10 Tasty Wines from the Lands Down Under

These reds and whites from New Zealand and Australia offer quality and value

In the United States, we tend to lump together the wines of New Zealand with those of Australia, putting them on adjacent shelves in wine stores and covering them as a single group in wine review articles such as this one.

But how much do they really have in common other than being approximate neighbors (a mere 2,500 miles or so apart)?  Little, except that the winemakers from both countries are known for their spirited “statement” wines. Australia made its reputation on big, flavorful, in-your-face red wines from shiraz and cabernet sauvignon grapes, while New Zealand has concentrated on zingy, high-acidity sauvignon blancs and juicy pinot noirs.

Here is a mix of 10 reds and whites from both countries, a blend of very affordable wines and more complex small-batch bottlings, all well worth the price.        

Lindeman’s South Eastern Australia “Bin 65” Chardonnay 2015 ($6). A bit tight in the finish, but pleasant and well-rounded with good apple flavors.

Lindeman’s South Eastern Australia “Bin 85” Pinot Grigio 2015 ($6). Slightly juicy in texture with fresh apple liveliness.

Matua Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($12). Good firm flavors of lime and kiwi, not overly grassy, well-structured.

Kim Crawford Marlborough “SpitFire” Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($23). Very fragrant with tropical aromas — spicy, fruity, complex; very good.

Kim Crawford Awatere Valley “Favourite Homestead” Pinot Gris 2014 ($27). Fruity, floral, a little spicy — full-bodied but with good acidity.

Kim Crawford Hawke’s Bay “Wild Grace” Chardonnay 2014 ($28). Very nice juicy, green flavors with medium body and a toasty, well-knit finish.          

Lindeman’s South Eastern Australia “Bin 54” Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($6). A well-made wine, especially for the price, leaning toward the vermouth side of a red wine. Dark cherry flavors, light on tannins, good on acidity.        

19 Crimes South Eastern Australia Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($9). A good fruity wine with flavors of ripe raspberries and a granular texture.

19 Crimes South Eastern Australia Red Wine 2015 ($10). A little manufactured in flavor but fruity with pastel-like flavors.

Matua Marlborough Pinot Noir 2014 ($13). Almost spritzy, spicy, lean with tangy fruit and light tannins.

Related Links
Focus on Australian Wines, From Clare Valley and Eden Valley