Key Varieties: Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc
New Zealand’s oldest wine region Hawke’s Bay, was established in 1851 and is today considered to be the country’s leading producer of red wine, based on its ability to produce a convincing array of varietals and styles. Traditionally focussed on Bordeaux-style blends of Cabernet and Merlot, it now also produces impressive Syrah (Shiraz) compared favourably by many leading commentators to those of the Northern Rhoône. The mantle of best producer of cool-climate Shiraz outside of France is now passionately contested between Australia’s leading regions for these styles and Hawke’s Bay.
Located in the North Island, Hawke’s Bay has a warm maritime climate with over 80% of New Zealand’s plantings of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The average elevation is thirty meters above sea level, with vineyard sites north-facing hillsides, river valleys and terraces and coastal areas. There are over 4,899 hectares planted and 171 independent grape growers; wineries are typically boutique and family owned. Church Road, Craggy Range, Sileni Estate, Te Mata, Trinity Hill and Villa Maria, are among the most illustrious of the region’s 79-plus wineries.
The Gimblett Gravels appellation, within the broader Hawke’s Bay region, is highly coveted for its stony soils which impart a wonderful mineral complexity into the wine, as well as their ability to retain thermal heat during the day, conveyed to the vines overnight, providing beneficial levels of ripeness. Covering over 800 hectares the boundaries are strictly determined by the gravely soils laid down by the old Ngaruroro River, exposed after a huge flood in the 1870s. A decade ago, a group of progressive Hawke’s Bay winemakers formed the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association to promote this special terroir. The wines produced from the appellation since, have won over 400 gold medals and 140 trophies, including most recently, a number of gold medals at the 2010 International Wine Challenge UK and Decanter World Wine Awards 2010.
‘When this earned a gold in our weekly wine panel session we were sceptical. Quality at this price is almost unheard of. We have tasted it on two occasions since, each delivering gold. A rare gem.’
Dan Murphy’s Wine Panel
‘Dense, deep Syrah with dark berry, plum, chocolate, star anise and spicy oak flavours. A rich and chewy wine that’s beautifully balanced.’
Bob Campbell MW bobswinereviews.com
‘A great example of Hawke’ s Bay Syrah at an affordable price. A richly flavoured wine – lovely texture, white pepper, plum, spice and cedar.’
Dan Murphy’s Wine Panel
‘Just when you thought you’ve tried the best Awatea (2007), comes this exceptional 2009 wine. The nose is beautifully fragrant and primary… The wine is pristine and structured with graceful power.’
Sam Kim wineorbit.co.nz
‘…This is a lovely wine with a haunting perfume of ripe berry and floral flavours. They follow through onto the palate with the addition of anise, licorice and spicy oak characters.’
Bob Campbell Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine AUG/SEP 2011
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