What are the most famous wines in New Zealand

What are the most famous wines in New Zealand?

Why don’t grapes ever start a fight? Because they prefer to just wine! 

All right, before you start hunting me down to punch my nose for that bad pun, let’s get serious. New Zealand wine is known all over the world today, with our country producing some of the world’s most renowned libations.

If you’ve always wanted to know which of New Zealand’s wines are most famous and probably worth trying first, you’re on the right page. We’ll take you through a tour of them today.

1. Seresin 2014 Sun & Moon Pinot Noir

Seresin 2014 Sun & Moon Pinot Noir

The biodynamic farming techniques used at Seresin contribute to this wine’s distinctiveness. The wine is a marvel of subtle complexity, described as having earthy notes with hints of forest florals, making it a perfect representation of its terroir.

Furthermore, the wine is matured for 18 months in French oak barriques. This maturation process imparts additional layers of flavour to the wine.

Pairing Suggestions

You’ll want something that complements its earthy and floral notes without overpowering them. A dish of roasted lamb or duck, with its rich flavours and tenderness, would marry beautifully with the wine’s character.

For vegetarians, a hearty mushroom risotto, with its creamy texture and earthy undertones, is a great match. And if you’re in the mood for seafood, opt for seared tuna or salmon.

Lastly, for the cheese aficionados, a good Camembert or Brie would enhance the subtle complexities of the Seresin 2014 Sun & Moon Pinot Noir.

2. Trinity Hill 2017 Homage Syrah

Trinity Hill 2017 Homage Syrah

Firstly, the vineyard’s location in the Gimblett Gravels region is key to this wine’s success. The area’s stony soils and warm climate provide an excellent terroir for growing Syrah grapes.

The unique soil composition, a result of river movement over thousands of years, imparts a specific mineral quality to the grapes that is reflected in the final product.

Flavour-wise, the 2017 Homage Syrah is intensely perfumed with notes of violet, pepper, spice, and dark plum and berry flavours, along with a hint of smoky oak. This combination of aromas and flavours provides a complex yet harmonious tasting experience.

Pairing Suggestions

The Trinity Hill 2017 Homage Syrah pairs perfectly with robust dishes. For meat lovers, consider a hearty beef stew or a peppery steak, which will hold up well against the wine’s rich, spicy notes.

For something lighter, a grilled vegetable medley with herbs will beautifully highlight the wine’s undertones of violet and plum. A strong, aged cheddar or blue cheese would also complement the wine’s intensity.

And if you’re looking for a dessert pairing, a dark chocolate tart with a hint of sea salt would beautifully enhance the smoky oak finish of this exceptional Syrah.

3. Two Paddocks 2018 Estate Vineyards Pinot Noir

Two Paddocks 2018 Estate Vineyards Pinot Noir

This particular pinot exhibits decadent black currant and ripe red plum fruit notes, along with intriguing spicy aromatics.

But the wine’s price point adds to its fame as a Kiwi favourite. With an average price of $35 per 750 ml, it’s an accessible luxury that allows a broad range of wine lovers to enjoy a taste of one of New Zealand’s most esteemed wines.

Pairing Suggestions

The Two Paddocks 2018 Estate Vineyards Pinot Noir calls for dishes that balance their depth and subtlety. Its rich black currant and ripe red plum fruit notes pair wonderfully with gamey meats such as duck or venison.

Alternatively, a mushroom risotto would beautifully complement its earthy undertones and spicy aromatics. For cheese lovers, consider a tangy goat cheese or a creamy Camembert to play off the wine’s elegant texture.

And for dessert, a classic cherry or raspberry galette, would add a delightful sweet contrast to this sophisticated Pinot Noir.

4. Quartz Reef 2017 Bendigo Estate Single Vineyard Pinot Noir

Quartz Reef 2017 Bendigo Estate Single Vineyard Pinot Noir

This wine hails from the Bendigo subregion of Central Otago, an area recognised for its cool-climate viticulture and distinctive soils, and the pinot noir grapes that grow in the area thrive in quantity and quality.

The 2017 Bendigo Estate Pinot is complex yet seductive. It has ripe red cherry, plum, and spice flavours. On the nose, red currant fruit is complemented by notes of forest florals, violets, and a touch of scorched earth—a rich and refreshing tasting experience.

Pairing Suggestions

This wine’s rich red cherry and plum notes make it an excellent match for red meats like beef, particularly dishes like a slow-cooked beef bourguignon or a juicy ribeye steak. Its subtle spice flavours and earthy undertones would also complement a wild mushroom and truffle risotto.

