Over the winter months, we have covered some of the most outstanding reds from our part of the world. We’ve brought you a selection of some of the best we have tried with ‘bites’ of information that you can share when you bring these wines out at the next occasion. This is the last of our winter selection and in our spring editions, we will start to focus on the aromatic whites, the rosés and beyond. In the meantime however here is our final selection of reds, chosen not just because of the outstanding quality, but also because of their uniqueness. Whether unique terroir, unique marketing concepts or newly released, these wines I highly recommend that you try …
YALUMBA ‘THE SIGNATURE’ CABERNET SAUVIGNON & SHIRAZ 2014 – BAROSSA AND EDEN VALLEYS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
This wine is one of Yalumba’s coveted Rare and Fine wine collection. The Signature was first produced in 1962, bearing their signature of significant individuals associated to the winery and in recognition of their contributions to the wineries success. This wine is the 56th iteration of the Signature and honours recent retiree, Chris Greening, who started with company in 1989 as Sales Manager of S.Smith and Son in Adelaide. He then became State Sales Manager, initially in SA and NT and ultimately Western Australia.
This Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz blend is something unique to Australia. Given that the two grapes come from distinctive areas in France, it is virtually impossible to have this type of blend under French appellation rules. It was back in the 50s that this blend first rose to fame through Penfolds and, while there has been a lot of competition over the years, the Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz blend has been hailed by some critics as Australia’s greatest blend.
This blend is an exceptional example where Yalumba have hand selecting the best Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz grapes from premium Barossa vineyards, as well as one vineyard in Eden Valley, to be bottled as “The Signature”. Untouched by the phylloxera outbreak that devastated the world’s wine growing regions in the last century, Barossa is one of the few regions where vines are still producing grapes after nearly 100 years. In this case, they used some Shiraz grapes from vines dating back to 1925. The combination of these selected blocks provides the sweetness, depth and complexity. Meanwhile, the diverse selection of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes provides rich and complex aromatics. Wild yeast also helped to contribute to the complexities in the wine, creating richness and fine textures.
Medium to deep brick red in colour, the wine opens with floral notes and aromas of pomegranate and cranberry, hints of milk chocolate leap from the glass with licorice undertones. In the mouth, the wine shows flawless balance, medium weighted with tight acidity. Stylish and very approachable with wonderful richness, texture and complexity.
VIDAL LEGACY CABERNET SAUVIGNON MERLOT 2103 – GIMBLETT GRAVELS, HAWKES BAY
Vidal Estate winery has a very long history of winemaking in Hawkes Bay, being first established by industry pioneer Anthony Joseph Vidal. Joseph emigrated to New Zealand in 1888, establishing his first vineyard way back in 1905 on a small property in Hastings. He then established further plantings in Te Mata and Te Awanga (where some of those plants still exist today), with Vidal ultimately becoming one of the largest wine producers in the region. The Legacy range is the top tier of the Vidal selection and a nod to the legacy of Anthony Joseph Vidal.
The grapes for this wine also came from centuries old Gimblett Gravels dried river bed in Hawke’s Bay. Defined by a distinct soil type, with vines planted in the naturally free-draining, leanest and stoniest parts of the vineyard to promote low vigour. A distinctive aspect of these stoney river beds is the ability of the ground to retain the sun’s heat well after sunset. While the vines would normally lay dormant overnight, these vines continue to ripen the grapes well into the night – hence the intensity, texture and depth of flavour you’ll get from these Gimblett Gravel wines.
The colour of black hued red is so dark it is almost impervious. The aroma is layered with dark berry and black plum with notes of licorice, fresh cracked black pepper and spice. Medium to full-bodied the palate is rich with ripe blackberry flavours, dark raspberry and licorice layered with pepper and spice. With dusty tannins and well balanced acidity delivering a log and vibrant finish.
MOUNT MICHAEL ‘THE MOUNTAINEER’ PINOT NOIR 2016 – BENDIGO, CENTRAL OTAGO
Until recently, Mt Michael remained a fairly closely guarded secret, only shared among a select few. Taking out a gold medal at the latest Air New Zealand wine awards, the secret is now truly out of the bag. Owned and operated by Anna Robbie, one of New Zealand’s youngest winery owners, this winery has started to really develop some momentum, attracting a semi-cult following with the high quality wines they produce. With recent addition of Jody Pagey, of Terra Sancta fame, as chief winemaker, you can expect to see more outstanding achievements from this winery in future (we will have more about Jody in next month’s issue).
The winery is situated in one of the best Pinot Noir growing regions in the country, Bendigo in Central Otago, where they focus on single vineyard wines of the highest quality. The Mountaineer is the introduction of a brand new line, with a wine that delivers the taste and quality without a high price. If you like Pinot Noir, then this wine is about to become your favourite quaffing wine when you share the spirit of ‘The Mountaineer’ with friends.
Crafted from premium Central Otago fruit, The Mountaineer Pinot Noir pays homage to the pioneering spirit and sense of adventure displayed by mountain climbers confronting the forces of nature and celebrating the beauty and grandeur of the New Zealand Southern Alps.
The preparation, passion and commitment necessary to grow and make Pinot Noir in Central Otago mirrors the challenges faced
by these pioneering mountaineers.
This is a wine with silky elegance, delicate red in colour with crimson hues. A tender bouquet of violets and red berries settles over intriguing spicy notes. The berry notes come through on the palate with refined tannins and a lingering finish.
You can buy The Mountaineers direct from the vineyard mountmichaelwines.com or from all good fine wines stores NZ wide.
“IT IS NOT THE MOUNTAIN WE CONQUER BUT OURSELVES”
– SIR EDMUND HILLARY
CRAGGY RANGE SYRAH 2016 – GIMBLETT GRAVELS, HAWKES BAY
First established in 1997, Craggy Range is one of the most picturesque wineries in the country. I was fortunate enough to attend a wedding their a few years ago. Located beneath the majestic Te Mata peaks, on land sloping down to a lazy river with beautifully landscaped gardens, you’d be hard pressed to find a better location to enjoy a quality meal and to taste some of New Zealand’s most outstanding wines.
Owned by the American-based Peabody family, the winery is a major contributor to the local economy and the wine industry as a whole. Wine writer Bob Campbell named it New Zealand’s best winery last year and given the consistently high quality wine they produce, the location and the facilities, I find his conclusion hard to dispute. When I received this wine, it had only just been released and, born of the ancient gravelly soils of famed Gimblett Gravels, it was bound to be an outstanding wine. As part of their standard range, I was stunned by the depth of colour and quality of this wine.
This wine is of the deepest, almost impenetrable red colour with purple hues and delightful aromatics of violets, dark berries and freshly cracked pepper. The purity of the fruit leaps forward on the palate with lushness and elegance fused with beautifully balanced acidity, fine powdery tannins and a lovely lingering finish.