Everyone knows NZ’s staple Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Pinot Noir is also definitely making it’s self known as another NZ varietal with world class potential that can be very elegant, even Burgundian in style. However, it is another region with other varieties that may be New Zealand’s most exciting export: enter the hearty reds of the Gimblett Gravels. Situated in Hawkes Bay, this region enjoys a warmer climate than much of NZ and the growing area is a low lying plain on the dryer east coast. Proximity to the ocean also plays a role moderating the temperatures in both winter and summer. Within this region lies the unique growing district of the Gimblett Gravels.
This area has remarkably deep and dense gravel soil deposited by the Ngaruroro River. In the late 19th century, a huge flood caused the river to change course leaving the original gravel riverbed high and dry. The soil is so poor here it is remarkable that anything can grow. However, as we know, our friend the vine flourishes in these types of challenging environments. Much of the area is planted to Bordeaux varietals drawing on the similarities to the deep gravel soils of the left bank and especially Graves in Bordeaux. Syrah also does especially well here.
Situated at the heart of this region is NZ's oldest winery, Mission Estate. Founded in 1851, this property makes a range of wines that illustrate the potential of this world-class terroir. At a recent comparative tasting in Hong Kong hosted by Master of Wine Lisa Perrotti-Brown, eight Gimblett Gravels wines were lined up against eight of the top Bordeaux producers. Mission Estates proprietary wine “The Jewelstone” came in third, beaten out only by Haut-Brion and Chateau Mouton, finishing the blind tasting ahead of Lafite, Latour and Margaux as judged by 40 of the worlds top wine professionals. A pretty good showing when you consider this wines price tag: $31.99!
We have just received a limited number of the 2009 “Jewelstone”, it is comprised of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc. “Deep garnet-purple color and complex scents of black currant, warm blackberries and anise with nuances of dried plums, cinnamon stick, dark chocolate and vanilla. Concentrated and full bodied in the mouth, it gives high acidity, firm very fine-grained tannins and a long spicy finish. Delicious now, it should evolve nicely through 2020+”Perrotti-Brown MW.
We also have other great wines from this exciting region:
More will be following with Bilencia Syrah, Esk Valley and Te Mata wines all on their way to us, so watch this space!
NZ & Aussie Wine Specialist
K&L Wine Merchants - Redwood City
Terra Ignota is Latin for "Unknown Land". It was the name for the South Pacific region during intial mapping and exploration of Australia and New Zealand. As we are going to be exploring new and exciting wines from this region, we think this is a fitting title for our blog series on wines from this part of the world. Stay tuned for more!