For a cheese board, go for a sharp cheddar or a blue cheese to stand up to the wine’s density. You can’t go wrong with a dark chocolate dessert or a blackberry tart either for a satisfyingly sweet contrast.

5. Smith and Sheth 2017 Cru Heretaunga Syrah

Smith and Sheth 2017 Cru Heretaunga Syrah

The 2017 Cru Heretaunga Syrah has a deep purple to ruby colour with intensely fragrant and perfumed aromatics. It showcases a balance of boldness and smoothness, with tasting notes indicating ripe red fruit flavours.

Pairing Suggestions

The bold and fragrant Smith and Sheth 2017 Cru Heretaunga Syrah pairs exceptionally well with hearty dishes. The wine’s robust red fruit flavours go hand in hand with grilled or roasted red meats, particularly lamb or beef.

It’s the perfect wine for spicy cuisines where it can balance out the heat. For the vegetarians, pair it with a rich aubergine dish or a hearty lentil stew.

When it comes to cheese, drink this wine with Gouda or Manchego to enhance the wine’s smoothness. If you want a little sweetness, blackberries or cherries can echo the wine’s ripe red fruit notes.

6. Te Mata 2018 Estate Vineyards Gamay Noir

Te Mata 2018 Estate Vineyards Gamay Noir

The 2018 Estate Vineyards Gamay Noir exhibits a delightful medley of candy apple, strawberry, and star anise. This combination of aromas offers a tantalising introduction to the wine before even taking the first sip.

Its complex blend of flavours provides a satisfying tasting experience that is both harmonious and refreshing.

Pairing Suggestions

The Te Mata 2018 Estate Vineyards Gamay Noir, with its lively fruit characteristics and subtle earthiness, is a versatile companion to a variety of dishes. Its light body and bright acidity balance well with the rich flavours of roast duck, turkey, or even grilled fish.

The wine’s berry notes also make it a harmonious match for dishes featuring dark fruits, like duck with cherry sauce. For vegetarian options, consider a beetroot and goat cheese salad or a mushroom risotto.

When it comes to cheese, the wine pairs beautifully with creamy, nutty varieties like Brie. As for desserts, a strawberry tart or a raspberry sorbet pair nicely.

7. Marisco Vineyards, The Ned Pinot Noir 2020

Marisco Vineyards, The Ned Pinot Noir 2020

This wine, a fragrant symphony of cherry and dark berry notes with a whisper of forest floor and spice, creates a sensory experience that’s hard to forget. The secret to its appeal lies in the unique terroir of the vineyard.

Nestled in the heart of Marlborough’s Waihopai Valley, the vines bask in long sunshine hours, tempered by the cool sea breeze. This unique combination fosters the production of grapes with intense fruit concentration and a balanced acidity.

Pairing Suggestions

The Ned Pinot Noir 2020‘s robust flavours beautifully complement meaty dishes like roast lamb or grilled steak, while its subtle spice undertones harmonise with mildly spiced Asian dishes.

For a vegetarian option, a hearty mushroom stew or a roasted vegetable medley would work beautifully. On the cheese front, its bold fruit profile pairs excellently with sharp cheddar or gouda.

For a sweet ending to your meal, consider a dark chocolate tart or a cherry-based dessert.

8. Delta Estates, Hatters, Hill Pinot Noir 2021

Delta Estates, Hatters, Hill Pinot Noir 2021

Hatters Hill Pinot Noir 2021 is a wine that commands attention, a testament to the mastery of winemaking and the exceptional terroir of Marlborough. The wine’s allure begins with its vivid ruby colour and the enchanting aromas of ripe cherries, fragrant herbs, and a hint of smoky oak.

Once sipped, the palate is treated to a complex layering of red fruit flavours, smooth tannins, and a vibrancy that lingers long after the last drop.

Pairing Suggestions

The Hatters Hill Pinot Noir 2021’s rich red fruit flavours and smooth tannins make it an inviting companion to a range of dishes. This wine pairs remarkably well with robust meat dishes such as duck confit or a thick, juicy steak.

When it comes to seafood, consider oily fish like salmon or tuna for an optimal flavour combination. For the vegetarians, a vegetable lasagne or a roasted beetroot and goat cheese salad would be an excellent match.

Cheese lovers will delight in pairing this wine with Camembert, Brie, or aged Gouda. For dessert, indulge in a raspberry tart or a dark chocolate mousse to complement the wine’s fruit-forward profile.

