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Featured Reviews

Elephant Hill Pinot Gris 2017 and ‘Stone’ Syrah 2015

08 June,2018

On my recent visit to Elephant Hill at the end of April, I was given insight to some of the exciting new happenings and wines about to make their mark on the wine scene and market. It was evident that the company’s three vineyards, the home site at Te Awanga, the Gimblett Gravels vineyard and the Bridge Pa block all provide different characteristics that suit different varieties, as well as giving the wines that emanate individual personalities (click here to see my report on visiting the vineyards). This offers winemaker Steve Skinner the opportunity of many blending options, but also the ability to make single vineyard wines. 

While at Elephant Hill, I tasted the excellent ‘Earth’ Tempranillo and the stunning ‘Earth’ Syrah wine, these from the Bridge Pa vineyard. These are very high aspirational wines which sit above the ‘Reserve’ tier, and just below the ‘Icon’ wines. In this series, individual bottlings from the Te Awanga vineyard will be labelled ‘Sea’, and the equivalent wines from the Gimblett Gravels will carry the name ’Stone’. Clearly these names refer to the defining factors of each vineyard. Here, I review the 2017 Pinot Gris, from the Te Awanga vineyard, this being an ‘estate’ wine rather than under the ‘Sea’ designation. I also review the 2015 ‘Stone’ Syrah, from the Gimblett Gravels vineyard.


Elephant Hill Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2017

Pinot Gris from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Bright, light straw-yellow colour. The nose is softly presented with fresh aromas of white and yellow stonefruits, along with notes of pears, and nutty, flinty lees detail adding interest. The aromatics are harmoniously melded, and unveils a little honeysuckle with aeration. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is fresh and vibrant with lively flavours of white and yellow stonefruits, hints of pear and honeysuckle, lifted florals and a subtle layering of nutty and flinty lees. The fruit forms a tightly bound core and the mouthfeel is enlivened by fresh, zesty acidity. The wine flows along a very fine-featured line, unfolding aromatics as it carries to a lingering, refreshing finish. This is a taut, crisply refreshing dry Pinot Gris with stonefruit, pear, honeysuckle and florals, along with subtle lees detail. Serve with Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese fare over the next 3+ years. Fruit from the Te Awanga vineyard, fermented in stainless-steel to 13.0% alc. and approx. 3 g/L RS, the wine undergoing batonnage. 18.0+/20 Jun 2018 RRP $28.00

Elephant Hill ‘Stone’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2015

Syrah from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Full, near impenetrable, black-hued ruby-red colour with some garnet tints on the rim. The bouquet is well-proportioned with tightly packed and densely concentrated aromas of ripe blackberry fruit integrated with a layering of iron-earth minerals, unveiling hints of liquorice, black pepper and suggestions of spices and violet florals. Medium-full bodied, the palate is succulently sweet and rich with ripe flavours of blackberries, along with subtle notes of plums and boysenberries, liquorice, Asian spices, black pepper and underlying iron-earth minerals at the core. The palate is rich, plush and concentrated, and underlined by considerable fine-grained, powdery tannin extraction and structure. The acidity is integrated, adding to the rounded heart. The flavours carry with plenty of drive, power and energy to a long, softly full, lingering finish. This is a rich, fulsome Syrah with ripe blackberry fruit with plum, liquorice, pepper and spice notes with an iron-earth underlay, with considerable fine tannin extraction and structure. Match with casseroles and slow-cooked game meat over the next 10 years. MS clone Syrah fruit with 1% Viognier whole bunches, from the Gimblett Gravels vineyard, fermented with approx. 10% whole bunches overall to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 26 months in 36% new French oak. 139 cases made. 19.0+/20 Jun 2018 RRP $75.00

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