$20 AND UNDER (October 2018)

What is the average cost of a bottle of New Zealand wine? It’s hard to pin down. A few years ago, one wine writer suggested an average bottle price of $15 to $16, but he was quoting the owner of a supermarket in one of Auckland’s wealthier suburbs.

Many consumers see no reason to pay more than $15, and it is true that you can often snap up wines of excellent, four-star quality in the sub-$20, even sub-$15, categories. These are typically popular brands from large wineries, such as Church Road (from Pernod Ricard NZ) or Villa Maria Cellar Selection, often sold on ‘special’ at around $14.95.

This month’s tasting, restricted to wines in the $20 and under range, was dominated – predictably – by Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay, which accounted for over 80 per cent of the entries. Sauvignon Blancs accounted for more than a third of the entries, but there were also significant numbers of Pinot Gris, Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, rosés and sparklings.


Usually we highlight three ‘Best Buys’ and three ‘Treat Yourself’ wines. However, in a tasting focused on wines retailing at $20 and under (the cheapest was $12), none of the top-rated labels will fall into the ‘treat yourself’ category. So this month, here are six best buys.