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Hawke’s Bay Wine Celebration 2016

By September 16, 2016No Comments

Elisha Milmine – Hawke’s Bay Wine

Hawke’s Bay remains one of New Zealand’s most important wine growing regions, though proportionally it has long given way to Marlborough in size. The growing area is around 4,800 hectares, making approx.13% of the total plantings in the country. However it is the varietal mix of plantings that will ensure Hawke’s Bay remains an essential region. Most of the country’s successful Bordeaux varietal wines come from the Bay, and there are significant plantings of Chardonnay and the emerging Syrah variety. Not quite as well recognised is the fact that Hawke’s Bay is home to considerable acreage of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.

The Hawke’s Bay region has experienced the typical growing pains of the emergence of sub-regional distinction, but has come out strongly from it, and more quickly than other areas. There has always been a good feeling of co-operation among all of the Hawke’s Bay wine producers, and the Hawke’s Bay Celebration is an excellent example of it. This event has evolved from the successful ‘Hot Red Hawke’s Bay’ promotion, which originally showcased the region’s red wines. But the opportunity to offer whites, as well as consumer interest and demand for the white wines to be seen, has seen ‘Hot Red Hawke’s Bay’ expand. This is essentially the 13th running of this Hawke’s Bay promotional event. It was held in Wellington and Auckland.

With over 30 wine producers showing their wares, offering over 200 wines for tasting, I took my usual approach of ensuring I met every exhibitor. I took a photograph of the people behind the stand – usually the winemaker – and asked them to pour only one wine for me to try. The wine did not need to be the ‘flagship’, but maybe a new release or lesser known wine for that producer. This meant that I could manage to fulfil the aim of seeing everyone within the allotted time frame. The Wellington trade and media session ran on Friday 16 September from 2.00 pm to 8.00 pm. Even taking this focussed approach, I took five hours to do this! The public session on Saturday gave an extra two hours to get around, but it would have been prudent to be selective. My photos and notes of the wine tasted follow, with ‘provisional’ scores, these being made in less controlled conditions than how I conduct my normal ‘Feature Reviews’.

My thanks to Elisha Milmine of Hawke’s Bay Wine for her role in co-ordinating the whole show. www.hawkesbaywine.co.nz


Dermot & Natasha Haworth – Abbey Cellars

Abbey Cellars ‘Testament’ Hawke’s Bay Cabernet/Merlot 2013
The 10 year anniversary wine and the flagship. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 4% each of Franc and Malbec and 3% Petit Verdot, aged 2 years in 50% new oak. Dark, deep, ruby-red colour. This is elegant and fragrant with ethereal aromatics, showing some secondary savoury dark red fruits with an earthy and cedary oak overlay, but the fruit is the hero. Firm with a black-fruited core, with liquorice and spices to the black fruit. Firm tannins and acidity lend concentration and line, unveiling complexing earth, game and cedary nuances on the finish. This is developing, but will keep well. (18.5-/20)


Barry Riwai – Alpha Domus

Alpha Domus ‘The Barnstormer’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2015
Fermented with some Viognier skins – a little goes a long way – aged 12 months in seasoned oak. Dark ruby-red colour, youthful. This is youthfully tight and firm, but showing rich black berried fruits with liquorice and Asian spices. On palate the sweetness of the fruit features, quite up-front and accessible, but retaining stylishness and elegance with fine tannin structure. The flavours recede nicely, and are carried with length, the spices and liquorice prominent in the profile. A lovely example. (18.0+/20)


John Loughlin – Askerne

Askerne Hawke’s Bay Rosé 2016 
The style of Askerne Rosé has varied over the years, but this seems on the button. Two-thirds Pinot Noir and one-third Syrah, indigenous yeast barrel-fermented to 13.0% alc. and 5 g/L RS. Pale pink with some purple. This is very attractive with florals and strawberries, a little cranberry and hints of confectionary. Off-dry to taste, but sweet and lifted on palate. Deliciously juicy and lively, the fruit fragrances to the fore. A little more confectionary emerges, but thirst-quenching and refreshing on the finish. (18.5-/20)


Chris Harrison – Beach House

Beach House ‘The Track’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2014
Clone 95 from the Gimblett Gravels, fermented in 500 L puncheons, aged 12 months in barrel, 15% new. Light straw-yellow with some depth. This is very fresh, fine and intense with white stonefruit and citrus aromas, subtle flinty lees. This has a lovely purity. Very elegant, refreshingly fine and bright, yet with sweet underlying fruit. A beautiful citrussy focus and core, unfolding flinty lees work. Very long and refined. Antithesis to big and buttery. (18.0+/20)


