General Blog

Hawke’s Bay Wine Celebration 2017

By September 27, 2017No Comments
This was the second Hawke’s Bay Wine Celebration, but this promotional exhibition tasting is really a rebranded ‘Hot Red Hawke’s Bay’, which now encompasses all of the regions wine styles, rather than just red wines, as was originally run. So in reality, this is the 14th year this event has been run! It remains one of the essential wine events on the calendar for the wine and hospitality trade, as well as consumers.
Hawke’s Bay is the second largest wine growing region, after Marlborough, with around 4,800 ha of grapes, producing approx. 14% of the country’s wine. There are according to Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers 72 wineries and 100 vineyards, these figures a little higher than that of the statistics New Zealand Winegrowers, probably reflecting a more up-to date situation as well as a positive outlook! And the Hawke’s Bay winegrowers are in a good space from what I perceive with my contacts with the wineries, and a visit there earlier this year. There is indeed considerable excitement and growth, following an unparalleled four excellent vintages in a row, from 2013 to 2016. Most winegrowers were pragmatic about the more difficult 2017 vintage, but most rated it better than the very cold and wet 2012 growing season.
There are new labels appearing and many existing producers are showing growth. Hawke’s Bay has around one-third of the country’s Chardonnay plantings, and has over 80% of the Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah area to vine. These varieties are the region’s strengths, but there is real interest in other varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Viognier, and even Pinot Noir!
The Event and My Methodology
The Hawke’s Bay Wine Celebration was an opportunity to taste wines from around 30 wineries in one location, the event conducted in Auckland and Wellington. If you were efficient and single-minded, you could have tasted the 200+ wines on offer for sampling in the allocated 3 hours. In my younger days, I attempted that approach, but nowadays, I try to visit all the producers exhibiting wine, and ask them to choose one wine for me to taste. It’s surprising what is poured, as it’s not just the flagship or most expensive wines given. Some like to show their newest wine, or a new or alternative style wine to be looked at. I take my notes and also a photo of the person behind the stand. It’s more personal and less stressful.
This year, I ran out of time to visit all the stands in the Trade session, so I was allowed to come back in the Consumer event. Thank you Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers. Here are my notes and photos following. Due to the considerable activity with plenty of (welcome) distractions of the event, my notes of the wines are based on brief impressions, so they have not been added to my database. The scores are provisional, hence in brackets. I apologise to Ngatarawa Wines for omitting to taste their wines. In the back of my mind I was thinking of the combination with Mission, who took over the label recently. www.hawkesbaywine.co.nz

Regan Taouma and Barry Riwai – Alpha Domus

Alpha Domus ‘The Heroines’ Hawke’s Bay Rosé 2017
Made from Merlot, fermented to dryness,. Very pale colour. The nose is delicate with pink roses and floral nuances, the aromatics quite beautiful and showing only hints of confectionary. Dry and elegant, refined and subtle-fruited with delicate florals and some fruit lift, then confectionary nuances. Tight and slightly textural, fresh and mouthwatering. A take on Provence. (18.0+/20)
Kathryn Loughlin -Askerne
Askerne ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016
Brilliant pale straw-yellow colour. The nose has rich stonefruit and citrus aromas with creamy and nutty barrel-ferment notes, this shows plenty of detail, with toasty oak emerging. The palate has richness and vitality with underlying power. There is density and concentration to the stonefruit and citrus fruit. This has boldness and is up-front, with a fine-textured line. Finishes clear and light. (18.5/20)
Antonia Romero – Babich
Babich ‘Irongate’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016
Very pale straw colour. Intense aromas with purity of citrus and white stonefruits, along with creamy barrel-ferment and nutty oak. Fresh and revealing toasty oak. Strikingly elegant and balanced with its componentry. Very elegant and refined, pure fruited with sensitive, subtle oaking. Clearly barrel-fermented with the fine creaminess. Lovely finesse and the textures quite seamless. Very long finishing. (19.0+/20)
Chris Harrison – Beach House
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Beach House Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Franc 2014
Gimblett Gravels fruit. Deep ruby-red with some garnet hues. The bouquet is intense with fragrant aromas of blackcurrant leaf notes and dark herbs; classical varietal expression here. On palate very rich, lively and vibrant fruit, blackcurrants and red berries with leaf and florals. This has very fine-grained flowery tannins and refreshing acidity. This has youthfulness and will age well. (18.5/20)
