30 Under $30 Best Wines – 2022


Over the last couple of years, we have all looked for comfort wherever possible. Due to the pandemic, many have opted for home deliveries, buying directly from producers. It is important as ever to have affordable, go-to bottles we can count on.

I have compiled a list of 30 under $30 best wines for you to discover, try new flavours and experience new producers. All the wines are 5-star rated, over 18.5-/20 points from large to boutique producers.

Aromatic varieties thrive in New Zealand; there are many options if you love drinking white wines. Organic producer Carrick from Central Otago produces excellent textural whites across the board; I've included Carrick Pinot Gris 2019, partially fermented in neutral oak barrels with wild yeast and in tanks, the oily mouthfeel with talcum like phenolics is most memorable.

A couple of Central Otago Rosé are included in this lineup. Domain Road Pinot Noir Rosé 2021 is fresh and vibrant with delicate floral and red fruit details, and the silky mouthfeel elevates the Rosé with elegance. Domain Road is a small producer along Felton Road in the Bannockburn sub-region; the fruit is from their vineyards at Domain Road and Defiance Vineyard, fermented in stainless steel to capture the freshness and purity. Three Miners is a producer from the Alexandra sub-region, with 15.5 hectares of vineyard, established in 2000. Their Three Miners Rocker Box Rosé 2021 is silky and dry, with rich rose fragrances over raspberries and strawberries.

Another Central Otago producer Wild Earth Wines sourced its fruit from around the Cromwell Basin, made by the talented winemaker Jen Parr. The Wild Earth Pinot Gris 2021 was fermented in neutral oak barrels to build texture and stainless steel to capture the fruit's purity, resulting in a refreshing Pinot Gris with a crisp line and a textural palate.

Moving up the country to North Canterbury, Main Divide is a reliable producer for everyday drinking. It is made by the Donaldson Family of Pegasus Bay and sourced fruit from growers with long-standing relationships. The Main Divide Pinot Noir 2020 offers plush fruit, tight-knitted tannins, and a backbone designed for early drinking yet well structured. The Main Divide Riesling 2019 is off-dry, with a complex range of flavours, carried by salivating acidity and a long, dry finish. Consistent in style over the years and is a style that ages well.

Martinborough's Nga Waka Chardonnay 2020 is an excellent vintage representation, harmonious and radiant with bright energy, elegant fruit on a creamy palate with incredible acid tension, very satisfying. Three Paddles by Nga Waka Pinot Noir 2020 is youthful, juicy and elegant, with captivating aromas flowing on a supple and smooth mouthfeel. Nga Waka's wine has been made by the same winemaker Roger Parkinson for the past 30 vintages; it's an actual demonstration of practice makes perfect.

North of the Wairarapa in Masterton, Matahiwi Estate Pinot Gris 2021 is chic with balanced acidity and fruit and an attractive fine-textured mouthfeel. Made in stainless steel to capture fruit's purity and winemaking to enhance texture and dimension.

Moving further north to Hawke's Bay, Redmetal Vineyards in the Bridge Pa Triangle Wine District produce wines from a single vineyard 8 hectares block began in 1991, planted on the old bed of the Ngaruroro River with free-draining river gravels (locally known as red metals). The Redmetal Merlot Cabernet Franc 2019 is elegantly presented, predominantly Merlot with succulent fruit expression and a hint of violet and herbaceousness of Cabernet Franc added complexity.

Marlborough producer Zephyr transitioned 14 hectares of the 35 hectares of their family vineyard to organic, producing single-vineyard wines from the Dilon-Point sub-region in the southeast of the Wairau Valley, which borders the Opawa River, with a fertile soil profile structuring Kaiapoi silt loam. In late September 2020, a harsh frost wiped out 90% of Zephyr's Gewurztraminer vineyard, and this is the first time in 15 years they produced a Gewurztraminer not from their own vineyard. The fruit of Zephyr Gewurztraminer 2021 was sourced from Isabel Estate, vivid tropical with fresh acidity, very enjoyable. The Zephyr Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2021 is vibrant and aromatic with purity and tension. Due to the frost damage, 40% of the fruit was sourced from The Rose family on Kennedys Rd Vineyard, also organically grown.

Please join me to taste 12 of the lineup with me in Auckland or Queenstown; details and tickets are in the links:

Auckland 19th May - https://www.eventbrite.co.nz/e/319265681247

Queenstown 25th May - https://www.eventbrite.co.nz/e/319277907817

See the complete list of 30 Under $30 below; click to expand and read the full reviews below.


  • Carrick Organic Pinot Gris 2019, Central Otago
  • Domain Road Pinot Noir Rosé 2021, Central Otago
  • Three Miners Rocker Box Rosé 2021, Central Otago
  • Wild Earth Pinot Gris 2021, Central Otago
  • Main Divide Pinot Noir 2020, North Canterbury
  • Main Divide Riesling 2019, North Canterbury
  • Nga Waka Chardonnay 2020, Martinborough
  • Three Paddles by Nga Waka Pinot Noir 2020, Martinborough
  • Matahiwi Estate Pinot Gris 2021, Wairarapa 
  • Redmetal Vineyards Merlot Cabernet Franc 2019, Hawke’s Bay
  • Zephyr Gewurztraminer 2021, Marlborough
  • Zephyr Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2021, Marlborough
  • Pisa Range Estate Run 245 Pinot Noir 2019, Central Otago
  • Kin by Te Kano Pinot Noir 2019, Central Otago 
  • Mon Cheval Riesling 2019, North Canterbury
  • Te Pa Pinot Gris 2021, Marlborough
  • Te Pa Sauvignon Blanc 2021, Marlborough
  • Soho Pink Sheep Sauvignon Blanc 2021, Marlborough
  • Rapaura Springs Reserve Chardonnay 2021, Marlborough
  • Paritua Stone Paddock Cabernet Franc 2020, Hawke’s Bay
  • Elephant Hill Chardonnay 2019, Hawke’s Bay
  • Paritua Stone Paddock Syrah 2020, Hawke’s Bay
  • Indian Summer Private Blend Rosé 2021, Hawke’s Bay
  • Trinity Hill Chardonnay 2021, Hawke’s Bay
  • Trinity Hill The Trinity Red Blend 2020, Hawke’s Bay
  • Brookfields Sun-dried Malbec 2020, Hawke’s Bay
  • Hopesgrove Estate Viognier 2020, Hawke’s Bay
  • Spade Oak The Co-Ordinates Makauri Gewurztraminer 2021, Gisborne
  • Spade Oak The Co-Ordinates Ormond Chardonnay 2021, Gisborne
  • Karikari Estate Calypso Rosé 2021, Northland

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