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edited by Sue Courtney
e-mail address: winetaster@clear.net.nz

Wine of the Week for week ending 16 May 2004
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Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Tempranillo 2002
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

I hear the sound of castanets, of Bizet's Carmen, of roaring bulls as they enter the ring not knowing what fate awaits them.

I've just tried the first New Zealand release of wine made Tempranillo grapes and I'm mesmerised. But how does it compare to the Spanish stuff? I don't really know because I've never tasted a Spanish Tempranillo of this quality at this age. In some respects it seemed a shame to pull the cork, but for the sake of reviewing it had to be done.

The wine I've just poured into my glass has an amazing colour. It is a dense, almost inky, purplish red, the colour of juicy mulberries as you pluck them from the tree and the juice runs down your arm (this actually happened to me in the McLaren Vale). It is a colour deeper than any Spanish Tempranillo that I've had before - but keep in mind this is about 3 years younger than I would normally see a Rioja or whatever.

There's lots of oak, sweet vanillin oak, savoury dusty oak, spicy oak, tarry oak, and there's lots of fruit and spice too. Mulberry keeps springing to mind along with dusty roadside blackberries, concentrated fruit kept in check by the oak, a tarry backbone and firm robust tannins with a warm, slightly liquoricey, biscuity finish and just the most amazing length. There's a herbal edge which suits this wine, it's not green at all but has the complexity that the rosemary herb can add to a leg of lamb. Overall I would class the wine as savoury.

It's ripe, rich, mouthfilling and definitely moreish. The new American oak that it is matured in for 16 months is sweet and balanced to the fruit.

If this is what can be achieved with the Tempranillo grape in New Zealand – in the hot red wine country of Hawkes Bay - I sincerely hope we plant more.

Kudos to John Hancock for rescuing the Tempranillo grapevines from the Morton Estate vineyard when he left there to pursue his career at Trinity Hill. Of course they didn’t want the vines, that they planted in about 1990, then. Now they have seen what can be achieved with it, they want the vines back. Too late!

The grapes for the Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay Gimblett Gravels Tempranillo 2002 were hand harvested on the 18th March 2002, the first red wine grapes that the winery picked. The destemmed fruit was fermented in small open top stainless fermenters and then racked to new American oak barriques for 16 months maturation, with regular racking. The wine was bottles without fining or filtering and bottled in September last year. The bottles are sealed with a cork and contain 14% alcohol by volume.

Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay Gimblett Gravels Tempranillo 2002 has a recommended retail price of $29.95. But it is oh so very rare –you will be lucky to find it anywhere. The best way to buy it is direct from the winery in a three-pack, together with another experimental wine, the Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay Gimblett Gravels Montepulciano 2002, and the follow on the last years gold medal winner, the Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay High Country Pinot Noir 2002. The pack costs $96.85.

I can’t see the wines mentioned on the Trinity Hill website so to secure your piece of New Zealand history, contact the folks at Trinity Hill and say you read about the three-pack special offer here on www.wineoftheweek.com.

All three wines in the pack are well worth the money but the Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay Gimblett Gravels Tempranillo 2002 is something special.

© Sue Courtney
9 May 2004


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