Every few years, I compile a list of New Zealand wines with a price tag of $100 or more that I’ve tasted in the past five years. I include the latest vintage of each wine brand.
In 2013, there were just 27 wines.
In June this year, that figure had climbed to 92 wines. Predictions of rampant inflation and the imminent release of high-flying reds from the mostly splendid 2019, 2020 and 2021 vintages seem likely to drive the number of wines with a treble-digit price tag north of the $100 mark.
In my latest list, Hawke’s Bay was the top region, with 27 wines. That’s not surprising.
Hawke’s Bay excels at producing bold, long-lived reds and stylish chardonnays, both featuring on the shopping lists of collectors and investors who buy big-ticket wines.
Central Otago runs in second place, with Waiheke Island a close third.
Marlborough may produce 70% of the nation’s wine but it only ranks fourth when it comes to making seriously expensive bottles.
North Canterbury ranks fifth and Clevedon narrowly beats Nelson with two wines, courtesy of Puriri Hills.
Why so expensive?
How does a wine qualify to join the $100-plus club?
It should be in short supply, at least initially. “On allocation” is a powerful selling tool.
I call allocation the “Cloudy Bay school of marketing.” In the late 80s, if you had a bottle or two of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc you were obviously well connected.
At about the same time that Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc was released on the market, I was a brand manager for Corbans Wines. We had a riesling that was in short supply and had to be allocated.
When we finally managed to increase production and take the wine off allocation, sales dropped by 50%.
Expensive wines tend to have the potential to develop well in the bottle. Red wines are typically more age-worthy than white wines. That’s why 88% of wines with a price tag of $100 or more are red.
Hype is helpful
Waiheke producer Destiny Bay makes some of this country’s most expensive wines. Their wines are great, they’re in short supply, and they have a proven ability to age. But it certainly did them no harm to be rated “No.1” in The Real Review’s Top Wineries of New Zealand 2021.
Wines costing $100-plus must be very good to justify this significant premium. Wine producers who are aiming high must be careful not to compromise their brand by releasing substandard wines from challenging vintages.
NZ Wines with a price tag of $100 or more at June 2022
$100 Man O’ War 2019 Kulta Mathilda Waiheke Island Chardonnay
$105 Tantalus 2019 Cachette Reserve Waiheke Island Chardonnay
$120 Vidal 2014 1888 Lyons Vineyard Hawke's Bay Chardonnay
$120 Vidal 2016 Anthony Joseph 1888 Hawke's Bay Chardonnay
$120 Greystone 2019 Erin's North Canterbury Chardonnay
$120 Craggy Range 2020 Les Beaux Cailloux Hawke's Bay Chardonnay
$120 Mudbrick 2020 Francesca Waiheke Island Chardonnay
$125 Pyramid Valley 2019 Lion's Tooth North Canterbury Chardonnay
$125 Pyramid Valley 2019 Field of Fire North Canterbury Chardonnay
$135 Bell Hill 2017 North Canterbury Chardonnay
$140 Tony Bish 2019 Zen Hawke's Bay Chardonnay
$150 Church Road 2020 Tom Hawke's Bay Chardonnay
$175 Clearview 2019 Endeavour Hawke's Bay Chardonnay
$235 Bell Hill 2016 Single Block/Limeworks North Canterbury Chardonnay
Pinot Noir (30)
$100 Dry River 2020 Martinborough Pinot Noir
$100 Pegasus Bay 2017 Prima Donna North Canterbury Pinot Noir
$100 Gibbston Valley 2019 Le Maitre Central Otago Pinot Noir
$100 Marisco 2014 The Craft Series, The Journey 2 Marlborough Pinot Noir
$100 Marisco Vineyards 2014 Craft Series, The Journey 1 Marlborough Pinot Noir
$110 Kusuda 2020 Martinborough Pinot Noir
$110 Mt Difficulty 2015 Single Vineyard Mansons Farm Central Otago Pinot Noir
$110 Mt Difficulty 2015 Single Vineyard Long Gully Central Otago Pinot Noir
