Ata Rangi Celebre Martinborough 2014 – $$$
This is a long-time favourite local red for me. A bright red blend of 55% Merlot, 35% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc fruit grown on the Martinborough Terrace, and matured in 20% new oak.
Deep plum purple colour. 13% alc.
Soft, round and opulent on the nose. A savoury character up front, then opens to reveals oak, plums, and spice.
Sweetness on entry, fine-grained tannins in the mid-palate, and fresh acidity on the finish. Fruit flavours are restrained, not as ripe as the ’13, and slightly leafy.
A fine, expressive wine.
Recommended 89 points
From the Cellar: Millton Clos Ste Anne The Crucible Syrah Gisborne 2009 – $$$
As I have said many, many times – biodynamic Millton Vineyard is one of my favourite producers. James and Annie possess one of the most beautiful vineyard sites in one of the most special parts of New Zealand (disclosure: a branch of my family immigrated into NZ through Gisborne two centuries ago, and I love the place, so I’m biased). And they treat their land so well and with so much respect through their viticultural stewardship. To open one of their wines is always a treat and an occasion to savour.
Now, having talked up the wine incredibly….
Inky red black colour, slightly browning at the rim. 14.5% alc. Whole berry in the maceration, with some Viognier in the blend.
Floral, spicy and perfumed nose. Lifted. Soft rich black fruit, and white pepper.
In the mouth there was an absolute abundance of sweet rich black fruit, with perfect ripeness and weight. Apparent oak and vanilla, but it didn’t detract. Smooth and deep, with notes of port and raisin and dark chocolate. Balanced acid, fruit and tannin. A long peppery finish. Superb, just delicious.
Outstanding 97 points
Santagostino Nero d’Avola Syrah Firriata 2012
L and I went to dinner Saturday night at the fantastic Cicio Cacio Osteria in Newtown. I love the food there, and the atmosphere. They like their salt – you are warned!
I had this fantastic wine there. On special. A 50/50 Nero d’Avola/Syrah blend from Sicilia.
Opulent and perfumed and engaging. Totally delicious.
Highly Recommended – 92 points
Sileni Cellar Selection Syrah Hawkes Bay 2016 – $
Deep magenta colour. 12.5% alc. A value quaffer. L quite likes their Cabernet Franc Rosé.
This wine shows simple, soft fruit on the nose, with an itch of white pepper.
Soft ripe red plum flavours, medium tannins. Uncomplicated, and finishes long. Well-made for the price.
Commended – 84 points
Elephant Hill Syrah Te Awanga Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$$
Deep dark carmine. 13.5% alc.
A big, rich and expressive aroma. Plums, savoury with vanilla and white pepper, balsa wood and spice, and a hint of funk.
The flavours show sweet on entry, with rich dark fruit through themed-palate and supple tannins with just enough grip to balance the floral nose, and heat and length at the finish.
This is such a good wine I can really see the kinship this grape has with Pinot Noir. A heady nose paired with a feminine quality on the palate. Sophisticated, delicate fruit with a good core of weight.
Highly Recommended – 93 points
Bilancia Syrah Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$
Deep dark carmine colour. 13% alc. This Syrah is a blend of three vineyards, 25% La Collina and the remainder from two vineyards located in the Bridge Pa Triangle, plus about 3% Viognier. I like it when Viognier is in the mix – it adds perfume.
There was an expectant savoury nose, with scents of ripe plums, pencils, black pepper, and red roses.
On drinking I noticed the usual rich red fruit flavours, plus there was a confectionery character through the mid palate, with vanilla over-laid, and a peppery finish, long and soft. Medium tannins. I also saw a salty element, and licorice.
Recommended – 89 points
Produttori del Babaresco Nebbiolo Montestefano 2007 – $$$+ – drink 2017-2022. Plucked from the MS wine ballot after the Produttori del Barbaresco horizontal tasting. Delicious. One of the world’s great wine styles.
Elephant Hill Airavata Syrah Te Awanga HB 2013 – $$$$ – drink 2018-2028. Not tasted, but if judged by both the 2013 Syrah and Reserve Syrahs out of Elephant Hill this will be a Stunnah.
Esk Valley Heipipi The Terraces Merlot Malbec Franc Bay View HB 2013 – $$$$ – drink 2018-2028. Tasted at the Winery. Fantastic. A longsleeper, this.
Abbey Cellars Eden Syrah Hawkes Bay 2013 – $$
L and I and kids headed out to a friends beach house to stay the night in the weekend. I bought this wine at an outlet on the way.
Deep carmine. 14%.
Reduction on the nose. Savoury. Oak. Black fruits. Cherries. Perfumed. Roses. A gorgeous nose, with very intriguing and complex notes.
Smoky to taste. Great fruit weight. Plums, figs, ginger & chocolate. Black and white pepper. Spicy. Complex tannins and long.
Outstanding – 95 points
Things got a little confused after this, and few more reds. At one point we were comparing an single malt out of Auckland with a Dalwhinnie. I don’t recall much more after this photo was taken. A very generous host lead me willingly astray, and the next day was pretty much a write-off…
Church Road Syrah Hawkes Bay 2014 – $
Inky carmine colour. 13.5% alc.
Michael Cooper rated this wine his best red buy for 2017. He wrote of it, “sturdy, richly flavoured, sharply priced red is not to be missed. ‘Serious’ but highly approachable, it is mouthfilling, with an array of blackcurrant, plum, spice and nut flavours, hints of black pepper and licorice, and excellent concentration, ripeness and complexity”.
I have to agree. This wine has a beautiful nose, layered, fruity and savoury in equal parts. Softness, with plums and white pepper, vanilla and chocolate. Lots going on, and ‘serious’.
The wine tasted soft and robust, with dense rich fruit, mid-weighted with medium tannin and spice. Well-built, mouth-filling and long, with unctuous umami components and a white pepper finish. The best CR base-level Syrah yet. Superb.
Highly Recommended – 92 points
Church Road Syrah Hawkes Bay 2013 – $
From the superlative 2013 HB vintage. Inky crimson colour. 13% alc.
Lots of wood on the nose, intense vanilla, and sweet oak. Perfumed soap and violets! Spice, dark cherries and plums. Pencil shavings. Confected deliriousness. Perfect cool-climate ripeness. So much going on!
Soft and fruit-driven on palate. Sweet oak and vanilla. Not so balanced due to so much wood evident, but so expressive. So much character! Medium tannins, verging on chewy, and drying. White pepper, chocolate, nutmeg and herbs towards the finish. Long. I have slight questions about ripeness but that is quibbling. This is sooo terrifically good for a base tier Syrah. Buy up!