Simon Kerr – Black Barn
Black Barn Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2014
Bright, even ruby-red colour, moderately deep. The nose is fresh and tightly bound with black fruits and black pepper aromas, along with chalky and earthy minerals. An elegant wine, but with good fruit intensity, with blackberries, black pepper, spices and lovely aromatic florals, all underlined by fine-textured grip and fresh background acidity. (18.0+/20)
Laura McElroy and Chris Scott – Church Road
Church Road ‘Grand Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016
Bright pale straw colour. The nose is full, deep and powerful with great depth and complexity, showing gunflint and struck match reduction interwoven with white stonefruits and nutty notes/ Sweet citrus fruit features on the palate with stonefruits and nuts, the gunflint more in control here. Shows power with elegance, with a rounded heart, fine textures and integrated acidity. Delicious, with funkiness. Reckoned by Chris Scott to be more elegant than the 2015. (19.0/20)
Lisa Clarke and Tim Turvey – Clearview Estate
Clearview ‘Black Reef’ Hawke’s Bay Blush 2017
Pale pink colour with slight peach hues. The nose is a little tutti-fruity, but unfolds good red berry fruit and red florals. Off-dry to taste, the fruitiness is sweet and lollyish, with strawberry and raspberry confectionary, with red floral lift. Some phenolic textures bring in thirst-quenching notes. The Chambourcin variety shows in the fruity character. 7.5 g/L RS. (17.5/20)
Brandon Nash – Collaboration Wines
Collaboration ‘Argent’ Hawke’s Bay 2011
A blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot. Deepish ruby-red with garnet hues. This has a deep, rounded core with savoury blackcurrant aromas, with complex secondary earth, bramble and cedar notes. The palate features a good core of complex, savoury blackcurrant, dried herb, tobacco and leather notes. The tannins are fine and the mouthfeel is lively from the acidity. Lovely drive. (18.5/20)
Simon Nunns and trade clients – Coopers Creek
Coopers Creek ‘Select Vineyards – Chalk Ridge’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2015
Very dark, deep, black-red colour. The nose shows sweetly ripe and luscious blackberry and raspberry fruit unfolding black pepper and violet florals and then liquorice. The fruit is up-front . On palate quite elegant with its richness, very together with deep and dense sweet black and red fruits. Very fine tannins support the fruit with integrated acidity. Vibrant violet florals feature. This is an “all together” wine. (18.5+/20)
Fiona Mackenzie – Craft Farm
Craft Farm ‘Rose Hip’ ‘Hawke’s Bay 2016
A blend of 30% each of Gewurztraminer, Muscat and Albarino with 10% Pinot Gris, spending 2 weeks on skins and fermented to 13.5% alc. and 1 g/L RS. Light orange colour. The nose is lifted by the grapey Muscat providing bright aromatics with a hint of spice. Fresh and clean but with presence and power, without undue skinsy notes. Dry, this is tight and well-proportioned with good drive. The textures are fine and balanced, the palate fresh with grapey fruitiness.. This is a skin-contact wine with tact. Well-done, Ant Mackenzie. (18.5/20)
Michael Bancks and Hannah Burns – Craggy Range
Craggy Range ‘Sophia’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Cabernet 2015
Dark, deep ruby-red colour, with black hues. The nose is elegant in proportion with fine concentration of dark plum fruit with blackberries, herbs and spices. This has layers of interest and is immensely appealing. Rich and plush with plenty of power, the fruit is deeply sweet, showing dark plums, with blackberries and blackcurrants with herb nuances. The fruit richness is balanced by fine-grained tannin structure, and the acidity lends freshness and vitality. The is balanced and accessible. (19.0/20)
Mel Lawson – Cypress Wines
Cypress ‘Terraces’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016
Fully barrel-fermented with indigenous yeasts, the wine aged 10 months in 25% new oak. Pale straw-yellow colour. The nose is rich, unfolding complex layers of savoury stonefruit and creamy barrel-ferment and nutty oak. This has depth and concentration, but also a roundness of expression. The palate is one of power, deeply concentrated and densely packed stonefruit and creamy, nutty oak. So harmonious, with weight and presence. A gorgeous Chardonnay that will grow in complexities. (19.0-/20)
Phil Judd and Dean Lister – Elephant Hill
Elephant Hill ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Malbec 2014
Dark, deep, even black-red colour. This has a very firm and deep nose with black fruits at the heart, along with complexing notes of herbs, spices and earth. On palate the fruit is sweetly rich with excellent intensity and depth. The flavours of black fruits are layered with a spice and herb amalgam. Hints of exotic. The mouthfeel very fine and firm in extract, with good acidity. (18.5+/20)
Adam Leach and Sue Cranswick – Esk Valley