Yasmin & Chris Scott – Church Road

Church Road ‘TOM’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2013
18 months in barriques and puncheons, the oak 54% new and 100% MLF. Very pale straw-yellow. This is very elegant and very tight, with real intensity gunflint, white stonefruits, nutty oak, all beautifully refined and with a concentrated core that is yet to open. Very fresh and youthful, the fruit is showing richness with a concentrated mass of complexing gunflint. Citrus and stonefruit support, the intensity and linearity are striking. Great length. The youthfulness and freshness is the feature matching the complexity. The future bodes well here. (19.5/20)


Tim Turvey & Lisa Clarke – Clearview Estate

Clearview ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2015
About to be released, and following the stupendous 2014. Bright straw-yellow with some depth. This has a full, rich and deep nose with ripe citrus fruit aromas that build to presence, unfolding a significant gunflinty reductive complexing layer. Full-bodied and rich with sweetly ripe citrus and tropical fruit, the lusciousness is balanced and refined by the reductive sulphide gunflint minerality. The layering of flavours just unfold on the palate and carry to a very long finish. A surprising development for Clearview to incorporate this contemporary expression, but this works superbly. (19.0+/20)


Julz Brogden – Collaboration Wines

Collaboration ‘The Impression Red’ Hawke’s Bay 2014
A blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Franc and 10% Merlot, fruit from the Gimblett Gravels, aged 16 months in seasoned French oak. RRP around $25.00. Moderately deep ruby-red colour, lighter on edge. This is very elegant, softly integrated and harmonious in presentation on the nose, but still with a tight core of black berried fruits, curranty notes and a touch of earth. On palate quite firm, with black fruits and a vigorous mouthfeel, bright, lively and all in balance. (18.0-/20)

No Photo of Ant Mackenzie – Craft Farm
But he’s a really affable man

Craft Farm ‘Home Vineyard’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2015 
Ant and Fiona Mackenzie’s home vineyard Havelock North fruit. Brilliant straw-yellow colour, the nose is very elegant and concentrated with citrus and stonefruit aromas with underlying nutty and flinty complexities. Sweet aromatic, refinement, this exudes class. Rich fruited, but still firmly bound at the core, the mouthfeel is very finely textured with ripe, fresh acidity. Subtle layers of flavour and barrel complexities unfold and the wine finishes long and crisp. This is top Chardonnay which will develop well. 9 months in 30% new French oak, 100% MLF. (18.5/20)


Michael Bancks – Craggy Range

Craggy Range ‘Gimblett Gravels Vineyard’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2014 
Very dark, deep ruby-red with purple hues. The nose is very elegant, fresh and well bound, quite refined but showing brightness, aromatics and fruit vitality. Black berried fruits, violet florals, a little plum and black pepper, then an array of florals blossoming. Elegant with intensity and depth, this has penetrating ripe, black berried fruits melded with violet florals and black pepper. Fine acid and tannin balance, beautiful tension and length. Not as rich as ‘Le Sol’, but no matter, this is still excellent as it is. (18.5/20)


Miles Dinneen – Crossroads

Crossroads ‘Talisman’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2014 
From the ‘Elms’ vineyard, 12 months in 35% new oak with a further 6 months in seasoned oak. Dark, deep ruby-red with purple hues. This is elegant with layers of ripe, savoury blackberry fruit with spices and herbs, cedary oak and a hint of minerally reduction. Rich and densely packed with layers of black fruits, a little cedar and game with spices and a dried herb hint. Softening and rounded mouthfeel, but with serious tannin extraction and structure. Fulsome and moutfilling. I’d like a little more acid zestiness. But a very serious effort. (18.0+/20)


Jeff Warburton & Mel Lawson – Cypress Wines

Cypress Hawke’s Bay Rosé 2016 
The first rosé for Cypress Wines, and one made to be different from the norm, with more interest built in. 100% Merlot, given 2 hours skin contact and fermented to 13.5% alc. and <1 g/L RS, 40% of the wine aged in barrel. Candy-floss pink with peach hues at core. The nose is fresh and intense with aromas of herbs, currants and cranberries, and crunchy, refreshing watermelon, unfolding an earthy-herbal amalgam seen as a little ‘funky’ by some. Dry, the palate is soft and rich in presence, quite rounded and weighty, with thirst-quenching watermelon, cranberry and pomegranate flavours. There is no confectionary, and the acidity surprisingly soft. (17.0+/20)

