Kiwi Coolers: six bottles from New Zealand best sipped on summer nights

Kiwi Coolers: six bottles from New Zealand best sipped on summer nights

New Zealand’s moderate maritime climate produces refreshing wines made for summer sipping


New Zealand has more than 700 wineries growing diverse grape varieties, and it’s delivering an impressive output: excellent rieslings, pinots grises, gewürztraminers, pinots noirs, merlots, cabs and syrahs. The renowned sauvignons blancs from the Marlborough region still dominate the LCBO shelves, but new producers and modern styles are making inroads. Here are the best of the Kiwi bottles available in Ontario, all of which showcase typical fruit purity, freshness and precision. They’re what I reach for on warm summer nights.

1 Dog Point 2014 Sauvignon Blanc
$24.95 | Marlborough | 90 points
Dog Point has been one of the hottest sellers from New Zealand in the past two years. Their estate-grown sauvignon blanc is fragrant with fresh grapefruit, stone and chive. It’s intense and zesty, with excellent length. A thriller. Vintages 677450

2 Jules Taylor 2013 Pinot Noir
$24.95 | Marlborough | 90 points

The 2013 pinots are impressive if still youthfully raw. Jules Taylor’s is deeply coloured with bright aromas of raspberry, currant, and green and black pepper, plus background notes of oaky vanilla and spice. It’s mid-weight, edgy, tart and a bit tannic. Age it a year or two. Vintages 329805

3 Amisfield 2011 Pinot Noir
$41.95 | Central Otago | 90 points
The robust pinots from high and dry Central Otago near Queenstown offer more body and alcohol than those from other regions. This maturing 2011 vintage has bold cherry fruit with oak spice, vanilla and dried herbs. It’s medium-weight, rich and warm. Vintages 179754

4 Cloudy Bay 2014 Sauvignon Blanc
$31.95 | Marlborough | 91 points
The 2014 vintage of this perennial favourite is compact and spry. The aromatics are a citrus salad of lime, white grapefruit and orange blossom, with fresh herbs and a hint of passion fruit. It’s mid-weight, but the acidity makes it taste lighter. Vintages 304469

5 Villa Maria 2014 Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc
$19.95 | Marlborough | 90 points
This is a wonderful example from a new school of winemaking that focuses on restraint. You’ll taste lime, green apple, green pepper and wet stone, especially on the finish. It’s crisp, tart and mouth-watering, with excellent length. Vintages 974527

6 Giesen 2013 Riesling
$15.95 | Marlborough | 88 points

I’m impressed by the quality of the rieslings made on the stony alluvial Wairau Valley floor near the town of Renwick. This is a slightly off-dry example, with peach, apricot, honey and waxy aromas. It’s fairly rich yet braced by good acidity. Great value. LCBO 277673