Even in good vintages like 2013 in Hawkes Bay, most merlots and blends benefit from extra bottle age to allow the sometimes rough edges of youth to mellow. When the premium 2013 reds are released, expect some fine wines.



Villa Maria Private Bin Hawkes Bay Merlot 2013


Three and a half stars (out of five)

Good value

Attractive savoury spicy undertones, red berry fruit, elderberries and plums, with fine-grained dusty tannins and a lively finish that mellows with time in the glass.





Wise Owl Ruffled New Zealand Merlot 2013


Three stars

Average value

Lots of spicy, red, stewed fruit - juicy blackcurrant and apple, medium bodied with a hint of spice and a simple fresh finish.





Tea Tree Gully Australian Shiraz 2013


Three stars

Average value

Dark with soft juicy fruit, plums and fruitcake, a hint of spice, jam and cedar, and a firm finish.





Main Divide Waipara Merlot Cabernet 2011


Three and a half stars

Average value

At three years of bottle age, this has mellowed nicely, with soft, spicy fruit, darker savoury undertones and suggestions of cigar box and a fresh lively finish.

Drinking nicely.





Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Merlot 2013


Three stars

Below average value

With oodles of red fruits, slightly stewed and spicy, and a hint of mineral, this is concentrated with a hard, edgy finish. Give it time to mellow.





Gladstone Auld Alliance Wairarapa Reserve 2010


Four stars

Below average value

At four years old this blend of merlot, cabernet franc and malbec has developed fragrant hints of cigar box which are integrated with mellowed cherry fruit and savoury undertones, resulting in a lovely mature wine with a silky texture and powdery tannins.






Stoneleigh Marlborough Merlot 2013


Three stars

Average value

Bold, edgy fruit with lots of oak, hints of spice and biscuit, and a slightly rough, almost herbaceous finish.



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