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Sauvignon Blanc 2015


-    Raymond Chan - (reviewed 2017)   4 Stars

Bright, pale straw colour with slight green hues.  The nose is elegantly concentrated with a firm core and rounded aromas of green stonefruits and herbs, showing subtly pungent greengage fruit with nutty lees and oak complexities.  Dry to taste and light-medium bodied, the plalate possesses flavours of green stonefruits, greengages and dark herbs, along with subtle nuances of nettles and lift notes.  The palate has a taut and firm core with nutty suggestions, but fresh from lacy acidity.  The palate flows with good tension along a piquant, fine, grainy textured line, leading to a dry finish of green stonefruits and herbs.  This is a firm and taut Sauvignon Blanc with green stonefruit and herb flavours along with subtle less and nutty oak notes, on a refreshing palate.  Serve with salads and vegetables and Mediterranean fare over the next 2+ years.  Fruit from the plains between Havelock North and Napier, by the Tuki Tuki River.  Sauvignon Blanc fermented in stainless-steel with 10% Viognier fermented in seasoned oak to 12.7% alc. and dryness, the wine undergoing batonnage. 17.0/20  


-    Michael Cooper - (reviewed 2017)  3.5 Stars

Drinking well now, the 2015 vintage (3.5*) is a slightly minerally wine, blended with a 'touch of Viognier' and partly barrel-fermented. Medium to full-bodied, it is fresh, crisp, lively and dry, with melon/lime flavours, showing a touch of complexity. Priced right.     


-    Rob MacCulloch - Master of Wine - (reviewed 2016)

Sauvignon Blanc is so popular and so well-known that it's actually very difficult for a winemaker to produce. Do they produce a straightforwardly crowd-pleasing style for a quick sale? Often that's what happens, very understandably so, as Sauvignon Blanc is such a delicious crowd-pleaser. Or do winemakers try to differentiate their wine style a little bit, to add some layers of flavours to what is such a dominant personality of a grape? That's a genuine challenge when making Sauvignon Blanc, as those fresh, green, citrus, gooseberry and passion fruit flavours can really overpower other more delicate flavours. Making really complex-tasting Sauvignon Blanc, therefore, is a little bit like cooking a steak. It's always a treat, however it's done, but maybe by concentrating on the quality of the meat, knowing how to control the heat of the fire and perhaps using a fire made from old vine branch cuttings - like they do in Bordeaux - elevates a simple steak to something really glorious. Here, winemaker Guillaume Thomas has adapted that approach to Sauvignon Blanc, by using a few Viognier grapes to add a floral lift to the aromas, with a little bit of oak maturation and yeast stirring to add more body and weight of flavours. Importantly too, these techniques are well-known to add length of flavour too, not to mention how winemakers bring out the more complex mineral flavours that can really show off and represent the regions where the grapes were grown. Therefore, this is a rare beast of a wine - a genuinely complex-tasting Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc, but one that still displays all the immediately ripe flavours of Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown in that beautiful country. 


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Chardonnay 2016


-    Michael Cooper - (reviewed 2017)  4 Stars

The 2016 vintage (4*) was grown at three sites and fermented in one to two year-old barrels. Mouthfilling, fresh and lively, it is savoury, with ripe grapefruit and peach flavours, gentle mealy notes adding complexity, and excellent harmony and personality. An elegant wine, it's already drinking well, but also worth cellaring.


-    Raymond Chan - (reviewed 2017)  4 Stars

Bright, light yellow colour with slight golden hues, paler on the edge.  This has a finely concentrated nose with good intensity of savoury, ripe citrus fruits and fresh yellow stonefruits along with notes of creamy barrel-ferment and nutty oak elements.  Medium-bodied, the palate features a moderately rich mouthfeel with even mouthfilling flavours of ripe yellow stonefruits and citrus fruits entwined with complex, savoury, creamy barrel-ferment and nutty oak.  The flavours are balanced and integrated, and flow along a light, phenolic-textured line with background acidity lending drive.  The wine carries to a lingering, concentrated finish of stonefruits, citrus fruit and nuts.  This is a well-concentrated, moderately rich Chardonnay with complex stonefruit and citrus fruit flavours entwined with oak notes on a light, grainy palate.  Match with roasted poultry and pork dishes over the next 4+ years.  Fruit from the Tuki Tuki river plains, a hillside site south Heretaunga Plains and Te Awanga, fully barrel-fermented on full lees, with half given skin contact, to 12.1% alc., the wine aged 6 months on fine lees in 1 and 2 y.o. barrels with no MLF.  17.5/20


-   Yvonne Lorkin (reviewed 2017)  4 Stars

For fans of a leaner, cleaner, more Chablis-style chardonnay, this’ll be right up your cul-de-sac I reckon.

