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Featured Reviews

Zaria Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2015 and 2014

08 March,2017
Zaria is the wine brand of Bryce and Alena Edmonds who live on and tend the 6.8 ha ‘Lesley’s Vineyard’ in the Bridge Pa Triangle district between Bridge Pa township and Abbey Cellars. The vineyard in a family trust was established in 1998 and has 4.5 ha of Merlot, 1.3 ha of Malbec, 0.3 ha of Cabernet Franc and 0.7 ha of Semillon. It is named after his mother. Bryce has worked vintage in California, Australia, Bordeaux and Austria, as well as several vintages at Te Awa Winery with Jenny Dobson, who he cites as a significant influence to make his own wine. Bryce now is assistant winemaker at Beach House Wines.

The Zaria label began in 2011 with the production of 3 cases of rosé, but Bryce has been making wine from the ‘Lesley’s Vineyard’ fruit since 2006. With 3 barrels of wine in 2014 and 2 barrels in 2015, Bryce has decided to commercialise the wine. There is the intention to add a Chardonnay, rosé and barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc from contracted fruit in coming vintages. Bryce makes his wines at the Beach House winery on Mere Road in the Gimblett Gravels. Here, I review the 2015 and 2014 Zaria Merlot wines. To contact Bryce, Tel: 022 656-0321 or Email:


Zaria Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2015

Merlot from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

Dark ruby-red colour, a little lighter on the rim. This has an elegant nose with fresh, fragrant aromas of red plum and berry fruit, along with a subtle herbal lift and nutty oak notes. Medium-full bodied, the palate has juicy fruit flavours of red berryfruit and plums, along with red floral and fresh herb notes, and nuances of nutty oak, forming an elegant core. The mouthfeel is fresh and bright, the fruit supported by moderately extracted, fine tannins and lacy acidity. The wine flows with good energy, carrying to an elegant, light-fruited finish. This is a fresh and bright-fruited Merlot with red berry and plum flavours with balanced extract and lacy acidity. Match with beef and lamb, and Mediterranean fare over the next 4+ years. Fruit from ‘Lesley’s Vineyard’, indigenous yeast fermented to 13.9% alc., the wine spending 3 weeks on skins post ferment and aged 15 months in seasoned French oak barrels. 17.0/20 Mar 2017 RRP $25.00

Zaria Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2014

Merlot from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

Dark, deep, ruby-red colour with some garnet, lighter edged. The bouquet is full and densely packed with ripe, savoury, dark-red plum and berryfruit aromas along with a layering of nutty oak and earthy elements. This is beginning to develop secondary interest. Full-bodied, the palate has rich and well-concentrated and deep flavours of savoury dark-red plums, intermingling with dark herb, earth and nutty notes. The palate is well-structured with plenty of fine-grained tannins, and balanced with integrated acidity. The wine leads to a solid and fulsome finish of dark plum and earthy flavours. This is a fulsome, rich and well-structured Merlot with savoury dark plum, earthy and nutty flavours, and beginning to show secondary interest. Serve with casseroles and slow-cooked game meat dishes over the next 6-8 years. Fruit from ‘Lesley’s Vineyard’, indigenous yeast fermented to 14.6% alc., the wine spending 3 weeks on skins post ferment and aged 18 months in seasoned French oak barrels. 17.5+/20 Mar 2017 RRP $25.00
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