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Featured Reviews

Mills Reef 2016 Reserve Syrah and 2015 Elspeth Cabernet Sauvignon

14 June,2017
Mills Reef is the consummate Hawke’s Bay wine producer making wines across many varieties and at different levels of aspiration. In all cases, the wines deliver exactly what they are meant to, and usually more, thus making Mills Reef a particularly good purchase. Winemakers Tim Preston and Paul Dawick are aware of the strengths of the Hawke’s Bay region and in particular the suitability of certain styles from the different sub-regions. This means that Mills Reef does often source fruit from other growing regions, such as Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, due to the uniqueness of these wines and the demands of their markets.

However, Hawke’s Bay, and especially the Gimblett Gravels is the heart, soul and core of Mills Reef, and Syrah and the Bordeaux varieties are the showcase wines for the company. Here, I review the 2016 ‘Reserve’ Syrah, made from low cropped fruit with intense flavours to achieve balance, and the 2015 ‘Elspeth’ Cabernet Sauvignon, which is made with the best possible quality in mind. As usual, they reflect the growing benevolent seasons in 2015 and 2016 in Hawke’s Bay.


Mills Reef ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2016

Syrah from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

Even, dark ruby-red colour with some depth and light purple hues, paler on edge. This has a softly voluminous nose of dark raspberry fruit with notes of blackberries, entwined with black and white pepper fragrances, dark-red florals. Spice and liquorice suggestions emerge with aeration. Medium-bodied, the palate has bright and intensely fruit flavours of dark raspberries, blackberries, white and black pepper melded with lifted florals. The mouthfeel is lively and fresh with lacy acidity providing energy, and the wine flows along a gently extracted palate with supple tannins. This has good linearity, and carries to a lingering finish of raspberries, blackberries and pepper. This is a fresh, lively, bright and up-front Syrah with raspberry, blackberry and peppery flavours on a supple palate. Match with Asian and Middle Eastern fare over the next 3-4 years. Fruit from two sites in Hawke’s Bay, fermented to 12.9% alc., the wine 9 months in 52% French and 48% American barrels, of which 32% was new oak. 17.5-/20 Jun 2017 RRP $24.95

Mills Reef ‘Elspeth’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Cabernet Sauvignon from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

Dark, deep ruby-red colour with black hues at the heart, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is very elegant in proportion and expression, with a refined core of ripe blackcurrant fruit along with dark herbs, and sweet and spicy, cedary oak adding interest. Medium-full bodied, the palate is elegantly concentrated with a firm core of sweetly ripened blackcurrant and blackberry fruit entwined with dark herbs, and sweet, cedary and spicy oak nuances. This has good density and the fruit richness is enlivened by fresh acidity. The wine follows a fine-textured elegant line, unfolding spices, nutty oak and dark herbs, leading to a sustained, elegant finish. This is an elegantly presented Cabernet Sauvignon with blackcurrant and blackberry fruit along with sweet, cedary, spicy oak on a finely extracted palate. Match with roasted and grilled lamb, beef and venison over the next 6-8 years. Hand-picked fruit from the Mere Road vineyard in the Gimblett Gravels, vines 20 y.o., fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine on skins 23 days post ferment, and aged 13 months in 63% American and 37% French oak, of which 40% was new. 18.0+/20 Jun 2017 RRP $39.95
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