Top of the tipples

, from Issue #107. January 23, 2023
Top of the tipples

We round up the best of the best from 2022's Tasting Panels – so gather your pals, break out the nibbles, wash the good glasses and pour yourself a drop!

We love a good round-up here at dish. Huddling together to look back at the incredibly tasty treats that’ve wowed us over the last year is an excellent way to jog the memory and unclog the old saliva glands, that’s for sure. Our Tasting Panels are now in their thirteenth year and they’re something our team looks forward to judging with every issue. So, on your marks. Get set. And GO! forth to enjoy our absolute top of the tops from 2022.

Top of the Tastings

Issue 101 - New Zealand Vodka

Simply Pure Blue Duck Rare Vodka ($85) Gold Medal

Simply Pure Blue Duck Rare Vodka

The very name of this very special vodka says it all, really. All three of our judges were wowed by its soothing purity and delicacy of flavour. The softest of florals feature on the nose and Kate noted an upfront crispness which moved into a round, cooling mouthfeel, while Maxime and Yvonne both commented on its lick of citrus on the finish. It’s an absolutely stunning example made using 100% whey spirit and a mammoth seven distillations and no added preservatives, sugars or softeners. Plus, $5 from every bottle purchased direct from their website is donated to NZ Forest & Bird.

Coast Road Vodka ($57) Gold Medal

Coast Road Vodka

Triple-distilled and charcoal-filtered, this hugely impressive vodka is incredibly clean on the nose yet unveils lovely light spice and lime on the first sip. Maxime loved its rich, oily textures and soft herbal notes. Kate also loved its smooth, sweetly creamy mid-palate. “Clean, silky, ribbon-like and completely lovely,” agreed Yvonne.

Issue 102 - Australian Shiraz

Grant Burge Filsell Barossa Shiraz 2019 ($33) Gold Medal

Grant Burge Filsell Barossa Shiraz 2019

It’s impossible to overstate how powerfully delicious this beauty from the Barossa is to drink. Inky-dark in the glass, crammed with cranberries and cream on the nose, alongside blackberries and pepper, Ric was taken by its sweet fruit attack and lovely gripping tannins, while Cameron commented that it was “warm, generous and bold”.

Dune Mingsha Shan McLaren Vale Shiraz 2020 ($25) Gold Medal

Dune Mingsha Shan McLaren Vale Shiraz 2020

It was the incredible floral lift of this wine which wowed our judges from the first swirl. Co-fermented with a splash of fiano (an Italian white grape) to elevate the aromatics, Yvonne loved how it bursts with rosehip, redcurrant, peppered cherries and exotic spices. Ric was delighted with its dense mouthfeel and clever complexity, while Cameron applauded its well-proportioned acidity and subtle textures.

Issue 103 - Reds from the Outer Rim

Church Road 1 Hawke’s Bay Malbec 2020 ($120) Gold Medal

Church Road 1 Hawke’s Bay Malbec 2020

If there’s one undisputed truth, it’s that when it comes to crafting mind-warpingly great reds, Chris Scott is an absolute ninja. The trophy cabinet at Church Road has accumulated so much heavy metal since Chris took over, they’ve had to add extra support brackets. This malbec had our judges hooked from the first sip. “Wow!” said Yvonne. “Inky-dark, lithe, youthful and loaded with lovely berry-fruit, cocoa and soy notes and smooth, muscular tannins.” Kate loved its luscious, generous fruit and harmonious oak integration, while Ant said it has the X-factor. “Florals, pure blueberry, amazing vibrancy, texture and concentration.”

Matavino Matakana Barbera di Matakana 2020 ($50) Gold Medal

Matavino Matakana Barbera di Matakana 2020

With its bold, meaty nose edged with plum, raspberry and liquorice, this Barbera was an instant hit with Ant, who loved its rich, briny notes and beautifully balanced tannins. Kate agreed: “It marries the fruit line with salt, it’s tarry and masculine and supremely age-worthy.” And Yvonne loved its impenetrable colour and rich sarsaparilla and leather layers. Gorgeous.

Issue 104 - Dark Beer

Bach Brewing VELVET MARLEY Chocolate Cherry Stout ($9.99) Gold Medal

Bach Brewing VELVET MARLEY Chocolate Cherry Stout

The instant each judge got to this entry, there were audible oohs and aahs. All were seduced by its lifted dark berry and cherry nose and creamy vanilla and cacao nib character. “Powerful cherry and raspberry layers lead to a slightly funky, smoky mid-palate and a sherbert-like finish,” said Chris, and the whole team agreed it was an impeccably balanced beer with exotically creamy, fruit jube freshness and marathon-like length of flavour.

Good George Campfire Toasted Marshmallow Stout ($16) Gold Medal

Good George Campfire Toasted Marshmallow Stout

Stunning. Absolutely stunning. Yvonne was well and truly wowed with its sexy-sweet, creamy aromatics, “like a dark, vanilla and marshmallow Chupa Chup” and its silky, slippery-rich mouthfeel. Chris loved its white chocolate and coffee characters and Hannah agreed: “Great head, great colour, great nose and gorgeous milkshake and marshmallow notes.”

Issue 105 - New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Wairau River Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2022 ($20) Gold Medal

Wairau River Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2022

Our judges' jaws dropped with every sip of this searingly dry, incredibly concentrated style bursting with crystalline complexity. Yvonne found its jalapeño, smoked grapefruit and capsicum notes elevated it to epic heights, while Matt and Barry both commented on its generosity and ‘flow’. It’s a truly stunning example from a challenging vintage.

Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2021 ($33.90) Gold Medal

Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Devastatingly delicious lemon, lime and river stone minerality made this wine stand out for Matt, while Barry was seduced by its passionfruit, guava and green melon notes, alongside its drive and weight. With ultra-herbaceous layers saturated with citrus and cut grass, it’s a true classic and an exceptional example.

Issue 106 - Trans-Tasman Sparkling Wine

Lindauer Special Reserve Rosé NV ($18.99) Gold Medal

Lindauer Special Reserve Rosé NV

With its ultra-pretty, pale coral colour and mind-bendingly generous mouthfeel, this rosé crafted from pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinotage wowed our judges from the first sip. “Supremely elegant and showing charming red fruits and delicate, Shrewsbury biscuit characters,” noted Yvonne, while Sara and Simon admired its vibrant acidity, creamy complexity and beautiful balance. Outstanding. Widely available

Verde Brut NV ($19.99) Gold Medal

Verde Brut NV

A classically structured, bright lemon-gold sparkler with super-fresh citrus, beautiful biscuity layers and personality for days, this wine was an instant hit. “Apple and custard tart aromas lead to classic, creamy textures on the palate supported by lovely bright acidity,” commented Simon, while Sara enjoyed its toasted brioche and nutty, mealy mouthfeel. Blended from Gisborne-grown chardonnay and pinot noir, it’s impressive value. Widely available