This is the 26th edition of this book, and it follows a very successful formula that interests New Zealand wine enthusiasts. The heart of the book is the near-3,000 reviews of wines Michael has tasted and rated over the course of the year. The notes are very clearly presented in their different varieties or categories, being in alphabetical order. Information is given on the wines’ star ratings (out of 5-stars), their standing in Michael’s ranking of categories, the wines dryness or sweetness level, an indication of pricing and a judgement by Michael on their relative value. The tasting notes describe the wines; some of the notes reasonably comprehensive, other quite brief. I find the tasting notes and ratings fair and I’m in general agreement with them.
I respect Michael’s diligence and propensity for correct detailing, and this has made his New Zealand Wine Atlas a wonderful reference work. I believe the time is ripe for Michael to take a new approach with this publication, as the world is ever-increasingly embracing on-line publications to obtain current information. Michael’s website can do this for his wine reviews.
Another unique feature of Michael’s Buyer’s Guide is his selection of ‘Best Buys of the Year’. For this edition, he chose as his ‘Best White Buy’ the Mud House Waipara Riesling 2016, and as his ‘Best Red Wine Buy’ the Vidal ‘Reserve’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2015. These are certainly not his highest-rated wines by far, but include the wines’ value and no doubt availability in the market place, as factors influencing their selection. They are populist wines for sure, but valid for it.
Upstart Press, Auckland, 2016, ISBN 978-1-988516-06-6