Wines of Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand

These tasting notes accompany our feature on Hawke’s Bay as part of our New Zealand 2020 series


Chardonnay Wines

(2020) Flinty sulphides and cream, a touch of lime. Crunchy apple comes through. Fine sweet fruit on the palate. Juicy, a long, fresh finish, very good acidity, finishing on citrus and salts. A lovely wine - price and stockist at time of review is for the 2016 vintage.
(2020) Sulphides notes turned down a little compared to some, but fresh and fragrant, a floral character, plenty of light, fresh and tangy fruit. Clean and delicately oaked in a Chablis style, but orange and peach comes through.
(2020) Bold colour, lots of creaminess and toast, a lovely rounded character with great ripeness, peaches and cream, a juicy generous lime and orange acidity and a touch of buttery oak to ease the finish.
(2020) Very much on the flinty, reductive side for sure, lots of gravel and tension, salty mineral-flecked fruit. The palate has lovely sweetness, moving into mango and lychee, a delicious rounding but subtle oak and a long, beautifully balanced acid finish. NO UK retail stockists listed at time of review.
(2020) Back on the creamier, more oak influenced style, vanilla and ripe orchard fruits, moving into a nice orange and tangerine acidity, quite long, quite stylish. No UK retail stockists listed at time of review.
(2020) Peach and melon, a little buttery character, but clean and fresh. The palate has modest but charming sweet fruit. Tangy, citrus finish. Price and stockist for previous vintage at time of review.
(2020) Very discreet, apple, pear. Very taut, a sour apple and grapefruit juiciness, cool, direct, that apple and lemon citrus continues. I've been a huge fan of Tony's wines over the years, and though beautifully made, I confess I found this maybe a bit too restrained for its own good?

Syrah Wines

(2020) Lovely nose, a bloody edge to the deep, plush fruit, plenty of spice and a sheen of oak. Very juicy, ripe blueberry and cherry, a cherry skin grip of acidity and very fine tannins. Juicy to the finish. Price and stockist is for the previous vintage at time of review.
(2020) Oak gives a little smoke, spice, higher notes, yet a substantial and quite gamey edge too. Juicy, firmer tannins, drying, but plenty of grip. I'd say this still needs time and may merit an extra point or two. No retail listing in the UK at time of review.
(2020) Beautifully fragrant, all florals and cherries, all the elegance and lift you could ask for but a sweet red fruit character beneath the smoky oak. Beautifully balanced and clean, the fruit perfectly poised between depth and crispness, the oak wonderfully integrated, and the finish so taut and precise. A fabulous wine.
(2020) Gimblett Gravels A tiny bit reduced, quite a high tobacco ash and cherry, a little cherry note, but very attractive. Juicy, tangy, has a lighter more crisp style, but successful with a big blast of tangy cherry fruit and acidity. Price and stockist quoted are for a previous vintage at time of review.
(2020) Plenty of meaty, solid, polished oak and deep fruit. Sandalwood and spices rather than florals. Lots of juiciness here too, tangy and dry, quite a serious savoury style with a rasp of tannin and plum skin grippy acidity and extract, but has a fine red fruit firmness and rich juiciness.
(2020) Floral and kirsch-like, pretty rather than powerful. Pretty with good fruit and a touch of chocolate and cream in the finish. Tangy, fresh and dry.
(2020) Big and bloody, meaty, fleshy. A little medicinal note here, maybe a touch of Brett. Lovely palate, so juicy and fleshy, ripe plum and the tang of cherry and plum. Deliciously ripe and appealing balance.
(2020) From Gimblett Gravels, a lovely meaty, plush wine with ripe fruit, flecked with spice, game and tobacco. Very good fruit and acid balance, a savoury, gastronomic wine, with a smooth, but grippy and serious character. No UK retail stockist at time of review.

Bordeaux blend Wines

(2020) From the Bridge Pa region, a new wine for Smith & Sheth. Beautifully fragrant, floral lift, spices, a lovely red fruit raspberry and cherry brightness. Plenty of spice and a touch of chocolate on the palate with such mouth-filling sweet fruit, beautifully smooth tannins and creamy acids to make a delicious and elegant wine. No UK retail stockists at time of review.
(2020) Cedary and European in style, plummy fruit and a touch of fudge or chocolate, very sweet and mouth-filling, a lovely more commercial style.
(2020) The wine with the longest name in the history of grape juice. 54% is Merlot. This has a nice floral touch, a nuttiness, a cedary style too. There’s juiciness to spare here, quite high acid adding a sour cherry bite, and firm, drying tannins.
(2020) An unusual blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Tempranillo, 23% Cabernet Franc. Lovely depth of colour, creamy and firm, with dry tannins and juiciness, tobacco and smokiness, with a firm tannin and acidity. Real intensity of vibrant fruit and juiciness in the finish, the Cabernet tannins firming things up. No UK stockists at time of review.
(2020) The blend is 78% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Merlot. Lovely cedary and graphite character, very good black berry fruit. Tobacco and spices, cigar box. Deliciously juicy and cool fruit, very pure, a lovely finish with length and balancing acidity and tannins, mellow and resolved but will cellar. No UK retail stockist at time of review.
(2020) Cabernet Sauvignon with 12% Merlot. Huge depth of colour, bright fruit aromas - blackcurrant and cigar box. Smooth, svelte, beautifully pure and dark flavours. Tangy fruit skins, bold, blackcurrant and ripe but has structure too with creamy tannins and pure acidity. Quite classy.


Two other samples were corked and could not be reviewed.


Back to Hawke’s Bay profile in our feature on New Zealand wines

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