What a year it has been! I have had the most amazing time writing and talking about wine on the RadioLIVE Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissan. It has been such a great year and I cannot believe how many amazing wines I have tasted and how many new wineries I have discovered.
I have to take a moment to say thanks to everyone who has listened or read my recommendations. The huge amount of engagement I get from wine lovers throughout New Zealand is humbling & I'm really grateful. Also massive thanks to the wineries who send me wines to try. The hard work & passion that goes into creating these beautiful wines is remarkable, I take my hat off to each and every one of you, as, despite what people may think, making wine is not an easy task. But you amazing wine makers live and breathe it every day and the end result is something quite spectacular.
So what better way to round out the year than a good old fashioned "Best Of", everyone loves one of those don't they? Well maybe they don't but I do, so let's have a look at MermaidMary's Top 10 wines for 2017. When I started this task I thought it would be relatively easy & it really hasn't been, not because I can't find ten but because I can't narrow it down to just ten! It's like picking best friends, I have too many wonderful options to choose from!
So here it is my agonisingly chosen top ten (in no particular order). These wines are all special for me for different reasons but first and foremost because they are great wines.
1. JK14 - Malanotte: I discovered that the John Kirwin had this own wine label JK14 (a combo of his initials and All Black Number) at Winetopia 2017, the JK14 Malanotte was the first wine I tried and to be honest it ruined me for anything else at the event. All of the wines in the range are Italian as John's wife is from Treviso in Veneto, Northern Italy. This wine collection has been put together with so much love each of the bottles is named after someone dear to the family and tells a story. As for the Malanotte only two wineries in the world make Malanotte and they stand side by side in Veneto, Italy. The people of the area believe that Malanotte is the wine that Jesus had the Last Supper. Well if it's good enough for Jesus! This wine is superb & it comes with a sense of humour as the front label on the bottle states: “Approved by Jesus Christ….we’re pretty sure!". The whole JK14 range is available at www.jk14.com and the Malanotte is about $60, a more expensive drop but trust me when I say it is worth every penny.
2. Two Rivers "Isle Of Beauty" Rosé: Rosé is an absolute juggernaut and it seems like everyone is now making rosé, it would most definitely appear that pink is the new black! The sheer volume of rosé I have been sent this year is overwhelming - at one point i was pretty sure I just about manage a rosé bath! Picking just one in one way has been difficult but in another was pretty simple as for me Two Rivers “Isle of Beauty” Rosé 2017 just stood head and shoulders above everything else for a number of reasons, one the wine is the dry style that I love (I genuinely think that winemaker Dave Clouston is a genius) but also the fact that the bottle is one of most beautiful bottles I have seen in quite a while, tall, thin, elegant with a beautifully dappled punt (that's the dent thing in the bottom of a bottle of wine). Gorgeous. "Isle of Beauty" is vibrant salmon in colour and quite simply a joy to drink. Pair with friends, sunshine and laughter. Available in liquor stores for $20.
3. Soho Wine Company "Carter" Chardonnay 2016 : Getting to know the team at Soho Wine Co has been such a 2017 highlight. For starters the company is run by the awesome kick ass girlboss Rachael Carter but also their range of wines is really superb. My fav wine from the team at Soho had to be “Carter" 2016 their black label Single Vineyard Chardonnay. Chardonnay is my favourite white wine and this gem from Waiheke and is named after Maximus Carter Rachael's beloved Dalmatian who has since passed, she named the Chardonnay after Maximus as they are both of an excellent Pedigree. Couldn't think of a better tribute to a beloved pet. Pick up a Carter in liquor stores nationwide for $40
4. Element Syrah 2015: I love discovering new wineries and one of my favourite discoveries of 2017 was Element Wines. Element are a teeny tiny 2.66-hectare vineyard in the renowned Gimblett Gravels area of Hawke's Bay and they make some pretty spectacular wines. Winemaker Dom is all about a balanced & harmonious way of growing & Element don't use herbicides, pesticides or other associated nasties. This Syrah is a deep Purple and it smells of violets & blueberries & boysenberries. At first glance you think this is going to be a super grunty but in fact it's smooth and soft silky & delicious. This wine was one of my most exciting finds of 2017 & frankly I think Dom is selling this wine way too cheaply at only $25. You can only buy online at www.elementwines.co.nz but at those prices why wouldn't you buy a case! Buy up now before Dom takes my advice and puts the price up!
