Syrah originated from the northern Rhône region of southeastern of France and is in fact the offspring of two relatively obscure grape varietals Dureza and Mondeuse blanche. While both of these are barely in existence today, Syrah is now the 7th most popular grape in the world, grown across the globe in wine growing regions like South Africa, Chilli, Washington State, Australia and New Zealand. Called Shiraz in Australia, it is by far their most popular grape, grown throughout the major wine growing regions, including the Barossa, McLaren, Coonawarra, Hunter Valleys and Margaret River.
Like our Bordeaux blends, in New Zealand most of our best Syrahs come from Waiheke and Hawkes Bay. Hawkes Bay’s world renowned Gimblett Gravels, is where we find some of our greatest Syrahs. Here is a pick of some of the best of 2015 and 16 vintages, prices ranging from around $40 to $50 that you must try – some award winners and some only just being released…
Villa Maria Reserve Syrah 2016 – Hawkes Bay Gimblett Gravels
Villa Maria needs little introduction. It is after all the world’s most admired wine brand for the fourth year running according to Drinks International. A winery that has become one of our largest wine producers, yet it still seems to maintain a boutique winery feel. Perhaps this is down to the fact that is still remains under family ownership or the fact that for around 60 years it has remained under the helmsmanship of recently retired Sir George Fistonich or the passion of their winemakers. Either way it is our most awarded winery and a major driver behind our wine export industry.
I lead with this Syrah since it took out Champion Syrah at the recent Royal Easter Show Wine Awards. A stunning blend of parcels from their premium Gimblett Gravel vineyards, fabulously styled with fragrant aromas of boysenberry, violets and spice. Concentrated fruit, encased in fine tannins, carries a long lingering finish of dark fruits, pepper and spice.
Further complexity will develop with careful cellaring of up to 10+ years.
Trinity Hill Syrah 2016 – Hawkes Bay Gimblett Gravels
Trinity Hill is known to produce some of our best Syrahs from their Gimblett Gravel vineyard. I have reviewed their Trinity Hill Homage before and sited this as one of our best Syrahs (see M2 May 2017). However at $130 a bottle this might not be an option for everyday drinking, but at just $39.99 a bottle this Syrah is the perfect compromise. An outstanding Syrah that, like its big brother, also includes a touch of Viognier (2 % in total) providing greater complexity and texture.
This wine has been awarded 5 star recognition from some of our leading wine critics and is rumored to be in line for some of the highest accolades from a leading food magazine.
This Syrah has vibrant deep dark hues of purple and crimson red. Attractive aromas of raspberry, spice, cracked pepper with hint of vanilla on the nose, The palate is succulent and forthright with ripe blackberries and ripe raspberries layered with floral notes, spice, white and black pepper with powerful and balanced ripe tannins give the wine great savoury structure. Drink now or cellar for up to 10 years.
Mills Reef Elspeth Syrah 2016 – Hawkes Bay Gimblett Gravels
Named after the chief winemaker and owners grandmother, wines under the Elspeth name are the precipice of the Mills Reef range. Hand picked, using only the best grapes, and adopting a philosophy of hands on / no expenses spared approach, delivers stunning results from this outstanding Gimblett Gravels Syrah. Just recently released, this superior wine, like its predecessors, is likely to be winning awards in the years to come.
The wine is brimming with intense aromas of floral spicy notes, with ripe dark fruit elements. The palate has good fruit intensity, luscious boysenberry, pepper and spice with sweet tannins with a wonderful freshness and a savoury finish. Potential Cellar carefully for 10 or more years.
Mission Jewelstone Syrah 2015 – Hawkes Bay Gimblett Gravels
While Mission Vineyards might not be the oldest vineyard (Te Mata holds that mantel) but it is certainly our oldest winery, dating back to the missionary of Samuel Marsden in 1851 – the vineyard having been moved several times since. Its origins were in producing sacramental wine and until recently the winemaking was in the hands of the priests. The winery holds some significant property in Hawkes Bay with a spectacular monastery that includes a lovely restaurants and is now available for functions and weddings, ample landholdings where they host large concerts and, more significant, is Mission’s Mere Road vineyard in the Gimblett Gravels where the grapes for this Syrah come from.
The wine took out Gold at the- Royal Easter Show Wine Awards 2018 for good reason. It is a superb Syrah with intense flavours with wonderful freshness, aromatics and structure. The bouquet is of ripe red and black fruits, violets and peppery spices. The palate is intense and complex with layers of abundant dark fruits, pepper, spice and licorice. While it is perfect to drink now, with careful cellaring this wine will cellar for a good 15 years.