Emma Easthope – Easthope Family Winegrowers

Easthope Family Winegrowers Hawke’s Bay Gamay Noir 2014 
Fruit from the ‘Lucknow’ site, aged 10 months in a 2 y.o. barrique. Dark, deep, ruby red with youthful purple hues. This is tight and densely concentrated with an array of ripe, dark-red and black fruits along with complexing dark herbs, earth and funk. Rich and fruity, but encased by firm and youthful extraction, with lively acidity confirming the wine’s youth. Bright, firm and serious, near wild. Sits between tame Pinot Noir and wild Syrah. Not your sweet and confected carbonic Beaujolais style. (18.0+/20)


Steve Skinner – Elephant Hill

Elephant Hill ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2015 
Clone 15 fruit from Te Awanga, given 12 months in 30% new oak on lees, with a further 6 months in tank on lees again. Bright straw-yellow colour with slight golden hues. This is elegantly presented, still firm and tightly bound with refined layers of citrus fruit and white stonefruits, along with gunflinty lees and nutty oak. Yet to integrate. Very tight on palate too, with fresh, zesty acidity providing poise, tension and edginess. Lovely sweet, intense white stonefruit and citrus fruit depth, nutty and notes of gunflint complexities. The textures are very fine and this has great gunflint linearity. Already special, but this will become richer, more harmonious and detailed. (18.5/20)


Gordon Russell & Sarah Wood – Esk Valley

Esk Valley ‘The Terraces’ Hawkes Bay 2014 
Almost equal parts, but descending months in order of Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Franc from ‘The Terraces’ behind the winery, aged 18 months in 100% new French oak. Black-red colour with purple hues. The nose is densely concentrated and immensely packed with layers of black fruits, iron-earth, black herbs, plums, blackberries and spices with exotic oak. Extremely rich and lush, but match by huge extraction and grip. Very fine grained, the fruit unfolds in layers of varied black berry and plums, with earth, herbs, exotic spices galore and plenty of new oak shine. The perfectionist would say too much oak, but this seems perfect to me. (20.0/20)


John Ashworth & Richard Harding – Junction Wines

Junction ‘Pastime’ Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2015 
A very successful wine on the show circuit for the Ashworth family. Bright straw-yellow colour. Very fine in expression with tight and taut aromas of white stonefruits, showing intensity, clarity and purity. Dry to taste, this is crisp and lively with fresh and brisk acidity and some underlying alcoholic power driving the stonefruit flavours. Excellent intensity, still tight and the potential to become richer. 13.0% alc. and fermented dry. (18.0-/20)


Leith Ashworth & Lamasi Samele – Leveret Estate, The Wine Portfolio

Leveret Estate ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2014 
Fruit from the ‘Tantallon’ vineyard, Bridge Pa, with 5% Viognier. Deepish red colour. This is tightly bound with dark raspberry fruit along with lifted black pepper aromas, expressed with elegance. Sweet, concentrated fruit here, lovely black pepper and spices along with violet florals. The palate possesses fine acidity and tannins, with a lively finish. Leith Ashworth has been The Wine Portfolio’s Hawke’s Bay winemaker since January 2013, working with Michael Sweetlove who is based in Katikati. (17.5+/20)


Trevor Shepherd – Linden Estate

Linden Estate ‘Reserve’ Esk Valley Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2015 
A return to minimal intervention with no added chemicals and gravity bottling. Fruit from the home site, fully indigenous yeast fermented, the wine in 30% new French oak for one year, given batonnage and 100% MLF. Pale straw colour. The nose has fragrant citrus fruit with refined barrel-ferment and oak notes, pure and clean in expression. Tight and refined, with concentrated citrus fruit, fine lifted oak, the wine with focus, clarity and length. Quite a beauty. (18.5-/20)


Dan Shea & Mike Wheeler – Mills Reef

Mills Reef ‘Elspeth’ ‘Trust Vineyard’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2013 
Very dark, deep, purple-red colour. This has a beautifully refined, elegant and ethereal nose with perfumed dark red and violet florals entwined with ripe black and dark-red berry fruit, black pepper and spices. The palate is refined with a concentrated core. Poised, piquant and lusciously rich with its aromatic and fragrant character. Refined tannin extraction, unfolding oak spices and cedar. It is easy to overlook the beauty here. Mills Reef say the ‘regular’ ‘Elspeth’ Syrah is the masculine expression, and the ‘Trust’ is the feminine. It looks that way on this showing. (18.5+/20)


