Four Syrahs


 

Bilancia Syrah 2010

From the Cellar: Bilancia Syrah Hawkes Bay 2010 – $$$

This is from one of New Zealand’s reference Syrah producers. Their La Collina Syrah is lauded, but like Trinity Hills Homage and Missions Huchet, out of my price range. This is the first wine of theirs I have tried – I bought it for the Pool Room on reputation alone.

Deep deep scarlet colour, tending brick.

At first it was closed and somewhat dumb on the nose, a fail mark against my presentation. Then after a short time it showed soft and fragrant , and built on, with vanilla and dark berries. A beguiling savoury secondary bouquet emerged. A tickle of pepper. Lovely to inhale.

With some standing, it tasted soft & supple, with Rhone characters. Ripe fruit, and restrained. Fine tannins, a hint of green stalk, but that is not a negative here – it adds to grace. Strong white pepper on the finish. Long and involving, this is a terrific, terrific wine, and worth careful consideration. 97 points.

 

Forrest tasting 2016 2

Forrest Syrah John Forrest Collection Gimblett Gravels 2013 – $$$

Tasted instore. This wine is from Dr Forrest’s premium collection. Single vineyard site on the Gimblett Gravels in Hawkes Bay. Hand harvested. Aged before release.

Deep carmine colour,  13.5% alc. A gorgeous nose – a rich bouquet, floral with dark boysenberry and plum fruit, black pepper, some oak and vanilla. Simply superb.

To taste: fresh, vibrant ripe dark stonefruit flavours, juicy texture, supple tannins to finish. Young, needs time to soften and knit together the component parts. A great NZ Syrah. 95 points

 

VM CS Syrah 2014

Villa Maria CS Syrah Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$.

Inky black scarlet, 13.5% alc. Light bouquet, cool climate fruit aromas –  blackberries; the usual box wood top notes and light spice. Straightforward flavours, not overly ripe or lush, black pepper, blackberry nose carrying through on palate, drying tannins, licorice on the finish. 88 points

 

3 Roads Syrah Hawkes Bay 2015

From the vineyard of my mate GW, as seen at his ‘release tasting’ last weekend. The wine was made by Tim Turvey at Clearview.

Bright deep scarlet colour. Cut with 15% Merlot. Soft and with bright floral notes.  Less spice and depth and pepper than the ‘14. Needs another year or two to integrate and show the style better. As for the ’14, it is well on the way. Needs two years more to open out and become lusher.  Both too soon to rate appreciably.

Thanks for the invite!

What’s in the glass tonight April 8th – Merlot Malbec


Mills Reef Merlot Malbec Reserve 2014

Mills Reef Merlot Malbec Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$

Inky magenta, a gorgeous deep colour. 13.5% alc.

Lovely rich bouquet – boxwood, blackcurrants, leather, savoury. I could smell this all night.

Smooth richness of the Merlot gives a silky feel in the mouth, the grippy tannins from the Malbec provides balance. Black stonefruits predominate, a hint of raspberry, drying on the finish. Delicious.

A terrific, approachable wine for drinking now.

93 points

What’s in the glass tonight January 25th – Syrah


Craggy Range Syrah 2010

From the Cellar: Craggy Range SV Syrah Gimblett Gravels 2010 – $$

Inky plum. 13.5%.

A Geoff Kelly recommendation and it shows. Wow. Gorgeously floral. Dark fruits and pepper intense and powerful. Smells ripe and inviting and delightful.

In the mouth it is full and so flavoursome. Lovely pepper kick at the back. Sweet round fruit at the front. Very northern Rhone. Dense Fine tannins.

This so convinces me to hold on to our Syrahs for a min 5 years each. Hopefully the mice don’t to take a liking to any more of my wine bottle labels…

VG 4+

What’s in the glass tonight November 11th – Cab Merlot Malbec


Newton Forrest Cornerstone 2007

From the Cellar: Newton Forrest Cornerstone Cabernet Merlot Malbec Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay 2007 – $$$

This was a remarkable wine to retrieve from the Pool Room. The huge hit of vanilla on the nose was unlike anything I had smelled before. Hot at 14%. Dark bricking carmine in colour.

Continuing, the nose showed sweet and soft and strong, with powerful vanilla notes and licorice.

Very sweet to taste also, almost cloying. Sitting and savouring this wine in the evening dusk of my backyard, the ripe flavours drew all manner of small flies and midges to my glass. I had to retreat inside. Strong vanilla notes flowed through on palate, and was almost off-putting. Soft tannins. An odd and unique wine.

I went back to it two days later. The vanilla had backed off a little, and some of the underlying structure was showing through. The flavours were full, and there was no sign of oxidation or metallic standing taint.

An impressive and powerful wine.

BTVG 4+

 

What’s in the glass tonight Nov 19th – a Merlot


 

CJ Pask Merlot 2008

From the Cellar: CJ Pask Gimblett Road Merlot Hawkes Bay 2008 – $$

Browning dark magenta. 14% alc.

