For 2018, the Raymond Chan Wine Reviews ‘Winery of the Year’ is awarded to Greystone Wines in Omihi, North Canterbury. Greystone Wines has always figured among the contenders for this award from the very start in when I instituted it in 2011, due to the exceptional nature of the wines across their whole range, and this has continued every year with increasing quality and sophistication. But this year, their innovative approach to vineyard work and winemaking has brought them to the fore, thus making them my choice.
The Greystone Wines are made at the Muddy Water winery facility, which Greystone has owned since the end of March 2011. The winemaking capacity is 600+ tonnes, and accommodates making the Greystone Wines, the sister Muddy Water wines and a number of other contract labels, including Terrace Edge. The facility is also contracted for use by some of their close winemaking contacts such as Tongue in Groove. Interestingly, the Muddy Water wines’ separate identity to that of Greystone has been maintained, the Muddy Water wines reflecting the different soils on the flatter land, and their certified AsureQuality organic status. The pricing for both the Greystone and Muddy Water wines have parity. Gavin Tait is Dom Maxwell’s right hand winemaking man.
The selection process for ‘Winery of the Year’ is one of the more difficult decisions I make for Raymond Chan Wine Reviews, but it is also one of the most enjoyable. The task of looking back at the best wines I have tasted over the year just gone is highly rewarding for me. It shows the ever-growing number of producers making superb wines, which reflects the maturity and confidence of the industry. We should note that 2017 and 2018 were challenging growing seasons in many of this country’s regions which saw less outstanding wines being made overall. But one must remember that there will always be excellence, but the quantity of great wine will invariably lower. Here, I highlight contenders for the 2018 ‘Winery of the Year’ title. Keep in mind only producers who submit their wines for ‘Feature Review’ are eligible. I run through the strongest contenders for ‘Winery of the Year’ in 2018, from north to south (and alphabetically within each region), and conclude with my runner-up to Greystone Wines.
Many other winegrowers and producers have made their mark on me through the past year. I must mention the following, as they are making noteworthy wines. Again I bring them to your attention, going geographically from north to south, and in alphabetical order.
Here are the outstanding New Zealand wines I have tasted as ‘Feature Reviews’ during the period of start of December 2017 to end of November 2018. The following wines are presented according to variety or style. On occasion where there are ties in the scoring, I have listed more than one (alphabetically) in that particular category. Not every varietal or wine style merited listing. 5 of the 25 wines listed earned perfect 20.0/20 scores – I clearly had a good year! The wines celebrate diversity and excellence throughout the country.
Dog Point ‘Section 94’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 19.0+/20
Saint Clair ‘Wairau Reserve’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 19.0+/20
Framingham ‘F-Series’ Marlborough Pinot Gris 2017 19.0/20
Nautilus Marlborough Pinot Gris 2017 19.0/20
Framingham ‘F-Series’ Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2018 19.0/20
Ata Rangi ‘Craighall’ Martinborough Riesling 2013 19.0/20
Framingham Marlborough ‘Select’ Riesling 2017 19.0/20
Escarpment ‘Blanc’ Martinborough Pinot Blanc 2016 18.5/20
Black Estate ‘Home’ North Canterbury Chenin Blanc 2017 18.5+/20
Blank Canvas Marlborough Gruner Veltliner 2013 18.5+/20
Mudbrick ‘Reserve’ Waiheke Island Viognier 2017 19.0/20
Elephant Hill ‘Salome’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016 19.5+/20
Pyramid Valley ‘Growers Collection – Hutchison’ Marlborough Pinot Gris/Pinot Blanc 2016 18.5/20
Misha’s Vineyard ‘The Soloist’ Central Otago Pinot Rosé 2018 19.0-/20
Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016 19.5/20
Craggy Range ‘Aroha’ Te Muna Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016 19.5/20
Escarpment ‘Kupe’ ‘Single Vineyard’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016 19.5/20
Greystone ‘Thomas Brothers’ Waipara Valley North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2016 19.5/20
Saint Clair ‘Pioneer Block 17 – Plateau’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2016 19.0-/20
Elephant Hill ‘Hieronymus’ Hawke’s Bay 2014 20.0/20
Mills Reef ‘Arthur Edmund’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet/Merlot 2013 20.0/20
Villa Maria ‘Ngakirikiri’ ‘The Gravels’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 20.0/20
Trinity Hill ‘Homage’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2016 20.0/20
Framingham ‘F-Series’ Marlborough Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 2017 20.0/20
Wineries that are distributed by ‘Wine2Trade’, the company that Raymond Chan Wine Reviews’ operates under, are not eligible for the ‘Winery of the Year’ award. (Click here to see these wineries.) In way of compensation, I will list separately my ‘Favourites of the Year from the Wine2Trade Portfolio’ in a follow-up article. Article completed now…click here to see my favourites from 2018.