What’s in the glass tonight Nov 30th

Elephant Hill Syrah 2012

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2012 – $$$

I survived my annual weekend trip to Taupo and the 160km Cycle Challenge around the lake.

On the Saturday we riders were exposed to a strong headwind off the lake for the final 50kms and as I hadn’t recovered from an epic cold I had been struggling with,  achieving a sub-5hr ride was never a strong likelihood. Still, I left nothing in reserve and put it all out there on the road. I finished absolutely hollowed-out in 5hrs 8 mins at my ninth attempt. There’s always next year, eh?

(The wind didn’t prevent the winning pro rider from finishing the course in 3hrs 46 minutes…)

That night L and I joined members of a long-standing Wellington cycle peloton, the OTBs, for dinner at a local restaurant Vine Bar and Eatery. They produce tasty Mediterranean shared-plates food, and had a great NZ wine list.

I started off drinking Terra Sancta Mysterious Diggings Bannockburn Pinot Noir by the glass, which was a solid 3, but my mate M offered me some of his Elephant Hill Syrah 2012, and it was much better.

My napkin notes sez “Inky black carmine. 13.5%. Rich, spicy nose with a bit of aniseed. Mouthfuls of rich ripe black fruit, licorice and pepper. Great depth. Robust tannins”. Would have been yum with the coriander salt crusted roast lamb shoulder, but I was still on that much lighter pinot instead. I really should look at what food has been ordered before choosing my wine, rather than just default to pinot noir every time. 4.5

BTW this wine won Champion Syrah at the 2013 Air New Zealand Wine Awards. I don’t know why the winery is called Elephant Hill. Elephants are not native to NZ, and there is currently only one elephant alive in the entire country. Maybe there’s a hill nearby that looks like an elephant…?


  1. First of all congratulations on Taupo. I just know you’ll get under 5 hours next year – I’ll be drafting along behind you. Anyway, Elephant Hill is just down the road from where I live and is my favourite HB winery/restaurant. Like you I rate their Syrah. In 2014 there’ll be a small crop off the 2 acres of Syrah I planted last year so just hang on to see what Clearview makes out of it. Cheers. Greg

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