Esk Valley ‘Winemakers Reserve’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Cabernet/Malbec 2013
Dark, deep, ruby-red colour, a little lighter edged. The nose is rich, ripe and plush with aromas of black-red plums with complexing spice and herb nuances; this is vibrant and very accessible. On palate full-bodied, the fruit rich and ripe, showing black-red plums, dark berry fruits, herbs and spices, the plushness balanced by very fine structure and vibrancy from the acidity. Beautiful now, but will age very well. (19.0-/20)
Annabelle and Paige Koopman – Hopesgrove
Hopesgrove Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2015
Even ruby-red colour, with some depth. The nose possesses tightly packed and elegant aromas of black and red fruits with black and white pepper. This has floral fragrance. On palate very fine and concentrated, with blackberry fruit and black pepper with spice interest, unfolding some herbal notes with whole bunch (?) stalk detail Quite firm, but fine, with fresh acidity. (18.0/20)
Richard Painter and Steph O’Hara -Left Field
Left Field Hawke’s Bay Rosé 2017
A blend of 50% Merlot, 20% Pinotage and 10% each Tempranillo and Arneis, at 12.5% alc. and 5.5 g/L RS. Pretty pale pink colour. The nose is lifted with fruity aromatics of red fruits, florals and a little confectionary. Off-dry to taste, this is the fruit richness, but fresh, crisp and zesty, the flavours showing some delicacy, the fragrant florals a feature. Brisk, refreshing and thirst-quenching. (18.0+/20)
Rodger Tynan – Lime Rock
Lime Rock Hawke’s Bay Gruner Veltliner 2017
This is the sixth crop, 8 y.o. vines, the fruit fermented in seasoned oak, carrying 4.5 g/L RS.  A single barrel ferment.  Very pale straw colour.  The nose has freshness, intensity and good vinous presence and weight, showing delicate herb-like fruits with white florals and a little oak nuttiness.  Dry to taste, this has good weight with richness of presence and textures, showing fresh herbs and white florals, and balanced fine phenolic grip and bright acidity.  Showing fruit and mouthfeel here.  (18.0/20)
Trevor Shepherd – Linden Estate
Linden Estate ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2015
Brilliant, very pale straw-yellow colour. The nose is rich with aromas of very ripe yellow stonefruits with good depth. This has flinty reductive complexities with some nutty oak completing the aromatics. On palate rich with ripe yellow stonefruits and citrus fruit, quite luscious in expression, complexed by a layering of flinty reduction, creamy and nutty oak, all underlined by fine textures and enlivened by lacy acidity. Very attractive style here. (18.5/20)
Dan Shea – Mills Reef
Mill Reef ‘Bespoke’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc 2015
Even ruby-red colour with depth and slight purple. The nose shows good intensity with refined and lifted, fragrant blackcurrant aromas with ethereal red florals, the nose building in concentration in the glass. An elegantly proportioned wine on palate with rich, sweet aromatic curranty fruit with floral elements. Subtle oaking allows the fruit to prevail. The palate has very fine-grained tannins with soft acidity, and a very long, lingering finish. (18.5/20)
Alex Roper – Mission Estate
Mission ‘Jewlstone’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016
Very pale straw colour, youthful in appearance. The nose has an intense amalgam of white stonefruit and white florals with strong gunflint reduction, along with butty oak detail. This is very aromatic and shows great depth and concentration. On palate the palate is very rich with lush white stonefruits and hints of citrus fruits, still very tightly bound, with refined, but intense flint complexities. Lovely background creamy and nutty barrel-ferment and oak with lees elements. The textures are very fine and smooth, with fresh acidity carrying the wine to a very sustained finish. This is exceptional wine. (19.0+/20)
Trevor Howes – Moana Park
Moana Park Hawke’s Bay Viognier 2017
Very pale straw, near colourless. The nose is elegant and slender, fine and penetrating with white floral aromas, indicating a cooler and/or earlier pick. This is fresh and piquant. Dry to taste, the palate is tightly bound with floral fruit and some stonefruit notes emerging in glass. The palate carries fine textures and fresh acidity, the style a less rich, but crisper expression. (17.5/20)
Emma Lowe – Monowai
Monowai ‘Upper Reaches’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2015
Pale golden-hued straw-yellow colour, This has a full, firm and packed nose with deep and dense yellow stonefruit aromas with creamy and nutty oak, with lemon-curd and butterscotch MLF. The aromatics have a fresh edge. The palate is rich-fruited, powerful and deeply flavoured the fruit entwined with oak and creamy barrel-ferment, the MLF showing well. The palate has roundness with soft textures and good acid finesse. This is showing greater balance than when reviewed recently. This may be the benefits of aeration. (17.5+/20)
Vince Labat – Paritua
Paritua ‘Red’ Hawke’s Bay 2013
