JB’s Top Wines of 2019


I am passionate about New Zealand Wine & about providing access to the NZ Wine Industry online via the NZ Wine Directory which I have been developing for the last 10 years.

I feel it’s a privilege to receive so many samples from New Zealand’s wine producers and to share my thoughts on these wines via Instagram, Facebook etc. so others can find and try them too.

During 2019 I tasted and reviewed 167 different wines from New Zealand producers, all of which were of excellent quality and most enjoyable wines.

Many of those wines tasted last year were stunning, most were excellent and only a few didn’t really stand out but in saying that, were still great value for money at the lower end of the market. New Zealand makes excellent wine at all price points and I find that you don’t have to spend BIG $$$ to get a tasty wine for all palates.

To take a look at all the wines I have reviewed, follow my Instagram Account and have a browse – you may find something that tickles your wine curiosity…

More about my wine experience over the last 30 years or submit your wines for 2020 reviews here: https://nzwinedirectory.co.nz/about/wine-reviews/

So here we go! My top wines of 2019*

JB’s Top Wines of 2019 

No. 1 Family Estate Reserve Blanc de Blanc Chardonnay MT NV
Marlborough NZ
Pale gold in colour with with a creamy mousse and fine persistent bubbles, creamy / brioche yeasty nose, lovely acidity, richly textured & elegant palate – voluptuous – my fave NZ Methode Bubbles $96.00

Rock Ferry Corners Vineyard Nebbiolo 2016
Marlborough NZ
Deep ruby red in colour, medium bodied. Fragrant nose of sweet dark berries, countered with earthy / savoury notes. Concentrated palate of lush berry, plum and fruitcake flavours, with layers of fine tannins & oak, rich fruit all harmoniously in balance. $65.00

Smith & Sheth CRU – Omahu – Gimblet Gravels Syrah 2015
Hawkes Bay NZ
Deep purple to black in colour, stewed blackberries with dark chocolate & earthy notes in the nose. Concentrated palate of dark berries,spice, pepper,  with grippy / chalk like tannins, very tight acidity, subtle oak, well structured wine but still too young. Stunner! $60.00

Matt Connell Wines Rendition Pinot Noir 2017
Central Otago NZ
Dark cherry & quite dense in colour, nose of smoky oak, dark berry and cherry fruit with savoury notes of mixed herb and spice. Voluptuous palate with concentrated flavours of black cherry, plum, chocolate and spice. Silky tannins, lovely textural / oak elements, rich fruity finish that carries on for ages… Tasty! $44.00

Giesen Clayvin Single Vineyard Selection Chardonnay 2015
Marlborough NZ
Bright lemon-gold coloured with green highlights, oily viscosity / body. Intense nose of smoky oak, gun flint, brioche & stonefruit. Great weight on the palate with layers of grapefruit acidity, pineapple/peach flavours, buttery crème brulee & fine oak texture and warm long juicy finish. This is a very special Chardonnay made with love – Hand picked, whole bunch pressed, wild yeast ferment and aged on lees in 1,000 litre Fuder barrels for 11 months, 100% malo…. Everything a chardonnay needs to be amazing! Outstanding! Stunning! $56.00

Smith & Sheth CRU – Omahu – Gimblet Gravels Syrah 2016
Hawkes Bay NZ
Deep purple to black in colour, stewed blackberries with dark chocolate & earthy notes in the nose. Concentrated palate of dark berries,spice, pepper,  with grippy / chalk like tannins, very tight acidity, subtle oak, well structured wine but still too young. Stunner!
14.5% 18.8 93.8 $34.80

No. 1 Family Estate ‘Adele’ Cuvee 80% Chard / 20% PN 2013
Marlborough NZ
Amazing wine – elegant and refined Methode Traditional from Daniel & Adele Le Brun – opened for a very special occasion tonight. Soft pale lemon in colour with a very tiny persistant bead. Beautiful floral nose of peach & lemon citrus, underpinned with brioche / yeasty aromas. Bone dry fruit-driven palate with nectarine, peach & citrus flavours, crisp acidity, creaminess mouthfeel, and a long intense dry finish! Just stunning! $240.00

Giesen Estate Riesling 2018
Marlborough / Waipara NZ
Straw to lemon gold in colour. Medium viscosity. Intense nose of ripe citrus, mandarin & some spice. Again Medium sweet on the palate with a bit more fruit concentration than the ’16, higher acidity / abv give the wine more punch, depth and grip. Long juicy finish. Gorgeous. $17.00

Giesen The Brothers / Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Marlborough NZ
OMG! Deep bright orange- gold in colour, concentrated, oily,  viscous bodied – Intense tropical fruit nose, laced with honey and ginger! Lush palate with concentrated sweet apricot, ginger, mandarin, spice, honey… 252 gms/L rs but vibrant acidity balancing the sweetness. Stunner. $30.00

Smith & Sheth CRU – Howell Vineyard SV Chardonnay 2016
Hawkes Bay NZ
Shiny yellow / gold in colour. Fresh citrus, crème brulee, cashew nuts, soft smoky oak in the nose. Lush citrus , grapefruit, creamy, juicy & textural palate with fresh acidity, really long & complex finish – Fabulous! $60.00

