If the extent of your New Zealand wine education is Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, this Bordeaux -like blend from Villa Maria will joyfully expand your knowledge of novel red options. A blend of predominantly Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, with bits of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, this well-priced wine is delicious now, and will not suffer if you chill it down for half an hour to refresh, as well as satisfy, your palate.
2009 Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon, Villa Maria, Hawkes Bay $15 srp
Spicy, nuanced nose of peppery dark cherry and plum. Penetrating with nice depth and brambly, leathery overtones. Excellent mouth texture that coats the palate with fecund richness. With low acids and good length, it's an excellent choice to accompany your grilling needs. Drink now-2012.