Christmas Cracker

The WineFolio Christmas Cracker. What we think should be on your festive table this year (or on your Santa List!)

It’s a time to relax, with friends and family, for hearts-a-glowing and much mistletoe-ing. With a little planning, or even a bit of sage advice; your holiday lineup of wines could be looking as amazing as your Christmas jumper or your neighbours Xmas lights. Some might be good for the big day alongside the turkey, or for taking over to your Gran’s bach on Boxing Day. And one or two should definitely be on your Santa list – whether you’ve been naughty or nice.

Driftwood Christmas tree with NZ wine and crackers

I’ve not picked anything that will blow the budget, but PLEASE… if you only read this bit… Rule No.1: don’t throw $60 on a really average bottle of big-name French sparkling wine. That would be so much better spent on a really decent bottle of New Zealand bubbles AND a good bottle of wine for the table. Yes, both. I have definitely been looking back at 2019’s best wines, and with a fair budget in mind, so we’re not breaking into the kids piggy banks here. Read on.

So, lets’ start with those bubbles. It’s important, right? We all want to pop something frothy and sparkling on the 25th don’t we? Well, let’s stick to the wine… A couple of options come to mind:

#1 Quartz Reef Methode Traditionelle NV. A honey for the money. Creamy, brioche with apple and lemon curd, and a crisp streak of mineral salinity. $31.99

#2 No.1 Family Cuvée. A beautiful Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay) wine from maker Daniel LeBrun. A little ‘softer’ than a Brut style, although has all your champagne flavours, but pure Kiwi made. $35.99

Wine for Christmas with crackers

Moving on to a selection of white wine choices (and a rosé)…

#3 Framingham Classic Riesling. I recently reviewed that as “a great textural beauty of a thing” A shining acidity and great intensity of citrus flavours. A superb wine that sings of Marlborough but is an alternative to the usual Sav. $19.99

#4 Villa Maria Platinum Range ‘Sur lie’ Chardonnay. Featuring fruit from the famed Keltern Vineyard, this is everything you need from a Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay at a reasonable price point. Flinty, juicy and wickedly textural; with a lithe dance between creamy and acidity. $19.99

#5 Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc. Expect grassy and passionfruit aromas to burst from the bottle, and then a chalky minerality to mingle with the fresh citrus. A classic NZ wine. $16.99

#6 Waipara Hills Pinot Rosé. From Waipara, this brings a nudge of sweetness and strawberries & cream to the table. A lovely acidity though, and will be a great food wine. $13.99

#7 Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay. Christmas without a bottle of the ‘Estate’, really? Oozes class – old world style (and quality) from a family with impeccable NZ winemaking heritage. $29.99

Great NZ red wines at lower price points used to be a problem; but looking at the Trophy winners from the last few week; it certainly feels like there is very good wine down as far as the $15 mark if you buy carefully. I have no problem recommending this handful:

#8 Vidal Reserve Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon. A go-to red wine with all the Bordeaux style you want. Leather and creamy vanilla with vibrant black plum and currant flavours; and a velvet cocoon of cedary oak. $15.99

#9 Wild Grace Pinot Noir. This is a Trophy and Gold medal winning Central Otago Pinot at a price tricky to understand. Ripe red fruits, mixed with a smoky, savoury and herbal undertow. Soft tannins and some earthy pepperiness make this a fairly complex wee beastie. $22.99

#10 Thornbury Pinot Noir. Classic Central Otago winemaking, and will be hard to find now it has won The Champion Pinot Noir Trophy at NZ Wine of the Year. Gently perfumed, silky and yet savoury and herbal. Spicy dark cherries shine through with a lively acidity. $19.99

#11 Te Awanga Estate Syrah. We should drink more of our own Syrah – this one’s a concentrated, dry style from the classic Gimblett Gravels. Rich and tannic, with floral flavours in with the usual bramble and plums. Some liquorice and pepper in the finish. $24.99

All prices taken from First Glass Wine & Spirits, at the end of November  – this is the local shop where I’d choose to get the best of NZ wine. Online at or pop into Takapuna.