Alex Roper – Mission Estate

Mission ‘Huchet’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2013 
Very dark, deep ruby-red, youthful appearance. The nose is intensely rich and lusciously ripe with blackberry and dark raspberry fruit, along with a complex black pepper and Asian spice amalgam. The palate echoes the nose with its gorgeous richness and lusciousness of sweetly ripe black and dark red fruits and spice layers. Ion-earth Gimblett Gravels character is present. The extraction is considerable lending great structure, but the tannins very fine-grained. Beautiful oak layers unfold. Alex Roper, winemaker at Mission sees a “nectarine” stonefruit character from this site. I need to retaste… (19.5/20)


Emma Lowe – Monowai Estate

Monowai Hawke’s Bay Pinot Noir 2014
The Crownthorpe area has the coolness quite possibly ideal for Pinot Noir, though deemed a little too cool for Syrah. This Pinot Noir is fully destemmed and aged 12 months in 5% new oak, 90% French with 10% American. Light red colour with some depth. This is fresh, tightly bound and steely on the nose, the red fruit revealing a little earth and herbal note. Bright, fresh red cherry fruit with a fine and firm line, and refreshing acidity and mouthfeel. A more slender expression, and fruit focussed. Some potential evident for the variety here. (17.0+/20)


Martin Greig – Ngatarawa

Ngatarawa ‘Proprietors Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Noble Riesling 2014 
Light golden colour with some depth. Huge botrytis expression with marmalade, honey, talc, citrus fruits and musk. Very sweet, luscious and nectar-like. Excellent refreshing acidity to balance the unctuousness. Deep and dense flavours of marmalade, nectar, honey and musk, but still identifiably Riesling in variety. Soft and plush palate, with a fine slightly welcoming drier finish. Continues a wonderful sweet wine track record for Ngatarawa. 10% alc., 204 g/L RS, with TA 5.7 g/L and pH 3.55. (18.5+/20)


Jason Stent – Paritua

Paritua ’21.12’ Hawke’s Bay 2013 
Named after the letterbox number on Maraekakaho Road. A single vineyard wine from 13 y.o. vines, a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, aged 18 months in approx. 50% new oak. Very dark, deep, black hued ruby-red. This is rich and lush with ripe blackcurrant fruit and new oak, bold and unashamedly up-front, reminiscent of Squawking Magpie ‘SQM’, but a little more reined in. Rich blackcurrant and cassis fruit, but with great structure, firm and tight, unfolding iron-earth, and with vibrant acidity. Very long. (19.0/20)


Greg Allinson – Pask Winery

Pask ‘Small Batch’ ‘Trilliant’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay 2014 
A blend of 49% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Malbec, aged 12 months in 55% new oak, some American included. A change to a fruitier, riper and opulent style for Pask, which has normally been more ‘claret’ like. Moderately deep ruby red. The nose is elegant with waves of fragrant spices and cedary oak melded with spiced plum fruit and iron-earth aromas. Sweet, juicy and succulent red fruits are the feature, but still with a fine core, extract and structure, and fresh acidity. Black fruits and iron-earth unfold, then spices and cedar. A serious wine here. The obvious pun is “the wine is brilliant!” (18.5+/20)


Sophie Harris – Quarter Acre, Rod McDonald Wines

Quarter Acre Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2015 
A Rod McDonald wine. Old Mendoza clone fruit from ‘Doc’s Block’ Haumoana, 10 months in 50% new oak on lees. Pale straw colour. The nose is full, firmly intense and packed with gunflint reductive complexities. Thee is underlying white stonefruit and oak richness to match. Surprisingly elegant, but as intense as expected, this is youthfully tight and fresh, with a core that is yet to unfold. Lovely citrussy fruit, with oak and nutty detail. The mouthfeel is fresh and follows a textural line. Very long and gunflinty on the finish. (18.5+/20)


Sue & Grant Edmonds – Redmetal Vineyards

Redmetal ‘Block 5’ Hawke’s Bay Albarino 2016
The second crop of Albarino from Gant and Sue Edmonds, the first crop being tiny. Pale straw colour, the aromas are oft with yellow florals and exotic aromatics, along with honeysuckle. On palate crisp, clear citrus fruit with exotic florals. Softer acidity than expected, and some alcoholic power and drive. Very good depth of flavour, as this variety is quite capable of. Bottled less than a week, to 13.5% alc. and 3.2 g/L RS, TA 6.7 g/L and pH 3.32, WBP and on lees for 4 months. Grant prefers the style of fruit and palate richness and weight, rather than keeping the acidity on the searing side. (17.5+/20)


Tony Bish – Sacred Hill

Sacred Hill ‘Virgin’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2014 
From the ’Rifleman’ site, unoaked. Very pale straw colour. This is very elegant and refined, still tightly bound on nose, but just beginning to show some savoury stonefruit aromas indicative of secondary development. Nutty, white stonefruit and mineral detail still the feature. On palate quite crisp, with a dry, thirst-quenching mouthfeel and a very fine phenolic threaded line. A little secondary, savoury nuttiness and mineral extension. No hurry, but maybe in a little dip. The fruit isn’t as vibrant as I imagine it could be? (18.0+/20)


