Top drop… Wine of the week(end)… d’Arenberg

Hand made takes on new meaning at d’Arenberg in McLaren Vale…

2014 d’Arenberg The High Trellis Cabernet Sauvignon $21-$24

Winemaker Toby Porter once told me he sometimes wished winemaking was easier, quickly adding that the rewards always outweigh the painstaking, time consuming, hands on work. His job is certainly not an easy one. A winemaker at the well known family owned winery, d’Arenberg in McLaren Vale, South Australia, he is incredibly hands-on – every single wine made there is produced not in a modern press but in a basket press. That’s no mean feat when production is relatively high, prices are relatively low and quality is uniformly above par – if you had to name a great Australian GSM (Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre blend) that’s worth beating a path to and possible to find without too much hassle, d’Arenberg it is. But this winery makes a wide range of wines and this deeply coloured Cabernet Sauvignon is so concentrated in fruit flavour, notes of cedar and oak nicely integrated into its impressive big bodied style that it’s remarkable to find it so accessibly priced.

My role… 

There’s something indulgent in talking about someone else’s hard work as a ‘wine of the week(end)’ but… someone has to do it and it’s a privilege not lost on yours truly.

Thanks to…

Toby and the d’Arenberg team for an insightful conversation over lunch in Wellington over a year ago now. And thanks to Negociants NZ for importing these exceptional wines to New Zealand.


New Top Drop for Under $20: MW Shiraz

2015 Most Wanted Shiraz South Australia $16.99, 14.5%

Talk about good value for money… 

This cheekily named MW Shiraz is a newcomer to New Zealand and is imported by another MW – Master of Wine Stephen Bennett, who has carved a niche for bringing surprisingly high quality and low priced wines to this country. It’s an equation that strikes the right chord with wine drinkers looking for smooth, ripe red wines, such as this big bodied Shiraz. It’s a must have on hand for summer barbecues, but delivers more than that too, thanks to ripe fruit flavours and great balance between power (ripe flavours) and approachability (soft tannins). Tasty.

Available from specialist stores, such as Fine Wine Delivery Company in Auckland or find out about stockists near you by calling, 09 378 9463.

Real wine bargains under $20

Alastair Picton-Warlow is the owner of a New Zealand wine brand called Supper Club and this year he added a new string to his professional bow by importing three new Shiraz from Australia. You could say he is keeping it real when it comes to the price. Two of this trio cost less than $20 to buy.

The wines are called Reillys (sic) and come from the Clare Valley in South Australia.

This means there is a Riesling and Grenache (both well known from the Clare Valley) in the range, but, for now, Picton-Warlow is focussing solely on Shiraz.

The new wines he is importing tick two important boxes for wine drinkers; they are affordable and they deliver impressively in terms of intensity of taste (dry, full bodied reds with rich fruit flavours and earthy complexity). They cost, respectively, $17.99, $19.99 and $34.99.

Reillys Clare Valley wines are named after an early settler in the valley whose name was Hugh Reilly. His slate cottage is now the cellar door for the wines, which were founded by Justin and Julie Ardill 1993.

The couple bought 12 acres of vines in Watervale that year and began producing wine in 1994, focussing on the region’s historic strengths of Grenache, Riesling and Shiraz, all of which are made at a newish winery (it was new back then) at Leasingham. Production expanded beyond the volume of grapes they were able to grow themselves, hence they now buy in a substantial proportion of grapes to supplement production.

“I found Reillys when I was looking for an Australian brand that had an X-factor, so I searched high and low and eventually came across this range from  Australian wine writer James Halliday’s up and coming brands. He rates these wines highly, so it’s great to get similar feedback from respected palates in this country,” says Picton-Warlow, who plans to add to his Australian wine portfolio in early 2017. Except next time round, he hopes to bring in wines from the Barossa Valley or the McLaren Vale.

Tasting Reillys Clare Valley wines


2014 Barking Mad $17.99, 15.5% ABV

Deep purple, dry and full bodied with high acid and big smooth tannins with  spicy flavours of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon, held in check with ripe smooth big black plum flavours and a lingering finish – no mean feat in a wine of this price – very good value for $17.99. This is a top drop for under $20.

2014 Reilly Clare Valley Shiraz $19.99, 15.5% ABV

Big dark purple colour with big soft smooth tannins, bone dry, shiraz as it should be; cloves, cedar, dark plums and big but beautiful. Shiraz as it should be.

2013 Dry Land Shiraz $34.99, 15.5% ABV

Outstanding, smooth, dry full bodied, big smooth tannins and a long soft, spicy finish give this opaque coloured Australian Shiraz the X-factor.

Fast facts on Reillys in New Zealand

For more information, contact Alastair Picton-Warlow at Supper Club Wines, phone 0064 275799463, email:  

North Island NZ orders from: 

Brent Hawkins:

Ian Isaacs: