Rex Pickett’s ‘Sideways’ New Zealand wines

A trio of wines from the author, and two-time Oscar winner, of the novel ‘Sideways’ – from which the film with the same name (it has a wine theme) was adapted. He’s also written a third episode in the stories – “Sideways New Zealand – The long road back”. Each of the wines are from a different New Zealand region and producer. The New Zealand wines were hand selected by Rex during his travels around New Zealand. I believe there are six in total – a Central Otago Rose 2021, another Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2020, and a Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2021. My thoughts on the three samples I was sent are below.

Central Otago Pinot Noir 2020

Produced by Matt Connell, using fruit from the Three Miners Vineyard in Alexandra. A brilliant ruby/garnet colour in the glass. The perfume starts with cassis, cherry and boysenberry, moving into a violet floral note and also with an astringency like eucalypt, nettle and green herbals. A tart, lively acidity and lithe tannins form the spine of the palate. Liquorice and dark chocolate, plus savoury notes of tapenade and dried seaweed add complexity. Look out for a smooth, plush texture as the various elements come together nicely. 92pts

Central Otago Pinot Gris 2019

Also from the Three Miners Vineyard, but this white was crafted by Pete Bartle at VinPro in Central Otago. A pale lemon-straw colour in the glass. Aromas of orchard fruits – pear, apple and apricot, with a spicy nutmeg and candied peel, as well as a ground almond and muesli note. A lash of fruit sweetness greets the palate – off dry and with some creamy weight. A richness of vanilla and baking spice hints at some barrel ferment in the mix. The finish is drier and has a little minerality and pithyness. 90pts

Wairarapa Reserve Pinot Noir 2020

Produced by Matahiwi Estate in the Wairarapa. A dark maroon in the glass, with a bold perfume of black cherry, cranberry, hay, forest floor and a floral lift of lilac. Medium bodied, with a fresh acidity that allows the ripeness to shine on the palate. A melange of dark, blue and red fruits – damson, redcurrant and blueberry are underlined with a spiciness and herbal notes of anise, fennel and cloves. A youthful bounce but good depth and complexity to the layers of flavour. Tannins are supple and already in balance, as is the subtle framing of oak. A silken texture envelops the finish of this wine, and leaves a lingering, savoury sensation. 93pts

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