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9 best New Zealand red wines of 2021

Crack into 9 of the best red wines NZ has to offer from the New World Wine Awards 2021 Gold Winners. Pinot Noir, Shiraz & more. Affordable & delicious - ready for summer.

The New World Wine Awards judges some of the best red wines from across New Zealand and around the world. It’s incredible to see some local Kiwi vineyards hold their own against some well-established wineries from Australia, Europe and South America.

So if you’re looking for a bold, punchy Syrah, an intensely rich Cabernet Sauvignon or a gentle, fruity Pinot Noir, you can’t look past these 2021 gold medal winners.

Top New Zealand Red Blends under $25

Pair our top blends with these food recommendations:

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec are typically used in red blends, therefore similar food matches work well here. Although these wines can be powerful and substantial, they can also be gentler with elegant harmony and sophistication. 

Red wine risotto with assorted mushrooms would be comfortingly delicious. The stylish beef Wellington with rich gravy works beautifully. Moreover, it’s a satisfying wine to finish a meal with aged cheeses and quince paste.

 


Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay "The Trinity" 2020

Variety: Red Blends

Region: Hawkes Bay

Style: Full Bodied Red Wine

Price: $15 to $20

Key flavours: Blackcurrant, cassis, cedar wood, dried herbs, floral, plums, spices

Special features: Sustainable

Judges’ comments: Trinity Hill is a favourite Hawke's Bay winery for many wine-lovers for their consistently excellent, great value wines. This Merlot-dominant red delivers blackcurrant, cake spice, toasted almond and just the right amount of dried herb notes, with a prolonged cocoa powdery finish. Adaptable in food pairing, this will complement anything from roast chicken to spicy tacos, through to grilled meats.


Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec 2019

Variety: Red Blends

Region: Hawkes Bay

Style: Full Bodied Red Wine

Price: Under $15

Key flavours: Black pepper, blackcurrant, cassis, cedar wood, dried herbs, floral, thyme, toasty oak

Special features: Sustainable

Judges’ comments: From the highly sought-after Gimblett Gravels district, this is dense yet refined, with cassis, thyme and spicy oak aromas, together with a silken texture and a pleasingly firm finish, making it a wonderful wine to accompany rich lamb shanks, beef cheeks or spicy curries. Or have it with aged cheddar at the end of a satisfying meal.

Related article:

Read our guide to popular red wine blends.

Best New Zealand Pinot Noir under $25

Pair our favourite pinot noirs with these foods:

Pinot Noir is lighter in colour and richness than some reds but does not lack in power to enhance a wide range of dishes. Fabulous with duck confit with duck fat roasted potatoes, rack of lamb with herb crust and meltingly delicious slow-cooked pork belly. It can partner poultry as well as beefy casseroles, and the iconic pizza margherita is absolutely yummy with Pinot. 


McArthur Ridge Brassknocker Pinot Noir 2020

Variety: Pinot Noir

Region: Otago

Style: Medium Bodied Red Wine

Price: $15 to $20

Key flavours: Forest floor, leather, mushrooms, plums, savoury, spices, tamarillo, thyme

Special features: Sustainable

Judges’ comments: It's remarkable that Central Otago's dramatic landscapes and the extreme climate can produce Pinot with grace and fineness. From their vineyard on an elevated plateau on the outskirts of Alexandra, this seductively tasty wine shows dark plums and raspberries with nuances of baking spice and subtle oak, well supported by smooth rounded mouthfeel. Splendidly delicious.


Luna Estate Pinot Noir 2019

Variety: Pinot Noir

Region: Wairarapa

Style: Medium Bodied Red Wine

Price: $15 to $20

Key flavours: Cherry fruit, dark berry fruits, dried herbs, forest floor, leather, mushrooms, plums, savoury, spices, thyme

Special features: Sustainable, vegan-friendly

Judges’ comments: Burgundy region in France has a famous dish called beef bourguignon. This richly gratifying stew uses Pinot Noir as the base of its opulent sauce. You'll need two bottles - one for the pot and one for the meal shared with good friends. This Martinborough beauty is plump and smooth with sweet cherry, clove, almond and mushroom flavours, ideal for making this sophisticated dish and to accompany it.


Madam Sass Central Otago Pinot Noir 2020

Variety: Pinot Noir

Region: Otago

Style: Medium Bodied Red Wine

Price: $20 to $25

Key flavours: Cherry fruit, cranberry, dark berry fruits, plums, raspberry, red berry fruits, smoky, tamarillo, violet

Special features: Sustainable

Judges’ comments: Upfront and generous, this delectable Central Otago wine is filled with dark berry, roasted nut, violet and warm spice notes with a dash of savoury undertone. Plush and flavoursome while remaining groovy and mellow, it's a gorgeous wine to take it to a BBQ or have a glass with pizza while binge watching your favourite drama series.