$110 Akarua 2018 The Siren Central Otago Pinot Noir
$115 Escarpment 2020 Kupe Martinborough Pinot Noir
$116 Felton Road 2020 Block 3 Central Otago Pinot Noir
$116 Felton Road 2020 Block 5 Central Otago Pinot Noir
$118 Prophet's Rock 2017 Cuvee Aux Antipodes Central Otago Pinot Noir
$120 Greystone 2019 Thomas Brothers North Canterbury Pinot Noir
$120 Quartz Reef 2015 Franz Ferdinand Central Otago Pinot Noir
$120 Quartz Reef 2017 Otto Central Otago Pinot Noir
$120 Amisfield 2016 RKV Reserve Central Otago Pinot Noir
$120 Villa Maria 2019 Attorney Marlborough Pinot Noir
$120 Gibbston Valley 2020 Reserve Central Otago Pinot Noir
$120 Old House Vineyards 2019 The Black Fantail Reserve Nelson Pinot Noir
$125 Rock Ferry 2016 Mid Hill Central Otago Pinot Noir
$125 Pyramid Valley 2019 Angel Flower North Canterbury Pinot Noir
$125 Mondillo 2019 Bella Reserve Central Otago Pinot Noir
$125 Pyramid Valley 2019 Earth Smoke North Canterbury Pinot Noir
$129.99 Seresin 2017 Sun & Moon Marlborough Pinot Noir
$130 Quartz Reef 2019 “Billie Jean” Central Otago Pinot Noir
$134 Prophet's Rock 2015 Retrospect Central Otago Pinot Noir
$135 Bell Hill 2017 North Canterbury Pinot Noir
$150 Craggy Range 2020 Aroha Martinborough Pinot Noir
$150 Crown Range Cellar 2016 Grant Taylor Central Otago Pinot Noir
$100 Squawking Magpie 2013 Platinum Hawke's Bay Syrah
$100 Kusuda 2018 Martinborough Syrah
$100 Batch Winery 2013 Thomas Legacy Waiheke Island Syrah
$105 Kennedy Point 2019 Reserve Waiheke Island Syrah
$105 Cable Bay 2019 Reserve Waiheke Island Syrah
$110 Te Awanga Estate 2016 Trademark Hawke's Bay Syrah
$120 Trinity Hill 2018 L’Eritage Hawke's Bay Syrah
$120 Elephant Hill 2018 Airvata Hawke's Bay Syrah
$120 Trinity Hill 2019 Thomson’s Block Hawke's Bay Syrah
$120 Mudbrick 2020 Oscar Waiheke Island Syrah
$140 Bilancia 2019 La Collina Hawke's Bay Syrah
$150 Craggy Range 2020 Le Sol Hawke's Bay Syrah
$150 Trinity Hill 2018 Homage Hawke's Bay Syrah
$150 Stonecroft 2018 The Original Hawke's Bay Syrah
$150 Man O’ War 2018 Kulta Totto Waiheke Island Syrah
$220 Church Road 2019 Tom Hawke's Bay Syrah
$225 Te Motu 2015 Kuikui Waiheke Island Syrah
$350 Mills Reef 2013 Arthur Edmund Hawke's Bay Syrah
Blended reds (19)
$100 Squawking Magpie 2013 Platinum Cabernets Hawke's Bay
$105 Tantalus 2016 Ecluse Reserve Waiheke Island
$120 Puriri Hills 2015 Harmonie du Soir Clevedon
$125 Frenchmans Hill Estate 2015 Blood Creek 8 Waiheke Island
$130 Paritua 2018 "21.12" Hawke's Bay
$138 Soho 2015 ‘Zabeel’ Waiheke Island
$140 Te Motu 2016 Waiheke Island
$140 Messenger 2019 Cabernet Franc Merlot Malbec Hawke's Bay
$150 Soho 2019 Reserve JC Waiheke Island
$150 Mills Reef 2020 Elspeth One Hawke's Bay
$150 Man O’ War 2018 Kulta Tytti Waiheke Island
$160 Esk Valley 2018 Heipipi The Terraces Hawke's Bay
$170 Destiny Bay 2019 ‘Destinae’ Waiheke Island
$175 Clearview 2019 The Basket Press Hawke's Bay
$215 Puriri Hills 2015 Pope Clevedon
$225 Te Motu 2015 ‘Kuikui’ Waiheke Island
$350 Mills Reef 2013 ‘Arthur Edmund’ Hawke's Bay
$375 Destiny Bay 2019 ‘Mystae’ Waiheke Island
$550 Destiny Bay 2019 ‘Magna Praemia’ Waiheke Island
$100 Squawking Magpie 2013 Platinum Hawke's Bay Merlot
Cabernet Sauvignon (3)
$120 Trinity Hill 2019 Prison Block Hawke's Bay Cabernet Sauvignon
$150 Villa Maria 2018 Single Vineyard Ngakirikiri Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Sauvignon
$175 Passage Rock 2020 Generation Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon
$110 Quartz Reef 2016 Methode Traditionnelle Vintage Rose Central Otago
$110 Gibbston Valley 2014 Blanc de Blancs Central Otago
$110 Gibbston Valley 2013 Methode Rose Central Otago
$120 Gibbston Valley 2012 Methode Grand Reserve Rose Central Otago
$125 Quartz Reef 2010 Late Disgorged Vintage Central Otago
$ 270 No 1 Family 2016 Adele Cuvee Marlborough
$105 Kusuda 2018 Trockenbeerenauslese Martinborough Riesling