This took a day to open up in the bottle once the stelvin was cracked.

On bouquet – soft and lush, spicy and savoury. Matchbox and cardboard. Licorice.

In the mouth – rich fruit, backing off a touch now, but not as tertiary as I might have expected. I saw prune, fig and dark chocolate flavours. Dusty tannins. Long finish. Bags of character.

VG 4

Straight to the Pool Room – June 2015


Le Sol 2013

This has been lauded by a few critics as the outstanding wine from an outstanding vintage. It may well prove to be the finest bottle of plonk I possess in my cellar:

Craggy Range Le Sol Gimblett Gravels Syrah Hawkes Bay 2013 – $$$+ – Drink 2018-21

I’m not gonna let the vagaries of my cellar affect this wine. It’s getting necked in ’18.

NZ wine critic Raymond Chan sez, The depth and penetration is a feature. The wine follows a very flowery tannin line, the extraction significant, but refined. The acidity is perfectly integrated, and the palate has tension and drive that carries the flavours to a very long, rich and elegant finish. This is the most beautifully refined ‘Le Sol’ to date. It has elegance and finesse, with intense black fruits, minerals, florals, earth and spices.”

Calling in the debts: What’s in the glass tonight February 2nd


Villa Maria CS Syrah Gimblett 2007 pool room

From the Cellar: Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah Gimblett Gravels 2007 – $$$

One of best Syrah’s of that year, according to Cuisine Magazine in 2009.

I started my cellar collection then, and based my first four purchases on their recommendations. This is bottle No. 2 in my Little Red Cellar Book.

I opened bottle no. 4 (a Palliser Riesling) two years ago I think, and still have bottles 1 and 3 waiting their turn (both Gimblett Gravels ‘07 Syrahs). But I can’t keep them all under the house forever. I have to start calling in the debts and drinking these beauties…

This wine is inky carmine in colour. 14 %. Gorgeous bouquet of soft ripe red fruits, voilets, lots of vanilla and fresh baking notes. I could sniff this all day.

In the mouth it is smooth and balanced – ripe luscious soft black plums – great extract and density, just what I am looking for in a cool-climate syrah. Medium tannins. Long finish and mouthcoating. Top stuff.

Outstanding. 5

My drinking year is looking up.

Straight to the Pool Room – December 2013


Pool Room Dec 2013

Two stellar bottles from the Villa Maria tasting of last month:

Villa Maria Gimblett Gravels Reserve Merlot 2009 – $$$ – drink 2014-2019, but not sure I can wait that long…

Villa Maria Keltern Vineyard HB Chardonnay 2011 – $$$ – drink 2014-2016. Latest in the lineage of a chardonnay I consider one of the most distinctive expressions of terroir in this country.

I’m auditioning for the remaining places in the case…

 

 

What’s in the glass tonight Dec 11th


Trinity Hill GG Syrah 2008

From the Cellar: Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2008 – $$$

James Brown sang, “Ain’t it funky!” Yes it is, yes it is, this wine…

Lots of funk on the nose. I can see in my mind’s eye the chickens lowing and the cattle cheeping in the barnyard on the floor of the forest. I wonder if it is reduction I smell?

No matter. I really like the bouquet, it sticks to my glass, and adds interest to the tasting. This wine is not as powerful as the Elephant Hill Syrah from a couple of weeks back, but it is elegant. Same deep carmine colour and 13.5%. Dense red fruits, drying off, with typical white pepper. Fine tannins. Short finish.

This wine was Regional Wines top syrah at a tasting back in 2010. It is the stablemate of one of NZs two most notable ultra-premium syrahs, Trinity Hill Homage.

This bottle might have been better consumed younger, when the fruit was fresher. But it’s still bloody interesting, and was worth the wait (and education – I have learned that little bit more about NZ syrah longevity). Danced well with my steak dinner too. 3.5

What’s in the glass tonight Dec 4th


Babich Merlot Cabernet 2012

Babich Gimblett Gravels Merlot Cabernet 2012 – $

I think a cheap red should err on the side of chainsaw rather than big fat red pillow, if you get my analogy. It should be the kind of ‘mouth-drying’ wine that prevents you from being able to spit afterwards, or win a Eat Dry Weetbix And Try To Whistle race.

I don’t know when I last drank a Babich wine. This is partly why I bought this bottle, the price being another reason. It is a cheapie for a Gimblett red: the standard ‘Classics’ label. Deep ruby. 13%. Not a big nose, but some red plums and a touch of vanilla. The fruit is ripe and soft, but not complex or tannic enough to arouse much interest with me. Very merlot-dominant I guess.

It’s an approachable party quaffer, for a party where B-52s music is playing: Love shack, baby, love shack… Will suit some people; a disappointment for me (see above). 2

Babich have been producing wine since 1916, so they know how to do it. I expect their single vineyard and reserve wines would be much better that this. I will report back in due course.