The Ned Pinot Noir 2019

Variety: Pinot Noir

Region: Marlborough

Style: Medium Bodied Red Wine

Price: $20 to $25

Key flavours: Cherry fruit, cranberry, floral, plums, raspberry, red berry fruits, strawberry

Special features: Sustainable, vegan-friendly

Judges’ comments: Part of Marisco Vineyard, established by the enormously experienced winemaker Brent Marris, The Ned wines emphasise bright fruit expression, varietal purity and approachability. Immediately appealing notes of Black Doris plum, mulberry, olive and fragrant spice are beautifully complemented by fine texture, making it a fabulous partner to dishes such as mushroom risotto.


Toi Toi Central Otago Clutha Pinot Noir 2020

Variety: Pinot Noir

Region: Otago

Style: Medium Bodied Red Wine

Price: $20 to $25

Key flavours: Cherry fruit, cranberry, dark berry fruits, dried herbs, forest floor, mushrooms, raspberry, red berry fruits, savoury, spices, thyme

Special features: Sustainable

Judges’ comments: By blending grapes from three distinct areas (Pisa in Cromwell Basin, lower river and upper terraces of Alexandra), the team at Toi Toi have smartly captured the essence of Central Otago in this stylish wine. Gorgeously composed with dark cherry, floral, anise and hazelnut characters, it's supple and velvety in the mouth, making it most pleasing and appealing.

Related article:

Read our Pinot Noir Guide

Best New Zealand Shiraz & Syrah under $25

Pair the best Shiraz & Syrah with these foods:

New Zealand Syrah offers elegance and roundness, making it delightfully juicy and supple. Great with spaghetti bolognese, steak with black or green peppercorn sauce and meat-lover’s pizza.

The Aussie version, Shiraz, packs more oomph and richness, ideal with BBQ veggies and meats, roast lamb with dark gravy and beef cheek ragu with pappardelle. The strong flavour of the wine is a great match for strong cheeses, especially aged cheddar and washed-rind cheese.


Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2020

Variety: Shiraz and Syrah

Region: Hawkes Bay

Style: Full Bodied Red Wine

Price: $15 to $20

Key flavours: Black pepper, blackberry and blueberry, cedar wood, cherry fruit, dark berry fruits, floral, liquorice, plums, raspberry, red berry fruits, spices

Special features: Sustainable, vegan-friendly

Judges’ comments: What a beautiful example of Syrah in its purest form. It has complexity too but this Champion Syrah is a textbook offering with perfumed aromas of dark plum, floral, pepper spice and liquorice, and the small amount of Viognier in the blend makes the mouthfeel fleshy and smooth with elegance and grace. Voted Champion Red Wine of the Show by the judging team, a well-earned accolade!

Related article:

Read our Shiraz and Syrah Wine Guide

Best New Zealand Merlot under $25


Allan Scott Family Winemakers Hawkes Bay Merlot 2020

Variety: Merlot

Region: Hawkes Bay

Style: Full Bodied Red Wine

Price: $15 to $20

Key flavours: Blackcurrant, cedar wood, dark berry fruits, dried herbs, floral, plums, spices

Special features: Sustainable, vegan-friendly

Judges’ comments: Merlot bridges the gap between the stronger gutsy Cabernet or Shiraz, and the softer Pinot Noir, with its succulent fruit flavours and rounded texture. This is a real beauty, displaying juicy plum, raspberry, toasted spice and cedar aromas with a wonderfully generous palate. Wouldn't it be stunning with a rack of lamb, crusted with panko crumbs, garlic and rosemary?

Fancy a glass of red?

Want to find more award-winning wines for under $25 a bottle? Take a look at our pick of the best New Zealand wines of 2021. Or, use our wine finder tool to search for a wine that takes your fancy.

Ready to try some award-winning New Zealand red wines? All of our Gold medal-winners are available online now from your local New World. There are limited quantities of some red wine vintages available. 

Whatever the occasion, these award winning red wines are ready for you to share and enjoy.

Related articles:

Read our guide to Shiraz and Syrah wine
Best New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs
Top white wines of 2021
5 of the best Pinot Noirs of 2021
Best New Zealand wines for under $20

 

Jim Harre - about the author

After studying viticulture and winemaking at Hawkes Bay’s Eastern Institute of Technology, Jim worked several vintages, both in New Zealand and Internationally as a winemaker. 

Identified as having a very good palate for quality assessment of wine, Jim has been a major part of New Zealand’s Wine Judging competitions for over 25 years. Now a well respected International Judge, he works as a Chair of Judges in Wine Competitions in USA, Japan, China, Australia and, of course, New Zealand. 

He is also regarded as a world authority on the effect of how wine perception changes in aircraft, a panel chair at the world’s largest competition; the International Wine Challenge, held each year in London; as well as Wine Consultant to Air New Zealand.

It is Jim’s love of education and teaching people about wine that makes him one of New Zealand’s most recognised Wine professionals.