Two truths. I am unashamedly a merlotphile. I have never watched Game of Thrones. Now you can judge me...
Linden Estate Reserve Hawke's Bay Merlot 2015 $48 In 2010 Trevor Shepherd talked his way into a job at Linden, where for four years he toiled (unpaid mostly) to restore the vines and get the decrepit-but-legendary winery back up to scratch. It's clearly worked. There's a bold, buxom, plum and cocoa character to this wine, complete with grippy tannins, smoky warmth in the mid-palate and excellent length of flavour.
Sip with: Old-fashioned scotch eggs and brown onion gravy.
Beach House Gimblett Gravels Reserve Merlot 2014 $25
If you're like me and have moments where you could absolutely murder a glass of merlot, then this little lovely will make all your wildest dreams come true. Plump, plush and packed solid with plum and black forest flavours, chocolate, sweet smoke notes and a pillowy, perfectly poised texture lead to a long, fleshy finish. Noice!
Sip with: smoked tomato and eggplant lasagne.
HAHA Hawkes Bay Merlot 2016 $16
Berries? Check. Plum? Check. Truckloads of spices? Check. Rib-sticking length of flavour? That's a check too. Basically, this is a warming, cuddly, fabulously tongue-fuzzing, multi-tasking merlot that'll please the crowds and win friends and influence people. Your wallet will remain calm too.
Sip with: slivers of prosciutto.
Yvonne Lorkin is co-founder and chief tasting officer of winefriend.co.nz and a Wine Writers of NZ member.