The New World Wine Awards have just been announced and we asked one of the judges, John-Paul Henderson, to give us the low down on some wines he thinks are worth a go when you want a change of pace.

Henderson is the co-owner of Wellington’s Salty Pidgin Bar and Bistro, which is lauded for its award-winning wine list which he has curated for the past 16 years.  And their beer tap list is always excellent as well.

new world wine awards
John-Paul Henderson

Mudhouse Waipara Valley Riesling

“Why don’t people drink more Riesling?” Henderson wonders. “There must be a similar beer style where beer experts can’t work out why beer consumers don’t drink more of it.”

(Editor: that would be Hefeweizen).

“Well, Riesling is that grape in the wine world.”

There’s a hint of sweetness balanced by natural acidity, fresh green apple and citrus. “Moreish,” says Henderson.

Main Divide Gewurztraminer

This is from one of New Zealand’s premium producers, Pegasus Bay and it’s revered in wine circles, says Henderson.

It’s intensely aromatic, he says, with flavours of Turkish Delight, florals and spice. It’s not acidic like many New Zealand whites and provides a luscious decadent mouthfeel. 

“Unforgettable — try it with pork or other white meats,” says Henderson.

Church Road McDonald Series Chardonnay 2021

Forget the old adage of ABC (anything but Chardonnay) Henderson reckons, because modern New Zealand Chardonnay has much less of that one-dimensional oak character these days.  This one has smoky, flinty characters, with layers of stonefruit and citrus and is definitely worth cellaring.

Castillo Ducay Carienna

Beer drinkers are naturally curious, and this Spanish red blend will pique the interest of anyone who thinks outside the box. 

“This wine speaks of place,” Henderson says, but a very different place to New Zealand.

Rather than the pinot noir, merlot, syrah styles we grow here this features grenache and tempranillo, two of the world’s most popular grape varieties with good reason.

“It’s sophistication on a tight budget,” Henderson says.

Soho ‘Bobby’ Marlborough Pinot Noir

Marlborough is often overlooked when it comes to pinot noir but the region delivers some of the best pinot in New Zealand.

This is “everything that is good about pinot — vibrant, distinctly varietal, and fresh”. 

Henderson suggests being brave with this distinctive wine and trying it with salmon fillets smoked on the barbecue.

“Red wine and seafood are not always a no-no,” he says.

The Top 50 wines, all under $25, are available in New World supermarkets nationwide until November 20.