NZ Listener Columns
  • The best red wines under $20

    18 August 2017

    Don’t let anyone tell you there aren’t any good local pinot noirs for under $20, $25 or $30.

    About 1000 pinot noirs are crowding the shelves, including a multitude of distinguished reds in the $40 and above category. But can you buy a decent, satisfying pinot noir for under $30?
    The good news is that intensifying competition between the wineries is producing better pinot noirs in the lower price brackets. If you prefer not to pay over $20, it’s wiser to select a merlot from Hawke’s Bay or an Aussie shiraz. But if your budget stretches to $25-30, you can definitely find some classy, rewarding pinot noirs.

    $20 and Under

    Left Field Nelson Pinot Noir 2015 •••½
    This bargain-priced red from Te Awa was matured in French oak barrels (mostly) and tanks. Deep ruby, with mouthfilling body (13% alc/vol) and good depth of ripe cherry, plum and spice flavours, showing some savoury complexity, it offers fine value at $18.

    Pa Road Marlborough Pinot Noir •••½
    From te Pa, this partly barrel-aged red was grown in the Southern Valleys. Ruby hued, it is full-bodied (14% alc/vol), fresh and tasty, with plum, spice and dried herb flavours, showing some savoury complexity and a smooth finish. $20

    Sacred Hill Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016 •••½
    A drink-young charmer, this is a mouthfilling (13.5% alc/vol), ruby-hued red, with cherry, plum, strawberry and spice flavours, showing a touch of complexity, and a well-rounded finish. Priced right. $20

    Seifried Nelson Pinot Noir 2015 •••½
    Matured in French oak barrels, this sharply priced red is drinking well in its youth. Full ruby, it is mouthfilling (13.5% alc/vol) and savoury, with plummy, spicy flavours, showing good complexity and depth. $20

    $25 and Under

    Bronte Nelson Pinot Noir 2015 ••••
    From Rimu Grove, this estate-grown red was matured in French oak casks. Deeply coloured, it is fragrant and full-bodied (14% alc/vol), with fresh plum, cherry and spice flavours, good ripeness and depth and some savoury complexity. Delicious young. $24

    Delegat Awatere Valley Pinot Noir 2015 ••••
    Offering fine value, this estate-grown Marlborough red was fully barrel-aged. Deep ruby, it is full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol), savoury and supple, with good flavour richness and complexity. Drink now or cellar. $25

    Gibbston Valley Gold River Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015 •••½
    This is the pioneering winery’s red, which it describes as being for “immediate enjoyment”. Matured in seasoned French oak casks, it is deep ruby, mouthfilling (13.5% alc/vol) and buoyantly fruity, with generous plum and dried-herb flavours, fresh and smooth. $23

    Main Divide North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2014 ••••
    This drink-young style from Pegasus Bay was grown at Waipara and matured for 18 months in French oak barriques. It is deep ruby, full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol) and fresh, with strong, plummy, spicy flavours, savoury notes adding complexity, and a finely textured, persistent finish. $25

    Thornbury Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015 ••••
    Offering fine value, this Bannockburn red was matured in French oak barriques. Mouthfilling (13.5% alc/vol), it is sweet-fruited and supple, with generous, ripe-cherry and spice flavours, a touch of complexity, gentle tannins and excellent harmony. $25

    Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Pinot Noir 2015 •••½
    This youthful, ruby-hued red was partly barrel-aged. Fragrant, with a plummy, spicy bouquet, it is mouthfilling (13% alc/vol), with vibrant fruit flavours, showing good depth, a touch of complexity and a smooth finish. $22

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