Lemon and grapefruit goodness unveil on the nose, while spicy, citrus-soaked layers last long in the background. Plus there’s a ribbon of creamy almond laced with soft smokiness on the finish to keep you going back for more.


-  Rob MacCulloch (reviewed 2017)    

Chardonnay deserves more praise, being simply a fabulous grape variety, and Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay simply deserves more recognition for producing arguably New Zealand’s greatest examples of Chardonnay too. Whatever the reason, the combination of summer warmth and cooling maritime influences seems to coax something extra out of Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay and this wine is a stellar example of that benign climate. There’s a bright, clean citrus aroma and flavour, with crisp lemon pith acidity overlaid with gentle mineral tones, that’s complimented by very background flavours of oak and creamy lees character. The finishing, lingering flavours of the wine are of citrus fruit but not oak: there’s simply a nutty, savoury background that hints at oak ageing in barrel. This is Bourgogne Blanc on holiday to somewhere sunnier in the southern hemisphere, with the same layered mouth feel, complexity of flavour, undefinable fruit character of mixed, ripe citrus and stone fruits as found in Burgundy, yet all with a New Zealand brightness, zest and energy. 

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Albariño 2016


-    Michael Cooper(reviewed 2017)  4 Stars

The characterful 2016 vintage (4*) was hand-picked near Maraekakaho, tank-fermented and then lees-aged for three months in old barrels. Pale yellow, it is  medium to full-bodied, with strong, ripe, peachy, citrusy, slightly spicy flavours, crisp but not high acidity and a fully dry, balanced finish. Showing considerable complexity, it's already drinking well.


-    Raymond Chan - (reviewed 2017)  3 Stars

Bright straw-yellow colour with light golden hues and some depth.  The nose is subtle with a delicate core of white florals and subtle citrus notes, unfolding yellow stonefruits and suggestions of honeysuckle.  Dry to taste and light-medium bodied, the mouthfeel is fresh and lively with light and restrained, gently mouthfilling flavours of white florals and stonefruits, entwined with a little honeysuckle.  The palate is elegantly proportioned with  fine, firm and textured core and fresh, balanced acid briskness.  This has good linearity and carries to a rounded, but concentrated, lingering finish.  This is an elegantly concentrated dry Albariño with light floral and stonefruit flavours and a fresh mouthfeel.  Hand-picked fruit from Maraekakaho, given 12 hours skin contact and fermented on gross lees to 12.3% alc. and 0.73 g/L RS, TA 6.75 g/L and pH 3.23, the wine aged on fine lees for 3 months.  16.5+/20


-  Yvonne Lorkin - (reviewed 2017) 3 1/2 Stars

Guillaume Thomas and Esther Smith are two of the nicest new wine growers I’ve met. They’re young, ultra-industrious and always gun for the best. They’ve planted a tiny little vineyard high up on the Waimarama Road and turn out stunning examples of wine like this local incarnation of the Spanish classic. Lemon, wild flowers, flinty minerality all combine to create a snappy-dry, summer-in-a-bottle drink that will sing with orange and herb crusted terakihi. 


-  Rob MacCulloch - (reviewed 2017)

Albariño can be a hard grape to pin down – is it crisp like Sauvignon Blanc, or broad and ripe like Chardonnay? At its best, Albariño is a perfect middle ground between the two, having fullness of body, but with a refreshing, clean acidity as a balance. Neither does Albariño share Chardonnay or Sauvignon’s fruit characters either, having an intriguing flavour of pear skin crossed with white peach and citrus. This is a wonderful varietal example of Albariño grown outside of its native Galicia, having a complex spice overlay and hints of dried apricots alongside its pear skin fruit, whilst retaining Albariño’s saline, refreshing, clean acidity. A little use of lees ageing has added some attractive creamy notes to the aromas and there’s also a touch of citrus fruit pith bitterness and minerality to the finish that adds complexity and balance to the long, ripe fruit flavours.

