01 Mammoth Nelson Pinot Noir 2015 $69 Michael Glover is on a mission to prove that New Zealand wine doesn’t have to fit the same pigeonholes, and his private-release, tiny-production Mammoth Pinot Noir is a tour-de-force unlike any other pinot being made possibly anywhere in the world. Described by Joelle Thomson as “an iron fist in a velvet glove”, I reckon this has the potential to become a new modern New Zealand classic.
02 Caiarossa Pergolaia Toscana IGT 2011 $39 Owned by the same family and with the same winemaking team as prestigious Bordeaux estates Château Giscours and Château Du Tertre, Caiarossa’s motto is “The luxury of nature”: winemaking finesse meets sustainable, minimal-intervention production. A Tuscan producer who work with very small yields from their estate in Riparbella, and they’re already garnering rave reviews from major critics. Pergolaia is their sangiovese-dominant blend – for most winemakers it would count as their top wine, but it’s actually their third label. This wine exhibits Italian power together with French winemaking finesse. As their scores keep going up with every new vintage, so too do the wines keep selling out, so it’s worth grabbing a case or two for the cellar.
03 Pyramid Valley Sutherland-Till Marlborough Chardonnay 2016 $55 Pioneers of sustainable and biodynamic winemaking in New Zealand, Mike and Claudia Weersing have expanded from their tiny home block in North Canterbury, to create small releases every year from their favourite single vineyard sites around the country. The Growers Collection is about exposing hidden gems, and this is the second vintage, crafted by Mike, of chardonnay from 35-year-old vines in Marlborough.
04 Rock Ferry Trig Hill Central Otago Tempranillo 2014 $47 The popular Spanish grape tempranillo isn’t often grown in New Zealand, and when it is it’s usually in climates that don’t support it, and the results are often overripe and flabby. That’s why Rock Ferry decided to grow their tempranillo in Central Otago, which has the high elevation, dry heat during the day and cool during the night to support this tricky grape. The small organic Trig Hill vineyard in the Bendigo subregion is mostly planted with pinot noir and pinot gris, but Rock Ferry’s experimentation with tempranillo here suggests they’re on to something very exciting.