As a general impression, most wineries are very small. As a result, vineyards can be - and generally are - looked after very well, and the winemaking is characterised by attention to detail. Therefore the quality of wines tends to be good.
The Te Whau winery is spectacularly located on a cliff top, with amazing views and sunsets. Like for a number of other wineries, the restaurant is open for dinner as well. The 2006 Te Whau The Point is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec. The fruit flavours are complex, mainly redcurrant, but also blackcurrant and some savoury and earthy undertones. The wine has quite a dry finish (91 points). The 2007 The Point is a similar blend, but livelier and more acidic. This wine is likely to live longer (92 points).
Passage Rock is another winery worth a visit. The 2008 Passage Rock Cabernet/Merlot shows ripe fruit, but is savoury in character. The fruit profile is a bit weak and the mouthfeel slightly flat (89 points).
Over the last few years, Shiraz has become a major factor as well, like in so many other parts of the world. The 2008 Passage Rock Reserve Shiraz tastes very Northern Rhone like, with a plum core, but quite savoury and smoky, with dry tannins (92 points).
A strong performer is Kennedy Point. Its wines are slightly riper and more elegant. The 2009 Kennedy Point Shiraz is a terrific savoury wine, with good depth (93 points). The 2005 Kennedy Point Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is made in the same mould (91 points). I was tempted to take some of these wines with me, as unfortunately they are not available in Australia.
The issue with all these wines, as a generalisation, is that they are good quality wines, but not compelling enough to absolutely stand out.