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Rosé 2017


-  Yvonne Lorkin - (reviewed 2018)  4 Stars

It’s a rare thing in NZ to find rosé made from 100 per cent cabernet franc and this one is a real cracker. It bursts with raspberry marshmallow, watermelon and hints of cherry on the nose. Fresh, succulent, saucy and sublime if served chilled with slivers of cold smoked salmon. Gorgeous. 


-  Raymond Chan - (reviewed 2018)  3 Stars

Bright, pale pink colour with suggestions of purple hues at the heart, lighter on the rim.  The nose is softly fresh with light aromas of strawberries and cream, along with an amalgam of savoury herbs and nutty elements, unfolding subtle oxidative nuances and some confectionary.  Dry to taste and light-medium bodied, the palate is crisp and refreshing with brisk, slippery acidity underlining savoury strawberry fruit flavours that are entwined with nutty and herbal nuances.  Red florals and confectionary hints emerge as the wine carries along a thirst-quenching dry line.  The palate leads to a light, dry finish.  This is a crisp and refreshing, mouthwatering dry rosé with savoury strawberry, herb and nutty flavours and a textural mouthfeel.  Serve with antipasto and tapas over the next 18 months to 2 years.  Cabernet Franc fruit from Maraekakaho destemmed and given 12 hours skin contact, and fermented in stainless-steel to 10.8% alc. and dryness.  16.5/20.


-  Michael Cooper - (reviewed 2018)  3 Stars 

Retasted in early 2018, the pale pink 2017 vintage (3*) is from Cabernet Franc, grown at Maraekakaho. A lively, light-bodied style (10.8 per cent alcohol), it has fresh, gentle watermelon, spice and peach flavours, appetisingly crisp and dry.


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Cabernet Franc 2014


-    Michael Cooper(reviewed 2017)  4 Stars

Grown on north-facing hills near Maraekakaho, the 2014 vintage (4*) was hand-picked and matured for 20 months in French oak barrels (20 per cent new). A medium-bodied, 'feminine' style of red, it has fresh acidity, with attractive blackcurrant, red berry, plum and spice flavours, a hint of herbs, savoury notes adding complexity, gentle tannins and a smooth finish. Drink now or cellar.


-    Raymond Chan - (reviewed 2017)  3 Stars

Even, light ruby-red colour pale on the rim.  This has a light nose with fragrant aromas of redcurrants and red berry fruit with a subtle amalgam of dark herbs and earth at the core, unfolding nuances of nutty, resinous oak.  Medium-bodied, the palate has softly refreshing fruit flavours of redcurrants and leaf, along with nutty oak notes.  The mouthfeel is smooth-textured with fine-grained, modest extraction, and light, balanced acidity.  The wine flows evenly along a velvety line, the flavours receding as it carries to a light fragrant finish.  This is a light and fragrant, sweet-fruited Cabernet Franc with redcurrant, herb and nutty flavours on a light, smooth-flowing palate.  Match with pork and veal dishes over the next 3-4+ years.  Fruit from the Maraekakaho hills, hand-picked and fermented to 12.4% alc., some dried stems added to the ferment, the wine aged 20 months in 20% new French oak equivalence.  16.0+/20


-    Rob MacCulloch - (reviewed 2016)

It's something of a rarity to find Cabernet Franc bottled as a stand-alone grape variety, as it's more often used as part of a red wine blend to add perfume, freshness and a dry savoury-ness to other varieties such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Why so? Perhaps it's because Cabernet Franc can simply be a tough-tasting grape variety: often too 'green'-tasting, occasionally too dryly tannic, frequently just too savoury for many people's tastes. It's rare, therefore - very rare - to find a Cabernet Franc that combines sweet, ripe, fresh raspberry fruit, with soft, finely-textured tannins and just a hint of complex black olive savoury character on the finish. Even rarer is to find such a sense of ripe raspberry character in a wine that's only 12.4% alcohol, an alcohol level more often associated these days with "unlike" wines. Yet this low alcohol level is similar to wines made from Cabernet Franc found in France's Loire Valley, where winemaker Guillaume Thomas hails from, and the immediate, delicious ripe fruit flavours found in this wine are absolutely characteristic of Hawke's Bay too. 


