Consumer NZ 2013 whites tasting

The December issue of Consumer NZ has the report of the panel blind tasting of New Zealand whites under $30. We tasted 60 wines, all purchased off-the-shelf by Consumer NZ. As with any panel, the scores among the judges varied, although there was generally very good agreement on the top wines. You can rely on the recommendations in the report, and you will find many of the wines at well below the recommended retail price.

The wines that I scored highly (silver or gold), listed in the order they were tasted are:

Sauvignon Blanc

Esk Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Very gooseberry nose – varietal! This is what you expect from SB on the palate: gooseberry, tight acid, fine with good length. Very good wine. 17.5/20

Wither Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Tropical on the nose, with some typical Marlborough too. Clearly young and a little unbalanced at this stage, very ripe. Comes together on the long finish. 17/20

Clearwater Cove (Yealands) Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Pineapple, tropical fruit and varietal green notes on the nose. Full and complete on the palate – it’s all there, and shows some lovely complexity. 17.5/20

Sacred Hill Orange Label Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Ripe florals and tropical fruit nose. Good fruit on the palate, tropical fruits and varietal green/Marlborough as well. Long, lovely, complex. Good stuff. 19/20

Coopers Creek Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Nose of dusty florals and classic Marlborough gooseberry. Good clean style, tomato leaf and gooseberry palate. Balanced wine. Very good. 18/20

Pinot Gris

Mud House South Island Pinot Gris 2012

Good pear aromas on the nose. Ripe fruit on palate, good weight and depth, nice acid balance with clean greenish pear. Good food wine. 17.5/20

This wine was also reviewed in Winestate (Vol 37, Issue 7) and received 5 stars.

Dashwood Marlborough Pinot Gris 2012

Deep colour. Big pear nose. Big ripe wine, sweet (fruit and alcohol rather than sugar) but enough acid to balance. Summer afternoon wine – pear and stonefruit upfront on the palate. Very good fruit-forward style, but a touch inelegant and a bit hot. 17/20

Sacred Hill Orange Label Marlborough Pinot Gris 2012

Ripe pears and stonefruit on the nose. Palate has a good balance of ripe fruit and some green apple, acid brings balance. Complex wine with a long finish. Moreish. 18.5/20

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Pinot Gris 2012

Nose a little shallow, with florals more than varietal fruit. Palate shows some fruit and the florals that were evident on the nose, delicate rather then fruit-driven. Finishes a little short. 17.5/20

Peter Yealands Marlborough Pinot Gris 2013

Unripe (in a good, crisp way) pear/apple on the nose. A delicate style, nice balance of fruit and acid with lovely floral notes. Top wine. 19/20

Vidal White Series East Coast Pinot Gris 2013

Pears on the nose. A touch simple on the palate at first and seems to lack depth but it opens nicely – give it time. A delicate style with everything there on the finish. 17.5/20

Kim Crawford First Pick Pinot Gris 2013

Ripe stonefruit, pear and apple crisp skin on the nose. Palate is nicely balanced with pear, apple and a little white peach. Delicate and complex. This is very good. 18/20

Brancott Estate Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2012

Nose all almonds and pears. Palate shows lovely fresh pear juice and some delicate florals. A long finish. Very good. 19/20


Villa Maria Dry Cellar Selection Marlborough Riesling 2012

Lemonade nose. Palate has lovely citrus, floral sweetness but cleansing acidity too. Lovely floral finish. 17.5/20

Mount Riley Marlborough Riesling 2013

White flowers, lime, very nice perfumed nose. Palate has good balance, delicate white florals and clover. Finish is long with floral citrus lingering. Very nice wine. 19/20

Giesen Estate Marlborough Riesling 2013

Initial whiff of derris dust, but this blows off revealing ripe citrus florals and stonefruit. Palate has lovely sweet florals and citrus, especially lime and perfumed lemons. Long finish. Very good wine in a sweeter style. 19/20

Spy Valley Marlborough Riesling 2012

Lovely florals and citrus aromas – classic Riesling nose. Palate is well balanced, showing ripe citrus and florals. Finish is long and lovely, although there is a touch of bitterness, probably due to sulphur. 18/20

Stoneleigh Marlborough Riesling 2013

Floral, honey, citrus flowers on the nose. Punchy acidity with honey, florals and citrus on the palate. Long finish that needs a touch more acidity. 18/20

Montana Waipara Riesling 2012

Lemon shortcake nose. Sweet wine with honey and citrus. Not my style, but good for its type. 17.5/20


Peter Yealands Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2012

Nose of delicate stonefruits and some floral notes. Palate of ripe fruit, good acid, florals add complexity. Nice early drinking Chardonnay. 17.5/20

Esk Valley Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2012

Oak and stonefruit aromas. Bigger style wine, a touch of malo, ripe fruit, balanced. Oak/vanillins a little obvious for now but give it time. 18.5/20

Shingle Peak Marlborough Chardonnay 2012

Nose very reserved. Good minerality on the palate, nice fruit. A young wine that needs time, it does open in the glass. Balanced finish. This is a good food wine. 18.5/20

‘Natural’ wines

One final comment. There were two ‘natural wines’ in the line up. Both, for me, were faulty: very oxidised, quite bitter and harsh, and in one case a strong glue-like smell. So, what is natural wine? In reality, it’s vinegar as that’s the final stage in the natural fermentation process. Winemaking stops that process at the point where it’s what we know as wine. All wine is natural, and any labelled as such is, for me, best avoided because it’s probably far more ‘natural’ than you’d like.

The panel was Escarpment‘s Larry McKenna (chair) and Huw Kinch, Sue Davies of Wine2Trade, Laura Saba of WinecellarNZ, wine blogger Elissa Jordan, and yours truly. As always the tasting was very ably run by Consumer NZ writer Libby Manley and wine expert Raymond Chan. Raymond has also blogged about the tasting.

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