Review: Wines of Mt. Beautiful, 2020 Releases
Mt. Beautiful is one of the most visible, high-end wineries in New Zealand, and to prove its mettle, the operation recently sent a whopping nine bottlings our way — essentially all of its current releases.
Let’s dig in.
2019 Mt. Beautiful Rose North Canterbury – Made from pinot noir and pinot gris. Fruit-forward with a strong note of strawberry but tempered by a moderate lavender note, this wine takes a dry turn after a moment on the tongue. The finish sees a hint of sour cherry and some rhubarb. B / $17
2017 Mt. Beautiful Riesling North Canterbury – This brisk riesling is more fruit-forward than the German style, offering notes of white peach and lemon, with a hint of tangerine in the mix. Cottony notes of perfume and camphor emerge on the otherwise clean and bracing finish. A- / $23
2017 Mt. Beautiful Chardonnay North Canterbury – Surprisingly restrained, this lightly lemony wine features notes of nougat and walnut oil, with modest coconut underneath. A gentle spray of white flowers gives this wine an unusual floral character, lingering well into the finish. B+ / $24
2017 Mt. Beautiful Pinot Gris North Canterbury – Peachy and floral, with emphasis on the latter. There’s a certain buttery character in the wine, white flowers floating in cream, with minimal acidity to sharpen things up. The finish feels a bit flat but the perfume lingers, which can be good or bad depending on the food pairing. I like it less on its own. B / $20
2019 Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc North Canterbury – Overtly tropical, but there’s ample pepe du chat here, with a significant note of ammonia percolating on the nose. Heavy acidity, ample guava and mango, and a grind of lemon peel give the palate and finish a bracing quality that bites at the back of the throat. That guava note lingers for a particularly long while, though it comes across as a bit gummy over time. B / $18
2018 Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc Sisters Ridge Cuvee North Canterbury – Quite a delightful sauvignon blanc, this wine plays down the overwhelming tropical fruit notes to make room for notes of buttery biscuits and some baking spice. The creaminess had me thinking of chardonnay, but the bright reprise of pineapple, grapefruit, and quince is the essence of NZ sauvignon blanc. A- / $NA
2018 Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc 12 Barrels North Canterbury – A very sharp and acidic sauvignon blanc, atypical of the New Zealand style. Grassy and lemony in equal proportion, with a stinging, almost sour finish. Bracing, but not overly food-friendly. B / $26
2018 Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir North Canterbury – This entry-level pinot offers an interesting, occasionally exotic, nose, but once it hits the tongue the wine quickly fades away. Heavy with earth and forest floor notes, the mushroom-laden experience eschews fruit for a simple sour/bitter character that hints at rhubarb and unripe cherry, but no more. B- / $28
2015 Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir 10 Barrels North Canterbury – A much more elegant and rounded pinot, this reserve bottling is dusted with earthy terroir, brambly but also laden with dark fruit — blackberries and some black cherry — and notes of tea leaf, tobacco, and licorice. The natural acidity of pinot keeps the wine on its toes, while the underbrush character keeps one foot in austerity. Really engaging and surprisingly complex. A / $45