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In an average year, Michael Cooper tastes around 3,000 wines and his wealth of knowledge has earned him the position of New Zealand’s most acclaimed wine writer. Join this site to take advantage of Michael’s expert advice, reviews and best buy recommendations.


Best White Wine Buy of the Year

Stoneleigh Latitude Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Stoneleigh Latitude Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020

‘Marlborough in a glass’, I jotted down, after tasting this great value wine. Estate-grown in Pernod Ricard NZ’s vineyards in the ‘Golden Mile’, which lines Rapaura Road, on the north side of the Wairau Valley, it was deliberately crafted as a ‘full-on’ style with ‘big aromatics’ – and delivers the goods. Harvested from mature, 15 to 31 year-old vines, mostly in the original Stoneleigh Vineyard, it was mainly tank-fermented, but 25 per cent of the blend was fermented in seasoned oak cuves, to add ‘palate weight and texture’. Bright, light lemon/green, it is mouthfilling and vibrantly fruity, with deep, ripe tropical fruit flavours, finely balanced acidity and a rich, basically dry (4.9 grams/litre residual sugar) finish. Already delicious, this punchy, youthful, very harmonious wine is likely to be at its best from mid-2021 onwards.
Number of Stars:
5
Price:
$17–$20
Variety:
Sauvignon Blanc
Vintage:
2020

Best Red Wine Buy of the Year

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2019

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2019

Offering outstanding value, this Gimblett Gravels red was matured for a year in French oak barriques (15 per cent new). Deeply coloured, with a fragrant, berryish, spicy bouquet, it is mouthfilling and supple, with concentrated, ripe blackcurrant, plum and spice flavours, oak complexity, and a long, very harmonious finish.

Vino Fino, a prominent, specialist wine retailer in Christchurch, praises Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2019 as ‘the best value red in New Zealand’ – and I agree. Well worth cellaring, it’s already a delicious mouthful.

Number of Stars:
4.5
Price:
NZ$15–$18
Variety:
Merlot
Vintage:
2019

Best Rosé Wine Buy of the Year

Momo Organic Marlborough Rosé 2020

Momo Organic Marlborough Rosé 2020

Certified organic, this is a delicious, distinctive marriage of Pinot Gris, Semillon and Pinot Noir, cool-fermented in stainless steel tanks and matured briefly on its yeast lees. A bright pink, finely poised wine, it has lively peach, strawberry and watermelon flavours, showing excellent delicacy and depth, and a dry finish. From Seresin Estate, it offers delicious drinking for the summer of 2020-21.

Number of Stars:
4.5
Price:
NZ$18
Variety:
Rosé
Vintage:
2020

Reviews of the latest editions 

“Want to find a good New Zealand wine?  You’d be hard-pressed to go past New Zealand Wines 2020: Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide.” Emma Jenkins, Winestate

“For anybody who is interested in New Zealand wine, it doesn’t come any better.  A great book – it always is.”  Leighton Smith 

“Michael has a lovely, laid-back tasting notes style that doesn’t scream at you.  A very reliable taster.”  Caro’s Wine Merchants

“So when Cooper says a wine is great – and great value – you sit up and listen.” – Josie Steenhart, Stuff

“[Michael Cooper is] New Zealand’s leading consumer advocate in wine.”  Allan Scott, Marlborough Man  

“The softcover book that first made its presence felt in 1992 has become somewhat of a bible for wine lovers here at home and, more recently via his website, overseas.”  Tessa Nicholson, New Zealand Winegrower

“… the Gandalf of New Zealand wine critics, Michael Cooper…” Yvonne Lorkin, Canvas, New Zealand Herald

“Michael is deeply entrenched in the landscape of New Zealand wine… We consider his extensive knowledge and long experience vital as a benchmark tool when reflecting on our wines.”  Dry River