This is a region well worth exploring, of particular interest is the Gimblett Gravels sub region* a part of Hawke’s Bay that was thought good only as a Quarry until grapes were planted. The main grapes grown in Hawke’s Bay are Chardonnay and Merlot and in smaller quantities the other Bordeaux varieties and many a reviewer will refer to the high quality of their Bordeaux Style** wines. It is also one of the few regions that Pinot Noir is not a noted variety as the climate is just a little too hot (I wish some Australian producers understood this). There is also an increase presence of Syrah planting, the Syrah was the main reason I wanted to visit Hawke’s Bay and see what was being achieved with this grape in the inhospitable Gimblett Gravels. On this trip we visited Craggy Range Winery one of Hawke’s Bay premium producers. Apart from the absolutely stunning winery (worth a visit in itself) set below what one would guess is the Craggy Range in a truly spectacular setting. Craggy Range specializes in single vineyard wines from a number of New Zealand’s wine growing regions, but it was the Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Gimblett Gravels that we had come to sample. They unfortunately don’t offer the premium wines on tasting but their second level wines were a good insight into what to expect from their premium range, that was my thinking anyway.
We tasted the following wines
2009 Chardonnay, Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Hawke’s Bay
First Chardonnay that I have really enjoyed from my last two trips to New Zealand, their Chardonnays tend to be a little too sweet on the palate for me, this was not and with hints of flint like minerality, blended with the fruit that was tending towards the white melon flavours made for a nice drop.
2009 Te Kahu, Gimblett Gravels Vineyard, Hawkes Bay
2009 Syrah, Gimblett Gravels Vineyard, Hawkes Bay
Both of these wines are worthwhile purchases at their respective price points, the Te Kahu at under $30.00 from Dan Murphy is a bargain and the Syrah at around $35.00 is well worth putting in the cellar if you are looking for a softer but still complex wine.
We were offered a bonus tasting of their Premium Bordeaux Blend the;
2009 Sophia, Gimblett Gravels Vineyard, Hawkes Bay
A subtle expression of the grapes, with plenty of hidden fruit that should blossom with time, because there is a backbone of fine tannins and acidity to give this wine many years more in the bottle. Still worth a drink now for those who can’t, wait just let the wine breathe for an hour or so.
* All you need to know about Gimblett Gravels Producers