News & Awards

NZ Champion 2014 Pinot Gris

Riding the wave at the Air NZ Wine Awards

Judges Comments: It's concentrated and finely textured, well supported by complex pear, asian spice & floral aromas.

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Nelson on my mind, by Yvonne Lorkin

Sea Level Home Block Pinot Gris 2011 $19 ★★★★½

I love the aromas of frangipane, nashi and crème caramel while in the mouth there are layers of gingerbread, quince, pear and prickly, textural acidity. Created from fruit grown in their Mariri vineyard by talented winemaker Sam Smail, this flavourful pinot gris finishes dry and delicious.

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From Neil Hodgson's Wine Column

Sea Level Home Block 2011 Chardonnay – about $28

When I tasted wines from Sea Level's first vintage, I knew they had something special going on, and this chardonnay confirms those thoughts. Refined, elegant, clean and complex are words that come to mind when you try it. Layers of flavour include nettles, redcurrants, tropical fruits, toasted brioche, and juicy limes in the finish. A super wine from an emerging premium producer.

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Sea Level Rising in Nelson

A review by Raymond Chan

Forgive the play on imagery and words but knowing the increased market presence of the Sea Level brand and the siting of the Smail family vineyard in Nelson, I reckon the title of the article is quite appropriate. The Smail family of Christchurch is behind the Sea Level brand and vineyard. Taking his family to the Nelson region for regular holidays, Mike Smail noted a particular site occupied by an apple and pear orchard on the coastal highway between Tasman and Motueka at Mariri, opposite the Kina peninsula. The soils there are Moutere clay, and the proximity to the water and accompanying sea breezes seemed to make it ideal for a healthy vineyard. In 2006, the family purchased the 14 ha site and planted 8 ha of grapes in 2008, the first crop yielding in 2011...

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Wine New Zealand Magazine

Nelson - a regional tasting

With a blind tasting of Nelson's wines, the best have been selected with reviews.

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Wine New Zealand Magazine

Nelson - boutique diversity

When it comes to boutique wine operations the Nelson region is a prime example.

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Nelson Mail -

Debut Vintage pick of the bunch.

Sam Smail's first vintage from his Mariri vineyard has been a golden one. His Sea Level Home Block Pinot Gris 2011 was one of six Nelson wines to gain a gold medal at this year's Royal Easter Show Wine Awards. This was three more golds than the region's winemakers received last year.

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Wine Art Magazine

The background of the father and son team

This Wine Art article published on the 12/02/11 shares the background of the father and son team at Sea Level wines.

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Michael Cooper's Wine Buyers Guide 2015 - Tasting Notes for Sea Level Wine


Sea Level Home Block Nelson Chardonnay

The powerful 2012 vintage (4½ Stars) is an impressive debut, priced sharply. Estate-grown at Mariri and matured for almost a year in French oak casks (20 per cent new), it is sturdy (14.5 per cent alcohol) and sweet-fruited, with deep, peachy and mealy, slightly spicy flavours, hints of butter and butterscotch, and a dry finish. A complex, age-worthy wine, it should be at its best 2015+


Sea Level Home Block Nelson Gewürztraminer

Estate-grown at Mariri, the 2013 vintage (4½ Stars) is a richly perfumed, medium style (15 grams/litre of residual sugar), with concentrated, fresh lychee, pear and spice flavours, pure and strong, a slightly oily texture and excellent harmony


Sea Level Home Block Nelson Pinot Gris

The 2014 vintage (4 Stars) was estate-grown at Mariri. Freshly scented, it is mouthfilling, with strong, vibrant pear, lychee and spice flavours, showing excellent varietal character, and a finely balanced, off-dry (6 grams/litre of residual sugar) finish. It’s full of youthful promise


Sea Level Home Block Nelson Rosé

Estate-grown at Mariri, the 2014 vintage (4 Stars) is bright, pale pink. Attractively scented, it is very charming, with vibrant, delicate strawberry and spice flavours, a hint of peaches, fresh acidity and a dry (2 grams/litre of residual sugar), very harmonious finish