Well regarded American wine critic James Suckling has recently published his first Top 100 New Zealand Wines of 2017 listing.
The following is his article which can also be found at James Suckling.com (see link URL link in title above). His selection taps into the impressive evolution of wine style and quality in what is a very young wine-growing nation. he writes -
"The eye-catching depth of New Zealand wine across a myriad of styles is of significance to wine collectors and drinkers because this is a group of wines that mark a clear step away from the oceans of Sauvignon Blanc that first put New Zealand on the world wine grid.
New Zealand is a tiny country in global wine terms and of the 253 million liters of wine exported by New Zealand in the year ending June 2017, a staggering 218 million liters was sauvignon blanc. The fact that one single varietal can account for a whopping 86% of a country’s wine exports by volume makes for a precarious position to occupy, in any business terms. Is there any other young winemaking nation so dramatically hedged?
But there’s a double edge in the detail of quality here because even if the high-water mark for Kiwi SB, the depth of quality in pinot noir, chardonnay, syrah, riesling and Bordeaux-style reds is a blossoming asset. These are the wines that will shape the future of New Zealand’s standing in the global wine market."
It will come as no surprise that the solo sauvignon inclusion in the NZ Top 100 is the top bottling from Dog Point Vineyard, their Section 94. In many ways, it is a wine that has more stylistic overlap with a top-flight chardonnay than it does with troppo sauvignon blanc, but that’s because they stand alone in pursuit of this razor-sharp style. With staggering complexity built into powerful, high-tensile fruit, it is a wine that shows the possibilities for extreme quality and style and one that delivers consistently.
Joining sauvignon blanc in the singles section of the Top 100 is the Te Whare Ra Gewürztraminer Marlborough 2017 and the famous Millton Chenin Blanc Gisborne Te Arai Vineyard 2017, both of which demonstrate the possibilities of style and quality in much the same way as the Dog Point Section 94. These are great wines crafted by producers that farm with truly sustainable, sensible and biodynamic practices. Pegasus Bay’s mastery of aromatic whites earned their late-harvest pinot gris the other solo listing the year — it’s a wine that also lights the flame of possibility for this often undercooked grape.
You’d have cleaned up in betting circles if you backed a syrah for our New Zealand Wine of the Year 2017. Yet the Trinity Hill Syrah Hawkes Bay Homage 2015 is a staggeringly great wine from a producer who is chasing down those elusive one-percent margins of the finest quality and nearing perfection. It’s an immaculately fresh and alluringly spicy syrah that holds a mirror to the first division of the world’s greatest producers of the variety, dripping with intense, mind-bending flavors. The finest New Zealand syrah we’ve tasted, it very much deserves the title New Zealand Wine of the Year 2017.
If the 2015 Homage Syrah is a beacon for the future, the quality of New Zealand pinot noir looms large in the Top 100 NZ list, accounting for seven of the top 10 wines and a staggering 57 overall. The evolution of style and feverish exploration of possibility on behalf of the nation’s best winemakers is impressive and a perfect storm of nature’s gift of opportunity and humankind’s determined curious and capable efforts.
A special mention to Felton Road, Bell Hill, Rippon, Ata Rangi, Fromm and Escarpment as an elite league of producers crafting pinot noir wines that deliver boldly on the promise of distinctive, consistently high-quality wines. They farm very different landscapes and terroirs but all deliver wines of profound interest that speak of intelligence, soul and complete commitment to quality."
Enjoy this list of New Zealand’s 100 best, and be sure to check back here in 2018 for details about a fabulous wine tourism experience we are currently developing which will feature the Family of Twelve winemakers - who jointly scored a very impressive 38 mentions on this Top 100 NZ wines list. We expect this exceptional tour to depart in 2019.