9. Craggy Range, Single Vineyard Te Muna Road Pinot Noir 2020

Craggy Range, Single Vineyard Te Muna Road Pinot Noir 2020

A jewel in the crown of New Zealand’s viticulture, this wine’s grapes are grown in a landscape combined with a cool climate, producing Pinot Noir grapes of remarkable character, lending the wine an intense fruit flavour supported by a backbone of solid tannins.

On the nose, it presents an inviting bouquet of red cherry and spice, which unfolds on the palate into complex layers of ripe fruit, sweet herbs, and a touch of earthy minerality.

Pairing Suggestions

The Single Vineyard Te Muna Road Pinot Noir 2020 from Craggy Range’s robust fruit profile and solid tannins mean that it matches rich, hearty meats such as venison or lamb,.

With seafood, this Pinot Noir pairs well with grilled prawns or seared scallops, as the wine’s subtle earthiness offsets the seafood’s natural sweetness. Vegetarian options like mushroom risotto or eggplant Parmesan will also complement the wine’s rich fruit and spice notes.

In the cheese department, this wine is a fantastic match with blue cheese, Cambozola, or an aged cheddar. For a sweet ending, consider a cherry pie or a dark chocolate truffle to bring out the wine’s cherry notes.

10. Phil Handford, Grasshopper Rock Earnscleugh Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018

Phil Handford, Grasshopper Rock Earnscleugh Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018

The Grasshopper Rock Earnscleugh Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 captivates from the first sip, opening with bright notes of black cherry and plum and slowly revealing hints of spice and earthy undertones. The wine is impeccably balanced, with a fine structure and a velvety mouthfeel that complements its robust fruit flavours.

What makes this wine truly remarkable, however, is its impressive ageing potential, which allows it to evolve and gain complexity with time.

Pairing Suggestions

This wine has robust structure so it pairs beautifully with hearty meats like duck and lamb, while its balanced structure complements lighter fare such as grilled salmon or tuna.

For vegetarians, consider dishes with mushrooms, lentils, or root vegetables that can bring out the wine’s earthy notes. In terms of cheese, try pairing it with a mellow Brie or a sharp cheddar.

And for dessert, a dark chocolate mousse or berry tart would perfectly accentuate the wine’s fruit notes.

11. Palliser Estate, Hua Nui Pinot Noir 2019

Palliser Estate, Hua Nui Pinot Noir 2019

The Hua Nui Pinot Noir 2019 is enchanting, with a palate that is equally mesmerising, showing an exquisite balance of fruit intensity and delicate tannins. It‘s underscored by a vibrant acidity that adds remarkable freshness to the wine.

As the flavours unfurl, there’s an intriguing interplay of sweet and savoury notes, culminating in a long, satisfying finish.

Pairing Suggestions

Due to its vibrant acidity and balance of sweet and savoury notes, this wine is a versatile pairing partner. Try pairing it with leaner cuts of pork or grilled chicken to complement its fruit intensity.

It also works beautifully with fish, in particular fatty fish like salmon or tuna. Vegetarian pairings can spotlight the wine’s delicate savoury side—think of dishes with eggplant and bell peppers.

Cheese enthusiasts can enjoy the wine with both hard and soft cheeses, with blue cheese offering a particularly interesting contrast. And when it comes to desserts, this wine pairs well with desserts that are not overly sweet, such as a fruit tart or a dark chocolate souffle.

12. 2018 Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc

2018 Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc

Te Koko is a Sauvignon Blanc that challenges traditional perceptions of this varietal. It undergoes a unique winemaking process with wild fermentation and extended lees ageing that deviates from the norm of traditional Sauvignon Blanc production.

This results in a full-bodied, complex wine that stands out from the crowd.

The moment the cork is popped, you’re greeted with a bouquet of fragrant tropical fruits—passionfruit and guava—accompanied by a subtle yet distinctive hint of fresh, green herbs.

Upon tasting, the palate is treated to an orchestra of flavors. Rich stone fruits, backed by a silky mouthfeel and an extraordinary mineral finish, make it a wine that continues to enchant with each sip.

Pairing Suggestions

For seafood lovers, the vibrant tropical fruit notes make it an excellent match for grilled shrimp, lobster, or scallops. The wine’s herbal undertones can also provide a delightful harmony with dishes that feature green herbs or citrus, such as lemon-herb chicken or herb-crusted fish.

