Featured Reviews

Theory & Practice 2018 Rosé and Pinot Gris, and Craft Farm 2017 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and 2016 Syrah

24 December,2018

Ant and Fiona Mackenzie have seen rapid growth of their wine business over the last year, especially with the ‘Theory & Practice’ wines made from Hawke’s Bay growers, and the ‘Craft Farm’ single site expression wines. In addition to increasing domestic sales, they have sent wine to the new export markets in the U.K. and China, and further shipments to Japan. Ant reports that the low harvest volumes of 2017 have created some supply and continuity issues, but the 2018 vintage wines will settle these problems.

The 2018 Theory & Practice Rosé and Pinot Gris wines explore the usage of the Glencoe Station vineyard in Marekakaho, Ant pointing out that this third release of the Pinot Gris is his best yet and closest to what he is trying to achieve. The ‘Craft Farm’ releases employ fruit from two new sites; the 2017 Chardonnay from Neal Cave’s Omaranui Road vineyard, parcels previously used in the Theory & Practice wines, but for Craft Farm this vintage, as the ‘Home’ vineyard fruit was not of the required style; and the 2017 Pinot Noir from the ‘Crosby’ vineyard in Martinborough. The 2016 Syrah is from the ‘Lyons’ site, which Ant has used for several vintages now. I review these new wines here. I believe Ant is continuing to raise the bar in quality and character of the Theory & Practice wines and the Craft Farm wines. www.antswines.co.nz


Theory & Practice Hawke’s Bay Rosé 2018

Rose from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Bright, deepish strawberry-pink colour with slight purple hues, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is fresh and bright, and quite elegantly presented with fragrant aromas of strawberries, raspberries and redcurrants along with cherry fruit and lifted red florals, forming a fine core with subtle notes of mouthwatering minerals and a suggestion of herbs melded with confectionary. Off-dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has softly rich and lusciously juicy flavours of strawberries and cherries, raspberries and redcurrants along with delicate herb and floral elements, lifted by a little confectionary. The fruit richness is enlivened by fresh acidity and the palate flows with the fruit richness allied to a subtly textured phenolic line. This has linearity and carries to a long finish of sweet red fruits. This is a deliciously rich and juicy fruited rosé with strawberry, cherry, raspberry and redcurrant flavours on a refreshing palate with fine textures. Match with antipasto, tapas, and dim sum over the next 2 years. 100% Pinot Noir from ‘Glencoe Station’, Maraekakaho, pressed to tank and cool-fermented to 13.0% alc. and 6.0 g/L RS, the wine aged 3 months on lees. 18.5/20 Dec 2018 RRP $20.99

Theory & Practice Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2018

Pinot Gris from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Full, moderately deep light golden-hued yellow colour, paler on the rim. The nose is elegantly proportioned with firm and fresh aromas of white and yellow stonefruits along with a subtle amalgam of honeysuckle and nutty oak and minerally lees nuances forming a finely concentrated core. This has freshness, detail and intensity. Medium-dry to taste and medium-bodied, the flavours of white and yellow stonefruits are entwined with honeysuckle and soft floral elements and a touch of nutty oak forming a rounded and rich heart that lends some unctuousness to the mouthfeel. The acidity is soft and enhances the richness and roundness, and the flavours possess weight and vinous presence. The wine carries to a sweet, rich and nuanced, lingering finish. This is a rich and luscious medium-dry Pinot Gris with an amalgam of stonefruit, honeysuckle and nutty oak on a soft, near-unctuous palate. Match with Asian cuisine over the next 3+ years. Fruit predominantly from ‘Glencoe Station’, Maraekakaho, with small parcels from the ‘Lucknow’ vineyard, Maraekakaho and ‘Petane Station’, Esk Valley, 60% fermented in tank and 40% in two 1000 L German oak fuders, partially with indigenous yeasts to 13.5% alc. and 8.0 g/L RS, with 30% of the fuder wine undergoing MLF, the wine aged 4 months before bottling. 18.5+/20 Dec 2018 RRP $20.99

Craft Farm ‘Omaranui Road Vineyard’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2017

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Bright, straw-yellow colour with lemon-gold hues, lighter on the rim. This has a powerful, bold and intensely concentrated nose with an amalgam of white stonefruits entwined with gunflinty mineral reductive complexities and nutty oak. This has depth and penetration, along with freshness and cut to the aromatics. Medium-bodied and elegantly presented, the palate has softly penetrating flavours of white stonefruits and subtle citrus fruit notes along with fresh herbs and nutty oak nuances, alongside finely presented gunflint and minerally reductive detail. The fruit has sweetness and richness, and is beautifully balanced with fine acidity providing freshness and lift, the wine carrying smoothly along a very fine line, leading to a sustained finish. This is a complex Chardonnay with a bold, gunflinty nose and a rich-fruited and excellently balanced and harmonious palate with stonefruits, nuts and flint on a refined, smooth palate. Match with poultry and pork dishes over the next 4 years. Clone 15 and 548 fruit from Neal Cave’s ‘Omaranui Road’ vineyard, Puketapu, WBP and indigenous yeast barrel-fermented to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 9 months on lees in 50% new oak with full MLF. 1800 bottles made. 19.0/20 Dec 2018 RRP $34.99

Craft Farm ‘Crosby Vineyard’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2017

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington


Even, dark garnet-red colour with some depth, lighter on the edge. The nose is softly fresh with gently voluminous aromas of savoury dark raspberry fruit entwined with subtle notes of dark herbs and hints of whole bunch stalk perfumes. The nose is lively, and builds in depth with aeration. Medium-bodied, the palate has bright and vibrant fruit flavours of savoury dark-red cherry and berry fruit along with subtle notes of dark herbs and some whole bunch stalk detail. The fruit richness is enlivened by fresh, lacy acidity, and underlined by fine-grained tannin extraction, providing an elegant mouthfeel and line. The wine carries to a refined, nuanced finish. This is a bright and lively Pinot Noir with savoury red cherry and berry fruit with subtle herb and stalk notes on a fresh palate with fine structure. Match with wild duck and pork over the next 5 years. Pinot Noir fruit from the ‘Crosby’ vineyard, Martinborough, clones 10/5, Abel, 5 and 828, the 10/5 planted in 1986, hand-picked and indigenous yeast fermented with 15% whole bunches to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 14 months in 50% new French oak. 1800 bottles made. 18.0/20 Dec 2018 RRP $47.99

Craft Farm ‘Lyons Vineyard’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2016

Syrah from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Full, even, dark ruby-red colour with slight purple hues, a little lighter edged and youthful in appearance. This has an elegantly firm nose with tightly bound aromas of dark raspberry and blackberry fruit along with white and black pepper notes, unfolding subtle savoury fresh and dark herbs, and nuances of game and earth with some floral lift. Medium-bodied, the palate is rich and lush with juicy flavours of dark raspberries and blackberries entwined with peppery elements and savoury notes of herbs, game and earth unfolding aromatic floral elements. The fruit sweetness is enhanced by the balanced acidity, and supported by fine-grained tannin structure lending a refined mouthfeel and presence. Plum and liquorice notes emerge as the wine carries to a sweet-fruited finish. This is a rich a luscious-fruited Syrah with raspberry and blackberry fruit along with pepper and savoury detail on a vibrant, refined palate. Match with lamb, beef and venison dishes over the next 5-6 years. Hand-picked Chave clone Syrah fruit from the ‘Lyons’ hillside vineyard, Bridge Pa, indigenous yeast fermented with 10% whole bunches to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 14 months in 50% new French oak. 1800 bottles made. 18.5/20 Dec 2018 RRP $47.99

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