Villa Maria Platinum Series – Sur Lie Pinot Gris 2018
Marlborough NZ
Bright lemon-gold in colour, medium bodied. Fragrant nose of spiced pears & stonefruit. Full palate, lovely creamy textures, soft acidity & more spiced pear & apple flavours, a hint of ginger – warm finish, rich and opulent. $25.00

Domain Thomson Surveyor Thomson Pinot Noir 2015
Central Otago NZ
Black cherry coloured, pale rim. Cherry, berry, earth & spice in the nose. Very finely balanced palate with soft acidity, silky tannins, subtle oak texture and red fruit coming through. Long dry finish. Elegant! $60.00

Giesen Clayvin Single Vineyard Selection Pinot Noir 2014
Marlborough NZ
Ruby red in colour, medium bodied wine. Wonderful nose of cherry, red berries & hints of oak / spice / earth. Full flavoured intense palate of rich cherry & dark fruit, integrated oak, underpinned with fine powdery tannins, softer acidity & refined & balanced finish. Fabulous wine  for a special occasion. Outstanding! $60.00

Rockburn Pinot Noir 2017
Central Otago NZ
Dark cherry / deep ruby coloured, medium bodied. Nose of rich cherries & berries, gamey, spicy and fresh cut herbs. Very fruit forward on the palate with sweet rich cherry & berry fruit flavours, fine tannins, fresh acidity and soft oak influence –  complex layers of flavour & textures with a very intense lingering finish. Just Wonderful! $49.00

Tohu Whenua -Awa – Awatere Valley Chardonnay 2017
Marlborough NZ
Bright straw gold in colour med bodied. Immediately get a flinty smokey nose, underpinned with fragrant stonefruit, & grapefruit. Palate full of toasty / yeasty characters (lees & malo ferment) with peach, nectarine & pineapple flavours. Creamy, complex & voluptous. Long dry finish – my fave of the 2 chardonnays in this range. $40.00

Yakutin Family Wines Tamgaly Series Malbec 2018
Matakana NZ
Bright translucent cherry red to purple in colour, ample bodied wine. Lots of cherries, dark berries & savoury / leather notes in the nose. The palate is juicy & fruit driven with intense dark berry & ripe plum flavours, integrated fresh acidity & fine chalky tannins. Really long mouth watering “front of mouth” finish. Still so young but damn delicious already. $28.00

Yakutin Family Wines Tamgaly Series Cabernet Franc 2018
Matakana NZ
Cherry red / ruby coloured, lighter at the rim. Medium bodied with a nose of plums, red berries & a hint of musk/ earthiness. Lovely integrated palate with dark berry flavours, a little green leaf & pepper notes, nicely balanced wine with integrated velvety tannins, gentle acidity & fine toasty oak. Dry persistent finish. $28.00

Giesen Estate Riesling 2016
Marlborough & Waipara NZ
Always brilliant, always consistently good. Straw gold in colour, with a green tinge. Floral, nose with honey,  tangelo’s & mandarin notes.  Medium sweet palate with juicy fruit flavours and a lime citrus acidity balances the 40g residual sugars. Luscious! $17.00

Saint Clair James Sinclair Chardonnay 2018
Marlborough NZ
Gorgeous lemon-gold in colour, fragrant nose of fresh baked bread, tropical fruit and oak spice – Barrel ferment, malo and lees influence evident on the palate – weighty, creamy and vibrant fruit flavours, well balanced and integrated, layers of complexity – love to see in 3 or 4 years. Highly recommended – Gold medal at the New World Wine Awards. $21.00

Eaton Mélange (natural) Sauvignon Blanc 2019
Marlborough NZ
First Natural wine from Harrison Eaton – Hazey golden lemon coloured with slightly oily viscosity. Very shy nose at first with grapefruit and stonefruit coming through as it opens up. Lovely balanced palate with grapefruit pith and  lime acidity, creamy textured mouth-feel and a very long juicy, slightly tart finish – Great stuff! $30.00

Mud House Claim 431 Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016
Central Otago NZ
Deep cherry red in colour, complex nose of cherry, dark berry and spice. Dark berry, cherry & plum fruit-driven palate, balanced with fine velvety tannins, a hint of oak, juicy acidity and a long harmonious finish. Lovely elegant wine drinking beautifully. $33.00

Eradus Awatere Sauvignon Blanc 2019
Marlborough NZ
Bright & shiny straw coloured wine with a vibrant nose of ripe citrus fruit & green-stalk / herbal notes. Lovely zingy acidity with concentrated lemon & lime citrus flavours. Complex layers of textured & structure with a lingering dry buy mouthwatering finish. A great example of Awatere Valley Sauvignon. $20.00

Mount Michael The Mountaineer Pinot Noir 2017
Central Otago NZ
Third in this new range from Mt Michael – Deep cherry red medium bodied wine – vibrant fresh herbal nose with spiced plum & cherry fruit aromas. Ripe cherry and plum flavours on the palate with a bright acidity, soft silky tannins and a very fruit forward long finish. Amazing value very affordable Central Otago Pinot! $30.00

* I use the 20 point system for rating wines in my database, but for personal use only – I don’t publish my scores but prefer to let others make up their own mind about each wine. Each wine I taste is rated simply on the
Colour / Clarity – Bouquet / Nose – Taste, Complexity overall impression.