For vegetarians, consider pairing Te Koko with a hearty salad tossed with avocados and grapefruit segments. The creaminess of the avocado will play off the wine’s silky mouthfeel, while the grapefruit’s acidity will bring out its more subtle flavours.

On the cheese front, this Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with goat cheese, bringing out the wine’s tangy characteristics. A light lemon tart for dessert would add a zesty touch to a meal with Te Koko.

13. 2016 Vidal Estate Legacy Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot

2016 Vidal Estate Legacy Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot

Vidal Estate’s 2016 Legacy Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot is a remarkable blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot—a marriage that brings together the best of both grape varieties.

One of the defining attributes of this blend is its extraordinary depth of character. It sweeps you away with a symphony of cassis, blackberry, and a hint of eucalyptus, intertwined with a subtle undercurrent of aged leather and spices.

What also sets the 2016 Vidal Estate Legacy Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot apart is its ageing potential. With a structure that allows it to evolve gracefully over time, promising a fascinating evolution of flavours and depth with each passing year.

Pairing Suggestions

The robust nature of the 2016 Vidal Estate Legacy Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot makes it a perfect complement to dishes with strong flavours, such as slow-cooked lamb or beef stew. Its dark fruit flavours and leathery undertones beautifully enhance the rich, meaty savoriness.

Conversely, it can also be paired with a grilled steak or oven-roasted duck, where its bold, fruity notes and hint of spice add an extra dimension to the meal. On the vegetarian side, an earthy mushroom risotto or a rich, roasted vegetable moussaka would stand up well to the wine’s complexity.

As for the cheeses, its structure and depth make it an ideal match with mature cheeses like Gouda, Cheddar, or Comte. For a sweet finish, a dark chocolate tart with its bitter notes would beautifully counterbalance the wine’s ripe fruit flavours.

14. 2013 Quartz Reef Methode Traditionnelle Blanc de Blancs Vintage

2013 Quartz Reef Methode Traditionnelle Blanc de Blancs Vintage

Upon the first pour, the Blanc de Blancs captivates the eyes with its pale golden hue and persistent stream of fine bubbles. Your nose is greeted by an intricate scent of warm brioche, ripe apples, and zesty citrus, a tantalising hint at the tasting journey to come.

On the palate, this sparkling wine displays a beautiful mélange of crisp acidity, rich creaminess, and delicate minerality. Its depth of flavour, complexity, and finesse with which it evolves in the glass are a testament to its extended maturation on lees.

The finish is impressively long, with a refreshing acidity and lingering notes of citrous and toasted nuts. It’s an experience not easily forgotten.

Pairing Suggestions

When it comes to the 2013 Quartz Reef Methode Traditionnelle Blanc de Blancs Vintage, food pairings that complement its crisp acidity and rich creaminess are ideal. A classic combination is seafood, more specifically, oysters or a light, lemony shrimp scampi, which will accentuate the wine’s citrous notes.

If you’re a cheese lover, soft and creamy cheeses like Brie or Camembert are a wonderful match. For a vegetarian option, a mushroom tart with a dollop of crème fraîche would work wonders, with the earthiness of the mushrooms playing off the wine’s delicate minerality.

And for dessert, why not consider a classic French tarte tatin? The caramelised apple tart would beautifully complement the wine’s ripe apple notes, making each mouthful a decadent pleasure.

15. 2015 Greywacke Pinot Gris

2015 Greywacke Pinot Gris

This wine’s impressive length and harmonious balance between fruit, spice, and acidity underscore its reputation as one of New Zealand’s most celebrated wines.

The 2015 Greywacke Pinot Gris greets you with its vibrant straw-yellow colour, signalling the rich experience that awaits. At first scent, it unveils a complex symphony of aromas—think ripe pear, honeydew melon, and a hint of spice.

As you take your first sip, the wine’s intensity becomes apparent: ripe orchard fruits meld seamlessly with hints of sweet spice and a subtle nuttiness.

Pairing Suggestions

It’s all about finding dishes that can stand up to its richness while also highlighting its fruit and spice notes. Seafood dishes such as a spicy shrimp stir-fry or grilled fish with a sweet and sour glaze would work beautifully. For cheese lovers, semi-hard cheeses like Gouda or Comté would be an excellent match, their nutty flavours echoing the subtle nuttiness in the wine. Vegetarian? No problem. Try a rich, hearty mushroom risotto. And for dessert, a pear tart with a drizzle of honey would be a delightful pairing. The tart’s sweet, fruity flavours will echo the wine’s aromas, creating a harmonious finish to your meal.