh and bright, cola, tea leaf, and pepper. A- / $30
2017 Roaring Meg Pinot Noir Central Otago – Mt. Difficulty’s second label. Acidic, nutty, chewy, with a bitter edge. B / $25
2018 Dashwood by Vavasour Pinot Noir Marlborough
– Lip-smacking fruit, big berry and cherry notes. B+ / $18
2018 Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough – Gentle, lemon, and some melon. B+ / $23
2016 Greywacke Wild Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
– Fruity, lots of barnyard; a big earth bomb. B / $29
2015 Greywacke Chardonnay Marlborough
– Limited flavor profile, pulled back. B / $39
2015 Greywacke Pinot Gris Marlborough
– Very intense florals, bright fruit. B+ / $25
2016 Greywacke Pinot Noir Marlborough
– Tight, cherry, some stem interaction here. B / $39
2019 Loveblock Orange Sauvignon Blanc Awatere Valley Marlborough – For an orange wine, this is awfully light in color; the nose is a powerhouse, with linen and spice notes. A- / $25
2017 Mt. Beautiful Chardonnay North Canterbury – Halfway to a Chablis; light caramel apple notes here. B+ / $23
2017 Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir North Canterbury
– Fragrant and heavy with berries; very fruit forward, light chocolate notes. A- / $28
2018 Bannockburn Pinot Noir Central Otago
– Orange peel, rhubarb, and black cherry notes; unusual spice component. B+ / $45
2016 Amisfield Pinot Noir Central Otago – Pepper, tobacco, spice. Quite dry. A- / $45
2016 Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah Hawke’s Bay – Boldly peppered, red raspberry notes; some bark tannin. B+ / $36
2017 Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Chardonnay Hawke’s Bay – Big, chewy; fruit is dialed back; restrained and elegant. A- / $36
2014 Trinity Hill Homage Syrah Hawke’s Bay
– A beautiful expression of syrah; peppery, full of fruit. A / $113
2015 Saint Clair ENVOY Johnson Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Waihopai Valley Marlborough
– Fresh gooseberry, linen, lavender notes. A- / $33
2016 Spy Valley Handpicked Pinot Noir Southern Valleys Marlborough
– Brick red, looks austere; surprisingly lively on the tongue, great fruit and a gentle aged character. A / $30
2015 Spy Valley Envoy Johnson Vineyard Pinot Noir Waihopai Valley Marlborough
– Racier, some pepper, a bit of beef jerky. A- / $55
2018 Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
– An unusual character, slightly salty, zippy. B / $14
2017 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Southern Clays Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
– Terroir in full effect here, chewy body; a seaside note. A- / $26
2016 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Chardonnay Marlborough
– Some barnyard notes, heavy earth; beefy and faintly musty. B / $45
2018 Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
– Farily iconic, big pineapple notes, lime leaf. A- / $20
2018 Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc Wairau Valley Marlborough
– Big acid, bright, lemony. B+ / $14
2016 Wither Hills Rarangi Sauvignon Blanc Single Vineyard Marlborough
– Huge mineral notes, flowers, fresh coconut edge; lovely. A- / $18

2018 Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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