New Zealand syrahs are consistently world class, says JOHN SAKER.
THE BEAUTY FOR WHICH the best New Zealand syrahs are gaining an international reputation is all here. Inky dark, this wine is exquisitely perfumed, offering an extravagance of violet, spice and pepper scents. In the mouth, dark cherry and blue fruit flavours are set against a molten texture, the result of dense fruit married to beautifully ripe, fine tannins. It flows seamlessly and finishes with a flourish. A classy rendition, not to mention just plain delicious.
A NEW APPROACH After the awesome vintages of 2013, 2014 and 2015 in Hawke’s Bay, 2016 brought everyone back down to earth. “There was intermittent rain from mid to late March, and you had to keep an eye on the fruit every day leading up to harvest,” says Villa Maria Group Chief Winemaker Nick Picone. “Syrah came through as the pick of our reds that year.” Our top wine is a blend of the best fruit from Villa’s Twyford and Omahu Gravels vineyards, both in the heart of the Gimblett Gravels winegrowing district. Picone and his team have been resetting their approach to making syrah over recent vintages. “The focus now is on perfume. We’ve moved away from making darker, extracted styles, and we no longer use so much new oak. We’re after complex aromatics, and that vintage (2016) did deliver on that front.” Only 300 cases were made so interested parties should be in quick. Picone’s food match? “Hawke’s Bay syrah is made for venison.”
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