5. Clearview Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2016: For Chardonnay lovers the Clearview Chardonnay really needs no introduction, this wine has definitely built up a cult following and each vintage it sells out. The winery don't make any more of it as a result of it's popularity so when it's gone, it's gone so each year we all have to sit and wait with baited breath & eager anticipation for it to come around again. But come around it does and each vintage is as good as the one before and we all breathe a sigh of buttery oaky relief (between sips). This The Chardonnay is that perfect balance of fruity, creamy & toasty without too much of anything taking over. It will also cellar beautifully for the next 10 years for those of you out there with the willpower not to devour it now! It is a more expensive drop with a retail price of $47, but hunt it out for as low as $42 as it really is worth it (and so are you!).
6. Supernatural Wine Company - Green Glow: Natural wines are becoming such a massive trend & the thing that I love most about natural wines is you can't judge the wine by the varietal. A perfect example of that is the Green Glow by the Supernatural Wine Co, This wine is a Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand's first skin fermented Sauv B) but it is not a Sauv as you or I know it. But that's the beauty of it. For me it's about judging a wine for what it is, rather than what you want it to be. If you taste this wine expecting a typical Sauv Blanc then you will definitely be disappointed as this wine is not typically anything. This wine is full bodied and refreshing with lots of stonefruit and a herbal quality which makes it unique and truly wonderful. Leave your preconceptions about Sauv behind & enjoy this wine chilled but not cold. I cannot wait to see what the Supernatural Wine Co do next as these guys are most definitely one to watch!
7. Villa Maria – Reserve Gimblett Gravels Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 - When I originally talked about this wine I described it as "so beautiful and so special it deserved the shedding of a tear" This wine is a 2007 vintage but was only just been released and it's rare to find a 100% Cab Sauv in New Zealand but rarer still to find a ten year old at finding it for $63 seems almost unbelievable. I know that seems like a lot of money, and in fact it is but if you wanted to invest then this is the wine to do it with. Beautiful smells of ripe blackcurrants and even coffee, the taste is so fine yet quite powerful and it's a wine that will aged beautifully. If you have a child born in 2007 this is the wine to buy, cellar well and share with them on their 21st birthday.
8. Te Whare Ra - Syrah 2015: It's no great secret that I love the wines of Te Whare Ra in Marlborough. This organic & biodynamic winery is run by husband & wife team Anna & Jason Flowerday. Anna is quite simply one of my favourite people (and not just in the wine world) with her unbelievable passion for making wine and her no bullshit attitude when it comes to pretty much everything. She's such a cool chick. It's almost impossible for me to pick a favourite from their range but if I had to it the Syrah has the edge - most likely because of just how much I love Syrah. As this is cool climate Syrah (and that's not something you see a lot of) with amazing depth and complexity with all of the peppery deliciousness of a great NZ Syrah.
9. Rockburn - Pinot Noir 2015: When it comes to absolute quality you can never go wrong with a wine from Rockburn, Central Otago. They consistently make remarkable wines & I have been a fan for as long as I have been in New Zealand. Their 2015 Pinot Noir is everything that a great Pinot should be teaming with flavours of both red and black cherry, with smooth tannins and a long delicious finish. It's so elegant & this wine would be such an amazing gift for a vegan friend (or any friend at all). All Rockburn wines are vegan & organic and multi-award winning. This retails at $50 but I have found it for as low as $40 in New World which is a steal!
10. Allan Scott - "Generations" Gewurztraminer 2016. Another winery that I'm known for being a fan of and this year the team at Allan Scott released the "Generations" Geurtztraminer. I am passionate about more people trying aromatics and this is a good example of a great accessible aromatic wine with layers of delicious lychee and spice with a medium body and off dry sweetness. This wine is dangerously moreish and a treat at only $26. Another reason why I love this wine is because the Scott family are the nicest family of passionate people you could ever hope to meet. They've been great supporters of me so their wines feel really special.
So that's that! This Mermaid's round up of my favourite wines of 2017. To be honest I could have easily picked 30 wines choosing just ten was tough!
Looking forward to trying even more wines in 2018 and bringing them you via the RadioLIVE airways and here.
Happy New Year