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Syrah 2016


-    Michael Cooper - (reviewed 2018)  3.5 Stars

Retasted in early 2018, the youthful 2016 vintage was matured for a year in French oak barrels (25 per cent new). Ruby hued, with a fragrant bouquet, it is a medium-bodied style, with lively plum and spice flavours, a hint of liquorice, fresh acidity, some savoury notes adding complexity, and good length. Best drinking mid-2019+


-    Raymond Chan - (reviewed 2018)  4 Stars

Dark ruby-red colour with youthful purple hues, lighter on the edge.  The nose is fragrant and slender in proportion with bright and lifted fruit aromas of raspberries entwined with red and violet florals and subtle notes of pepper and fresh herbs.  Spice elements emerge in the glass and the aromatics build in depth with aeration.  Medium-bodied, the palate possesses fruit flavours of dark raspberries along with savoury black pepper, unfolding herb and floral detail, and suggestions of game.  The palate is sweet-fruited and enlivened by fresh acidity, and the fruit is underlined by fine, grainy tannin extraction.  This has a good core with a textured mouthfeel lending presence, and the wine carries to a fulsome finish.  This is a moderately concentrated Syrah with savoury raspberry pepper and herb flavours, along with floral and game detail on a lively, grainy palate.  Match with wild duck and pork and game meat dishes over the next 4+ years.  Syrah fruit from Te Awanga and the hills overlooking the Gimblett Gravels, fermented to 12.4% alc., the wine aged in French oak barrels with 25% new equivalence.  17.0+/20  



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Cabernet Sauvignon 2015


-    Michael Cooper(reviewed 2017)  4.5 Stars 

Already enjoyable, the 2015 vintage (4.5*) was grown on Gimblett Road and matured for 16 months in barrels (35 per cent new). Full-coloured, with a fragrant, spicy bouquet, it is mouthfilling, with generous, ripe plum and spice flavours, finely integrated oak, savoury, earthy notes adding complexity, and gentle tannins. A very harmonious red, highly approachable in its youth, it also shows good potential and should be at its best 2019+. Priced sharply.


-    Raymond Chan - (reviewed 2017) 

Even ruby-red colour with some depth nd light purple hues on the rim.  This has a light, tightly bound nose with aromas of fresh blackcurrants and fresh herbs along with herbaceous leaf and stalky elements.  The fruit is in the cooler spectrum.  Medium-full bodied, the palate is elegantly proportioned with good intensity of fresh, lively blackcurrant fruit flavours entwined with notes of fresh herbs, and subtle leafy and stalk detail.  The fruit is balanced by modestly extracted, fine-grained tannin structure and light, fresh acidity, lending energy and tension.  The wine leads to a light, brisk finish of blackcurrant leaves.  This is an elegant, cooler spectrum Cabernet Sauvignon with fresh blackcurrant, herb and leafy notes on a light, but firm-structured palate.  Match with herb-marinated lamb and beef dishes over the next 4+ years.  Fruit from  Gimblett Road, fermented to 13.52% alc., the wine spending 30 days on skins post ferment and aged 16 months in 30% new French oak.  16.0+/20 



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Cabernet/Merlot 2016


-  Michael Cooper - (Reviewed 2018) 4 Stars

Retasted in early 2018, the 2016 vintage (4*) is maturing gracefully. A medium-bodied style, it is a blend of Cabernet Franc (48 per cent), Merlot (45 per cent) and Cabernet Sauvignon (7 per cent), matured for a year in French oak barrels (25 per cent new). Youthful and savoury, it has very satisfying depth of ripe, berryish, plummy, slightly spicy flavours, showing good complexity, and a smooth, finely textured finish. Best drinking 2019+.


-  Raymond Chan - (Reviewed 2018) 4 Stars 

Dark red colour with youthful purple hues, lighter on the edge.  The nose is elegant and fresh-fruited with fragrant aromas of redcurrants along with lifted notes of red florals, unfolding subtle blackcurrant elements and fresh herbs.  The aromatics form a slender, but finely concentrated core.  Medium-bodied, the palate has bright and lively, fragrant fruit flavours of redcurrants, red florals and fresh herbs.  The mouthfeel is refreshing with crisp acidity, and the wine flows along a light, grainy-textured line.  This has an elegant structure and carries with very good energy to a lingering aromatic finish.  This is a bright and aromatic Cabernet/Merlot blend with pretty redcurrant fruit and lifted florals, along with cool herb notes on a zesty, grainy palate.  Serve with tapas and Mediterranean fare over the next 3+ years.  A blend of 48% Cabernet Franc from Maraekakaho, 45% Merlot from the hills overlooking Gimblett Road and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon from Gimblett Road, fermented to 12.8% alc., the wine aged in French oak barrels with 25% new equivalence.  17.5-/20


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