By having three vineyards in different locations, and with their different microclimates, geography and geology, Elephant Hill has the ability to minimise the risks of poor seasons, and possibly more importantly give enormous options in blending, as well as the opportunity of making single vineyard wines. Elephant Hill has followed all these options, and according to Steve Skinner, the three sites have resulted in a leap in quality of the wines since the 2013 vintage. Viticulturist Jon Peet took us on a tour of all three vineyards.
In the afternoon, Steve Skinner introduced a selection of wines that are yet-to-be-released. These were two ‘Earth’ wines, a Tempranillo and Syrah, both from 2015 and from the Triangle vineyard, the name ‘Earth’ referring to the top soil layer of the site. There will be ‘Stones’ wines from the company’s Gimblett Gravels vineyard, and also ‘Sea’ wines from the Te Awanga vineyard. These are to be placed under the ‘Icon’ wines, but above the ‘Reserve’ range.
Steve also showed the newest ‘Icon’ wines, a ‘Salomé’ Chardonnay 2016, the first Chardonnay in this range, the ’Airavata’ Syrah 2014 and ’Hieronymus’ blended red from 2014. I have made full notes on these, and they can be seen in ‘Tasting Reviews’ by clicking here.
Much has been said about the unique growing season in 2018. There are a number of commentators and plenty of opinions on it being a very poor season. The reality is that most seasons had varied success with different varieties. Steve Skinner and Jon Peet felt that 2018 gave them plenty of material to make a good quantity of ‘Icon’ level wine, very much as in 2017, where Elephant Hill may have the best quantity and quality of ‘Icon’ fruit to date.