(2018) What a silky and beautiful wine from winemaker Hugh Crichton, who tells me he makes this vineyard and barrel selection top Syrah "like a Pinot Noir." Eighteen months in French oak just gives a dense, plum and cocoa depth to the beautifully pert and aromatic black cherry fruit, but there is a little sprinkle of white pepper adding some lift. On the palate the silkiness continues, as does the fat, ripe, black cherry oozing juiciness and cherry skin acid tartness, the oak adding a fine base of balsamic richness into the long finish.
(2018) What a glorious wine this is, the Syrah aromatics fairly singing from the glass. Unusually for any New Zealand wine these days it is bottled under cork, not screwcap, but my bottle was certainly pristine and absolutely expressive. Violet and heavy dusting of white pepper, deep plum and cherry, and a fine blood and game background note are compelling. In the mouth that rasp of raspberry-edged acidity and a grippy, fine-grained tannin framework support copious fruit, a slick of chocolate or mocha, a hint of anise and a long, long finish. Should cellar very well, but irresistible now. Sadly though, another wine that appears not to have UK distribution at time of review.
(2017) Only five barrels of this were produced. All red wines from 'Reserve' level upward are from Gimblett Gravels fruit, in this case two specific vineyards. It spends 20 months in French oak and is “Made like a Pinot Noir,” according to Hugh, hand-plunged, with a fair bit of post-ferment maceration for up to 40 days in total before pressing. "That gives plenty of tannin, but finer," says Hugh. A rounded, quite plush and compact nose, tight black and blue fruits, there’s a rich damson and graphite nose, an earthiness, not peppery but has a little floral lift. The palate has a cloak of dustiness, a really savoury meaty character, the tannins soft but present and the acidity giving it a long, tapering finish.
(2017) The Legacy blend is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Merlot, and this wine was the first release in the Legacy series (which was not made again until conditions where right in 2013). The blend changes, and some vintages have been 100% Cabernet. Only 13 barrels, produced, the wine spending 20 months in French oak, around 50% new. Big, rich nose, immediately more plummy, with plenty of spice and tobacco, a gentle earth and leather note, but not dry, the fruit is there and the chocolate depth and plum comes through. Fine tannins, soft and with a raspberry ripple edge of creaminess, but fine acids and balance. This should still age nicely for a few more years too.
(2017) From the range-topping Legacy line, this Gimblett Gravels Syrah spends 20 months in French oak, and only 10 barrels were produced. It has a savoury and intense, fairly brooding perfume, dark, liquoricy, with a hint of Morello cherry and delicate peppery lift. In the mouth the wine is firm and structured, again a rasp of plum-skin and liquorice bite, but there is just a hint of more ripe and fat berry fruit beneath, suggesting it's a wine that will need time. The oak is integrated and savoury, graphite and a touch of cedar, the firm, tight tannins and concentrated acid core running like steel to the finish.
(2014) >From New Zealand's red wine heartland of the Gimblett Gravels in Hawkes Bay, this Bordeaux blend is smoky, spicy, very nicely meaty and gamy, with lots of quality, older French oak aromas and a certain gamy depth. A big, powerful wine, with a welter weight of tannin, dry and filling the mouth, but then the lovely fruit quality is there too, with masses of dry extract but not at all inky or over done - this has life and a persistent energy to the fruit, with creaminess of the oak filling-in on the finish, lovely balance and very long. A serious, delicious wine now, but obvious cellaring potential.
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