Gavin Yortt & Stuart Jones – Squawking Magpie

Squawking Magpie ‘The Nest’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay 2013 
A blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Malbec, aged 20 months in 30% new French oak. Dark, deep, ruby-red colour. The nose is intensely concentrated with blackberry and black plum fruit aromas, along with iron-earth, soft nutty and spicy oak and an array of complexing detail. Firm, tightly bound and deeply flavoured, the palate has masses of sweetly ripe black and dark red fruits, oak and spice, all underpinned by a firm structure and line. Lovely richness, interest, freshness and potential. (18.5+/20)


Anna Brady & Richard Painter – Te Awa

Te Awa ‘Single Estate’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2015 
Fruit from the Te Awa vineyards, Mendoza, clone 95 and 15, 8-12 y.o. vines, fully barrel-fermented, 90% by indigenous yeasts, the wine 10 months in 25% new French oak with 80% MLF and batonnage. This has a light golden core to the colour. Beautifully elegant citrus and gunflint aromas, in balance with lemon-curd MLF. This has accessibility. Sweet in fruitiness, luscious and juicy with citrus flavours first and sulphide reduction secondary. Bright, refreshing and full of vitality. Background oak and lees detail. Commercially brilliant. (18.5/20)


Toby Buck – Te Mata Estate

Te Mata ‘Awatea’ Hawke’s Bay Cabernets/Merlot 2014 
13.5% alc. and a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petit Verdot. Bright purple-red, very youthful in appearance. This is very fine and elegantly concentrated, with refined blackcurranty aromas, the fruit definitely in the cool-spectrum, but edgy and poised and with undeniable polish. Sweet-fruited, tightly bound very elegant and firm in line. The currant and cassis notes show with herbs and a touch of leafy – but sweet leaf with oak shine and polish, A little earthy complexity, but serious, fine-grained tannin structure. (18.5/20)


Michael Henley & John Hancock – Trinity Hill

Trinity Hill Hawke’s Bay Rosé 2016 
Based on Montepulciano with Merlot, and other red varieties, fermented to 12.0% alc. and 4 g/L RS. Pale pink. Very fresh and tight on the nose with strawberry fruit, redcurrants, cranberries and a touch of confectionary. Fine and refreshingly dry on palate, with redcurrants and strawberries. Lovely mouthwatering mouthfeel, with excellent drying grip. Beautifully clear, clean and with balanced acidity and tension. A lovely rosé, made knowing the style. (18.0/20)


Philip Horn – Unison Vineyard

Unison Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Blush 2015
The first rosé wine for Philip Horn of Unison. Approx. equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, a saignee wine, fermented to 12.8% alc. and 5.0 g/L RS. Very pale pink, with youthful purple hues. The nose is fine and fresh with currant, cranberry, herb and red cherry aromas. This is refreshing and steely. Delicate and crisp on palate, tightly bound, steely and mouthwatering, the cranberry, redcurrant and herb flavours well-focussed. (17.0+/20)


Hugh Crichton & Graeme Allardice – Vidal Estate

Vidal ‘Legacy’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2015 
Bright straw-yellow with some depth. The nose is full and voluminous with masses of gunflint reductive complexities, but also with layers of white stonefuits, subtle citrus fruits, and nutty oak. The palate is surprisingly rich, the gunflint flavours dominant, but there is no lack of fruit flavours and supporting oak. The textures are soft, the mouthfeel fulsome and flowing. Quite mouthfilling and very long lingering. This has no hardness, and indeed the softness is a feature. Nevertheless, over-the-top, and great for it. (19.5+/20)

No Photo of Ollie Powrie, Villa Maria
He’s a smart-looking hipster sort of guy with viticultural expertise

Villa Maria ‘Single Vineyard – Braided Gravels’ Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2013 
Fruit hand-picked from the tops of the gravel ridges of the ‘Joseph Soler’ vineyard, the last pick off the site that year, the wine aged 12 months in 25% new oak. Certified BioGo organic. Dark, deep ruby-red, very youthful. The bouquet is rich but tightly held with dark-red and black plums, florals and iron-earth. Beautifully sweet, rich, but vibrant and lively mouthfeel, with dark plum, iron-earth and aromatic berry fruits. The luscious balanced by fine grip and acidity. Classical 2013 vitality that keeps on looking better. (19.5/20)

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