Church Road Grand Reserve Syrah 2018 (Hawke’s Bay)
Church road is a winery with a long history in New Zealand, most strongly linked to its second owner and one of the country’s winemaking pioneers, Tom McDonald. Tom’s enduring legacy at Church Road is with cabernet sauvignon, syrah being a much more recent variety here and the passion of current winemaker Chris Scott and viticulturist Graham Bartleet. The judges agreed that the 2018 Grand Reserve Syrah, often considered the best value wine in Church Road’s range, delivered exceptional quality for the price. The fruit sources change from year to year depending on which sites perform well enough to make the cut. The 2018 is principally from the estate’s Bridge Pa Triangle’s Redstone Vineyard, with minor contributions from the Gimblett Gravels. It’s a richly fat, big and brooding syrah with gamey notes, red spice and bramble fruit. Jo Gear loved the oak warmth, approachability and gorgeous fruit weight here. This has the ripeness and balance to age in the short to mid-term but will be difficult to resist opening now as the weather gets colder.