Very dark, black-red colour, near impenetrable. The nose is intensely concentrated and deep aromas of ripe black berried fruits, showing blackcurrant Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruit richness is a feature. On palate the flavours of blackberries, blackcurrants and dark plums show with sweet richness, but matched by serious tannin structure. This is firmly structured and will age extremely well. (19.0-/20)
Luisa Forbes – Quarter Acre
Quarter Acre Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016
Pale straw-yellow colour. The nose is full and firmly concentrated with white stonefruits, nuts and plenty of gunflint reductive complexities. The barrel work and nutty oak emerges in the glass. On palate a rich and firmly concentrated and deep wine. Lovely complex and interwoven amalgam of stonefruits, gunflint and nutty oak. This has power, intensity and freshness, with real length. (19.0-/20)
Clare Woodham – Sacred Hill
Sacred Hill ‘Wine Thief’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016
Straw-yellow with slight golden hues. The nose is full with firmly packed aromas of ripe yellow stonefruits with fulsome creamy and nutty oak and MLF layering with complexing mineral nuances. Rich and powerful on palate, quite up-front with matching body and structure. Very well-textured, the power carrying the wine to a fulsome finish. A bolder expression without any shyness. (18.5-/20)
Gavin Yortt – Squawking Magpie
Squawking Magpie ‘The Nest’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay 2013
A blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Malbec. Very deep, dark black-ruby red colour. The nose is fresh with intense, vibrant black plum fruit with ‘shiny’ new oak notes; this is opulent on nose. The palate is powerful and intense with black plum and berry fruit, showing some complexing iron-earth and savoury secondary notes. Very fine tannins and balanced acidity with real drive and power. Lovely wine indeed. (19.0/20)
Andria Monin – Stonecroft
Stonecroft ‘Reserve’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2015
Dark, deep ruby-red with black hues. The nose is rich, ripe, voluminous and complex with layers of fruit, subtle notes of oak, earth, whole bunch (?) stalk, and black pepper. Powerfully rich with ripe black and dark red fruits on palate, with a range of expression, along with complex herb and earth elements. The palate has very fine extraction and fresh acid vitality and vibrancy. Quite complete. 60% new oak. (19.5/20)
Sally Duncam – Te Mata
Te Mata ‘Elston’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016
Pale straw yellow colour. The nose is soft with fine yellow stonefruit aromas with creamy barrel-ferment and nutty oak. Stylish and subtle aromas that unfold with layers of interest. Rich on palate, but retaining beautiful finesse, tightly concentrated with stonefruits, and balanced oaking, and creaminess with acid poise. Easy to overlook in a big tasting, but the class shines. Still very youthful. (19.0-/20)
Jennifer and Richard Brown – Tronui
Tironui Hawke’s Bay Malbec/Merlot/Cabernet 2014
Very dark, deep ruby-red colour. The nose shows soft, ripe spicy Malbec fruit on the nose, with richness, and a deep, rounded core. This is full and soft on palate. Very Malbec expressive with dark plums, spices and earth. Good, full tannin structure underlying the fruit. A robust style, but showing individuality. This will keep well. (17.5+/20)
Janine Bevege – Trinity Hill
Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2016
Moderately deep ruby-red colour. The nose is elegant with fragrance and perfumes, showing raspberries, spices and florals, unfolding white and black pepper. On palate very elegant and supple, with lovely high-toned lift of florals with spice interest. The mouthfeel is very accessible with supple tannins. Lighter than previous vintages, but with aromatic beauty. (17.5+/20)
Olly Styles – Vidal
Vidal ‘Legacy’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2016
Very pale straw colour, youthful appearance. The nose is very fine and elegant in presentation with white stonefruits and funky gunflint notes, along with nutty oak. Tightly bound and intense on palate with penetrating flavours of white stonefruits, complexed by restraint gunflint, with subtle barrel-ferment creaminess. A little grip balances the mouthfeel, and there is plenty of acid freshness. Today, a little restrained. (19.0+/20)
Ollie Powrie and Kieran Woodham – Villa Maria
Villa Maria ‘Reserve’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Very dark, deep ruby-red with garnet hues. The bouquet is very deep and densely concentrated with a core of blackcurrant fruit with complexing savoury secondary detail. This is a rich wine, but a powerhouse with great concentration, depth and linearity. Blackcurrants, cassis, secondary earthy notes, iron-earth and minerals form a densely packed core. Very fine-grained but firm tannins and fresh acidity will ensure a long life. Another decade ahead for this. (19.5+/20)

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