10 great-value New Zealand reds under £15

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New Zealand by Peter McCombie MW

New Zealand-born consultant and communicator High product ion costs and a high exchange rate mean New Zealand can’t compete with the volume powerhouses of global wine. Nevertheless, value can be found if you look carefully.

With 10% of total production (13% in some years), Pinot Noir is New Zealand’s key red grape, with Merlot second at a mere 3%. All full-bodied reds – Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Syrah – only total 4%. So you might expect to find examples of value Pinot Noir despite its reputation as costly to make. My top 10 reflects that. What surprises is the success of Syrah, which barely registers in the statistics: 1,741 tonnes in 2011 compared with 224,412 of Sauvignon Blanc.

Most of the 10 value wines I’ve chosen come from the two biggest regions: Marlborough – almost all the Pinot Noirs – and Hawke’s Bay. Stylistically we expect fruit-forward styles from New Zealand. In most cases these wines are for early drinking, but some have enough structure to develop in the short to medium term. Of the recent vintages, 2011 was lighter, with fresh, pretty wines; 2010 produced ripe, richer wines with supple tannins and 2009 may be the best of the three.

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